“Why did I enter the Liberty Championships at Equitana? To be honest, my number one goal was simply to have our application accepted! I wanted to be able to gloat and tell people that I took my pony from basically being dead to performing at Equitana; it was only after we’d been accepted that the reality of the situation started to sink in.”
Jemima Key is laughing as she reflects on the thought process that resulted in the highly entertaining performance Timmy Trumpster – an 11-hand rescue pony – and she delivered as competitors in the inaugural Liberty Championships at Equitana 2022.
While it could be argued that theirs was not the most polished or athletic display of horse and human harmony to grace the Grand Pavilion over Equitana’s four-day program, it would be nigh on impossible to suggest any other duo scored more laughs and cheers from the crowd of horse lovers who delighted in the sheer joy and sense of fun the pair exuded.
Most onlookers at the Melbourne Showgrounds had never heard of Timmy Trumpster until they saw him perform at Equitana – and they could be forgiven for thinking he was just another cheeky grey pony with a mind of his own – every horse person seems to know one! Yet for those who have followed Timmy’s story since Jemima forked out $320 to save him from a grim fate when he found himself at the saleyards in 2017, the performance was extra special. It was a celebration of being alive; an outcome very few who knew the struggles Timmy has faced in the past five years would have placed a bet on.
Jemima never planned to rescue a pony. Yet in 2017, a scared and sad looking pony appeared on her Facebook newsfeed, and she felt compelled to help him. “If I wanted to gloss it up, or if I was writing his book, I’d say something like ‘he called to me’. But really, I couldn’t tell you why I authorised someone I’d never met to bid on my behalf on a horse I’d never seen,” Jemima muses. “I saw the picture of him and thought he looked so pathetic and miserable, and that he might be a nice project. Being so small, I thought he’d be easy to deal with, and the next thing I knew he was mine.”
The warm fuzzy glow of the good deed was short-lived; Timmy was delivered to Jemima’s farm and the transporter was quick to warn her that the seemingly helpless pony was a force to be reckoned with. “He said, ‘You have to watch out for this horse, he’s vicious’. And I was thinking, ‘Please, he’s only 11 hands high, how bad can he be?’ As we were approaching Timmy he said, ‘I mean it, this horse is really aggressive! Look, watch me try and pick up his feet.’ Tim went absolutely bananas – he didn’t try to run away like horses do when they’re upset, instead he was trying to bite and kick us,” Jemima recalls. “It was at that moment I first thought, ‘What have I done?’”