Ever find yourself wondering how your horse manages to find the muddiest spot straight after a bath? Discover what else…
A badly wounded pony found tied to railings on a housing estate in Ireland had to be put down due to the severity of the injury.
The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) received reports of the injured animal on the Tallaght estate in Kiltalown, Dublin on 20 October.
Officers visited the site and found the piebald mare had a severe open wound to her stomach and had lost a “significant” amount of blood.
The DSPCA reported that the wound was so deep that it had punctured the pony’s lung.
Unfortunately, they were forced to put her down as her injuries were too severe and there was “no way she would have survived”.
The mare had been tethered to railings above a stone wall.
“It’s impossible to be sure what caused these injuries, they could have been caused by the pony hopping over railings, but we can’t rule out that the wound was inflicted,” said a spokesman for the DSPCA.
“According to some residents, the pony appeared on the road at around 1am but its injury wasn’t noticed until the following morning.
“We’re unsure if she was wounded when she first appeared on the road or if it happened in the hours that followed.
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“This all started with somebody buying this pony for a minimal price and sadly her story ends here on a housing estate, severely injured.
The Gardai have confirmed that a full investigation into the incident has been launched.
The partnership between Nick Skelton and his Olympic gold medal-winning stallion Big Star is legendary. But did you know Big Star was discovered by chance jumping at a small show in Holland? We chat to Nick to find out how it all began, and what the future might hold for the 13-year-old stallion. Don’t miss the full interview with Nick Skelton in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (20 October 2016)
Tell us how your partnership with Big Star began?
“I wouldn’t have found him if it hadn’t been for Laura [Kraut]. She was heading to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the US team went for training at a little country show in Holland. She arrived at 8am and saw this five-year-old jumping in the ring with an American rider called Alan Waldman. She thought ‘Christ, this is the most amazing horse I’ve ever seen’ and went running up to Alan to ask if his horse was for sale. He said yes, but that he wanted him to go to someone really good because he thought Big Star was the best horse he’d ever had. Laura rang me and said you’d better get over here quick to see this horse, and that was it.”
You’ve ridden some phenomenal horses over the years, what makes Big Star so good?
“I always thought he was something special. I’ve been to Olympics on horses, who, if they were cars, would have been in the red — you’re squeezing everything out of them — whereas Big Star is always in the green. He can withstand the pressure of competitions, too — and at big championships you’ve got to apply the pressure from day one, every fence is a winning post. You pass Big Star first when you walk on the yard — he’s in the stable where Arko used to be — but he’s usually got his head down eating.”
Big Star’s owners Gary and Beverley Widdowson have been huge supporters of showjumping — how did you team up with them?
“The first time I competed outside of England was at Dublin spring show in 1973 and Gary was on the junior team with me. We just hit it off, became friends and kept meeting each other at shows. He stopped riding and went in to his business but eventually he came to me wanting to buy a horse and we bought Major Wager, who went on to win so many grands prix. When Major Wager retired, Gary and I went our separate ways, but then came back together and bought a few more horses, then Carlo and Big Star. The whole Widdowson family have been amazing — they never put any pressure on me, or say I have to jump here or there, they leave it totally up to me, and for that I’m really grateful.”
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All this has culminated in you being crowned Olympic champion — has it sunk in?
“It has been an accumulation of everything — me being out of the sport for a long time and having a lot of injuries. Then Big Star has had injuries and it’s been a real fight to get him back to that level. There have been an awful lot of people who have helped along the way. My groom Mark Beever has been with me for 31 years and he only looks after Big Star — he doesn’t do any other horses — but he’s here from 7am to 6pm just messing about with that horse, massaging him, icing him, grooming him, walking on the roads… he does so much. But in Rio, when I came out after the jump-off, I said to Laura I don’t think I’ve done enough to win. But the good thing about Big Star is his action — he’s always doing a lot so he looks like he’s travelling quicker than he actually is, and I didn’t go full bore on him. So I think the other riders just assumed I’d gone quicker than I had. I didn’t watch any of them — I just watched the scoreboard. I got a bit nervous when Eric Lamaze went in but then I heard the crowd go, and that was it, I’d won.”
You’ve mentioned plans to contest the Rolex Grand Slam and compete at Olympia this year and there are hopefully many years left in both of you, but have you thought about Big Star’s retirement?
“Big Star is used for breeding now and he’ll continue doing that. I would like to keep him here at home, because I think he should continue to be ridden — I don’t think you should just retire a horse and put him in the field. If he goes to stud he needs to be kept fit and in good condition anyway. So I hope that’s what would happen.”
You can read the full interview with Nick Skelton in this week’s Horse & Hound ( 20 October 2016)
Sometimes stables are more than just a bed for the night. Julie Harding asks top riders which are the stables they won’t tire of
Favourite stabling: the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (pictured, above)
What it’s like: there are 45 boxes in the main quadrangle, plus another stable block, the Dog Kennels, adjacent to Badminton House, so called because the late Duchess of Beaufort kept her whelping pens there. Another block is called the Clock Tower; there are 15 boxes in the Farm Yard, while the Portcullis block is close to Badminton village and is a quiet spot for nervous horses. A total of 92 horses can be stabled during the event.
All the gear: most of the stables have built-in mangers and some have automatic drinkers. The full-sized pitch pine doors still boast their original brass door furniture from the 19th century. Horses are bedded down on Bedmax shavings, unless riders prefer paper bedding, in which case they are asked to bring their own. They can also bring their own mats if required.
Mary on the wow factor: “I’ve been going to Badminton for years, both for the event and for team training, when the riders would stay in the servants’ quarters above the Dog Kennels. You get a real sense of old England and tradition when you are there and the stables are wonderful, from the polished brasses to the spotlessly clean permanent mangers. I also love the old-fashioned bridle hooks and saddle racks outside the boxes. I have invariably stabled my horses in the Dog Kennels — most returning riders generally go back to the same block. King William competed at Badminton most frequently and being a sensitive horse he always knew where he was. Being close to the house, the Dog Kennels is also close to the action, but there are only a handful of boxes in the block meaning fewer people and horses milling around than in, say, the quadrangle.”
Favourite stabling: Laura’s yard at Eastington House, Ampney St Peter
What it’s like: a total of 25 stables, including eight that form a part of the block around the 20x46m indoor school. There is also a tack room and a traditional washroom here — Laura uses buckets and sponges rather than a horse shower. The block was constructed over the shell of the old stables that existed when the Bechtolsheimer family moved in when Laura was 12 months old.
All the gear: the indoor and the 27x60m outdoor school both boast Martin Collins surfaces that the company has adapted to include extra sand to give more “slide”. Each stable has sliding doors made by Loddon, a removable manger (most horses are fed from the floor), a drinker and rubber matting (originally applied as liquid) in each box, plus a 1m high rim of rubber to prevent injury in the event of a horse becoming cast. This was fixed by indispensible handyman Ben Flood. The floors of the passage and wash bay are constructed with non-slip rubber blocks. There is also a Kampmann-Foehn dryer/solarium.
Laura on the wow factor: “The Cotswold stone building and the colourful hanging baskets make a great combination on the outside. Inside I love the yard for its practicality. It is easy to keep clean, tidy and well organised, which was the idea behind it when my father [Dr Wilfried Bechtolsheimer] designed it three decades ago. I also love riding in the outdoor school, being able to keep an eye on the horses in the front paddocks at the same time.”
Favourite stabling: the Royal Mews
What it’s like: built in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in 1825, and set around a quadrangle, the Royal Mews houses working stables as well as the carriages, coaches and cars used by the Royal Family. Originally there was space for 100 horses, while today it can accommodate more than 70.
Tim on the wow factor: “After a lecture demo a few years ago, my horses spent the night in the stalls at the Mews’ stables. The stalls themselves weren’t massive — perhaps not as big as people think they are — but everything about the place oozed quality and history; you were totally aware that you were in a part of Buckingham Palace. The stables are beautiful and contain old cast-iron mangers that were installed in the year dot. Clearly everything is made to last. One of the horses I took was a youngster and he was a bit overawed by the experience. It turned out to be the highlight of his career for a while.”
Favourite stabling: the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
What it’s like: portable stables from LH Woodhouse, sited two fields away from the showground along Barnack Road. Each block has boxes along both long sides with a walkway in between.
All the gear: riders bring their own equipment, but shavings are from Bedmax.
Christopher on the wow factor: “What makes Burghley’s stables special is the camaraderie of being stabled alongside other riders. This year the Aussies were next to each other, while the Kiwis were opposite. At an event like Burghley it helps to be stabled close by as we usually walk the cross-country together. Like a lot of other experienced horses, [2016 Burghley winner] Nobilis 18 is pretty seasoned when it comes to travelling and he’s accustomed to turning up in a new place and settling straight in.”
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Favourite stabling: Natasha’s Manor Farm base near Uxbridge
What it’s like: an American-style barn, built by Shufflebottom, with 12½ (the half is to house the miniature, Pilgrim) brick-built, 12x12ft stables running down one side. There is a wash-down area and a Hot Horse Shower, plus a Dri Mee solarium at the far end. The 20x40m outdoor arena has an Andrews Bowen surface taken from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
All the gear: every box has rubber matting bought on the internet by Natasha, topped with Verdo Horse Bedding. Each stable has an automatic water drinker and a manger, plus saddle racks and hooks directly outside to make tacking up easy.
Natasha on the wow factor: “Thanks to clear panels in the roof, the barn is really light, while the wooden slats that partly make up the walls mean it is breezy even on a hot day. Even though we are only 10 minutes from Heathrow Airport, the barn is surrounded by fields. Horses love the place and any unsettled liveries are soon relaxed. We also always have the radio on. Cabral (JP) [her Rio Olympic triple gold medal winner] is stabled at the far end of the row. He loves the peace and quiet of his cosy corner, but he also loves having to walk past all the other horses, saying: ‘Look at me.’”
Favourite stabling: Unicorn Equestrian Trust, Stow-on-the-Wold
What it’s like: thirteen permanent 12x12ft stables that run parallel to the long side of the indoor arena, with 14 new wooden boxes next door. There is a 30x66m indoor and a 100x49m outdoor arena, both with Andrews Bowen surfaces.
All the gear: rubber matting from Fieldguard is in each stable, with shavings from Bedmax. The stables are otherwise empty for ease of cleaning and riders (who often come for team training as the Unicorn is not open to the public) are expected to bring their own equipment to cut down on cross-contamination.
Spencer on the wow factor: “This place opened about 20 years ago, but it is so cleverly designed that it is timeless. It is situated in a beautiful part of the world — the stables all have windows overlooking the Cotswolds — and it has a very special feel. This is due to the amazing team that runs it, headed by Sydney Smith, who has so much passion and energy. It is also kept spotlessly clean. Each stable is power-washed and disinfected after every visit.”
This stabling and arenas special was first published in the 20 October issue of Horse & Hound magazine
The royal passion for equestrianism looks set to continue into the next generation with Princess Charlotte.
At a special Buckingham Palace event for Olympic and Paralympics heroes, the Duchess of Cambridge revealed the princess’s love of horses.
Kate said that her 17-month-old daughter is already a fan of horses and riding, while Prince George is interested in fencing.
Para rider Natasha Baker was among the guest athletes at the event, on 18 October.
“I asked her how the children were and she said Charlotte is really enjoying her riding, which is great to hear and I said we may see her here on a line-up in 20 years’ time,’” said Natasha.
”She emphasised that Charlotte has this passion about horses and although she doesn’t echo it, she’ll do her best to champion and encourage it.”
The Queen, Prince Harry and Prince William joined Kate at the event honouring the stars of Rio.
Charlotte’s appreciation of horses runs through generations of the royal family.
Horses have been central to The Queen’s life from a very young age and her daughter Princess Anne shares this passion.
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- Happy birthday Princess Anne! We dig into the archives to celebrate *PICTURES*
The Princess Royal took gold at the European Eventing Championships and is committed to equestrian charities.
Meanwhile, Charlotte’s aunt Zara Tindall became the first royal to win an Olympic medal when the event rider took team silver at London 2012 riding High Kingdom.
The Duchess of Cornwall also shares the family’s love of horses and has been president of the Ebony Horse Club in Brixton since 2009.
Grand National hero Rough Quest — whose 1996 victory was described by his jockey Mick Fitzgerald as ‘better than sex’ — has died at the grand age of 30.
The gelding provided owner Andrew Wates, trainer Terry Casey and Mick with one of their most memorable days in racing and was the longest living Grand National-winning horse.
However, he recently developed an infection, which he was struggling to overcome, and the decision was made to put him to sleep on Wednesday (19 October).
The son of Crash Course was retired from the track aged 12 before enjoying a few years on the hunting field, but was described by his owner as “rather a handful and very strong”.
He returned to Andrew’s home in Dorking, Surrey, three years later where he would remain in happy retirement for the next 15 years.
“He really was part of the family and will be very much missed — I would visit him at least two or three times a week. I had owned him for 26 years and for most of that time he remained in the same yard at Henfold House Stables,” said Andrew.
“He was a very tough individual and was extremely well looked after by David Arbuthnot [who trains from Henfold] in his retirement.”
Andrew found Rough Quest as a ‘keen’ four-year-old in Ireland through trainer Arthur Moore.
“He’s was a fantastic mover and a really lovely horse — a bit backward but a big, strong horse.”
He won over the infamous Aintree fences aged 10, having been second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and won the Racing Post Chase on the lead-up to the big race.
“Mick Fitzgerald gave him a beautiful ride in the National that year. You never wanted to hit the front too soon with Rough Quest because he would idle,” added Andrew.
“Following the race there was an enquiry and I think I was too busy with emotion that it was almost a relief when the winner was announced — it really was the best day.”
H&H recently visited the Warwickshire stables of dual Olympic champion Nick Skelton and we encountered some super star horses, a devoted dog and a gleaming array of trophies. We hope you enjoy this exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Nick’s yard and don’t miss the full interview in tomorrow’s issue of the magazine (20 October).
1. Brilliant partnership
Nick Skelton and Big Star in front of the stables. Nick has ridden and produced the Quick Star stallion since finding him as a five-year-old, saying he always knew he could win Olympic gold. (And we just love, love, love Big Star’s saddle pad!)
2. Winners galore
The walls are covered in mementos of 58-year-old Nick’s global successes from a career spanning well over four decades.
3. A beautiful setting
Nick and “Henry” in the beautiful Warwickshire foothills he calls home.
4. Tacking up
Helped by groom of 31 years, Mark Beever, Nick puts the finishing touches to an immaculate Big Star.
The nearly-finished new accommodation block at the nearby racing stables of Nick’s trainer son Dan Skelton, is decorated with the Union flag and a brilliantly improvised makeshift gold medal.
6. Good vibrations
Big Star enjoys some down time every day on the Vitafloor — a stable with a vibrating floor — under the heat lamps.
7. Gold star for Big Star
Hanging on Big Star’s stable door is this gold star that was sent to the yard after the 13-year-old stallion helped Nick win individual gold in Rio in August.
8. Hacking out
Groom Mark Beever rides out Big Star — “He walks at a snail’s pace” at home says Nick of the laid-back stallion.
9. Worth his weight in gold
Nick proudly displays his team gold medal from the London Olympics in 2012 and the individual gold medal from Rio in 2016.
10. Beautiful Big Star
Owned by Gary and Beverley Widdowson, the handsome stallion now combines competing with stud duties.
11. That’s a lot of polishing!
Nick’s impressive collection of silverware fills the shelves.
12. Grub’s up
Carrots and hay are on the lunch menu for one lucky horse on Nick’s yard, which he shares with partner Laura Kraut.
13. Training for success
Riders and horses working in Nick’s outdoor school which has a backdrop to die for.
14. Keeping an eye on proceedings
“If I strike a very regal pose, perhaps the photographer will stop taking pictures of Big Star and concentrate on me instead” —Nick’s dog Elsa enjoying the Autumn sunshine.
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15. The famous steps!
Nick’s mounting block, which travelled all the way to Rio and back, and took a starring role in the medal ceremony.
16. Spa treatments
Big Star enjoys some hydrotherapy on the racing yard.
17. Just the three of us
Nick with his Olympic medal-winning ride Big Star and his beautiful dog Elsa enjoying a well-earned break at home after the whirlwind of Rio.
Your horse may assume that they take pride of place in the horsebox, but they would be mistaken… Whether guarding the ramp, having a snooze in the driver’s seat or giving the steering wheel a spin with their paw, these canine companions have made it clear who’s in charge
From constantly being covered in grey hair, battling with stable stains and spending hours washing and rewashing the same section of coat — if you’ve ever owned, ridden or cared for a grey horse, you will be able to relate to many of the following…
1. Being congratulated on the lovely skewbald in your field and wondering what that person is talking about.
2. Having to get up at 5am to re-wash the horse you already washed at least three times the night before with a variety of shampoos.
3. Said grey horse refusing to stand still while you do it — cue you ending up wetter than they are.
4. Understanding that it’s all or nothing, as washing one dirty patch results in horrible yellow streaks.
5. Standing head to head in the field gateway and asking him, in your sweetest voice, not to roll in the muddiest patch when you let him go — and watching as he does exactly that.
6. Stable stains are the bane of your life. In fact, you argue that the term stable stain is inadequate because normally at least 75% of your horse is the wrong colour.
7. Removing a stable rug to reveal a brown tummy. Every single day.
8. Laughing when someone recommends a head and neck cover, bandages, and a rug with belly and tail flaps, because you know it’s really not that simple.
9. Yellow tails. Enough said.
10. Recycling old pairs of tights and using several to protect said tail after hours of washing.
11. Fully supporting the idea that hacking out a semi-clean horse is acceptable.
12. Wondering why your horse can’t lay on his left side, so that traffic only sees his clean half.
13. Chalk is your best friend…
14 …But the sun isn’t. Copious amounts of sun cream just won’t cut it on pink-skinned greys.
15. Molasses gives you nightmares — greys and dark liquids do not mix.
Discover what horsey people don’t understand
16. Wondering what that persistent black stain is on either side of your horse’s tail. Then spying suspicious grey hairs on the field gate.
17. Waiting to put on your riding jacket until the very last second for fear of it being covered in grey hairs. They get everywhere.
18. Admiring all the black, bay and chestnut horses in your class and thinking how easy their riders’ lives must be.
19. Getting cross when your friend complains about the single white sock they have to clean. Ha!
20. Arguing until you’re blue in the face that grey is the most beautiful colour, and then realising your filthy grey beast can’t back up that statement right now.
21. When everyone else has finished prepping their horses for the following day’s event with the flick of a brush, you haven’t even finished scrubbing one side of your grey’s neck.
Two horses have been put down and a rider is in hospital with reported serious injuries following the international 90km endurance ride in Fontainebleau, France, on Saturday 15 October.
The fatal injuries were confirmed in a brief statement issued by the ride organisers, and the notation CI – which stands for catastrophic injury – promptly appeared against the horses’ names in the live results.
Experienced French rider Andre Coriou, 55, was taken to hospital after the six-year-old Ariane d’Oudaires fell during loop three. It is not yet clear whether the horse’s fatal fracture was the cause or result of the fall. At the time of publication, no update on Coriou’s condition has been issued.
The second fracture was sustained by Castlebar Contraband, ridden by Sheikh Abdul Al Qasimi, 28, a member of one of the ruling families in the UAE. The Qasimis’ long-term trainer Anzac Mehmood posted on Facebook that he did not see the accident in person, but visited the site later and thought Contraband had probably tripped on a stone.
Under FEI rules, both horses must undergo an autopsy, although the results will only be released to the horse’s owner and to its national federation for legal reasons.
Fontainebleau, situated in the forests south of Paris, is one of France’s most popular multi-discipline venues and hosted the 2009 European Eventing Championships. Saturday’s fatalities will be a particular blow for its endurance organisers, because a horse was also put down on the opening weekend of their 2016 season in April.
On that occasion an Omani rider, who had borrowed a French horse for the day, dismounted to check his slipping saddle when his horse escaped onto the nearby auto route, getting stuck between the concrete crash barriers in the middle of the road. The horse had to be put down as a result of injuries it sustained resulting in the road being closed for several hours.
This was only Sheikh Abdul’s second FEI ride on Contraband, who has had eight other different riders across his 12 FEI career starts. The horse was the intended ride of Anzac Mehmood at a national ride in Belgium last year. This was while the UAE was suspended from FEI competition, but organisers discovered the permit to compete, puportedly from Mehmood’s native Pakistan, had been faked and stopping him participating.
Sheikh Abdul was suspended by the FEI for two years after another of his rides, Hotspurr Ouarra, tested positive to the banned substance testosterone in Dubai in 2011.
Horse shopping should be fun… but it can also considerably raise your blood pressure. Here’s why…
1. Some things in life are certain. One is that, no matter how much you have to spend, the horse you fall in love with will be outside your budget.
2. You spend two long, boring hours stuck in traffic on the motorway as you head off to see a dealer in the back of beyond, only to take one look at the horse when you arrive and instantly know it’s not for you.
3. You arrive at the seller’s yard to discover it’s a riding school filled with excited kids and their parents. All of whom hang around the school to watch you as you try out the horse. No pressure, then!
4. You’ve discovered time and time again that people are either somewhat creative with the truth when describing the horse they’re selling, or deluded as to its ability. And age. And temperament. And colour… Let’s be kind and say that they’re probably blinded by love.
5. If you come from a non-horsey family, your mum will be stressing about why you’re getting another horse, and how you’re going to fit it around work and/or family, and what about all that motorway driving you’re doing while you’re looking — it’s so dangerous…
6. Your friends are really excited about your search and keep sending you Facebook ads for wildly unsuitable horses. Still, it’s nice that they care.
7. You’re somewhere in the Derbyshire Dales, driving along a B road with no clue where you’re actually going, and running late to see a horse. It’s at this point that your satnav goes out of range – and a tractor pulls in front of you and stays there, proceeding at 10 miles an hour, for the next half-hour.
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8. You find the perfect horse and it’s love at first sight. This is The One. You indulge in happy daydreams of the pair of you galloping cross-country, the wind in your hair and mane respectively. The song ‘Just The Two Of Us’ keeps playing in your head. You know the vetting is really just a technicality, as the horse was clearly sound as a pound. So you’re utterly heartbroken when it fails. You vow you’ll never fall in love again, that you won’t let your heart rule your head. And you won’t… Until the next time.
9. Although you’re looking forward to getting a new horse and it taking you forward, you’re quailing a bit at having to go through the whole ‘getting to know you’ stuff once you get it back to your yard.
10. You’re considering giving it all up and taking up golf instead.