Sometimes it is some of the smallest horses that have the biggest hearts. If you saw Pebbly Maximus in a field these days, you might not know the stories he could tell or the dreams he made possible. Unassuming in nature barely topping 16h, he made up for it in heart and fight. Having grown quite the following over the years, you can’t miss him in warm-up standing out with his short stature, big white blaze, and white socks. He has given many people the ride of a lifetime and made his mark on numerous careers.
How many teenagers ever get to sit on an Olympic event horse, let alone compete one? It must be a tiny handful, but Isabel Finemore is one of them, and she knows how lucky she has been to be taught the ropes by a true star in Rutherglen.
Ziggy has never been a straightforward horse, but he’s always been a fancy mover. Owner Rachel Jurgens remembers that even when she got him off the track, he was easy to ride on the flat at home. But away from home, the issues started to show up: as an event horse, his dressage scores were never impressive because he would get so stressed. Now, at age 25, Ziggy is shining in a second career competing in Grand Prix level dressage with rider Rachel King – though, on occasion, the former five-star event horse can still be inclined to blow his top in an otherwise good test.
“He looks as grey as I am,” jokes Andrew Nicholson. Nereo’s long, chestnut face may show signs of age, with greying circles around his wise eyes, but he still slopes out to the field every day with that unmistakably rangey, athlete’s stride. It is four years almost exactly since he won Badminton, giving Nicholson virtually the only major prize in eventing that had hitherto eluded him. He was retired from the sport a year later, in 2018, at Badminton after yet another superlative cross-country round.
How many CCI5* winners and double World Equestrian Games medalists end up teaching an un-horsey teenager to ride? It wouldn’t be a long list, and in fact, there may only be one - Cool Mountain.
It’s been 11 years since the son of Primitive Rising made two successful trips across the Atlantic to Kentucky, once to win the CCI5* and, a few months later, to take team gold and individual silver medals at the World Equestrian Games with William Fox-Pitt (GBR). Yet “Ollie,” as Cool Mountain is known at home, is still in work at Fox-Pitt’s Dorset yard and a treasured member of the community there.
Born of the Irish Sport Horse stallion Balda Beau and Irish Sport Horse dam Cathy’s Lady, Cambalda was bred by John Irish in Ireland and born in 2002. Jayne Wilson purchased Cambalda and brought him to England, which is where Kelli Temple came across him while on a horse shopping trip.
Neville Bardos is a horse that needs no introduction. Born in Australia in 1999 at the famous Woodlands Stud in Scone, New South Wales, Neville was sired by the New Zealand Thoroughbred Mahaya and out of an Australian Thoroughbred mare, Zambia. Although bred to race, Neville was a bit of a dud on the track.
William Tatton Winter was a British painter who lived from 1855 to 1928. Sue Broughton, Winter’s granddaughter and a Thoroughbred breeder in New Zealand, named one of the foals from her 2000 crop for her grandfather. That foal, sired by the New Zealand Thoroughbred stallion Drums of Time, went on to compete at the upper levels of the sport of eventing with four different riders on two different continents under the name Tatton Winter.
In 1994, a Thoroughbred colt by Kentucky Jazz and out of Oui Oui, bred by Mickey and Marshall Robinson, was born in Texas. Under the name Gentleman Jazz, he raced just two times at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas as a 3-year-old, never placing and amassing no earnings.
In April of 2002, a Thoroughbred filly by Frisk Me Now and out of Teetawk, bred by Jim Plemmons, was born in Kentucky and given the Jockey Club registered name Cupid’s Tart. Cupid’s Tart never raced, however, and when she was 3 years old, the breeding farm where she’d been living gave her to Irish equestrian Alec Kennedy as a sport horse prospect.
In life, sometimes things come full circle. That has been the case for Yoscha Bosche (Joyeux Danseur x Grau Frau), a now 19-year-old 15.3-hand off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding who left the track in the fall of 2004 after eight disappointing starts, never finishing higher than sixth place.