Dominic Schramm’s Bolytair B came to him as a problem horse, but the pair will be heading to their fifth five-star together when they tackle Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian, next month (4-8 May).
“Over the years we’ve formed a partnership so now I can channel his energy,” says Dominic, who is an Australian based in the USA. “He loved to spend a lot of time on his back legs. The hardest thing with him is the cross-country – in anticipation of what’s coming, he’d often leave the warm-up and act in every way except going into the start box.
“I spent a lot of time long-lining him and exposing him to different stuff. He can still be a handful, but we’re sparring partners now and have figured it out.”
Asked to describe the 16-year-old syndicate-owned Bolytair B, who is a Dutch warmblood by Polytair, Dominic says: “He’s a big, sexy, athletic lunatic! If you see him, you can’t help but look at him.
“He has a very sweet temperament, but to ride he’s quite an intense horse. I don’t think a warmblood of his size would be as good as he is without that fire in him. He’s incredibly talented.”
Dominic and Bolytair B jumped round the cross-country of both US five-stars, the Kentucky Three-Day Event and the new Maryland 5 Star, clear last year. They also completed Kentucky in 2019 and the same year travelled to Burghley Horse Trials, where they broke a frangible on the cross-country, finishing 28th.
“It was a beefy track, even by Burghley standards, and I didn’t go quick,” says Dominic. “I was just trying to get experience. We’ve been chipping away, getting faster across country and working hard at his dressage – we had a 33.4 at Maryland and I think we can be 30 or sub-30 now – so I think this is the year to pull it all together.”
Dominic’s main goal is to be selected for the Australian squad for the eventing World Championships in Pratoni in September.
“Badminton is part of that plan,” he says. “I believe we’re capable of a top 10 finish and I would be really stoked with that.”
Bolytair B will make the trip to the UK with his “five-star travelling buddy”‚ US rider Lillian Heard’s LCC Barnaby, with whom he also travelled to Burghley in 2019. Dominic has previously worked for fellow Aussie and former Badminton winner Paul Tapner and the horses will be based in his yard before they head to Badminton.
Unlike many foreign riders, Dominic has been to Badminton, visiting on three occasions including helping out when Paul rode there.
“I think anyone who has been to Badminton remembers their first time – you think, ‘How is this even possible? How do people do this?’ As I learnt more about the sport and worked at it, it became closer to a reality. I understand it’s the most prestigious event in the world and a huge ask.
“It takes a special horse and I think Bolytair B is the horse for the job. We’re going to be as prepared as we can possibly be and I’m really looking forward to the challenge, but I know it’s serious business.”
Of his background, 34-year-old Dominic says: “I’m basically just a mediocre rider from outback Queensland. I remember watching Ian Stark win Badminton on Jaybee and I identified with something in him. I just wanted to go to Badminton and finally 23 years later, I’m coming over to do it.
“I married an American girl and relocated here to the US 11 years ago. I bought a little farm and have my life. It’s been a great springboard for a guy like me to build up.”
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