Brookdale Limited Edition: the supreme maxi cob champion who was ‘a hippo in a former life’ *H&H Plus*

  • The grey maxi cob with a stellar tally both astride and side-saddle as well as a joyful attitude to life

    Brookdale Limited Edition

    STABLE NAME: Archie, a 10-year-old, 15.2hh maxi cob
    RIDERS: Danielle Heath and Issy Mears
    OWNER: Guy Mears
    BREEDING: Unknown
    BEST RESULTS: 2017; first HOYS maxi cob qualifier Moreton-in-Marsh, fourth HOYS maxi cob of the year final. 2018; first maxi cobs Royal Windsor, first RIHS maxi cob final, first HOYS maxi cobs Cheshire County, first maxi cobs Great Yorkshire, third HOYS maxi cob of the year final. 2019; first ladies’ show horse Royal Windsor, first RIHS maxi cob final, first HOYS maxi cobs Cheshire County, first HOYS maxi cobs Lincolnshire County, first ladies’ show horse Great Yorkshire. 2020; supreme of show BSHA autumn gala.

    Show cobs are notoriously hard to find; the good ones are like gold dust. When Danielle Heath first caught a glimpse of a young Brookdale Limited Edition (Archie) trotting across Somerford Park at Cheshire Premier in the spring of 2017, she knew she needed him in her stables.

    “I just loved him; it’s rare to find a cob with bone and stamp yet who is still true to type,” explains Danielle. “We approached his owner Michelle Jones – as a lot of other people had done – about buying him. I went with Guy and Issy Mears to see him in Cumbria and finally twisted Michelle’s arm to sell him.”

    Michelle had discovered Archie as a two-year-old in a field in Ireland.

    “Michelle had taken her time with him and, while he was still green, all the basics were in place,” continues Danielle, who rode Archie to land his first Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) ticket later in the summer. “Archie has always had a lovely attitude and from day one he never rode like a cob; he’s so light in front and has a lovely, balanced canter.”

    The following season, the pair went full steam ahead winning a brace of titles including the open maxi cobs at both Royal Windsor and the Royal International (RIHS). Archie is still the reigning RIHS maxi champion after reclaiming the crown in 2019 with Issy at the helm.

    “He came out and smashed it,” says Danielle. “In 2019, Issy took the maxi ride and I started aiming him at ladies’ classes. He took to it straight away.

    “At home, we often hack in our neighbouring farmer’s fields and streams. Archie is obsessed with water; he shoves his head right under and plays in it. He must have been a hippo in a former life.”

    Archie did only one show in 2020, the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) autumn gala, where he went through the card winning both maxi and ladies’ accolades before landing supreme of show.

    “When he came out of the ladies’ class Issy told me to take the ride in the supreme as he looked an absolute picture,” says Danielle. “He has such showmanship; I’ve had some top horses over my career and Archie shares that extra edge they’ve all had.”

    A true cob type

    “There is no other category Brookdale Limited Edition could fit into; he is a true cob,” enthuses Tim Wiggett, who co-judged Archie to stand supreme at the BSHA autumn gala show. “As the old adage goes, a proper cob should have the head of a duchess and the rear of a cook, and he exemplifies this in every sense.”

    Anne Leaver judged Archie to win the ladies’ show horse class at the Great Yorkshire show in 2019.

    “It’s taken a while for the maxi to develop as a type,” she explains. “Ideally, a maxi should be no bigger than 15.3hh otherwise they lose their type and quality. This horse is perfect in terms of height and stamp with the right amount of bone, limb and substance.”

    Brookdale Limited Edition’s limbs and feet

    “He stands four square on his limbs covering the ground with not too much daylight underneath him,” says Tim.

    “His front limbs have quality flat bone, nice flat knees and short cannon bones going into sound joints and short pasterns and well-shaped feet. He has a powerful hindleg with clean hocks and a good second thigh, again with plenty of quality bone going into those hind joints, short pasterns and feet.”

    Anne says: “I liked his clean, smooth coronet bands which are a sign of quality. A lot of the more common cobs have short, stumpy pasterns with thick coronet bands. When you see a cob in the raw it can be hard to tell if they have quality bone and joints and you are sometimes left disappointed as to what you find beneath all the hair. The angle of both his legs are correct, too, and he’s got strong hocks and knees to complement his limb.”

    His head, neck and body

    “Brookdale Limited Edition has a well-set, quality head with a lovely kind eye,” says Tim. “There is a well-formed length of neck that comes out of a good sloping shoulder.

    “His wither is well set to accommodate an astride or side-saddle comfortably. His short-coupled back means either saddle sits in the right place. There is a good depth of girth which then follows through to the back end where he has plenty of rib coverage. A well-formed powerful back end completes a very pleasing picture of the upper part of his body.”

    Anne agrees that he has “a quality head” with well-set ears.

    “He is clean through his throat and is not thick or stuffy,” she adds. “He has a good length of rein with a well-set shoulder which is neither too long or too short.”

    Performance and movement

    “Brookdale Limited Edition exuded star quality from the minute he entered the ring,” says Tim. “He has a good walk that covers the ground with a real swagger powered by a great engine behind. Everything about his way of going is eye-catching, balanced and rhythmic. He moves through all the gears effortlessly. I like to see a horse really lower and go into the gallop which he does with such ease before coming back to this rider in an accommodating balanced manner.”

    Anne says: “The first thing I noticed was his movement, presence and lovely rhythm, and when I sat on him I found him to be balanced and beautifully schooled. When I saw the photographs from his BSHA supreme win his rider barely had a rein contact; it’s impressive how light in the hand he is for his size and stamp.”

    Ref: 21 January 2021

    You might also be interested in…