THIS IS the story of a horse we like to call our own here in Victoria. Yes, yes we know he is now a New South Welshman, however we Victorian’s really do have a massive soft spot for this one having watched him grow up from a baby!
Lets learn the story of Tyrone VDL! A horse who has multiple paddock names such as Tyrone, Ronald, Ron and the one when he truly deserves extra love Rony Pony! Tyrone is now owned and ridden and loved by Sarah McMillan.
Tyrone’s story started in the Netherlands, he was bred by Toos Knegt in 2009. Fun fact, he actually failed one of his stallion licensing assessments resulting in him being [WVS1] put on the market and that is how Des Russell ended up buying him. (More fool the judge of that class as he has not only been a super jumping sire but he is also, in our eyes, a real superstar!)
Tyrone’s sire is Cardento and his Dam is Maurinia who was by Wellington (Nimmerdor) and her Dam was Davinia whose sire Abgar and Dam Sinia are from the best Dutch line the Nini111 line, and like many of the goods ones there is a lot of thoroughbred back in the lineage.
Rather than a full breeding story we are going to tell you the Davinia the Grand Dam has some pretty famous progeny. “Loro Piana HAVINIA” - who placed 5th at the World Equestrian Games in 2002 with Italian rider Gianni Govoni. Havinia is now the grand dam of McLain Ward’s exciting recent purchase ‘ILEX’, and Amy Miller’s Grand Prix mount 'JELVINIA’. A fun fact. Each mare from Davina has produced their own breeding line, producing at least one 1.60m horse each.
Back to Tyrone as this is a great story.
Des Russell brought Tyrone out to Australia as a [WVS2] young colt and took him out to Denis Crane and Kate Fleisher who broke him in. From here he started in the smaller heights classes working his way up to 1.20m. In his earlier days he was partnered by Adam Johnston who knew the horse had more potential, yet Adam being so busy also knew he didn’t have as much time to put into him that he needed so he suggested Des work with James Harvey to really allow him to shine and shine he did!
James started competing Tyrone when he was jumping around the 1.20m tracks and James was the one who started him in his very first World Cup in Adelaide. James tells us a funny story, when he first got Tyrone, he thought to himself “what am I doing?!”. The very first ride he tried to buck James off and at the very first show he was exceptionally naughty.
James persevered and took Tyrone on to 14 World Cup Qualifiers earning his MER for both Tokyo 2020 and Tokyo 2021.
James says he is one of the coolest horses he has ever ridden and whilst selling him to Sarah McMillan was not an easy sale, it was the start of COVID and the beginning of locked down in Melbourne, with the unknown of how long, he thought the timing for Tyrone was the best to allow him to continue on his path as being in Victoria and the strict covid protocols he was likely to be wasted just jumping around 1.40m -1.45m classes. James always believed he is a horse that needed bigger tracks. i.e. he really is a 1.60m jumper. James is so proud Tyrone has the home he has and deserves. He just loves watching him with Sarah and knows the oh so hard decision was the oh so right one.
Sarah and Tyrone have been partnered since 1st January 2021 after being purchased from Des Russell and the Harvey Family.
Sarah tells us, “They say 'timing is everything' - and in this case it very much was. It was an idea of chance that fell my way.
My father (John) and I drove down to Victoria one day before the second covid State border closure lockdown. I was terribly sick with strep throat. I rode Tyrone in the afternoon and that evening I was so ill I needed to go to the hospital - however if I did that, we would have been locked down in Victoria for 2 weeks. John was worried I was too sick to ride the next morning - there was no doubt I was sick enough for hospital, but not quite sick enough not to have a second sit on Tyrone”.
Tyrone stands at 16.1hh he is small but mighty and in Tyrone's eyes, he must eat like a king, as well as be treated like one. If this does not eventuate he will sulk for days until treated otherwise. Although treats are good ways to bribe Tyrone, however wither scratches are superior.
Tyrone deems his paddock-time as a high importance. Refusal to be caught is his way to overcome the issue of starvation - and to ensure the message is received, he will canter circles around the 'catcher' until he or she tires.
...Chances are you wont be able to catch/touch/get any form of affection from him until the listed bribes above are put in place.
So when you tell you about dislikes Tyrone has a few.
The first, Leg! You'll often see Sarah ask for a rein back before starting her round - you will also often see Tyrone throw a minor tantrum objecting to any leg on his side. He does not like being given the leg aid while being ridden and often reminds Sarah of this by threatening for her to sit on the sand rather than his back.
The second, walking at a decent pace! Tyrone is also THE slowest walker EVER! Tyrone's motivation levels at the walk are maximised at 2/10 and anything more, justifies a reluctant jog. Key here plan to be ready early.
The third, Trot ups: Tyrone hates trot ups - and for a horse that would NEVER bite anyone, Sarah's arm or shoulder often falls victim to a light nip in protest of such pointless use of energy.
Another fun fact, Sarah calls Tyrone Mr Suspicious: Tyrone is as confident and as cocky as any king would be... unless:
- he doesn't know you/believes you're acting suspiciously,
- you are seen to be getting one of his friends into trouble,
- you speaking in his surroundings in an aggressive tone
Sarah tells us Tyrone is the most gentle and sweetest natured horse that could ever be. He is awfully opinionated, and very cheeky - but would never hurt anyone on purpose.
Some of Sarah’s highlights with Tyrone have been Reserve Champion- FEI World Cup League 2023, 1st Shepparton World Cup 202, 1st Sale World Cup 2023, 2nd Caboolture World Cup 2023, 4th GDP Grand Prix 2023, 3rd GDP Grand Prix 2022, FEI Aust League Rookie of the Year 2023
Sarah and Tyrones are so thankful for the few people that supported the idea of Tyrone moving into their stable - as well as James and Des for being nothing but wonderfully supportive throughout the development of Tyrone and my partnership.
Tyrone your story is great you are loved by so many and us Victorians hold a special place for you too. You have come 4th and then 3rd in our Martin Collins Australia Grand Prix so far. We have fingers and toes crossed that this year you can go better, we know you will be one also cheered for very loudly and your mum and all of us will be proud of you no matter what!
Sarah and Tyrone are proudly sponsored by:
Dapple E.Q, Alberto Fasciani Top Boots - Chase Equestrian, FreeJump Stirrups Australia, Rosehip Vital
Photo Credits: Supplied by Sarah, One Eyed Frog Photography, James Abernenthy