‘One in a billion’: hedge-hopping H&H cover star crowned RDA horse of the year

  • A hunting hero, H&H cover star and house-party attendee has been crowned RDA horse of the year.

    Vintage Port (Pip Squeak) achieved the charity accolade at the 2017 RDA Gala Awards (26 September).

    Pip enjoyed a varied career before excelling with the RDA.

    Emma Brown bought the now 20-year-old gelding as an “opinionated” six-year-old who had done some showjumping.

    She introduced Pip to side-saddle riding, which he took to quickly.

    Over the years Pip hunted with the Quorn and team-chased with the Legover Ladies.

    He took part in side-saddle displays at Blenheim for 10 years and turned his hoof to the high-jump challenge.

    “He just did everything,” Emma told H&H. “He’s been a prolific hunter, appearing on the cover of Horse & Hound in 2003 and 2006, and has promoted side-saddle riding to the masses.”

    Pip’s passion for hunting sometimes got the better of him.

    “When you finished hunting with him and wanted to go home he would go sideways into a ditch — he would really be cross with me if I made him go away from the field,” said Emma.

    “I would have to sit in the back of a four-by-four, drop the tail gate and lead him back from the car. Then he was ok.”

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    The grey gelding is a big character who has always enjoyed his food.

    “We would have a little after-party after the opening meet and Pip used to come into my house,” said Emma.

    “He came in through the front door and helped himself to bread on the table.

    “He used to eat everything — ice cream, pasta, pizza, he just wanted to live in the house.”

    Four years ago Emma decided that Pip needed a quieter life, and that he would thrive with the RDA.

    “What he gives them is just incredible,” she said. “He’s been such a star — he’s adapted so well and is helping people.

    “Everyone is brilliant at Penniwells. He gets fussed and spoilt and they’re all massively pleased with his award.”

    Pip does everything from lead rein sessions to teaching riders to trot, canter and jump.

    This year he helped many riders qualify for the RDA national championships in both dressage and showjumping and came home in the ribbons.

    Sarah Healing and Sarah Moreland (centre) collect Pip’s award with Clare Balding and H&H news editor Eleanor Jones

    “His defining moment was the costume freestyle where he danced to a clapping and cheering audience dressed as a bull,” said an RDA spokesman. “He won this class on 88.5%.

    “He has transformed many riders’ lives. He is always so happy and gives so much back to all who know him.”

    Sarah Healing of Penniwells added: “Pip is one in a billion — pure gold and there will never be another.

    “We must treasure every moment we have with him. He has found his niche in RDA at Penniwells and we are truly blessed and privileged to have him.”

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