‘I know I’m not good enough, but we have an amazing bond’: Meet the 24-year-old horse who jumped clear around Bicton four-star *H&H Plus*

  • His owner/rider, 49-year-old Cathi Osmond-Smith, tells the fascinating story of Pedro, a Dutch-bred gelding with a heart of gold...

    Whoever said “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” clearly hadn’t met 24-year-old event horse, Pedro V. For last weekend, Pedro jumped a beautiful clear around the CCI4*-S cross-country track at Bicton Horse Trials, supported by Chedington, but he didn’t start his eventing career until he was 12.

    Here, his owner/rider, 49-year-old Cathi Osmond-Smith, who runs a livery yard near Portsmouth, tells the fascinating story of Pedro, a Dutch-bred gelding with a heart of gold…

    “I got Pedro when he was 12 from a friend of mine. He was being competed at a local show – I was warming him up for a friend and fell in love with him, then I found out he was for sale. He cost £6,000 and had showjumped up to newcomers and done dressage up to advanced medium as a youngster. He didn’t really like the dressage (and still doesn’t!), but he knows all of the moves and I just tell him to go backwards or sideways – I can’t do dressage for love nor money, but you think it, he does it – he’s very in tune with what I’m thinking.

    “When I first got Pedro home, his character was that of a very distinguished gentleman, because he hadn’t really been allowed to be a horse and had been stabled most of the time. But I turn mine out all summer, and then they come in at night during the winter and so then he sort of started to learn how to be a bit cheeky. Then he turned the cheekiness into demandingness because as he went higher up the eventing ranks, he thought ‘well, I’m king of the castle. I think I need this and that’ and now he just gets to do whatever he wants – he free roams around the yard and goes in whichever field he wants – if he’s stood at a gateway, you have to open it so that he can go into that field, but he’s so loving too.

    “I only started eventing in 2007, two years before I got Pedro, but we slowly went up the levels and I asked a professional to take him to a couple of events once we reached intermediate, but that rider loved him so much that they kept competing Pedro for a full season. Eventually I got him back and we’ve just kept progressing from there.

    “I’ve only got a couple of horses and I never thought I would jump around a four-star. We did our first one two years ago as Pedro was 22 and I thought if I didn’t do it then, we might be pushing things age-wise. I picked Little Downham as I liked the look of the course photos online and I spoke to some professionals and it sounded like it might suit us did. I was so nervous – I really struggle with my nerves – and the conditions were quite slippery, so I got 20 penalties on the cross-country and a few faults in the showjumping but I didn’t mind because there’s no pressure – I was so happy to finish and I said I would never compete at that level again.

    “And then Bicton came up, and because I love it here and Pedro loves it here I thought, ‘let’s give it a go’. Then I heard some of the Olympic longlist combinations were going to be here, but I had already entered and it was past the ballot date, so if I withdrew, I wouldn’t be able to get my money back, so I thought ‘Oh, we’re going to have to go’.

    “All this weekend, I’ve been saying I wouldn’t do the cross-country because I was so nervous – I’m not good enough and I know I’m not – I couldn’t ride around here on any other horse; the only reason I can with Pedro is because of the bond we have. I trust him and I know that as long as I get him there on a half decent stride, he will jump – he knows where the flags are and only wants to jump; he would never run out. He has been stamping his feet all day, because he knew what was coming and he wouldn’t have spoken to me for weeks if I hadn’t run him. So we started and as soon as I was over fence six, I thought, ‘we can do this’ – I took some long routes, I relaxed and we just bumbled around having a lovely time. He was full of running the whole way around.

    “We’ve only just started medicating Pedro’s joints this year to give him a little bit of help. I had a complete set of X-rays taken last year and they were all clear – he passed a flexion test as recently as last week.

    “That’s my last four-star; we’ll keep doing three-star and advanced classes – he’s not the type of horse that could be retired as a hacker or even to do low level eventing, and he definitely couldn’t be out in the field – he’ll tell me on-course when he wants to retire and that will be it.”


    Read the full report from Bicton in the 17 June issue of Horse & Hound magazine

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