Shane Rose’s first horse as a five-year-old member of the Forest Hills Pony Club was a firebrand named Mickey Mouse – the naughtiest, nastiest beast in the club’s herd – and it could be suggested some of the feisty Shetland pony’s character may have rubbed off on the three-time Olympian.

“My first pony, Mickey Mouse was pretty naughty” said Rose, who made headlines around the globe when he was recently stood down [but reinstated] by Equestrian Australia because a spectator complained about him competing in a ‘mankini’ at a fancy dress event.

“I think the farriers actually had to lie the horse down to put his shoes on. He was a bit naughty, but he certainly gave us a good start.”

“I was a pretty, tough little kid and whenever there was a naughty pony, basically I got that one because somebody else needed a nice, quiet horse they could get along with.

“And Mum being the very generous person she was [and as club president], she’d take my nice quiet pony and give it to all the people with feral ponies. So, I guess I grew up learning to ride those naughty ponies.”

Given the Shetland pony’s character it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Rose – who’s inspiring story features on the NSWIS Lights Up documentary series – didn’t win any events on Mickey Mouse.

He instead won his first blue ribbon after teaming up with a horse named Tinkler when he was about six, and it set him on a path to winning two silver and one bronze Olympic medal – with hopes high that he’ll add to that tally in Paris.

However, the spirit of Mickey Mouse didn’t quite leave Rose who, with his mates, would ride in the nearby National Park after school. The unholy alliance of feral horses and wild kids soon caught the attention of the authorities. However, the park rangers were no match for Rose and his crew.

“I remember coming home using our horses basically as BMX bikes,” Rose recalled. “The area we grew up in was next to a national park, so we got to come home and use our horses as a means of transport and all our friends rode in the area.

“So, growing up, we did terrorise the Rangers that there was a period where we weren’t really supposed to go out in the in the national park.

“And for some reason, they thought putting Rangers on horses was a good idea and that they could catch us. But we were feral little kids. We’d run into them and run away from them pretty quick. And I think they the Rangers often got the nickname ‘Autumn Leaves’ because they fell off quite a lot.

“We were pretty wild kids, just like, I guess a lot of kids in the in the suburbs riding around on BMX bikes and causing havoc. We would sort of doing the same in the bush on our ponies.”

Daniel Lane, NSWIS

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