‘We thought he’d live for ever’: heartbreak as 40-year-old champion put down

  • A 40-year-old “horse in a million” who took four siblings to the top of the sport in endurance and showing has been put down owing to colic.

    The Helme family, from Lancaster, Lancashire, paid tribute to 15hh part-bred trotter Bobby, who was put down on 9 December.

    Mother Helen said the family fell in love with the gelding immediately despite the fact he was “completely different” to what they had been looking for, when he was bought from a riding school in Durham in 1986 for daughter Becci.

    “Becci got into endurance by chance and they were hooked. In 1991 they did their first 100-mile ride at Ludlow. Bobby was very strong, and he would do things like mess about when you took his heart rate but then something clicked,” she said.

    “He was passed to my daughter Donna, who was 16, who took him to the World Equestrian Games in The Hague in 1994 where she was the youngest rider to compete – it was amazing. They were 34th and the only Brits to get round along with Gill Smedley.”

    Donna’s sister Lucy took over the ride and competed Bobby at the young rider European Championships at Cirencester Park in 1997 where the combination were on the bronze medal-winning team.

    “He was a horse in a million. He wasn’t the fastest but he always got round – he was picked for the teams because he was a steady bet,” said Helen.

    “Lucy then started showing him in coloured classes and qualified for Olympia in 2005 in the Veteran Horse Society’s ridden class. He came sixth but we think he would have won if it wasn’t for a huge buck.”

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    In 2010 Bobby was passed to Helen’s then 18-year-old son William and was crowned in-hand veteran champion at Olympia.

    “Bobby did wonderful things for every single child, he was a part of the family,” said Helen. “He would bang his door and definitely ruled the roost, he knew where he belonged. The plan had been to take him to a local agricultural show next summer with my 10-year-old granddaughter Molly.

    “He was never ill and he was as strong as an ox, we thought he’d live for ever. We will miss him to bits. We buried him and held a service, we’ll never forget him.”

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