Imagine for a moment that you’re a sixteen-year-old girl and you’ve just won the biggest event of your life on your trusty pony. Yeah, you’d be in tears too.
That’s reality for Saffron “Saffie” Osborne. She and Little Indian Feather a.k.a “Jojo” took home individual gold and team gold for Great Britain at the FEI European Eventing Championships for Ponies which took place at Bishop Burton College in Beverley, England over the weekend. This is actually Saffie and Jojo’s second appearance at Pony Europeans – the pair came in second in the individual and team competitions last year; certainly a fine showing in and of itself, yet they came back with a vengeance for this year, Saffie’s final season qualified for Ponies as next year she’ll age out at seventeen, year managed to best their finish from last season.
But the real icing on the cake for this fairytale is the story of Jojo’s origin. The 14.2-hand skewbald mare of unknown breeding was found in very poor condition by the Urlingford (Ireland) Horse Pound in 2007 and subsequently taken in by Brian and Sonya Hennessey. The pony gained weight quickly under Hennessey’s care – so much so that they though she might be pregnant, but a vet assured them that she wasn’t. A little later Jojo had a bad run in with a fence post and severely damaged her tendons. There was talk of putting the pony down, but Sonya pursued treatment instead and was ultimately rewarded for her efforts as Jojo made a full recovery. Several months later the Hennesseys came home from a show to find a handsome foal running around by Jojo’s side.
Jojo was produced by two other riders, Kristie Connell and Chelsea Pearce, before Saffie took up the reins. These event ponies and their riders are fierce competitors and their athleticism should not be underestimated due to their Lilliputian stature. Ponies running the European Championships are jumping 1.05 meters, the height equivalent of the Modified level here in the States. Check out Saffie and Jojo’s double clear cross country round (below) which moved them up to the lead going into show jumping, and you certainly don’t want to miss their double clear stadium round (above) including Saffie’s reaction and interview afterwards!