In their 12 years together, Allison Springer and Arthur have been around the world and back, contesting the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** six times and picking up many other wins along the way.
Their most recent win came this weekend at the Cloud 11-Gavilan North LLC Carolina International, where they led from start to finish.
Arthur was off most of last year with an injury, but he’s back in business and aiming for Kentucky again.
The 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Brandenburg’s Windstar—Kelly) is notoriously spooky, and Springer says she’s had to learn to ride him forward to help stick the spook.
“We’re like an old married couple. I always say that,” she said. “He’s such a sweet horse. It’s always fun riding him. With some of these new rides [I have,] it’s been great to sort of go straight down the gallop lanes and canter past anything you want, so I can’t say that’s something I missed—his zinging around. That’s a part of him. I’m not going to ever be able to get him to stop spooking.
“So much of it is staying focused and getting on to the next thing you want to do, and that’s the same with his show jumping,” she continued. “He gets spooky or he cross-canters. I can’t let that bother me. I keep him in front of my leg, keep him straight, and give him a good ride, even if he’s spooking.”
I caught up with Springer and Arthur at the Carolina International, and when I arrived at his stall, he was in the middle of a grooming session with Springer’s head groom Sarah Zimmer and rider Jill Thomas.
Springer and Arthur share a cuddle.
- He’s a lover, not a fighter, but never take him for granted. “He’s one of the most personable horses. He loves his people, he loves being braided. He’s a spooky horse, but he’s sweet,” said Springer. “He’s like a big pet to be around. I mean, home base is the best thing. It’s where he’s most relaxed. When you travel out and about, you have to be a little more careful. He’s definitely always aware. You have to not take him for granted. He has a quick flight mechanism. He’s bottom of the food chain. You’d think he’d be a lot braver soul, but it’s just kind of who he is.”
- Grooming is his favorite part of the day, as demonstrated by the video below. “He loves being groomed. He loves being itched and petted and loved,” said Springer.
- Massage is his favorite therapy. “Kendra McQuillan does our massage therapy, and he loves that. He used to be really goofy about needles.”
- Arthur gets pre-rides before his dressage, but at Carolina they were first in the ring at 8 a.m., so Springer did the best she could, which was good enough for the lead! “It’s tough because he’s spooky. You have to be aware. He’s not one you can text while you’re sitting on him. You have to be aware of what’s going on because it does happen quickly. But it’s not like he’s trying to get you off or anything,” she said.
Arthur gets a scratch from Jill Thomas.
- At home he goes out solo, but loves his turn-out. “His normal routine is that he goes out all night,” she said. “He absolutely loves turn-out, and he’s very reliable in turn-out. When we were on that trip to London [in 2012 when they were shortlisted for the Olympic team,] we had three really big fields for all 20 horses to share, and he was one of the only that could be turned out overnight, and he loved it.”
- He loves hamming it up. Arthur posed several times while I was taking photos, and Springer says he does the same at horse inspections, just don’t get in his shot! “He’ll threaten to kick other horses when we’re standing around. Like, ‘This is my space,’” she said. “He poses at the vet inspection, but he does not like watching the other horses do trot ups at home. At home he’ll be pinning his ears, like they don’t know how to do it as well as he does!”
Arthur’s favorite pasttime.
- The Rolex Kentucky CCI**** is his favorite event because he thinks it’s all about him. “He definitely likes it being the Arthur show. Kentucky is probably his favorite show because it’s just him and his girl,” said Springer.
- He’s not down with dogs. “I taught my dog [Bodie] years ago to kiss the horses, and Arthur’s not down with that,” she said.
- He’s a good flyer. “As quirky as he is, when we’re on trips flying and stuff like that, he’s actually a really reliable horse flying,” said Springer. “The horses that are really skittish and need a solid horse next to them, he’s very good with all of that. My first trip to Europe, it took me forever to get him on a lorry, but he has settled down with his age. He’s always going to be spooky riding, but he did used to be more skittish to handle.”