After starting with a rearing habit just two weeks after she got him home, Sara Malpass has proved that dedication, time and a bucket load of patience can pay off with even the quirkiest of horses.
This week, Sara and her eight-year-old gelding Keystone Dicaprio (Zeus) are competing in the Novice Silver and Novice Silver Freestyle finals at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships held at Hartpury (3 — 7 April).
“I bought him four years ago and within two weeks he started rearing bolt upright with me,” says Sara who runs her own yard and also does freelance teaching.
“Professional riders had told me that it was due to him being ‘well bred’ and that he had a spark about him, but something didn’t sit right with me so I called the vet out. He ended up having a bone scan which revealed he was in fact in serious pain.”
The gelding went into surgery and was required to have an extensive rest period which included three months box rest followed by six months out in the field.
Sara continues: “He then had to begin rehab work, only hacking out and only in straight lines; as you can imagine it wasn’t the easiest.
“After five months of light hacking he started rearing again and even put me in a ditch a few times. I spent a long time trying and failing to ride him. We even tried medicating him again and he would still stand on end. After finding nothing in further vet investigations, I decided that it was either time for me to put my brave pants on and get on with it, or retire him from being ridden.
“Initially, he wouldn’t even walk away from the mounting block. It took me about two weeks of working him every single day to finally make some headway. There were certainly a few scary moments involved.
“Through sheer determination we have managed to come out the other side. I have now been competing him for 14 months — he is a phenomenal horse with amazing paces so it has been worth it.
“We have good days and some bad days.We have established a very strong relationship now; when he’s nervous and acting up he just needs to know I’m there with him and he will settle to the job.”
Picture by India Brown
Horse & Hound has three reporters on the ground at Hartpury; don’t miss the 11 April issue for 12 pages of reports from the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships and the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, and keep up to date with action as it happens here on HorseandHound.co.uk