Toothless 20-year-old still ‘loving a party’ at the Winter Dressage Championships

  • If he were a human, Zante would be consigned to an armchair with his pipe, slippers and false teeth. However, the 20-year-old Flemmingh gelding still “enjoys a party” and looked to be flourishing in the Nupafeed Advanced Medium Freestyle Silver Championship at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships 2024.

    Eighteen months ago, Zante had all his incisors removed due to Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis, a painful dental disorder in which the teeth roots start to dissolve. 

    “His tongue does stick out most of the time, but when I pick up the contact, he puts his tongue away,” Ellie said. “He’s coped really well with it. It was a difficult decision to have the teeth removed because we didn’t know if he’d be able to compete again. If the tongue did stick out all the time, we’d get hammered for it. But luckily he’s come back really well.”

    Winter Dressage Championships 2024: the veteran who “doesn’t want to slow down”

    Due to his advanced years, Zante is competed very lightly, but he relishes his outings.

    “He had a month off after the removal and then didn’t compete until last summer,” said Ellie. “And then we did just the two tests to qualify for the regionals, won the regionals and here we are. I don’t think he wants to slow down just yet because we did semi-retire him and then took him out and he got an amazing score, and jumped into the lorry.”

    Zante and Ellie contested young rider CDIs together, and competed up to inter I, but Ellie has stepped him down to advanced medium now.

    “It’s a bit easier on him now he’s older, and he’s pretty secure at this level. He doesn’t find it particularly hard, and he does love to come out to a party, bless him. Doing little bits here and there keeps him happy. He goes hacking, does a bit of jumping, a bit of everything, to keep him supple more than anything else.

    “He’s worth his weight in gold. He earnt me my GB flags, got me on national academies and took me from medium to inter I.”

    Ellie is a sports scholar in her final year at the University of Lincoln, studying sport and exercise science. She chose a local university so she could live at home and keep riding, and also rides for the uni.

    The pair finished 11th on 68.83% in the freestyle, which was won by Evelina Shrieve and Insist TC on 73.5%.

    You may also enjoy reading…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...