A Welsh section C pony that suffered a “rough and horrendous start” to his showing career earned a third place at NCPA Derbyshire Spring Show last weekend. Kate Waite, wife of owner Richard Waite, said: “Seeing this has made me more proud than qualifying for Horse of the Year Show.”
Waite’s husband bought Thorndon Park Captain (Zak) as a two-year-old from the Welsh Cob sales in 2009. The pony was brought on slowly and, in his first season under saddle, achieved placings at Cheshire and Lincolnshire County and in many other HOYS qualifiers. But then he was struck by a severe bout of stress laminitis.
“It was touch and go for around a year, and we genuinely believed he would never be able to be ridden again — or, worse, that we would lose him,” recalled Waite. “We treat our ponies like a member of the family so we refused to give up on Zak, and were determined to give him every chance we could.”
The laminitis cleared up and Aimee Devane — who also produces the current Olympia ridden champion Townend Schubert — brought him slowly back into work. It was all going well until complications due to his laminitis set in and the pony went back to the Waites to rest.
“After Zak had recovered, he was sent to Sarah Parker, as she was already producing our Welsh C stallion,” said Waite. “This was our last chance to get him back into the show ring and he was coming on nicely when we hit another obstacle; a by-product of his laminitis that resulted in an extreme case of seedy toe. It was so severe that we thought we would have to make the decision to have him put to sleep.”
Saluting all those involved in Zak’s return, Waite concluded: “Thanks to the hard efforts and patience of Sarah and [husband] Simon, we were finally able to see our dream of watching Zak in the show ring fulfilled after an horrendous few years. We would like to thank everyone for their efforts and for not giving up on Zak.”