Meet the six Golden Oldies who are hoping to secure the Veteran Horse Society Veteran of the Year Award

Cottrell Riverdance

Millie Bowles and 25-year-old Welsh section B Cottrell Riverdance have been a fabulous combination for the past eight years. “He is my pride and joy and pony of a lifetime,” explained Millie. “We have had so much fun and he’s made all my dreams come true”. In his youth, ‘Ronnie’ was a games pony, but in truth he did a little bit of everything, but took to showing when the Bowles Family purchased him. Mille describes him as “a quirky, fun pony  –  he bronked with me out hacking just the other day! –  and is still living life to the fullest at 25.” He’s had countless successes in the veteran showing leagues, a hose of awards and was the Overall VHS Supreme Champion in 2019 and 2021, and he was also awarded the VHS Achievement Award in 2022. 

Silver Henrietta

Silver Henrietta, 30, looked a marvel at her retirement at the Veteran Horse Society Championships just a couple of weeks ago with owner-rider Tia Hulse. “Hettie is truly my heart-horse,” said Tia. “She’s been with me through everything from the loss of my dad, to giving me two foals and taking champion at the VHS national championships, and she’s also helped me meet lifelong friends.” Tia has owned Hettie for 16 years, and together, they’ve had a lot of fun competing in an array of disciplines from grade A jumping and novice level eventing to working hunter. Hettie took up a career in the show ring at the age of 25. “She’s a true allrounder horse and my whole world,” said Tia. Though Hettie has now retired from the showring earlier this year, she will continue to hack and go on farm rides. Tia explained: “she has given me so much over the last sixteen years and she more than deserves an slower pace of life”. 

Diamanté Del Rey

Virginia Draper’s Diamanté Del Rey, or Mr D, is an 18-year-old PRE Fusion gelding that Virginia met on a riding holiday in Spain at Los Olivillos. He was their beeding stallion and then a trekking horse.  “From the moment I saw him, it was love at first sight,” said Virginia. “Los Olivillos could see our connection and after many riding holidays in the Andalucían mountains together, he came to live with me in England in 2016 when he was twelve years old. Since then, we’ve enjoyed six amazing years competing, hacking and enjoying life. Mr D is my first horse and we have learnt so much together, from introducing arena work with success in British Dressage, to participating in Iberian Demos, proudly representing the Iberian Horse.” Mr D and Virginia compete in Foreign Breed, Veteran and Concours d’Elegance showing clasees, and for the last four years they have competed under the spotlights at the VHS National Championships. “Diamanté Del Rey translates as the King of Diamonds, but he’s the King of my heart too; I am forever grateful to him for making all of my dreams come true.”


25-year-old Maysong, or Maisie, is a former show-jumper and eventer, eventing being her favourite, along with her owner Laura Kenyon Brody. “She was as brave as a lion out on the cross country course and always got me home safely and definitely within the time,” said Laura, who purchased Maisie as a school-mistress aged 13.  “We quickly formed an incredible partnership where she’s taken me competing in eventing, working hunter, dressage, show jumping and Riding Club, and she even safely carries my mum around the hacking tracks at home.” The pair took to showing as a means to keep Maisie busy now she’s no longer allowed to event, but she now thoroughly enjoys lighting up the showing ring. Laura said: “Maisie is more than just a horse to me, she’s my best friend, taking me to places I could have only have dreamed of. I truly believe that I have been incredibly blessed to have a horse like her in my life, so I count my lucky stars every day that she can still keep me on my toes from the spooking at the dock leaves, to always putting her best beautiful foot forward in the show ring.”

Knavesgreen Honey Pippin

Leanne Shadbolt has owned 26-year-old Knavesgreen Honey Pippin for 11 years. Their partnership started off as a loan from a very close friend, Lynn, who had owned her from a foal. Very sadly, Lynn was diagnosed with cancer a year later, and when Lynn passed away in 2013, Pippin was left to Leanne in her will. Since owning Pippin, Leanne has taken it upon herself to tick off outstanding things on Lynn’s bucket list that she never got to complete. One of these things was side saddle, and this year at the championships, Leanne and Pippin competed in the style and performance class side saddle against all other competitors who were astride to take the win! In their eleven years as a team, they have competed in showing, dressage, show jumping, eventing, and side saddle, and she still loves to do all of these now, competing on the British Riding Club show jumping team and also competing in working hunters side saddle. Unfortunately, the past 18 months has been very difficult for the pair as Pippin had two separate cases of impacted colic, and Leanne found herself in nearly losing her on both occasions. “But, being the strong feisty mare that she is, Pippin fought through both and is still with us fitter and stronger than ever and coming home with some of her best results yet out competing,” explained Leanne. 

Taking the Biscuit

Taking The Biscuit, or Patchy as she is known at home, has been Claire Hazeldene’s “partner in crime for all of her 23 years”. Claire explained that Patchy was “a Christmas present from my late father to my mother as a six-month-old foal”. Patchy is a real allrounder, having competed in affiliated dressage and show jumping, working hunter and showing classes, including at the Royal International Horse Show in the coloured classes, all with much success even in her veteran years. She also loves following bloodhounds. Claire explained: “Of course competition success is incredible, but that’s not what makes Patchy so special; it’s her character, zest for life and her ability to bounce back. In 2020 she was badly injured with a very poor prognosis, but despite all the odds, many setbacks and many grey hairs on my part, she has made a recovery, and to be back competing with success at the VHS Championship was incredible, and testament to the temperament of the pony who refuses to accept her age!”

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