‘A true rags to riches tale’: neglected pony crowned Windsor champion

  • A once neglected pony found in a “miserable” state has been transformed into a showing champion.

    Pumphill Fandango (Roy) was rescued by the RSPCA in 2010 along with many other ponies discovered suffering on a remote farm.

    The animals were “underweight, neglected and miserable”.

    Thanks to the charity’s care they were rescued, rehabilitated and re-homed.

    Roy, now nine, was taken on by Zara Johnstone-Evans in 2014.

    “Roy hadn’t done much at all when I first saw him in need of a home, but there was something about him that I liked,” said Zara.

    “I got him for me to show but he was so gentle with my son Toby. They have done so well together, Toby’s now telling people Roy is his pony!”

    At last week’s Royal Windsor Horse Show (10-14 May), Roy not only won his class (the mountain and moorland ridden open lead rein), but was also crowned mountain and moorland mini champion and took part in the supreme ridden showing championship in front of The Queen.

    Continued below…

    “I rode him myself first in the mountain and moorland class (Dartmoor, Exmoor and Shetland) and we came second which was fantastic,” said Zara. “We went through to the mountain and moorland ridden championship, but I knew Toby’s lead rein class with Roy was the very next event, so I had to ride my lap of honour then leap off Roy’s back, throw Toby on board and quickly change out of my showing jacket, and rush into the ring, it was hilarious.

    “It just shows what a superstar Roy is, there aren’t many ponies who could change down a gear that quickly, from galloping a lap of honour to behaving impeccably in a lead rein class. I am just so proud of him and what he has achieved.”

    RSPCA chief inspector Cathy Hyde said: “I helped care for Roy when we rescued him so to watch his transformation back then was incredible, but to see him flourish in his new home now is wonderful. It’s a true rags to riches tale.”

    Roy will now take a break at the Johnstone-Evans’ home in Surrey with their other ponies Little, Jack and Beau, before getting ready to compete at HOYS qualifiers in June.

    “I am so proud of him, he may be very successful in the show ring, but he’s also our family pet,” added Zara. “He actually does very little in between these amazing wins — I lunge him to keep him fit and Toby and I hack him out, but really he’s very low maintenance. We adore him, he’s so easy to do and we’re so excited about the future.”

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