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‘They don’t make many like him’: farewell to medal-winning occasion horse aged 26

  • The last rider of a medal-winning eventer who “owed no one anything” has paid tribute to her “irreplaceable” friend, who has been put down aged 26.

    Pick And Mix II, a 15.2hh coloured Irish gelding owned by Emma Whitehead, represented Britain and Ireland at three junior European Championships, with David Doel and Katie Moffatt respectively, between 2010 and 2012, helping the Irish team to win silver in 2012. He was also ridden by Lissa Green and Nini French in his youth.

    Louise Holden, who had had “Micky” for six or seven years, enjoying success at BE90 and BE100 until 2018, told H&H the time was right to say goodbye.

    “Old age was creeping up on him,” she said. “I wanted him to go before he was bad; he looked pretty good when he went but it was the right time for him. He owed no one anything.”

    Louise said Micky “showed me the ropes” of eventing.

    “He knew his job inside out,” she said. “To event, he was amazing. He’d never give you anything on a plate; I remember coming out of a dressage test so red in the face because he’d made me work for every mark, and I remember once coming round to the first showjumping fence and he stopped and demolished it. I didn’t know what to do, but my friend who was watching said ‘You do need to ride him, Louise’. They rebuilt the fence and then he jumped beautifully; if you didn’t put effort in, or he thought you could do more, he just wouldn’t do it – but if you needed help, or had put the effort in but still got it wrong, he would do it for you. He was just brilliant.”

    Louise added that Micky could be grumpy on the ground.

    “Or he pretended to be!” she said. “He’d put his ears back when you went in the stable but he secretly liked a cuddle; you’d be grooming him and he’d put his head on your shoulder, but not let anyone else know he’d done it.

    “And he was a cross-country machine. He knew where the flags were. At one of my first events, there was a roll-top, step, then a curved line to another roll-top. The person I was walking the course with told me to trot, bring him right back and get organised. When we got to it, I was saying ‘Trot’, and he said ‘Just sit there. I know what I’m doing, I’ve seen this one before’. I sat there and he felt amazing.

    “He knew exactly how to teach you how to ride cross-country, and going on to produce other horses, I’ve been able to take so much from what he taught me. I wouldn’t have got my other horse to two-star without him; I don’t think I’d be eventing if I hadn’t had him.”

    Louise added that Micky had left a legacy for the many riders he had taught.

    “Look what David did this year [sixth place at Badminton],” she said. “I think Micky had a hand in that. I can’t thank him enough, he was amazing, irreplaceable. They don’t make many horses like that – he knew he was special.”

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