‘I love him, he’s the best’: tiny equine superstar retires sound and happy aged 21

  • The superstar pocket rocket showjumper Wellington M is retiring sound and happy having won just about every title in the country, and after 12 years jumping the biggest tracks going.

    Kerry Harris told H&H four years ago that her intention was for the 15.1hh Quidam De Revel gelding to bow out enjoying his career as much as he was at the start, and this is exactly what happened.

    “I just feel in my heart it’s time,” she told H&H this week. “I hope he lives on to a very old age and enjoys his retirement because he deserves it.”

    Kerry’s mother Liane Smith bought Wellington at the end of his four-year-old year; she did not think he would be “anything special” at the time but that he would suit Kerry as she moved off ponies. And their start in competition did not hint at what the pair would go on to achieve.

    “A couple of weeks after I got him, I took him to a show to jump the British novice and he had me off in the collecting ring, then ran out at the first fence,” Kerry said. “He got me off as he jumped so big over a cross-pole, then cantered straight past number one, and I thought ‘Oh god’! Everyone thinks of him as being so easy-going but from the age of four to seven, he did everything possible.”

    This included deciding he did not want to jump water trays, then, as a six-year-old, starting to head-shake, and “He had me off every day for six months straight,” Kerry said. “But we came out the other end.”

    The combination’s first win together was in a British novice in February 2008, their last 16 years later, on 31 May 2024 in a 1.30m at Northcote Stud. In between, they won fistfuls of classes, including the first British Showjumping Indoor Championship Final grand prix in 2020 and the first under-23 British championship at Olympia in 2014. They won grands prix, international stairways and national and international classes across the country, including the 1.45m Great Yorkshire challenge in 2021 and 11 classes at 1.30m and 1.40m last year when Wellington was 20. They also represented Britain on Nations Cup teams in 2015 and 2016.

    “Winning the under-25s at Olympia was the best,” Kerry said. “It was unreal, the whole day. I will never forget it.”

    Wellington is only 15.1hh but “his height was never a problem”, Kerry said, adding that he never struggled to make distances; if anything she had to hold him back.

    “He was very explosive under saddle,” she said. “He jumped like a normal horse at home but in the ring – I’ve never felt anything like it.

    “He’s been jumping the big tracks for 12 years; he took me and we did it together, what I’ve accomplished has been because of him and if I never do it again, no one can take it away.

    “I wanted him to finish sound and happy and for the last year and a half I’ve been so down because in my heart I knew he was getting older. I’ve cried so much and it’s horrible but now I’ve come to terms with the decision and it’s ok. I know it’s the right one.

    “I knew Northcote would be his last show and he had a win and came sixth and seventh so he finished on a good note.”

    Kerry said Wellington would no doubt continue to be the boss of the yard as he always has been; he will do some hacking for as long as he wants to and then be fully retired to live out his days in happiness.

    “I don’t believe I’ll ever come across another horse like him, with the heart he’s got,” she said. “If I had one half as good, I’d be happy. He’s been an absolute soldier but he’s part of the family too.”

    And asked what she could say to Wellington if she could, Kerry added: “I’d just tell him I love him. And he’s been the best.”

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