Meet the 1.20m showjumper turned dressage star who is now excelling in a side-saddle

  • We’re usually satisfied if a horse has a successful career in one sphere during their lifetime, let alone three. The over-achieving Oldenburg Ashleys Lanchello is making a name for himself on the side-saddle scene at the age of 19, after successful stints as both a showjumper and a dressage horse.

    Ashleys Lanchello (Cello) is owned by Vanessa Jensen and Linda Pollock, and he’s currently on loan to side saddle specialist Liz Rogers. He’s in his second season in side saddle classes, and his current tally includes wins at Hope Show, Royal Three Counties and Side Saddle Association fixtures.

    The gelding, who stands at 16.1hh, began his career as a showjumper, competing regularly up to 1.20m and producing multiple double clears.

    “We bought Cello seven years ago for my former business partner and good friend Vanessa, who was on the hunt for a schoolmaster,” says Linda, who has owned multiple horses with Vanessa over the years. “We bought him from Megan Bristow, and while he hadn’t competed for a long time, he had an impressive showjumping CV.”

    On getting him home, Linda and Vanessa believed in Cello’s potential for the dressage arena, so they began to dip their toes into the scene.

    “He really took to it, and despite the odd diva moment, he competed up to medium and qualified for the dressage to music finals at the British Dressage regionals,” adds Linda, who notes that Cello has been under the guidance of many trainers, including Richard Hayward and Michael Eilberg, over the years. “Cello definitely did act like a showjumper at times, though, often spooking when he’d see a table covered with a white cloth over it. Richard said to me that if that table had been presented as a jump, he would have cleared it with no questions asked!

    “When we felt Cello had gone as far as he could go in the dressage arena, we decided that he needed a retirement home of sorts, but that he wasn’t ready to give up competition completely. He’s a really good looking horse, so we approached Liz to see if she was possibly looking for a horse to show.”

    Liz took up Cello’s reins last year and with help from side saddle instructor Fran Penn, Cello was introduced to being ridden sideways.

    “He was brought on very slowly, and they took their time with him,” explains Linda. “He’s got a huge team around him, and he’s had a lot of help along the way. He still looks so divine, and despite being a challenging horse, we’ve found the key to him now; ahead of him going into the ring he has to be worked like he’s about to do a dressage test. He’s trotted around to get him focused and put straight into the class without giving him time to think or have a chat to any other horses. We’re delighted with his results, and we’re now looking ahead to the National Side Saddle Association championships later in the season.

    “Results aside, he’s a lovely horse to have around and he’s completely trustworthy. While he’s definitely not a novice ride, he’ll always give you that extra inch of effort, and if he has the right rider sitting on him, he’s the ultimate schoolmaster.”

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