How Rosie Margarson and best friend Bean became social media sensations
For National Racehorse Week, the Racing Post has visited racehorses at five different stages of their lives. In part four, Matt Rennie spends a morning with George Margarson's eight-year-old social media sensation Caribbean Spring.
It's just gone 9am at George Margarson's Newmarket yard and Caribbean Spring is having his feet done, his work already complete and a day of rest and relaxation to look forward to. It's no less than a celebrity deserves.
For this, for now, impeccably behaved gelding, also known as Bean, is something of a social media sensation, boasting nearly 6,000 followers on Twitter under his handle '@LifeOfBean', 25,000 on Instagram and a staggering 163,000 on TikTok.
Many therefore know this model pupil behaviour isn't what shot him to online fame, and this facade for the farriers isn't fooling anybody, especially his willing riding partner and best friend, Margarson's youngest daughter Rosie.
"He's been behaving pretty good of late, but he went up the Long Hill gallop this morning and led the string, then about halfway back home we had to leave because he saw some horses and lit up like a Christmas tree," she laughs.
"He got led home, which he was terribly upset about, but he's since had a massage and the farriers are doing his shoes, so it's all right for some.
"Since the 'incident' happened he's only done one spectacular buck and I was very unhappy with him. He hasn't learned his lesson, though; he'll probably do it again tomorrow."
The incident – Bean nods over his stable door admitting to it being his fault – is a matter to discuss later because George instructs Rosie that it's Bean's breakfast time.
Bean loves his food and would "eat for England" if he could. Feeding time is one of the very rare occasions when he will not make his presence in the yard or the town known.
"He thinks he's the king of the castle and as good as Frankel; he struts around the Heath like he owns the place," adds Rosie. "We'll sometimes see Stradivarius and he'll give him a right eyeful.
"They don't know how good they are and that's what makes horses like him so nice. It always makes me laugh when people ask, 'Do you treat these ones differently?' – they're all superstars and we treat them as such.
"If you look around now, the yard is silent because they've been fed, they're happy and if they didn't want to be in their boxes then trust me, they'd tell us about it."
The joy between Rosie – proudly sporting a maroon 'Life Of Bean' cap – and the team towards Bean and his counterparts radiates glowingly across the yard.
The duo also help to spread that same feeling to the public through their viral online adventures, as well as aiming to share an important message about life in racing yards.
She says: "We need to change the idea that they're trapped in. Anytime we get the opportunity to showcase the welfare of horses, me and Bean will continue to do so. It's not necessarily the fault of people who are opposed to racing as they don't know any better.
"A girl made me incredibly happy the other day after messaging me to say that by watching Bean's daily antics it had totally turned her attitude towards racing around. She had hated it because she didn't understand it, but by being open and forward with the general public about day-to-day stuff we can change people's perceptions.
"In the grand scheme of things what I post is boring, it's Groundhog Day, but he chooses to be spectacular at random times. Luckily it's getting to the right places and people."
The fact it's getting to the right – and many – places is evident in the healthy chunk of fan mail by Bean's stable door, nestled behind a wonderful portrait drawing of him from a nine-year-old superfan called Louisa. He even made it onto his very own PowerPoint slide in New Zealand, helping to promote racing there.
But on a closer, more personal level, capturing Bean's daily antics on the gallops and the cheeky tantrums or play fighting in his barn has had an unimaginably positive effect for Rosie.
"I met three friends through college and they're all animal activists, but they love Bean," she says. "They won't go racing, but their attitude towards it has been turned around since coming to the yard and seeing what we do.
"They know Bean and his mates aren't confined to a box and will go out in a field when the weather allows it, and that when he retires I'll get him the biggest field I can possibly find him."
That day isn't too close, however, with Bean – now back peering through his box, nuzzling Rosie's arm – still going strong despite his advancing years.
Bought by the Margarsons at the Autumn Horses In Training sale nearly six years ago after starting his career in Ireland with Dermot Weld, the son of Dark Angel has since won five times and gained 67 lucky people from across the world as part of The Bean Club, his ownership group. They generously cover his costs and more, including paying for special hydrotherapy treatment for his arthritis.
He has also inflicted physical problems on Rosie in that time, a routine gallop gone wrong on Long Hill in May leaving her with a broken ankle.
She recalls: "He's always chilled out before a canter, but he knows when you put your stirrups down. If you can get him distracted he'll forget everything, but on this occasion there were two horses on our right and he looked over at them and went boom, did a solid buck and sent me quite high, then he went left.
"My left ankle was the first thing to hit the floor. I didn't think I'd broken it and I even rode him home, but it wasn't until I was at the yard that I knew something quite bad had happened. In fact, before I was getting any treatment my mum Gaye was giving him a massage!
"I was off for eight weeks, but by the tenth week I had ridden a winner, so I forgave him."
That was no ordinary winner either as Spirited Guest, Bean's mate from a couple doors down, provided Rosie and the family with another memorable King George day at Ascot in July this year when he won the prestigious female amateur riders' handicap, 20 years on from Atavus winning the International on the same card.
The broken ankle is even highlighted by Rosie as a sign that Bean's old age is just mellowing him slightly.
"He never means to do it and at least he came back to me when I broke my ankle – last time he dropped me he was running around Lucy Wadham's yard for half an hour," she laughs. "Katie [Margarson, sister] was watching me scream for him as he goes the other way sprinting to her yard, Dad's on the phone shouting, 'Where the hell are you?'
"He really did think he was going to get some telling off, but now he comes back to me and trusts me. He knows he's sorry, but equally he knows I'm a friend and that I love him."
As Bean's first celebrity interview for the Racing Post draws to an end – he's had enough of the endless patting, cameras and heads to the back of his box for a bit of peace and quiet – it's clear to see the love the Margarsons have for their horses.
Because of his age, Bean will get a bit of extra attention for the rest of the day, with the whole family mucking in to keep him happy and healthy.
Rosie says: "He's just chilling from now on. He has two hay nets as he loves his food, a treat ball and his manger, which he always throws out the door. My mum will be down mid-afternoon to put his arthritic boots on – we can't leave him untied as he'll take them off – and give him a massage, and while he's stuffing his hay we'll do the other horses.
"Mum will then give him a good brush and he'll get some good TLC from me and her. Dad will do his medical before he gets his dinner, and then he can have a lovely sleep.
"If he behaves well I'll give him a pick of grass. I took him for a pick yesterday after he'd had a bath, and he threw a tantrum coming back in. It involved a lot huffing and jumping on all fours, but when dad came round he walked straight back into his box. He's such a mickey-taker!"
A mickey-taker indeed but, for all the lunatic tendencies and the fact he may not be the most talented horse in training, Bean and so many other much-loved veterans in yards across Britain are treated like legends of the sport.
Bean's remarkable racing story still has a few chapters left. If it's not in an amateur riders' race at Newmarket's Cambridgeshire meeting next week, it will be on low-key nights at Chelmsford where he will hope to warm hearts during the winter.
And if you're not lucky enough to see Bean in the flesh at those venues you will be able to catch up with him online, with a Christmas special, a launch into the abyss for Rosie, a swearathon from her sister Katie and "a lot of pigeons" already in the pipeline.
Retirement will come sooner rather than later for Bean – "he could cause carnage in the Retraining of Racehorses rings" laughs Rosie – but for now he's a happy bundle of joy. That's no more than the Margarsons, his owners, his army of fans, or anyone could ask for.
'Dangerous' times in Newmarket
While Rosie Margarson can joke about her injuries suffered at the hands of Bean, a number of "frightening" incidents around Newmarket have been no laughing matter, including when her sister was hit by a car while waiting at a horse crossing.
Katie was on the filly Luna Wish in the middle of the road at a horse crossing near St Mary's Square when a car pulled out and hit them from behind, with the horse, driver and Katie luckily escaping without serious injuries.
Rosie, 27, is now attempting to change the law to make dangerous driving around horses and their riders illegal. She says: "There needs to be a law to make it illegal to drive dangerously around horses. The police didn't even attend; they didn't care. People have their horses killed and those that do it are still driving around. How frightening is that?"
In May, Rosie also launched a petition to make driving safely around horses a mandatory part of the driving test, receiving a response from the government pointing out that it is covered in the theory and hazard perception test.
Even so, Rosie maintains that all drivers need to properly understand horse awareness no matter what experience they have behind the wheel.
She says: "The frightening thing is we're used to it. People these days are extremely self-involved; the person who hit Katie pulled out thinking the traffic was stopping for her, not the horse or someone else, and it'll get worse until something big happens. That's the sad reality."
Rosie has found that her GoPro camera she uses to film herself and Bean has slightly helped reduce the risk of accidents.
She says: "It's funny, people's attitudes change when they notice I've got my camera on, but I shouldn't have to have that for them to behave appropriately. Repercussions should be enough, but they aren't."
Read part five of our National Racehorse Week series, looking at retired horses at the British Racing School, from 6pm on Thursday. If you would like to take part in the many events of National Racehorse Week go to nationalracehorseweek.uk for more details.
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