Dono Di Maggio OLD: ‘I remember thinking that it was the best feeling I had ever had from a horse’

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    Need to know

    Dono Di Maggio OLD
    Age: 14
    Breeding: Dimaggio x Santander H
    Studbook: Oldenburg
    Rider: Emile Faurie
    Breeder: Gabriele Heinisch
    Owners: Theodora Livanos and Emile Faurie
    Greatest achievements: first grand prix and grand prix special at Aachen CDI3* 2018; third grand prix and second grand prix special at Fritzens CDI4* 2018; team bronze at WEG 2018; third grand prix special at Wellington CDI3* 2021

    Rider Emile Faurie

    “THE first time I was asked to sit on Dono at the Kasselmanns’, I was just wearing jeans and trainers – I hopped on and I remember thinking that it was the best feeling I had ever had from a horse. We clicked from that first day that I rode him and interestingly, I have had several comments from judges on my recent test sheets saying how much we suit one another.

    “At 18.1hh, Dono is enormous, yet he never looks like a massive horse from a distance. He is beautifully put together conformationally and despite his size, he is so well contained within himself and has this amazing athleticism about him. He is also so comfortable to ride.

    “He doesn’t have a weakness really, but for me his piaffe and passage are really world class, and he also excels in his changes. Because of his size, he used to find the arena a little small, and it took a while for him to be able to contain all his energy and movement, and to stay balanced in the movements, but he is now able to do that.

    “Dono is the most straightforward horse I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with; he is so reliable and easy to handle in absolutely every way, both in the saddle and on the ground. He will park himself in the wash box to be washed off and stand there without a headcollar. He’s almost like a very big dog!

    “Competitively, he is in phenomenal form at the moment – better than when we competed at the World Equestrian Games in 2018.”

    Groom Vikki Richards

    “DONO is the easiest horse imaginable, even though he is so big. He is a massive people person and loves cuddles, and he is also a great licker – he likes to lick everything and everyone. If you give him a scratch up by his ear, he will rest his head on your shoulder and lean right into you. He is truly a Big Friendly Giant and you will never see his ears go back.

    “Travelling him to shows is a dream – he is good on the lorry and there is never a time when he is silly or difficult, although I do have to stand on a bigger step than normal to plait him, and I’m not all that short.

    “At home he tends to come out for a ride in the morning, then he likes to go back to his stable for a snooze – he loves a morning nap and always has to have one. He also enjoys his massage rug in the afternoons. He truly is a pampered king, but he is such a cool dude with it.”

    Judge Isobel Wessels

    “I JUDGED Dono Di Maggio at Wellington CDI in May and although there were a couple of little mistakes because they were not yet in the swing of shows, he showed some really good work. The horse is very talented for piaffe and passage – sometimes he can offer a bit too much and he seems to be one who over-gives rather than under-gives.

    “He is very elastic, with lots of scope and good articulation. I remember judging them at Fritzens in 2018, where they were highly placed. One might have thought that year, when they were selected to compete at the World Equestrian Games [WEG] in Tryon, would have been the pinnacle of the horse’s career, but he has continued to develop and improve since then. Emile does such a good job with him – I’m not sure he’s all that easy to ride, with his power and size. I’m sure they are going to turn even more corners together.

    “Dono is a very focused horse, always working with his rider, and trying hard. He is a tribute to the wonderful Dimaggio, his sire, who was the biggest trier of all. I always love it when I see a Dimaggio offspring coming down the centre line.”

    This feature is also available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 3 June 2021

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