Cezare II, the mount of Anna Slosmanis, hasn’t had the most straightforward of preparations for the NAF Five Star winter dressage championships, where they are competing in the Spillers medium freestyle silver class. Last year he was diagnosed with an atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat).

“We didn’t know he had the issue until a vet came to do a routine check and discovered it,” explains Anna, a self-employed product manager specialising in financial technology software. “He went to Newmarket Equine Hospital in July, where they had to stop and then restart his heart.”

The lengthy rehab process then began.

“We had to keep him calm for six weeks to allow his heart to find its new rhythm,” says Anna who has owned the 11-year-old 17.2hh by Glock’s Johnson since he was four. “We did a lot of work on the water treadmill to regain his fitness and three months later in October, he was ready to perform one dressage test, which was the qualifier for this competition — it’s great that we have managed to get here.”

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Anna bought Cezare as a project from Hayley Watson-Greaves.

“He’s high maintenance and if he knows you’re worried, he will take advantage,” explains Anna. “With the help of a good calmer and lots of preparation, we manage him. He was a bit quiet before his diagnosis and I thought maybe he was growing up. But sure enough he’s returned to his hot and cheeky self!”

For a full report from the British Dressage Winter Championships and Area Festival final – as well as news, views and expert comment – don’t miss Thursday’s (19 April) issue of Horse & Hound