Alice Oppenheimer and the buckskin gelding Headmore Diffinity’s eighth place with 68.28% in Friday’s international grand prix at the NAF Five Star Hartpury CDI was the culmination of “so much work from so many people to get him back on the road”.
Two years ago the 11-year-old suffered an injury in the field which required a year of walking and then six months of rehabbing.
Alice explained: “He hadn’t been feeling quite right – he’d had a bit of a virus – so he had a couple of weeks off to recover. We like them to be horses and we like them to go in the field, but once he started feeling better, he was a bit silly and had too much fun, and that was that.
“The team at Rossdales, led by Rachel Murray, were amazing, and so were the team were at [Alice’s yard] Headmore Stud were amazing, because they must have spent hours upon hours hand-walking him and doing stable exercises, pole exercises and so on to get him strong. So much work from so many people went into getting him back on the road.
“He only did his first show back at Hickstead Premier League in May, so I’m over the moon to get placed here. This was his first international grand prix.”
The striking-looking son of Don Primero was bred by his owner, Caroline Dibden, and foaled at Headmore Stud.
Alice said: “Caroline has been so patient, because he didn’t win a lot on the way up the levels, and we kept telling her, ‘He’s a grand prix horse, wait until he’s at grand prix and then he’ll come into his own – wait, wait, wait.’ She trusted us, and it was very special that she was here to watch him.”
His colour is always a topic of conversation when Alice competes him.
“Some judges struggle to mark him, because they look at him and think, ‘He can’t possibly do dressage, because he’s yellow’, but actually the quality of the work is high, and he’s super-talented and there’s so much more to come as he gets stronger,” said Alice. “I trotted past the judge at M and he went, ‘Oh, it’s not bay!’ I said, ‘It’s not chestnut either!’
“I wonder how many horses at international grand prix you see that look like he does – probably not many. He did a middle-tour CDI as a nine-year-old before his injury, and one of the judges there came up to me and said, ‘He’s actually very talented!’ I wanted to say, “Just because he’s yellow, it doesn’t mean he can’t do it!’
“He’s just so fun to ride – he loves the work, and is so talented at the collected work. We call him an overgrown pony – he’s quite a character and loves his food. It was largely a clear round today, just a bit green, but as I said, he’s fairly new to the level. I needed to use my legs a bit more on the last centre line, because he just walked into the piaffe, which was a shame because the piaffe was really good, but that’s just ring experience. He tried really hard, he doesn’t let you down, he’s not spooky or silly, and if I find the right buttons, he just does it. He’s a good boy.”
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