Boasting the unique feat of representing his country in Nations Cup teams across two disciplines, this former world-class eventer is now enjoying a second career as a showjumper. Jennifer Donald talks to his connections to find out more about the diminutive character who likes to have the last laugh...
Stable name: Percy
Breeding: Salute RP x Indorado
Owner-rider: Will Fletcher
Breeder: MP Toering (Netherlands)
Greatest achievements: Persimmon is believed to be the only horse to jump on Nations Cup teams in eventing and showjumping; first British Eventing six-year-old championships 2011; team silver and individual fourth at the European Eventing Championships 2015; under-18 champion at the British Showjumping National Championships 2017; European young rider team silver 2018; third in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at RIHS 2019.
Rider Will Fletcher
“We took it slowly for the first year as I was in the middle of my A levels. He did well in 1.20m and 1.30m classes but then we jumped a Foxhunter second round, which was by far the biggest course we’d done, and I thought, ‘OK, this one has more in the tank than we thought,’ and we kicked on from there.
“He’s 16hh at a push and I’m a full-up 6ft 2in, but his strength comes straight from his heart – he wants it more than any other horse. He has so many quirks though! There are fillers at home we can’t have out, yet he’s never spooked in the ring.
“The first time I jumped him after a break during lockdown, he splatted me like a 12.2hh pony at a tiny cross-pole and I was left on the floor with him standing over me – I’m sure he was laughing.
“In the trot-up, he’s so graceful and does this full-on extended trot, but he tries to bite you and he’s kicked me twice. The vet actually turned him and my brother Olli away in Valkenswaard because he was so naughty. However, once he’s in the ring, he’s in the zone.
“What he’s done to help me with my career has been unbelievable, but I’d love to do a five-star show with him – it would be a push for him and me, but I’d love to give a big grand prix a go.”
Groom Stacey Greenshield
“Persimmon is complex! He keeps us on our toes and has to get to know you before he trusts you – he’s a sensitive soul, you couldn’t tell him off. He’s scared of the farrier and he remembers who they are, so that’s tricky. He also goes through phases with his food, he’s very fussy. He has his own pen in the field, but if he’s in one of his moods, he’ll only let Tina [Fletcher] or me catch him.
“Iona Quigley looks after him at most shows and he likes to catch you out – he’ll be stood like a donkey at the side of the ring, then the music will start and he’ll spin round in circles, buck or just generally lose his mind and you think, ‘Where did that come from?’ Looks are deceiving with him – he looks like an old man but he’s very funny, just a ball of personality.”
Former rider Kitty King
“I bought Persimmon as a rising six-year-old from Tim Warren, who sells a few horses locally and had brought him over from the Netherlands having done a bit of amateur jumping. He was a very good mover and jumper and wasn’t crazy money, so he was one to get the owners involved in the sport. I thought that he could certainly go out and win a few nice classes, but wasn’t necessarily expecting him to go on to the European Championships!
“But he stepped up at every level and found it all very easy – he was very bold cross-country and enjoyed his jumping. He was tough mentally and physically and although dressage wasn’t his favourite phase, you could work with him and produce the test you needed on the day.
“My proudest moment was finishing fourth at the Europeans at Blair. He was pathfinder so I was asked to go a long route and that probably cost us individual bronze, but I was delighted. He’s an amazing little horse who’s done a great job.”
Ref Horse & Hound; 15 October 2020