By Michael V. West
** Fred Rice’s memories of INDIAN MAGIC as told to M.V. West. Originally published in the July August 1990 issue of The Crabbet Influence magazine.
‘Magic’ was the stable name given to Indian Magic. Born in difficult days in 1944, he was one of the finest horses bred at Crabbet Park but, unfortunately, had the distinction of being the very last horse kept at the Crabbet Arabian Stud.
His dam, Indian Crown, was known as ‘Lizzie’ at the Stud. She was a dark chestnut with four white socks and was nine years old when she produced ‘Magic.’
Raktha, his illustrious sire, needs no introduction, but those who knew him remember him as a great horse. “A perfect horse of marvelous beauty and conformation,” was the description of him given by Cecil Covey.
Lady Wentworth was around to see her new colt foaled early in the morning. She never got over the excitement of newly born foals and was always soon on the scene.
Fred Rice, who was at Crabbet all his working life, recalled that Lady Wentworth remarked about the new foal’s excellent bone. He remembers that she had the uncanny ability to know the potential of a foal almost within twenty-four hours of its being born.
‘Magic’ grew on splendidly and, after a year, Fred was asked by Lady Wentworth if he would like to take on the young grey colt, which he was pleased to do.
The horse spent several more peaceful years maturing at Crabbet before starting his show career. By then, he had grown to almost 15.2 hh. Immediately, much controversy started because of his height. Lady Wentworth loved the larger horses and was also a great enthusiast for Anglo-Arabs. She saw, too, a bigger market for the larger Arabs, particularly in the U.S.A. Other well-known breeders of the day, including Mr. Musgrave-Clark of the Courthouse Stud, were adamant that Arabians in excess of 15 hh lacked type.
However, Indian Magic continued his career with much success, with wins all over the country. In particular, he was a frequent winner in Leicestershire and other hunting areas where bigger horses were preferred. Mr. Henry Wynmalen, a famous judge of the day, was a great admirer of the big grey.
‘Magic’ was a fine show horse, easily trained, but always a bit restive and nervous if away from home too long.
At one of the shows, Fred Rice had been watching a display by some mounted police. That evening, one of them showed the grooms various tricks he could do with his horse. Fred was very impressed and went home determined to teach these tricks to ‘Magic.’
The horse was quick to learn and Fred could send the horse trotting around the school with one crack of the whip. Two cracks would bring the horse into a canter.
When called in to the center, Fred would pretend to be drunk so ‘Magic’ would gently push him in the back with his nose as if pushing him home.
Additionally, the horse would also dance up on his hind legs upon command.
Fred had been doing this training secretly-rather fearful of Lady Wentworth. To his horror, one day whilst teaching ‘Magic’ in the school, he found Her Ladyship had come quietly in and was watching.
He didn’t get the telling-off he expected, although she didn’t exactly approve, being concerned that her star horse might repeat these tricks in the show ring.
However, Fred reckoned that she was secretly impressed because frequently she sent visitors along to see ‘Magic’s’ display.
Until Lady Wentworth’s death in 1957, Indian Magic served only Crabbet mares, but when Mr. Covey took over he made his stallions available to mare owners outside the Stud and, in fact, the big stallion continued at stud until almost twenty-five years old.
It is surprising that Indian Magic was able to remain at Crabbet all his life when other outstanding stallions, like Naseem and Raktha, were sold.
No doubt, his size had much to do with it and, in later years, his popularity as a sire with outside studs.
When compared with his sire, Raktha, ‘Magic’ was considered not to have been so fine, but had greater substance and was considered quite majestic in the show ring.
Eventually, with the dispersal of the Stud and the departure of the last remaining horses, ‘Magic’ started to pine for the other horses and to lose condition. Reluctantly, the decision was made to put him down.
Fred had hoped to avoid this unhappy event, but ‘Magic’ would have nothing to do with the people sent to perform this task. He, therefore, had to catch ‘Magic’ and so the circle was completed. Fred, who had helped this incredible horse into the world, finally had to see him out.
(Written with the cooperation of Fred Rice who cared for and trained Indian Magic over the horse’s entire life.)
**All of the articles included in the re-launched Crabbet.com site from the original website, Georgia Cheer, Silver Monarch Publishing and The Crabbet Influence magazine are shared here with permission of Georgia Cheer given May 16, 2012.**
Last Updated: April 22nd, 2019