20-year-old former hunter survives colic surgery to take dressage title side-saddle

  • A 20-year-old former hunt horse who has survived colic surgery and is trained in an orchard took the British Dressage (BD) Associated Championships veterans’ prelim title – ridden side-saddle.

    Lois Seymour and her own Diorissimo (Dylan) scored 73% to beat all comers at Vale View (9-13 November), two years after vets thought he would have to be put down as he was suffering from strangulating lipoma, type of colic caused when a fatty tumour gets wrapped around some of the small intestine.

    “That makes it even more special,” Lois said. “It was surgery or put him down. Some vets might say not to do the surgery as he was an older horse but he had so much life still in him. He had the emergency surgery, and 10 months later, he was at the side-saddle championships, and he won the veteran championship. He made it back.”

    Lois bought the part-bred Hanoverian gelding six years ago; she was looking for a horse with whom to regain her confidence after a nasty accident.

    “I was looking for something about 15.2hh and about 10, and I ended up with a 16.2hh 14-year-old!” she said. “But they say the right horse finds you. He was dressage-bred but had been a hunting horse and he was being sold by the rider’s husband, who I don’t think really knew what he had.

    “I just looked at him and thought ‘You’re a bit special’, and I was right.”

    Lois, who keeps Dylan at home with no arena, so schools in an orchard nearby, rides astride as well as side-saddle and this has been the combination’s first year of affiliated dressage since the surgery.

    “You can do BD side-saddle, as long as you check the secretary and judge are happy, and it’s a really good way of showing that you can still teach veterans new tricks!” Lois said.

    “He’s a complete gentleman. I’m a disabled rider and riding is my physiotherapy, and he’s a complete saint for looking after me. He has got his diva side but I think he loves being a side-saddle horse because it makes people look at him and think he’s pretty.

    “I thought there were some bits in my [championship] test that felt fantastic; one spooky moment too but the marks averaged out and it shows one movement is just one movement.

    “I was so proud of him; to get that high a score at a national finals is incredible.”

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