CJ’s Kemosabi is a legend, a little black and white cob that found scope beyond his hairy feathers. He won for every rider, headed the HOYS pony showjumper twice and took Louise Saywell to double medal glory at the European pony championships.
To look at him, ‘CJ’ was just a coloured cob, but when he jumped a fence, he transformed into one of the best pony showjumpers in history.
The wonderful cob was still winning for his final rider Heavenli Hewitt, who has ridden him since mid-2013, at 90cm level until late 2015.
The charismatic CJ, who was always one of the smaller ponies on the circuit standing at a shade over 144cm, has carried many riders to success, including International riders Robert Whitaker and Louise Saywell.
“He won for me from day one,” said Robert, who rode CJ in the winter season of 1997/98.
CJ started back in 1995 jumping pony British novice classes with Carla Lambell and was soon displaying his winning ways. Michael Cramp took over mid-1996 and finished seventh in the Hickstead winter JC and the HOYS pony newcomers finals in 1997.
Robert rode him for three months before he moved to Yorkshire with Vicky Jefferies and her sister Stacy.
Vicky won the pony Foxhunter second round at Tiverton to qualify for HOYS 1998 and they finished third in the final. The following year they won two winter JA classic qualifiers and finished seventh in the 1999 Royal Show final and returned to Wembley to contend the JA final.
“He’s simply the best, one in a million and a pony of a lifetime,” said Vicky.
Stacy took the reins in 2000 and claimed sixth at the Royal Show and fourth at HOYS 2001 before handing over to Andrew Mizon.
Andrew immediately hit winning form and crowned his partnership with CJ in 2002, taking the HOYS pony show jumper of the year title.
“He was one of the smallest in the class but he had the biggest heart, no pony would try harder or be more careful over a fence,” said Andrew, who also jumped the coloured dynamo in grand prix classes abroad.
William Whitaker briefly took over the ride when Andrew was sidelined, and topped two big classes worth £800 apiece at Talk of the North over the 2002 New Year.
Andrew soon claimed his pony back for his final pony season, again qualifying for HOYS before handing over to Louise Saywell in October 2003.
“CJ taught me a lot and gave me so much confidence, I felt I could win everything on him,” said Louise.
They almost did. They formed a formidable partnership for the next three years, winning the Scope Festival Dunglenn championship and HOYS pony show jumper final in 2004. A year later, they clinched team silver and individual gold medals in the European pony championships and were placed at the Royal Show and HOYS.
“We hardly ever jumped him at home, he knew his job and we just had to keep him fit. Winning that gold medal was amazing, he gave his very best that week, although he always did do everything to please,” recalled Louise.
They won the 2006 Pony of the Year Show grand prix – worth £2,000 – took third at the Royal Show, and when CJ had completed his winning round at the Great Yorkshire later that year, he had acquired another fan – he was being watched intently by Ria Ginley.
“We rang to enquire about him and bought him over the phone there and then,” said Ria, who didn’t even ride CJ until he arrived at her Rufforth Park, Yorkshire home, “and we won at our first show!”
Ria credits CJ for her confidence and achievements.
“I couldn’t have had a better pony. He looked after me, put me right when I got it all wrong and took me to shows I had only dreamed of,” says Ria, who jumped at HOYS in 2008.
As you would expect, CJ is a gentleman in the stable, although cleanliness is another matter.
“He’s got a fabulous full tail, but it takes hours to dry and he always tried to rub his white bit in poo after a bath,” recalls Ria, “He’s a legend and will always be king. I still miss him.”
Daisy Hughes got him in 2009, jumping at HOYS and Olympia that year and competing until 2011. Then it was Lucinda Roche’s turn, and she enjoyed 14 months of progressing up the levels with the best schoolmaster on the circuit.
His last job was guiding Heavenli to success – and there was not a better pony she could wish for.
RIP CJ, you not only won the hearts of your many riders, you won the hearts of your many fans over the years. JA