Ink was six when he first arrived at Romsey Park – and he’s never left. “Greg started him and has always ridden him, and I also ride him a lot. He’s carried a few people to champion rider wins. He’s won the turnout at Sydney with Stephanie Barrington. He started in the Garryowen last year, and at Barastoc this year he was also Supreme Champion Led OTT and Reserve Champion Childs Hack.”
Christine explains that she’s “the sitter” at big shows, allowing Greg to often ride the workouts – but she enjoys riding at the smaller shows and is regularly in the saddle at home. “He’s great to ride; he never argues with you,” says Christine, adding that like any special horse, he of course has his quirks: “If you ride him past something that wasn’t there the day before, it’s like, ‘Oh, what’s that?’ Yet you can take him to a big show and he’ll canter pasts all the whirligigs and he’s like, ‘I can do it!’
“He loves his life at Romsey Park – they are very well cared for there – and he’s got his own little paddock and he’s a stickybeak, so he likes the paddock that he’s in because he sees people coming and going from the stable to the house and from the stable to the arena. He’s got a witch’s hat, that’s his toy… he plays with it like a puppy and throws it around. He just loves it and sometimes you think he’s going to kill it and he goes almost down on his front knees, just to try and squash it. Then he’ll pick it up and throw it in the air and sometimes it goes over the fence, so we all have to go and fetch it and throw it back across to him. He does like to wreck his rugs, but aside from that, he’s about the perfect horse. Luckily I can sew!”
A poster boy for Barastoc, Ink has long been fed their feeds – as is the entire Romsey Park team, with Greg one of the brand’s ambassadors. Christine says her horse is a great eater, however, in the early days he did take some convincing when it came to carrots: “It took me nearly a year to get him to eat a carrot, because he’d never had a treat… so that was a bit of a drag! I tried everything: grating them, cooking them, hiding them in things. I think he thought I was trying to poison him. Once he actually crunched one and got over the noise that it made, he realised it really wasn’t so bad. Now he loves them!”
Ink’s next stop is Canberra Royal, followed by the Grand National Show Horse & Rider Championships and Sydney Royal in April, and then Melbourne Royal in spring and the Australasian Show Horse and Rider Championships later in the year. “The Grand Nationals is exciting because the English judges ride the top 10 and he’s so fabulous to ride. He did win it a couple of years ago and I’m excited to do that again.
“He’s been showing for a long time, so we are picking and choosing what we do with him now. I think I’m going to retire him from led classes, because winning Supreme OTT at Barastoc just now was a nice way to finish.
“I just wish I could roll back the clock and have him again at six years old,” says Christine, adding that there are no plans to ever sell him, and that when the time comes he’ll retire to her farm in Heathcote and spend his days riding quietly through the paddocks with her. “I always said I’m going ride him until he’s grey, and I probably will.”