Tributes paid to the man who designed the famous horse that stood outside a Warwick pub for more than three decades

As well as creating the iconic horse, Rodney also had many achievements throughout his life including meeting the Queen and received the Coachmakers' Carriage Driving Award

Monday, 25th January 2021, 5:27 pm
Updated Monday, 25th January 2021, 5:54 pm
Rodney Ousbey. Photo supplied

Tributes have been paid to the man who designed the famous horse that stood outside a pub in Warwick for more than three decades.

Rodney Ousbey, who was born in Warwick and later moved to the Stratford area, designed and built the fiberglass horse which stood outside The Racehorse pub in Warwick for more than 30 years until 2018 when it was replaced for a new metal horse.

As well as creating the iconic horse, Rodney also had many achievements throughout his life including meeting the Queen and received the Coachmakers' Carriage Driving Award.

The fiberglass racehorse which was outside The Racehorse pub in Warwick for more than 30 years before it was replaces with a new metal horse in 2018. Photo by Google Streetview

Rodney passed away on Christmas Day 2020.

His family have written the following tribute to Rodney, also known as Rod:

Born in Warwick in Aug 1949, by 1964 the family were in Newbold-on-Stour.

In his youth he was very active being part of a team who set a new world record for marathon table tennis playing.

Joining Shipston-on-Stour Youth Club he later become treasurer to the National Association of Youth Clubs then delegate to an International Youth Conference in Germany.

Doing his Duke of Edinburgh award, his group just missed out on setting a new under-21s record time for the Pennine Way due to a Foot and Mouth outbreak.

Rod also took part in road walking races, rock climbing and fishing, the latter becoming a life-long love.

He started working for his father who could paint to a very high standard having trained as a coach painter on car bodywork in the 1930s.

In the early 70s they started restoring a few horse drawn vehicles and the occasional vintage car with that work eventually taking over from the display stands that were their normal business.

In 1973 Rod moved from the family home to a flat in Shipston.

After a few girlfriends Rod met Gill, prior to this he knew nothing about a carriage's 'engine' but she lived and breathed horses.

Once settled into married life in 1978 they bought a Welsh Cob, Bobby, who came with a carriage and all harness so they learned to drive.

A couple of years later they moved to Withybrook near Coventry, now having stables and a workshop they set themselves up in business, Rod restoring carriages and Gill running a livery stables.

Once introduced to carriage driving trials Rod's sporting ability showed again with him becoming pretty good, he designed and built a specialised cross country vehicle he called The Chariot and won the National Carriage Driving Championships Novice horse class at Windsor in the second year in the sport.

The trials were often three day events so to offset being away from their businesses so long they set up Ousbey’s Harness Room so they could have trade stands at the big events selling all things driving and promoting the carriage painting alongside competing.

The Duke of Edinburgh was often also competing at these, although in a different event class, and sometimes when walking the course beforehand they would bump into him and pass a few minutes discussing the course.

One time Rod turned his vehicle over and his horse was hurt, it happened that the Duke was stewarding at that point so he radioed for the vet then ensured the horse was safely returned to the start.

One year at Holker Hall, there was an evening reception for staff and competitors at which the Queen was present and all were introduced to her - including Rod and Gill who had a few minutes conversation with her.

Apart from his restoration/painting work he also built a new road coach, made fibreglass horses and reindeer for museums. and also trained people in carriage driving.

Rod became a familiar figure at the Reading carriage sales selling his perfectly painted vehicles and buying to restore. He also took a keen interest in the history of coaching and carriages becoming very knowledgeable.

In the mid-90s he and Gill went their separate ways and Rod returned to work in Newbold where his mother still lived, his father having died a little previously.

In addition to his painting/restoration work in order to justify keeping a horse he started doing horse drawn weddings and special occasions with a borrowed carriage.

To be able to drive a pair he got two bay Gelderlanders and a Landau to restore and use.

Having almost stopped doing driving trials that changed when he had the chance of a groom from the Warwickshire College of Agriculture and took part in one-day indoor trials.

Over the subsequent years many friends have groomed for him, be it competition, work or pleasure driving.

In 2009 Rod was very proud to receive the Coachmakers' Carriage Driving Award given by the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers and presented by The Duke of Edinburgh.

Unfortunately around seven years ago he had to give up horses due to increasing health problems but through good friends Rod was still able to attend driving events such as meets of the Coaching Club and also help at various shows.

Being very convivial as well as well-respected among carriage people he was a popular guest at many events such as the luncheons of the Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights and will be long remembered by those who met him.

Rodney Ousbey will leave from the White Hart car park in Newbold-on-Stour around 9.30am on Wednesday January 27 as far as Halford by horse drawn hearse.