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Veteran Vitality

Veteran Vitality

Lead Photograph: Wind Wizard

The end of season championships, at all levels, often produce some of the most heart warming stories; and given the plummeting temperatures and the looming British winter, that’s probably a good thing. Among the news crossing the The Arabian Magazine desks of late were updates on these two treasured and sprightly veteran Arabians. Wind Wizard and Tukki Amira are both still hogging the limelight in the show-ring, and acting every inch the superstars.

Wind Wizard (Saiyid el Kheil x Windchime), bred by Anne Willox, is a striking liver chestnut gelding that is now 19 years old. Partnered with his devoted owner Emma Duncan, he has turned heads at shows throughout Scotland and was featured in pages of The Arabian Magazine October 2010 edition. He remains an inspiration after coming back from two separate fractures to the same leg to be riding fit, and full of fun, once more.

“Wizard and I have been doing some Veteran Horse Society (VHS) classes in the past few years; he qualified for Olympia in 2012 and was a creditable eighth in the final. We enjoyed the experience but the three day journey to London took a lot out of him and we decided not to try to qualify him again. The Veteran Horse Society set up the Scottish Veteran Horse Society Championships which has its finals at the Ingliston Grand Slam in September. Wizard qualified for the finals by going Champion in hand and reserve champion ridden at Turriff show in August. I was really looking forward to a bit of a glitzy affair with Wiz to round off the year.

Tukki Cantering at the Northern Racing College. Credit Photovision.

“Wizard being Wizard, he didn’t make the run up to the show easy. He managed to get a kick at the top of his near hind hamstring that formed a huge oedema. We still had a week, so Flamazine cream was applied to the burn like graze and arnica and witch hazel were applied at every opportunity to help with the bruising. If my hands weren’t rubbing gels into Wiz’s leg, I had permanently crossed fingers hoping that it would settle before the show. 

On Thursday prior to the show we made the decision to go; there’s nothing like cutting it fine. We travelled down to Ingliston on Saturday and once there I was reminded why we tend not to stable Wiz overnight. He stressed the whole night. Come morning he looked far from his best. I can only thank my friend Andrea McAllan for taking him grazing in hand for two hours to try and get some food and moisture into him. He was perkier but he still looked off and so I had the conversation with mum, “Should we just take him home?” We decided that as we were there, we would just go for it.  

Emma Duncan and Wiz at the Scottish Veteran Horse Society Championships. Credit Sinclair Photography.

“I need not have worried because, the minute he entered the ring for the Scottish In Hand Veteran of the Year, his alter ego, Wind Wizard the Showman, came to the fore. He strutted his stuff around that ring, as did 19 other stunning veterans. Placings were announced in reverse order; to say it was tense would be an understatement. Wiz was called out as first and Champion! Tears and smiles, and more tears and pats and smiles for photographs. I was thrilled.

“We made a quick dash back to the lorry, I was a little puffed after our victory lap but managed to get changed for the ridden section. In total, 21 veterans were forward and the class had to be split to enable the judges to see their paces. Each performed a set show and Wiz managed to contain his exuberance to produce a lovely performance before heading to the conformation phase.

“Once again the places were announced in reverse order; once again he was called forward first and Champion. Of course there were more tears and smiles and photographs. Then it was straight into the Supreme Scottish Veteran Championship against the very talented young riders and their amazing horses. Wiz held it together and I got to ride around the arena on the Scottish Veteran Overall Champion 2016! His amazing ground covering trot just got bigger the more the spectators clapped and cheered. It took me all my stomach muscles to keep with him! Wiz loves an audience.

“For a horse that was written off by the vets when he broke his leg for the second time, Wiz has come back to the show ring, loving every moment of it. He is the horse that has given me most of my grey hairs, and he is the highest maintenance animal I have ever owned, but he is my horse of a lifetime and I adore every quirky bone in his body. Thank you Wiz, old boy, you are amazing!”

Tukki Amira (Al Maurab x Moulon Blackberry) featured in Feb 2015 edition where Claire Marriot shared their journey to the VHS Olympia finals. Now aged 20, Tukki was back out showing in some of the early Horse of the Year Show qualifiers this season. Then, sadly, tragedy struck and Claire’s main hope for the year, the four year old Welsh cob Hugo, died in June and the whole family were shaken by it. Claire says, “It was so sudden and we have all had a bit of a break from showing as a result. We lost all interest in doing anything much with the horses. We had such plans for this year at the native shows.

“I saw a show advertised at the Northern Racing College in Doncaster, on 2 October so I decided to take Tukki for a little outing. She hadn’t been out anywhere for four months and she’s always a pleasure to take to a show as she’s so easy. I knew it would be a stress free outing for us, to test the water again. We won both the veteran and Arabians ridden classes and then took overall ridden champion.

“It was just the boost we all needed and as we prepared for the supreme championship I felt the old excitement returning. We then went on to take the overall Supreme Champion of the show which was just fantastic!”

Two weeks later the lorry was packed and Claire and Tukki were heading to the North West Open Championships at Croft Top Equestrian Centre in Accrington. Claire says, “It’s a show I’ve always wanted to compete at with her, as the top 10 in each class go forward for final judging in the evening and Tukki loves an evening performance. We got through to the top 10 in both the veteran and pure-bred Arabian ridden classes so I was over the moon.

“We got our best outfits on and plenty of polish and headed in for the evening final judging. Tukki went perfectly in both classes, not a hoof out of place all day, but in the evening she was really enjoying herself. To my utter surprise and delight we were crowned Champion Ridden Veteran and Reserve Champion Ridden Arabian. We also competed in the Concours d’Elegance class where we were third. It was a really happy, long day out for Tukki bird!

“Tukki is, without a doubt, my horse of a lifetime and my best friend; she never lets me down and always tries 110% for me. Galloping down the centre line under the spotlight to Tina Turner’s Simply the Best has long been on my ‘wish list’ and Tukki made my wish come true.” 

Tukki competing in the Concours at the North West Open Championship. Credit  Equinational.


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