Ride of my life: Keith Shore

  • Keith Shore recalls his ride on Dun Equity at the 1993 Royal International at Hickstead

    ‘Ecky’ was the most unpredictable horse I’ve ever ridden. Show him a fence and he fired like a bullet out of a gun.

    We never jumped a practice fence. It was all or nothing in the ring, and you never knew what he was going to do.

    He was the fastest horse; he could jump from impossible angles. It didn’t matter where we turned from, he saw fences and wanted to jump them – even if they were the wrong ones! Some classes were lost when I wanted to turn inside a fence and he jumped it backwards.

    Ecky was at his best indoors, so Hickstead’s International Arena was quite a challenge. My heart sank when I saw the course – the start was at the far end. When we entered the ring for any class, I only ever had one hand on the buckle end of the rein and trotted to the start as quietly as possible, within the 45 seconds the rules allow.

    Once I took up the reins, he shot through the start to the brush with white rails and flew it. He was quick everywhere, turning off the road-closed fence so sharply I nearly left by the side door.

    I was worried about the Devil’s Dyke as he could spook at water, and for the one and only time, I carried a stick in the ring. He was fantastic, though and flew through.

    The Irish bank looked too big for such a little horse, but he took that in his stride, and scampered up and down the Derby Bank like a mountain goat. He was so nippy that he jumped across the gate off one leg.

    It was a hot class but he rose to the challenge and the more I dared him, the better he went. Coming off the Cornish bank towards the zigzag combination, he was just coming off the bridle, and, for once, I had to kick.

    He moved up a gear, and we met the final birch rails oxer on a long stride to win.

    After this victory, an accident nearly ended his career when he was cast in his stable at Lisbon, and chipped four inches of bone off his pelvis.

    He came back and won major classes, but we had to carry a vet’s certificate because his walk looked so peculiar. We finally retired him after the 1997 Scope Festival.

    He is now enjoying an idyllic lifein Staffordshire and still jumps out of the field to claim his carrots. Although I have chosen Hickstead, every round I had on Ecky was a ride of my life.

    Don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound (27 June) where Liz Benwell talks about her ‘ride of a lifetime’ at the Golden Horseshoe on Liana Rose.

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