I’d always wanted a pony I could just get on and go, but my parents had different ideas. Finally, as a result of a chance conversation on the hunting field, the easy-going schoolmaster I had dreamt of came into my life just before I turned 16. Arthur, or “Llanarth The Blues”, had retired to the hunting field four years earlier as a 10 year old, but his owner, Sam West, felt that he’d love a return to eventing. The vet pointed out that there aren’t 5 metre circles on hard ground in dressage tests. We’d seen him leap a 5 bar gate and keep up with hounds. He was fit for purpose.
The plan was for him to teach me the ropes as I moved up from BE100 to Novice, so I could then teach Brian.
On our first time out, at the Swalcliffe BE100u18 qualifier, he showed us all what he was capable of. He matched Brian’s score of 25 in the dressage, added a double clear and moved my superstar Brian into 2nd place.
I could not have hoped for a better schoolmaster to put me firmly on the path to the BEu18 Championships that year, then to take me round my first novice. He loved going cross country.
We had a queue of people wanting him as a teenage schoolmaster. But fate had other plans. When I was offered Smarty – the horse that was to take me to my first Europeans – Arthur was part of the asking price.
If I wanted Smarty, Arthur was destined to be a happy hacker.
I cried, Sam cried, Arthur moved on to his new life of flat work, and couldn’t be happier.