His decade-long career as a ridden pony culminated in the coloured of the year championship at HOYS 2019. Alex Robinson speaks to the connections of this special traditional stallion, who is set to make his debut as a veteran
Del Boy V
Owner/rider: Michelle Cuerden
Greatest achievements: 2010, first and reserve HOYS coloured horse and pony of the year championship; 2011, first native/traditional large ridden pony RIHS; 2018, first and champion ridden coloured Royal Windsor, first and champion ridden coloured Great Yorkshire Show, King of the Ring champion CHAPS championships, first £1,000 Vanguard coloured supreme North of England summer; 2019, first and champion HOYS coloured horse and pony of the year championship.
Owner Michelle Cuerden
“The way I came to get ‘Derek’ was rather bizarre. I wanted to send a horse to Susie Shuttleworth’s yard for breaking in, but she didn’t have any space so suggested I took Derek – her 2010 Horse of the Year Show [HOYS] winner – for a while. At the time I said I couldn’t possibly take him, but he ended up coming to my yard and I fell in love. On my birthday my husband, Mark, presented me with Derek’s passport.
“It wasn’t his achievements that drew me to him, it was how gentle and calm he was. You can be in a bad mood and Derek will put his chin on you and all the stress is just gone; he’s my headspace.
“Initially I was terrified of living up to expectations, but Derek just fulfills every confidence. At HOYS last year there was no pressure at all. I told his rider Vikki Smith to go and enjoy it; he’s 15 and has absolutely nothing to prove. After I watched his show I cried as it was just perfect, and once they were called out as winners I cried again. Even now that memory gives me a tingle. I still look at him everyday and think, ‘Wow, you’re just so awesome’.”
Former rider Vikki Smith
“Derek is a pleaser and he gives 150% every time. He loves an occasion and wants everyone to look at him, but not in a big-headed way, he just likes the attention. If he’s down the line, he gets a little agitated.
“The week before HOYS he went back to Michelle and was turned out in the field so he could just be pony. This meant he came out fresh and was so up for it. I always knew he could win HOYS again; he’s so typey, traditional and he always gives a polished show.
“The fact he’s 15 and is as fit as he is says a lot about his conformation and quality; he has not once broken down or showed stiffness. The back specialist says it is like working on a six-year-old.
“Michelle is a very understanding owner and she puts the best into her ponies. At home, Derek can be awkward but never naughty; if you’re washing him, he’ll intentionally rub himself on the wall, and you’ll often go into the stable and find him stood on his rug.”
Judge Carl Owen
“What can I say about this pony? When I judged him at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2018, I thought he was pure class. He was so true to type and went like clockwork, working forward and looking through his bridle. The whole time he was shouting at me to pick him and I could tell he loved his job.
“He looked as fresh then as he did when I judged him about seven years earlier.”
Ref Horse & Hound; 3 September 2020