‘He touched so many lives’: farewell to prolific showing hero ‘Bob the Cob’

  • Carntall, the prolific-winning show cob — and winner of H&H’s inaugural ‘Unsung Hero’ award in 2007 — has died.

    Carol Bardo’s  much-loved and versatile heavyweight campaigner, widely known as “Bob The Cob,” was put to sleep on New Year’s Day following a bout of colic. He was believed to be 32.

    Bob enjoyed a highly successful career in the show ring as a weight cob, ridden by Carol’s sister, Mandy Hughes, producer Richard Ramsay and also Jayne Ross. He qualified every year for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) — once finishing third — and the Royal International (RIHS), in addition to amassing many county titles and wins at national championships.

    He also notched up victories in working classes at major shows including Royal Windsor, RIHS, South of England and Richmond, before retiring at the age of 16. The retirement was short-lived, however, as he became Mandy’s HOYS ride in 2006 following the loss of her riding horse.

    “I wanted a really genuine cob that I could ride, but one that could also do the shows,” said Carol. “Bob ticked all the boxes. I used to hack him out in Windsor Great Park and my husband Bill used to ride him too.


     “He was simply just the best and happiest soul — a total pleasure.

    “He would self-load into the lorry, though, and once took my tiny mum — who was happily holding him — straight up the ramp. She fell off the side of it, but Bob, meanwhile, had turned himself sideways and was standing waiting to be tied up.”

    “Bob was a fabulous starter cob for Carol and me,” said Mandy. “He showed himself to be a true cob of character, and capable of anything and everything asked of him.”

    Bob was loaned to Grade 11 para dressage rider Andrew Collins from 2007 to 2009, intended originally just as a hack while his own horse was sidelined. But once again the chestnut stepped up to the mark and won the 2007 national restricted para dressage title.

    In 2010, he went on loan to rider Caroline Wareing — wheelchair-bound after breaking her back in a fall in the show ring — in order to get her back on a horse, and he quickly became part of the family there as well.

    Bob was also ridden side-saddle, and attended the Show Ring showing camp, introducing many people to the pleasures of riding ‘sideways’.

    “My son Toby rode him at home, where he was as quiet as a lamb,” continued Mandy. “When I rode him in the ring, though, he was more like a lion, frequently disappearing into the distance when asked to gallop on, much to the amusement of spectators and fellow competitors.”

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    Following Bob’s Unsung Hero accolade, he appeared on the front cover of H&H, alongside Lucinda Fredericks’ great event mare Headley Britannia.

    “Bob’s greatest love was jumping, and he loved every second over fences – but he adapted to whatever was asked of him, no matter the size or skill of the rider,” added Mandy. “He was a wonderful hack, and loved being ridden around Windsor Great Park.”

    Bob was also the model for sculptress Belinda Sillars in her piece of a cob galloping.

    “He spent his final years with one of our friends hacking out, being a companion to other horses and being allowed to grow his mane to disproportionate lengths,” said Mandy. “He was an amazing horse and brought so much pleasure to so many people.

    “He touched so many lives and will be greatly missed.”

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