Di Arbuthnot, Chief Executive
T: 01488 648998
Retraining of Racehorses
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Winners of the RoR Heart Awards 2011
The five winning horses in the first ever RoR Heart Awards are:
In addition, 22-year-old family horse SOLO VOLUMES is the Overall Winner of the 2011 Heart Awards. Chosen by horse lover and International best selling author Jilly Cooper OBE, Solo Volumes known as Charlie, captured Jilly's heart for his outstanding versatility and kindness.
The RoR judging panel has really enjoyed reading all of the nominations for the RoR Heart Awards. It’s undoubtedly been an extremely difficult and almost impossible task to decide the final shortlist below, there were so many deserving entries. The RoR would like to give an enormous thanks to every single one of you who nominated a horse, and to those who voted. You are all amazing – well done, keep up the great work you do with such love and dedication for your ex-racehorse.
The full shortlist is featured below, including the winners.
Band of Hope is my ‘natural beauty.’ 16.1 hands of shimmering, coppery, chestnut coat, graceful power and floating paces. That alone doesn’t stand her apart from the crowd, but what I believe does, is the fact that she retains all these qualities at the age of 24!
Initially, her appearance didn’t knock me out, but I found out that my then ‘ugly duckling’ was bred by HM The Queen, starting life at the Royal Stud. Her great bloodlines suggested the genes were there to make a stunning swan! I set about trying to prepare her for showing.
Band of Hope was reluctant to be preened. I was told on several occasions that Banj arrived at the races half clipped! (Not in a tidy, ‘chaser clip’ fashion, but more of a “you needn’t think you’re coming near me again with those dangerous things” !) Making my little flower ‘blossom’ was not going to be easy… I began with hand clippers that first October. I’d finished a low trace clip by June. . .(Just kidding, I think it was done for Christmas!) I ‘clicker’ trained her. This enabled me to gradually introduce quiet, battery clippers, and with patience, firmness and rewards, she accepted them happily.
We had a similar performance over mane and tail pulling, trimming ears and bathing, but they are no problem now. I’m proud that I didn’t ever pin her down or use a twitch. Many judges have looked surprised when they discover how old she is. It’s flattering when she wins a class, because she now looks great on the outside, but more importantly, the time we spent together training and preparing has allowed me to see how lovely she is on the inside! Reaching the heart of her inner beauty is the real privilege, and has been worth all the hard work.
(submitted by Angela Cartwright, Derbyshire)
I feel that my dearest horse deserves a little more recognition for all that he has achieved so far in his life. Bob Justice started his racing career at 4 years running in 57 races, winning 5 including a big win at Aintree, and his earnings totaled £94,979. Bob ended his professional racing career at 10 years and began Point to Point racing until he was 14 years. Bob then came to me for his “semi-retirement”.
In the last year I have been re-educating Bob to learn to “chill” and take life more slowly, we have done lots of hacking, some hunting and schooling. We are currently working with Natural Horsemanship and this has proved very rewarding. I have learnt that Bob loves nothing more than praise, a rub on his forehead and lots of polos. Bob is totally sound, has no injuries, has very good feet and is extremely well.
Bob is a real “Heart Throb”, he is extremely handsome and has an amazing presence. He is very genuine and sincere, always giving 100% in all that you ask of him. When we are out hacking, people stop in their cars and admire him telling me how handsome my horse is, which makes me very proud.
I am very proud of his successes and he will spend the rest of his days with me at my home where he will be thoroughly loved and spoilt.
(submitted by Helen Thurtle, Norwich)
Chunky is a bit like a confident good looking man. He knows he can be as naughty and cheeky as he wants (which he is 99% of the time!!) and all he has to do is look at you and he will be unconditionally forgiven!
He definitely has a sparkle in his eye and after going XC he is positively smiling. I don't know one person who has met him and not commented on how handsome he is. He doesn't like being brushed very much (thin skinned) so his looks are definitely natural. He really is a classically beautiful horse, a George Clooney equivalent!
(submitted by Anna Walby, Gloucestershire)
Bonnie Lad is his racing name and you can see why! If he was a person he would be one of those who don’t need make-up! He is a pretty boy and quite often when called by his stable name “Bonnie” people think he is a mare – until they look closer! He knows he is a pretty boy and boy does he show off, especially in the ménage!
The mares love him and his gelding field mates pick on him for being so pretty and popular! Once he has shed his winter coat he goes a lovely light bay colour – almost dun in some lights and he has an amazing knack of looking extremely well-muscled even when he isn’t worked! I know I’m biased but honestly, he really is bonny!
(submitted by Claire Rigg, Chester)
Campbell ran 43 times during his racing career, between 2003 and 2009. He only retired from racing after blowing his tendon for the second time. I bought him after his injury, and with rest and care the tendon healed and eventually I managed to slowly bring him into work and begin his retraining (not easy with a 17hh ex-racer who has been on box rest for 4 months).
As a racehorse, he used to prance around the parade ring with his neck arched and tail up, so it was an ongoing joke that with his looks, attitude and flicky toes, he would be far more suited to the show ring than the racecourse, especially considering that he won the best turned out prize everytime, even if he wasn’t looking his best.
Luckily his tendon healed to the point where you cannot see or feel anything on his leg, so it was natural that his new career would be in the show ring, where so far he has been extremely successful in ridden and in hand ex-racehorse classes, as well as open show horse classes. He has also been very successful in concurs d'elegance classes, winning every one entered bar one, where he got a bit too giddy! Practically every judge who has seen him has said that with his looks and movement, he should qualify for HOYS, in the racehorse to riding horse series.
At shows, as soon as he comes off the wagon, people come over to him, commenting on how 'pretty' he is, and when he’s in the ring, he is filled with such presence that you cannot help but notice him, although he is such a pretty face, he is often mistaken for a mare, bless him!!!
(submitted by Lisa Godfrey, Lancashire)
In my opinion Dazed and Amazed is worthy of the heart throb title because his pretty face is the only thing to get me out of bed on a chilly Sunday morning! Dazed is a 15.2hh bay Thoroughbred who came to my yard not long after I started working there over a year ago.
I had just begun working after finishing university and he had just retired from racing, so he became my project. After a year of hard work we’re now heading our way towards showing and dressage competitions, and it’s been rewarding helping each other learn along the way.
His racing background means that other ponies on the yard often tease him as he enjoys wearing pink and he hates being out in bad weather in case it messes up his mane!
However this could probably be down to me fussing over him all the time! One thing Dazed and Amazed is known for at the yard is his extremely shiny coat. When he was in training his trainer Richard Hannon exclaimed “he’s got a coat like a f***ing seal!” This is part of the reason I enjoy showing him off, whether on a hack or a lesson he always looks great.
In fifteen years of riding I haven’t come across a horse as good looking as Dazed and Amazed and not only this, his conformation is excellent making him even more deserving of the heart throb title. Besides this, Dazed and Amazed has got his eye on that RoR rug!
(submitted by Vicki McCleod, Hertfordshire)
Everybody knows Fortis at the yard, he's the 'big guy' mainly due to being one of the largest horses at the stables, being 17hh and all! He's got such a kind, loving and genuine face that everybody wants to stroke him! Even the members of public who come and visit the farm shop stop to look at him and that’s why I think he could win this category.
I was so proud recently when on our second ever outing from retiring as a racehorse, we went to do dressage and were placed 5th and 6th in both our prelim classes. All the judges commented on the 'gorgeous' looking horse and how much potential he has if we worked on a few of his weaknesses.
I was so proud because all the work that has made him a riding horse I have done myself, everything he knows I have taught him. And after spending most of Saturday evening and Sunday morning making him look extra special I was proud he was mine when the judges (and spectators) could not keep their eyes off him!
He is so special to me not just because of his looks but because he is the kindest animal I know.
(submitted by Kimberley Watts, Middlesex)
I have owned the six-year-old gelding Solar Max for approximately two years now and he is an absolute joy to own. He retired from racing as a four-year-old due to a tendon injury, which has healed well with a lot of tender loving care.
I believe he is a star in the making and although he hasn’t followed his father Galileo’s hooves into being successful in the racing industry, he certainly turns heads in and out of the show ring! Solar is a far cry from the skinny racehorse that retired a couple of years ago – now he has gained an ideal amount of weight as well as topline. Solar recently entered his fourth show, taking the title of ‘Most Handsome Gelding’.
He is constantly commented on how handsome he looks with his shiny bay coat and his irregular heart shaped star on his forehead. I know if Solar could win this award he would be so proud, something also his father would be proud of and I would be over the moon! I intend on doing more showing classes with him as I believe he has real potential. At the moment he is being used for mainly hacking but also showjumping and cross country.
The photographs I have taken of him are nice but do not do him justice as I am an amateur photographer but I’m sure a professional photographer could truly show what a superstar he is!
(submitted by Anna Garrard, Durham)
I have owned Alconleigh (stable name Inca) for six years and he means the world to me. Inca is my loyal friend. He never judges, he listens patiently and he doesn't mind soaking up tears in his mane.
When my first marriage broke down I don't know how I would have coped without him. When I was at my lowest ebb he saw me through some of my darkest days.
When I met my now husband, Neil, three years ago Neil was petrified of horses and would not even come into Inca's stable. But soon, due to Inca's temperament Neil wanted to come in and give him a stroke. Inca is calm and loving and nobody could be frightened of him. Neil will now do anything for Inca and he loves him as much as I do. When Neil proposed to me last year my first words after saying, "yes" were "Inca will have to come to the wedding!” I couldn't let such a special day pass without my best friend being there to share it.
So Inca was the Guest of Honour at our wedding last summer. Inca was very well behaved, although I think he would have liked to munch my bouquet and he did dribble a little on my dress but I didn't mind at all! He was certainly the centre of attention and he LOVES that. He posed for all the cameras, and I think he thought he was in the Winners Enclosure after winning a race!!
My proudest achievement was when Inca gained his first British Dressage points last year. He has not found dressage easy but he always tries his heart out and does his best to please. Inca is the horse with the Biggest Heart as he gives so much without asking for anything in return. With Inca around life's troubles never seem so bad!
(submitted by Rachel Mordey, West Yorkshire)
Billingsgate or Billy, came to me last June after the death of my previous horse. My last horse was very special to me and his death left me heartbroken, I knew it would take a very special horse to replace him.
Billy is so loving, there really isn’t a bad bone in his body. When Billy came to the yard he settled in from day one. As the new boy on the block everyone wanted to say hello to him and he stood there and lowered his head for the children and adults alike to fuss and stroke him.
Over the months Billy showed his amazing temperament in escorting all the kiddies and their ponies as well as the nervous youngsters on hacks around the fields and lanes never once putting a foot out of line, hanging back to reassure them and leading them when they were nervous.
Billy’s biggest role on our yard is talking to my brother. Dominic is autistic and bottles his emotions up inside him, he won’t tell another person how he is feeling or how his day has been, but he will tell Billy. Billy stands in his stable, and listens to Dominic, he gives him his full attention even when hay is in the stable, or when its busy outside his door, he just gently rests his head in Dominic’s arms, while Dominic tells him anything that’s bothering him and just generally how he feels. Dominic always comes out happier and more content when he’s had a chat with Billy.
Billy has given everyone on our yard a lot of love, not just me and Dominic but anyone who wants a hug or a kiss, he’s there always willing to listen, He truly, truly is an amazing horse with so much love to give and I think he should be honoured for it.
(submitted by Charlotte Fisher, Northamptonshire)
I am entering myself into the biggest heart award because I am simply the most cuddly horse in this world and just love any attention I can get from my mum (Bryony) and other mum (Nadine).
Attached is a photo of me having a midday cuddle with Nadine in my stable - she always falls for it and gives me a long cuddle if I am lying down. I have now been with them for over three years and was a little worried when Mum took me for a lesson recently and a lady asked if I was for sale - fortunately she said "never"! I know they will never consider selling me as I am firmly one of the family with my funny faces, playing with buckets (even taught my best friend, Jade, to play with buckets too), and asking for flank scratches and nearly falling over every time!
I also ask very nicely for treats and cuddles by picking up my front foot which works most times, even if just a nice stroke and hug. They are always laughing when I am with them – we all have such a happy time both in the arena and out on lovely rides around the farm.
I’m also trying very hard to behave well at shows and lessons as this seems to get me lots of attention and hugs as well. I’ve also taught Jade to load and travel nicely in Mum’s new trailer – she was awful before but I’ve assured her that it is no problem and we both travel really happily now. I’ve also attached a photo that mum took this morning where I’m just asking very nicely to go out into the field – could you resist such a lovely face?
(submitted by Bryony Close, Somerset)
Charming Fellow - never a more aptly named horse. He arrived with me as no one wanted him post racing, he has bar fired tendons and is big at 17.3 hh, but he literally is the BFG (big friendly giant).
He settled in with great ease. He has manners to die for, he never puts a foot wrong, he lets all the children in the yard handle him. Last summer he had three of them all brushing him at once, one doing his tail, one stood on a step to reach his back, and the other brushing his legs. He wasn’t at all bothered, in fact he fell asleep whilst they were doing it.
He is often found in the early morning sitting down in his field and I go and sit with him. He doesn’t get up he sits there with you and rests his head on your knee, I can also lie down with him and rest my head on him and he is just as content.
Whenever I school him he tries so hard to please. He is so safe that he lets an 11-year-old bring him in and out, he even lowers his head so she can put his head collar on. He never bites, spooks or kicks, and will standstill for hours on the yard.
He has been put in to keep the young hunter company, and he just puts up with all the bites the young one has given him from time to time never falling out with him remaining loyal to him. According to his old race owner he was a stress monster during his career, now he is a happy loving horse who no one ever says a bad word about in our yard. I would like him to win as he deserves these perfect manners to be recognised.
(submitted by Judith Pashley, Leicestershire)
“Loyalty, Affection, great to know and love…” without a doubt are the qualities that make my thoroughbred my horse of a lifetime. Forget the stereotypical adjectives that characterise and define this wonderful breed – elegant, refined head, long neck and fine long legs because they all seem to have by-passed my 15’2” over-grown pony! Sad really, because instead of being the Johnny Depp of the horse world he’s more like Johnny Vegus.
Fortunately he does have a sense of humour! At the age of 14 Fundy was deemed to be on the racing scrap-heap and although adored by his previous owner, realistically what do you do with a old TB that has broken down three times? You tell your friend that he would make a nice little horse for his wife! And that’s how I ended up with him along with strict instructions…“suitable for light hacking only”.
So my expectation level for my new high-mileage friend was zero, which happened to coincide with what everybody else thought too! I can still hear their disparaging remarks resonating in my ears – “Why have you bought a broken horse, there are plenty of good ones out there”, “…permanent vets bill” “….always be lame”, “Once they’ve raced they’re mad” etc……….. I’m delighted to say he’s now 22 years young and I have hunted him every season since he came to me.
He has taken part in Riding Club, Pony Club and Riding for the Disabled activities and is the undisputed favourite horse of all my daughter’s Pony Club friends. He shows his kindness and generosity by letting anyone ride him. He is undemanding, utterly reliable and a great ambassador not only for the under-rated ex-racehorse but for all horses. He is a wonderful friend who I shall look after like a faithful old Labrador for the rest of his life.
(submitted by Julie Barnes, Worcestershire)
Singing Scally is now 20, I bought her from a local market after seeing this huge beautiful flea bitten mare standing there filling a small pen usually used to hold cattle. She had been in the bidding ring and no one had bid for her, due to her string halt, so I took a chance and bought her later that day. Once shod, I took her up on Bodmin Moor to ride, she thought the flat open moorland looked like ‘the gallops’, but soon she relaxed and was happy hacking out, she felt amazing – with her power, her balance and love of life.
I had no experience of thoroughbreds, so I took lessons to help my understanding. I always wanted to do dressage and my instructor found we were both capable, and Scally learnt really quickly – no-one had told me the speed a thoroughbred can learn. As Scally still regards dressage as warming up; we began doing combined training events, so I get to do my dressage and she gets to do her jumping. She sometimes finds the sizes I like to jump over smaller than she would like.
Scally loves showing and is always admired by people both in hand and under saddle. She is a very kind horse. She enjoys getting ready to go out, lowering her head for you to plait. As she loves affection she adores being brushed, and adores children fussing over her.
Unfortunately, she also likes rolling and has been known to open her stable door and go for a quick roll before a show, then trot back in again, so needing another bath – as she also likes water. Singing Scally is my ‘Desert Orchid’, I cherish every moment I have been able to spend with this fine grey mare.
(submitted by Paula Dent, Cornwall)
I think my horse Rambo should be up for these awards because he is the gentlest racehorse you would ever meet. He is always so happy to see everyone and never puts a foot wrong. He has given me so much confidence and we have both gone from strength to strength.
Rambo was injured when he got his leg caught in a fence, this led to a big chunk being taken out of his hind leg and his back being put out. He became depressed but because our bond was so strong we pulled through. I truly believed that this was going to be the end of his career but he proved me wrong and he came back with a fighting strength. Before I got Rambo he hadn’t done much due to the owner being scared of him.
The bond between us took a while but I learnt that patience was key. Now we are inseparable and nothing can tear us apart. I can sit with him for hours in the stable when he is lying down and I tell him everything. He is such a character and always knows when I need cheering up.
Rambo is currently doing BE 90’s, he recently did a BE and got a 35 dr and double clear SJ & XC. I was so proud of him; we are hoping to move onto Pre novice this year! He maybe 14 but he puts all his effort into everything we do and it really shows that he is an honest horse, has a heart of gold and wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Please choose my boy because he has shown such courage to get over his injury, such stamina and ability to be changed into an amazing eventer and such love and loyalty to stick by me even when times were hard. He really is one in a million and my best friend.
(submitted by Helen Scott, North Yorkshire)
I was given BB Boy, stable name Lloyd, in 2007 after loaning him for six months. He was a quirky, stressy character but had a kind, affectionate personality. We entered our first RoR showing class in 2009 and Lloyd rose to the occasion winning the class and qualifying for the championships. Hickstead 2009 was amazing and we made it to the final judging in the main arena an hour before the Derby. Lloyd was foot perfect and as we lined up for our gallop a smile swept across my face, a moment I'll NEVER forget!
In May 2010 everything changed, Lloyd had an accident in the field. I rushed to the yard to find Lloyd in his stable, shaking with shock and a six inch open wound on the front of his knee. My heart sunk. Weeks of box rest passed, and after numerous setbacks the wound started healing.
However, one night the bandage slipped causing a large wound on the back of his knee. More box rest, two skin grafts and the secondary wound refused to heal. Lloyd was losing the battle and we agreed to turn him out to cheer him up before saying a final goodbye. My knees buckled and I felt nauseous. Sedated, he went out cantering around like nothing was wrong.
After a week of daily turnout the wound reduced significantly. The vets were speechless; we had thrown every treatment at this horse only for him to heal himself! Time passed and he made steady progress, seven months later my boy was able to come back into work. A change was in order. Lloyd is now carrying a side-saddle and will be showing this season both astride and aside, not bad for a racehorse who was written off a year ago! He truly is my horse of a lifetime, best friend and soul mate rolled into one.
(submitted by Becky Adlam, Gwent)
Kind eyes, lovely temperament and chestnut that’s Pilot! Five months into our relationship however, he had a devastating trailer accident on the way to a xc lesson. He had wrecked the trailer after slipping, his travel boots hadn’t protected him and it became apparent that we were in trouble.
The vet attended and told me it didn’t look good, he was patched up and re-loaded, I couldn’t believe he trusted me enough to get back in that trailer. A few days later the vet x-rayed him, his leg had been so badly damaged, he wanted to check for any breaks. What we found was unbelievable, his splint bones had been fractured in more than 100 places. He was immediately rushed to Liphook where he was operated on.
I was told not to expect much, it was likely that his cannon bone had a hairline fracture and I was told to expect the worse. I was totally devasated. He survived the operation but six weeks later was re-admitted due to cellulitus. Nine months later he became sound enough to ride. We have had several problems since then relating to the accident, he is unsound sometimes in his shoulder all related to this.
We are now doing walk and trot dressage, sponsored rides and the odd showing class. He is covered in scars, he even managed to get a huge one on his side when he was in recovery, but I love him to bits and four years later, I could never imagine life without him, he will be with me forever. His back leg is larger than normal and is badly scared and we do get some strange looks at shows, but we have fun and that’s all that matters to us. He brings a smile to my face everyday and for that I thank him x.
(submitted by Jane Crusty, West Sussex)
HIDDEN EXIT - RoR Heart Stopper (Overcome adversity)
In February 2007 Maggie and I were out on the moors on an enjoyable hack when suddenly she went down on her knees and started sweating profusely. Fortunately I was near the horse box so I managed to get her in and drive her home. By the time the vet came she was desperately ill, rolling around the stable in pain. The vet immediately sent her to the Equine Hospital.
Maggie was operated on at midnight and the operation lasted four hours. The vet rang me at 4:00am to say they had to remove 25 feet of her small intestine plus her small bowel. The vet said she was desperately ill and did not expect her to survive. After 24 hours Maggie was still fighting for her life, so they then gave her 72 hours to live. To their amazement she survived the 72 hours and began slowly to improve. The surgeon that operated on her told us he had been operating for 30 years and that if this horse lived it would be a miracle.
After nine days in intensive care the vets said they could do no more for Maggie and it was up to her if she had the will to live, and she obviously did as she fought to survive. The only thing we could do for her now was to nurse and care for her which we did including getting up at 3:00am every morning to see if she was ok.
Four years on Maggie is looking absolutely fantastic and she is enjoying her life. This experience has formed a special bond between us and she has shown great courage and determination against all the odds of surviving after major colic surgery. Maggie truly is an inspiration to us all and after all that she went through I felt that she deserved to be put forward for this award.
(submitted by Nicola Falcus, Northumberland)
Obergurgl (stable name Obern) is a 17.1hh ex-racer who shouldn't be with us today! In May 2007 he had an indescribably horrific accident while he was in the field. When racing round he was pushed onto a fence post which had electric wire fencing attached, severing his neck and leaving the main artery exposed. His face and flanks were also lacerated. An emergency vet told me that he 'he was a very lucky horse' because his injuries were so bad. I didn’t feel lucky at all.
After weeks at the vets and numerous operations Obern was allowed to come home. Months of bathing his wounds and caring for him followed before he was able to be ridden. Then a few months later he was rushed back to the vets as one of the cuts on his face became infected and he needed to have more surgery to remove the side of his face.
After months of even more care TLC and visits to the vets he was given the all clear and I started to ride him again. However, this wasn't the end of his troubles and a year later whilst out riding I noticed the other side of his face swelling. Again he was rushed to the vets to the news of his back tooth being impacted and needing to be removed. This wasn't straight forward and the vet had to cut through his face. Again he spent weeks at the vets with me worrying that I would lose him.
Despite these serious problems I have gone on to compete on him in dressage and showing classes and through lots of TLC he has gone on to make a great recovery. Obern is a very special horse, his temperament is wonderful and he is a very loving horse who just wants to please his rider. After all he had been through Obern fully deserves to win this prize.
(submitted by Rachel Dinning, Durham)
Rash Promise was a fantastic find from Brightwells Ascot sales. He had such a willing attitude, his re-training was rapid and he was proving to be a worthy replacement and new best friend following the devastating death of our old event horse.
Nothing could prepare us for what we found one morning; a trembling Rashie was cowering at the back of his stable, drenched in blood from head to toe. We feared the worst, with a rapidly decreasing heart rate and substantial blood loss; the vets had to fight to save him.
We begged him not to leave us, and to stay strong, and he answered our call. His sheer courage and determination got him through the next few hours, but we had to take each day at a time. The vets did a terrific job, and he was kept on a drip for several days in critical condition. It was only once we cleaned him up that we had any idea of what he was facing – enormous uphill battles to just survive yet alone to recover.
We will never actually know what happened, but assume he was lying down and was startled, jumped up, slipped and fell. The severity of the impact caused the pelvis to shatter and puncture through the skin, rupturing an artery. It was touch and go for a long time, the open wound was in a difficult place to dress, so the risk of infection was high, and we were unsure if the break could heal to allow him to walk as some of the bone was missing. He was the best patient, so brave and amenable.
It took months of nursing, but amazingly, six months later, he took his first steps, and 12 months on, he was winning his first dressage competition!
Rashie will probably never event now, but he will always have a loving home, and a strong place in our hearts, for staying with us and overcoming what most wouldn’t.
(submitted by Dan Titterton, Staffordshire)
I think that 5th May 2010 was quite possibly one of the lowest moments in my life. The vet phoned me from the equine hospital and said that my beloved Mason had a 40% chance of ever being sound again as he had just discovered serious navicular changes in Mason’s front feet. He made it clear that I should be prepared for him to not get better, that I had little chance of riding him again. On the way home, in tears, we discussed the best place to bury him and prepared for the worst. In desperation, instead of remedial shoeing I decided to go down the barefoot route.
What a load of rubbish I thought, he’s a wimpy TB who can’t walk when he casts a shoe-not a chance that he will cope barefoot.... But I started researching and discovered a podiatrist, who lives locally and phoned him. The AEP looked at Mason’s feet and was incredibly positive, he was sure that we could get Mason rideable again. After the second trim, I could ride again and after the third he was able to do pretty much anything he had done before.
In August, four months after being told I had a crippled horse, I entered a small show and won the riding horse class, I was so emotional, I cried as I was handed the red rosette. I think that he deserves to win the Heart Award because within a year, against all odds, Mason has been written off and then become sound again, he has battled against adversity and remained the same kind, trusting horse throughout the whole experience.
(submitted by Liz Trevett, Hampshire)
Space To Run, now known as “The Ginger Ninja” left her racing career via a bloodstock sale, where she was bought for little value, and subsequently abandoned for a winter in knee deep mud, with no additional food and only an old shipping container to share for shelter with numerous other horses. She was found in early 2006 by Nicky Lee, and as can be seen by the first photograph she was in horrific condition. She was covered in open sores and infected wounds, and her legs were so weak and swollen she could not even stand for the first few days.
Nicky painstakingly nursed her back to health over the course of a year. In 2007 Space to Run moved down to Leicestershire to start her ridden career with me. Despite all she had been through she still had some faith and trust in humans. She was very easy to break again and bring on, and was soon out competing – and winning - at dressage and showing.
She has never been easy (hence the new nickname – and believe everything they say about chestnut mares with four white socks!) and is a very opinionated and often difficult, but she is essentially a kind mare. She will always have some small issues with food aggression and personal space, which are entirely understandable. Our biggest problem now is watching her waistline – she has turned into a true “good do-er” and needs little more than grass and fresh air!
We will always be eternally grateful to Nicky Lee, (and other people who perform the same miracles), to have taken the time and not inconsiderable cost to help transform Space To Run back into a stunning, healthy, happy mare.
(submitted by Emma Lebutt, Leicestershire)
This big bright bay gelding caught our eye in the ring at Doncaster: with one undistinguished hurdle race behind him, we thought he might make me a point to pointer. Alfie is very laid back but once fit it became apparent that it was not just his attitude slowing him down but the fact that he needed a wind operation.
As he was then fit and ready to go, I decided to have a go at eventing instead. Alfie proved to be a neat accurate jumper and took to this new career well - less so I who rapidly lost patience with dressage and being balloted out.
His wind operation unfortunately made no difference to his speed and the highlight of his point to point career was a third in our members race. Finally, he became a team chaser. He has excelled at this, proving a consistent open team member with regular placings. He actually has brakes so is good on turns and has come to love his weekly outings.
Alfie is also very well travelled: we regularly take our team chasers down to the Pyrenees in the summer where we can enjoy a holiday as well as getting them fit for the autumn season. He has tackled the steep mountain tracks with his usual unflappability and has even enjoyed camping out on the mountain tops with his friends, enclosed behind an electric fence.
Finally he has a superb temperament, the proverbial gentle giant that is a pleasure to have around. All in all, he has done every thing we have ever asked of him and is surely a great example of just how adaptable and successful these ex-racehorses can be in all spheres of equine activity.
(submitted by Simon Coady, Wiltshire)
We would challenge anyone to find a more versatile and special horse than Lucius. We may well be very biased, being that we have had him in our family 13 years -he is now 20. He has thrilled three generations of my family and is still going strong.
He has shown immense fitness and staying power. As a two-year-old he ran nine times on the flat with Jack Berry and four times as a three-year-old. He was also tried in two point-to-points. Since his retirement from racing he has hunted over the Cottesmore, Pytchley and Quorn’s biggest hedges and won round the country’s biggest team chase courses. Just last autumn he came 2nd in the Cotswold Intermediate with the” Relentless Fight the Ban” team. His staying power is all the more remarkable since he is sprint bred.
My father, Mike Vergette, bought him as a seven-year-old (he was 78 at the time!) They enjoyed countless terrific days hunting always right up front in the action, and competed in the odd local WH class or Team Chase! When my father retired from hunting, Lucius came to us.
He spent summers teaching the children doing Open Pony Club eventing, winning Inter-Hunt relays and has represented the Pytchley in the Pony Club Show Jumping at Burghley. He has also won BSJA Showjumping. We have just added a new string to his bow this year with a couple of RoR Showing Classes, where he won the Best Veteran twice! He has the most phenomenal jump, he never touches a twig and has even jumped rabbit holes out hunting, to get us all out of trouble!
He often schools over National Hunt fences with numerous racehorses and nannies many youngsters. We have also put some Western tack on him and played at barrel racing.
The Greatest Family Horse you could ever wish to own. Thank you Lucius.
(submitted by Tik Saunders, Northamptonshire)
Pipador is a flat bred racehorse, who had a hard start in life. Being not fast enough and very good tempered, he was used to train jockeys on how to get a horse to go faster. When he left racing aged three, he was very down with very little personality and not much to live for. The race yard farrier took pity on him and, despite his 16.1hh size, bought him to retrain to play polo.
I bought Pipador a few years later and set about trying to get him to enjoy his life and teach him a new job. Everyone thinks their horse is truly wonderful and I'm sure I'm no exception but Pip has turned his hoof to absolutely every single thing he's been asked to do. He has played medium goal polo, done affiliated dressage, showjumping and eventing as well as trying side saddle and hunting big Leicestershire country with the Cottesmore!
Undoubtedly hunting is his favourite thing and he turns from a very quiet polite hack into a very strong hunter over winter! The downside to all this is that he is now a very feisty horse to have about the yard - he looks wonderful and clearly feels it too. Nowadays, he bosses the other horses about the yard, shouts heartily for his mares and insists on being fed first! Pip is truly remarkable for his superb trainable brain and good nature - everyone ought to have a useful little horse like him!
(submitted by Kit Robertson, Suffolk)
I would like to enter Quercus Maximus for the Healthy Heart Award as he is so willing to have a go at anything and gives 100% everytime! His stable name is Wally and he is such a cheeky character! He can open and close his stable door. I throw his rug on one side and he pulls it off the other, he even tries to help with the mucking out!
Wally is an 11-year-old bay gelding and is a smidge over 18hh! I have owned him for three years and we have had a go at most disciplines. He loves to jump and isn't phased by scarey show jumping fillers or water, ditches, banks etc on XC courses. You would think he would be the most unlikely endurance horse but seems to have taken to it like a duck to water. We completed our first season last year up to distances of 52kms and came 2nd in the Wessex EGB Novice Trophy!
This year we upgraded to Open and have done a couple of 64km rides so far successfully and have recently completed The Exmoor Experience at The Golden Horseshoe on Exmoor with a Silver Award! I've been told he is the tallest horse currently registered and competing in Endurance!
I regularly keep in touch with his previous owner to let her know how he's getting on, as she had him since he was a foal and misses him dearly. I do spoil him and he eats me out of house and home, however, I feel extremely lucky to have Wally as a part of our family.
(submitted by Lizzie Livingstone, Somerset)
I would like to nominate Solo Volumes (Charlie) for the ROR Heart Awards. Now aged 22, I bought Charlie from Ascot sales, 14 years ago. He had run on the flat and over hurdles. I instantly fell in Love with the 16.3hh, stunning, chestnut, gelding. Rehoming ex-racehorses wasn't so popular then, and most people thought I was mad.
Charlie always tries 100% in what ever I have asked him to do. He settled quickly with my other horses and in no time we were competing in dressage, jumping, cross country, endurance, showing, hunting (in a snaffle) and over the years I think we have had a go at everything, except polo, including BHS Trec and even gymkhana races at a 40th birthday party. Charlie got to 'Silver' in affiliated Endurance, never once failing a vetting and we have been 'County Show Champions!
My son now seven-years-old has ridden Charlie on the lead rein since he was two, even competing in a five mile fancy dress ride last year. Charlie invited 12 of his friends to his 21st birthday party ride last year, complete with rosettes, cake and party bags. Charlie is loyal, loving, an amazing friend and absolutely beautiful as well. He is still fit and well and hopefully has many years left. I have spent a lot of time in hospital over the past few years with Crohns disease and have ridden Charlie at times when I shouldn’t have, but never once has he taken advantage. He has never in 14 years bucked or reared (quite good at jogging sideways though). Charlie is a rare combination of family horse and successful competition horse.
He is a much loved member of the family. I have three ex-racehorses but he is 'Simply the Best ‘!
(submitted by Melanie Yarham, Norfolk)
“This horse has been a disappointment for years” were the words of the commentator when Reggie finally won a race, but he’s been out of racing for nearly two years and I’d beg to differ!
The two photos were taken almost exactly a year apart and are my favourite of us competing. In the first we’re completing his first dressage test on grass and I can still remember the relief that he’d managed to stay in the arena, and the pride in how hard he’d tried to do what I asked of him, despite some misunderstandings! In the second photo, we’re about to complete our first ODE at 1m with a easy clear XC (inside the time, one of the many advantages of riding an ex-racer!) and finish 11th out of a large class. I didn’t stop smiling for weeks afterwards, I was so proud of how brilliantly he dealt with every question I asked and how well he’d finished- he could have gone round again!
I don’t know many horses who will one day be doing lots of fast work and the next happily nanny small children on their naughty little 11.2hh ponies, and look after my nervous mum. Then have a go at showing or whatever our riding club happens to be hosting that week. This year, he’s even going to Pony Club camp!
Last year, he won our riding club’s award for being the “best all-rounder” and I am going to treasure the trophy forever, as it symbolises all I want for him- for him to be a healthy, happy horse with a job he enjoys. Reggie is my horse of a lifetime and I am eternally grateful to his owner, Sally Cross, for letting me ride and care for him. In fact, writing down why Reggie is brilliant has made me realise exactly how much I enjoy loaning him!
(submitted by Alice Graham, Norfolk)