One of the largest horses at this week’s LeMieux National Dressage Championships at Stoneleigh (14-17 September) is Diamantico, who stands at a whopping 18.2hh.

He is owned and ridden by his breeder, Amy Tilston.

“We didn’t aim to breed a horse so big,” admits Amy. “He’s out of a 16.3hh mare and is by the 16.3hh stallion, Nibeley Union Jack.”

Known as ‘Tico’ at home, the nine-year-old black gelding has been plagued with issues while growing up.

“He’s had all sorts of problems including kissing spines which he then had an operation to correct, plus he had slipping patellas in his stifles,” explains Amy. “He couldn’t trot or canter round the arena and it’s taken years of careful work to get him to this point.”

Amy credits her trainer, Lisa Marriott, for their progress as a partnership.

“Lisa is one of the few people who has believed in him — he was so broken that even the rehab centre we used said we would never get to this point,” says Amy.

On the ground, Tico is quite a character.

“He’s an absolute diva and no one except the girls on the yard can touch him,” explains Amy. “The first time Tico met my boyfriend, he pulled him over his stable door by his coat — he’s just about learnt to accept him now!”

Amy is a radiographer at Preston Major Trauma Centre and she frequently works night shifts to fit in riding around her job.

At the national championships, a first appearance for both Amy and Tico, the pair were competing in the Childeric Saddles elementary silver championship. They scored 64.32% and were 22nd.

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“He doesn’t find it easy as he’s so big and still finding his strength,” says Amy. “He wobbles and struggles with his balance but it’s just good to be here.”

Keep up-to-date with all of the news from the National Dressage Championships by keeping an eye on the Horse & Hound website, and don’t miss the full magazine report, out on Thursday 21 September.