Tributes have been paid to a champion show pony and wonderful character, who passed away earlier this month (May 2023). Millie Bowles lost her “pony of a lifetime” Cottrell Riverdance on Saturday, after almost a decade of cherished times together, both in and out of the show ring.

Grey gelding ‘Ronnie’ was 26 and had a glittering career securing numerous impressive titles, including Senior Champion at Royal Windsor Horse Show, Veteran Horse Society Veteran of the Year on two occasions, and placings at The London International Horse Show (formerly Olympia).

The once mounted games pony, who turned his hoof to most disciplines, took now 20-year-old Millie from local unaffiliated shows to top level competition, and she told Your Horse Ronnie’s quirky personality made for lots of fun along the way.

“He was meant to slow down when I got him, when he was about 18,” she said. “I planned to do some light hacking and dressage, but it didn’t turn out that way, and he went on to do more than he ever had before.”

After Kent-based Millie had success at local shows, she got some help from expert judge Sarah Chapman, who suggested she should have a go at affiliated veteran classes with Ronnie. He was entered into the a London International Horse Show qualifier and secured a ticket at his first try.

“He’s always been exceptional at what he’s done,” said Millie’s mother, Selina. “And he could be exceptionally naughty and brilliant,” she laughed.  “He did so well because of his joy at being in the ring. You could see how much he enjoyed the job and you couldn’t help but feel good when you saw how happy he and Millie were.”

Millie said the talented pony taught her so much, as he had to be ridden sympathetically to go well. The pair formed a strong bond, enjoying beach rides together and even tackless riding.

“On the ground he was the gentlest soul, he would never push you around, and if he got excited he would just jog next to you rather than pulling,” said Millie.

“He would draw people to him, he had that sort of nature that made you want to be close to him,” added Selina. “He knew if someone was vulnerable and would be as good as gold around them. In December he went from competing at Olympia to giving kids pony rides in the same week.”

Being crowned Senior Champion at Windsor in 2018 was a special highlight for Millie, who was also victorious in the veteran final at the SEIB Search for a Star Championships at Your Horse Live, in 2021 and 2022, where he received great praise from judge Katie Jerram-Hunnable.

“We’d known Ronnie for so long – we are good friends with his owners before us, knew his previous owners before that, and were also in contact with the owners before them,” said Millie. “We’ve been overwhelmed with comments, even from people that we don’t know, that knew Ronnie. He had such presence and he’s left a massive hole in our lives.”

Millie has been kept busy with her youngster, Weydown Stonechat, who she bought six months ago. The grey yearling’s grand sire, Cwertycadno Cadfridog, was also Ronnie’s sire. Affectionately known as ‘Keith’, he is “quite a character”, according to Millie, who hopes to do M&Ms with him in the future.

“It feels like we have a bit of Ron still here,” she added.

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