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British younger rider gold medallist put down, aged 25

  • Master Taldi, who was a British young rider team gold medallist with Alice Dunsdon and later a superb hunter, has been put down at the age of 25.

    “He was always very honest and always looked after you – he wasn’t strong at all and you always felt very safe when you rode him,” said Alice.

    “He wasn’t naughty or silly. I always felt cross-country he was very sure footed, I was never worried setting out cross-country when we were eventing. He’d want to look after you.

    “It was the same out hunting – I remember jumping this huge ditch out with the Berkeley and very few horses made it. You had to jump the ditch and scramble up the other side and he was determined to get to the other side, whether you were eventing or out hunting.”

    Alice bought “Cosmo” from Suzanne Donnelly in Ireland at the end of his eight-year-old year. He had competed in the young horse championships at Le Lion d’Angers with Suzanne the year before and was purchased as a horse with the potential to be on a young rider team.

    “We bonded really quickly and it was amazing to get to know a horse that quickly,” said Alice.

    The pair were selected for the young rider Europeans that year, 2006, which were in Pardubice in the Czech Republic. They finished 20th and were part of the gold medal-winning British team.

    Master Taldi carried on eventing for three more seasons, competing up to advanced and CIC3* (now CCI4*-S level), before he retired to the hunting field.

    Alice remembered: “I became a master of the Surrey Union when I was 22, which was quite daunting especially if you don’t know the country very well. If I was on point or got left behind, I’d always wait for him to tell me where hounds where – he’d prick his ears and look in that direction. He was always looking for hounds, he loved following hounds and even when he retired, if the hunt came round the farm, he’d hear them before anyone else. He had a sixth sense.”

    Alice spoke about the two moments she remembers the most with Cosmo, one eventing and one hunting.

    She said: “I was first out for the young rider team at the Europeans and I was told by trainer Gill Watson and the chef d’equipe to go the long route at the first water. I very stubbornly and naively said I was going straight and he did the straight route perfectly, which meant the other team members did it too.

    “It was an angled skinny out and the first people out had had run-outs because it was on a funny stride, but Cosmo was sure footed and could add strides where other horses couldn’t. Looking back now, if I’d made a mistake, it would have been completely my fault for not following orders.

    “The hunting moment was with the Berkeley – my father was a master and it was a joint meet. I was coming up to a hedge and I saw horses falling or jumping awkwardly in front of me, but I wasn’t sure why it was jumping so badly.

    “As I came up to it, I knew there was a ditch on landing, but I didn’t see until take-off that there were two strands of wire in front. Cosmo saw it and picked up in front. Halfway over I saw the ditch on landing and it was bigger than I thought, but he somehow stretched and made it.

    “He’d give everything to make sure you were ok.”

    Master Taldi was put down on Wednesday (21 September) due to old age and a foot problem.

    “He had a great life and it was mother nature telling me it was time,” said Alice.

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