A foal on the north Exmoor moors was chosen for being the feistiest of the bunch, bred by a farmer known for producing “useful sorts”. Bugsy turned out to be a very useful sort, willing to do anything especially if it involved jumping where he pinged over anything with feet dangling and room to spare, and despite a couple of near misses he always got himself and me out of trouble. Although he enjoyed flat work and amassed quite a few Novice and Elementary BD points, he was happiest bowling along on a loose rein on a POR.
I met him as a just-backed 4 year old in 2001 and owned him from 2003 until this May, when very sadly he had to be put down because of untreatable arthritis in his off fore, a legacy of the flat feet he inherited from his racehorse sire.
He was such a character and could be so naughty if he thought he could get away with it. Always more of people person than a horse person, everyone misses chatting to him over the fence. Bugsy was the most expressive of horses, always talking with his ears. He was never a novice ride and dictated speed and route given half a chance. Out hunting in his youth and even this year on fun rides I could hardly hold him. Well known from an early age for his sticky up mane and cheeky face, these attributes presumably came from his dam whose breeding was not known, but definitely included naughty pony, Arab and some native breeding. He was only just 15.3 but with his 16 hh body on short legs he rode like a much bigger horse.
My introduction to TREC began in 2004 with a judges training course with Bugsy as the guinea pig. Our first competition was a L1 at Exford on Exmoor, and we progressed rapidly to Level 4 by the end of 2006. His career was dogged by injury at the top level, and we failed to finish a number of competitions having been vetted out for the second day. Other competitions were ruined by driver errors. TREC highlights were finishing in the top five at Level 4 at the Welsh Championships of 2007 ahead of many an established name, and reserve Level 3 champion at the British Championships at Treborough in 2018. The most memorable PORs were up and down Wales and on Dartmoor. For his first 15 years Exmoor was home terrain so for Treborough in 2018 he was happily back on home territory, but however far from home we were he always knew where his trailer was, even if I was completely lost on my map!
Other than TREC, Bugsy participated in riding club teams at dressage, show jumping, hunter trials and eventing for West Somerset and latterly Sid and Otter Valley. I had hopes of clocking up 100 years between us, but in the end we only got to 96. He gave me 20 years of fun and companionship and always tried so hard to do his best at everything.