Leaving my horse to go to Uni - AH Dressage


I thought this was an important blog post to write, every year I see fellow equestrians worrying about whether to take their horse(s) to University....and trust me, from the moment I bought Maxi it was a niggling worry about what I would do....and as time went by and we realised the 'true' Maxi it became even more of a worry. I'm not going to lie, its hard, it really is, but those of you who have heard about Maxi, and lets not lie, he does have a reputation, will know why I decided not to take him to University, but here is a little back story.

So I purchased Maxi Hill as a fabulously bred modern Irish Sports Horse (TB X BWP) recently backed 4yr old (Grand Sire: Darco x Dam Sire: Rudimentary) with hopes to take him through the eventing levels, maybe aim for grassroots champs and also do lots of dressage with him... Maxi had other ideas…Namely that he cant/wont jump fences (I have no idea what happened to this animal in Ireland but something did, never seen a horse get so stressed over a single walk pole). He has the typical Darco personality with zilch of the Darco talent (aka he is very opinionated, throws his weight around and has a very busy brain).

I probably spoke to every single dressage rider offering schooling livery in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Suffolk and Hampshire before deciding to send him to Ashleigh! Talking to dressage riders many were going on and on about how much pole work they do, which obviously for Maxi is a major turn off and whilst they sounded like they could cope with a stunning enthusiastic dressage bred horse, I just didn't feel many of them were ready for a Maxi in their lives (I mean who is to be honest....)!!!!! I was getting more and more panicked as he has also got an aversion to large yards, Shetlands, coloureds and any person he deems not worthy of his presence (aka my mum), which meant my list of options got smaller and smaller....

I had known Ashleigh for a little while and so invited her over to ride Maxi to hear her thoughts and see if she had any recommendations or if she liked him enough to take him on. She got on and Maxi tried a few of his usual tricks (drop a shoulder and try and spin like a pony club pony…sponsored rider Claire has already fallen victim to that one!!) but she kept the smile on her face, kicked on and managed to figure out his buttons, Ashleigh managed to change her riding to suit him immediately and just seemed to GET him, not asking 'why can't you do this, you should be able to do this' but instead working on him learning! I couldn’t have been happier to see his list of people he liked grow by one. We decided to send him over to Ashleigh’s early when I went on holiday to give him some time to settle and for them to bond whilst I still had time to figure out a plan B before going back to uni if it all went tits up!

4 months on and he is still happy, Ashleigh still hasn’t fallen off (JUST!), he hasn’t kicked anyone (As far as I'm aware), the farrier is still friends with him and I still like him (kind of). Ashleigh has been absolutely instrumental in our progress, training both him and me. Her yard staff are just totally wonderful and enjoy making fun of him with me (what more can you ask for?!). His health has improved no end, he is finally putting on weight and keeping it thanks to his wonderful Simple Systems Diet, and the physio is at his beck and call! There is always tea on hand when I’m at home and a friendly face to chat too, it’s a yard that feels like home.

I think a great testament to Ashleigh is that whilst I obviously miss him, I don’t spend every moment thinking about him or worrying, my parents don’t feel the need to check on him all the time, and I can focus on my studies knowing he probably gets better care now then before he went! My parents and I could not be happier with his progress and I’m so grateful that I have found someone who understands Mr complicated the way I do, not trying to change him into the fancy dressage horse he can never be, but bringing out his best, and making him a confident, happy horse in his training and general life.

It is so important to find someone you trust and someone who actually likes you horse (don't worry Ashleigh I didn't use the word love there!), and so if you are based in the South East I honestly couldn't recommend Ashleigh and her team more, although Maxi would like to add that if you have a coloured cob, or a shetland you can't be his friend)

Thank you for everything Ashleigh x

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