Fitting farewell to vet’s Piccolo Pete

MY beloved horse Piccolo Pete has finally been laid to rest with a Team Piccolo outing to the Horse of the Year Show.

We attended the ex-racehorse championship class and to be able to say truthfully that he made it to HOYS, it seemed only appropriate to spread some of his ashes in the arena before this class – not an easy mission given the degree of security there, but I felt I was up to the challenge.

The ex-racehorse class was the third of the day and as the first class started before 7am, we left at 3am with Piccolo Pete’s ashes firmly strapped into the back seat. We got there for 6.30am, the roads not surprisingly being quiet, and transferred some of his ashes into another bag for easier distribution.

We took our seats and watched the first two classes, the small and large riding horse. The whole atmosphere and arena is awe-inspiring and if he had ever made it there, I’m sure he’d have managed one of his unforgettable displays of bronking.

The whole arena level is cordoned off and security guards are at each entry point so access to the arena area is almost impossible, even with a pass.

I approached the security guard at the arena entrance and explained about Piccolo’s ashes and that I really wanted to scatter them in the arena before the next class. I couldn’t believe it when he took some of his ashes to scatter himself and the rest he gave to the ground staff to scatter under the spotlight when they harrowed the surface.

Most of my friends had thought I would never get them scattered, but thanks to the kindness and understanding of that security guard, it all went without a hitch and I didn’t need any of the other schemes we’d come up with.

These ranged from the Great Escape plan of ashes down our trouser legs and waving them wildly over the barrier – completely improbable once we saw how far we were sitting from the arena edge, to collapsing in a hysterical heap and begging them to let me scatter his ashes.

Anyway part of the Team Piccolo mission was accomplished, but I still had some of his ashes with me and these seemed to get heavier throughout the day. In desperation I went along to the warm-up arena and started to empty some ashes into there. Unfortunately the female security guard, who wasn’t as understanding as the male one, asked me to leave in no uncertain terms.

The remainder of the day passed quickly and as the seats filled up, the atmosphere became electric, particularly with the show-jumping classes and the pony club games.

As we sat enthralled I passed the boiled sweets along the line and was slightly disconcerted by the crunchy nature of the sweet. We all realised at the same time that we were actually eating Piccolo’s ashes and as I was met by two angry stares, I hissed at them to swallow him and NOT spit him out.

His ashes must have tipped out into my bag together with the bag of rhubarb and custard. We sat in silence crunching on his ashes and then having to pick him out from between our teeth. It seemed a fitting tribute that we all shared in his ashes.

We all had a great day, if a long one, not getting home until 10.30pm, but it was a fitting tribute to my beloved horse.

SALLY BOOTH, Director and Head Equine Vet