When Ashley Maul found Fiaro Lacendos for sale in a Facebook ad two years ago, she decided to look past some of his “oddities” and take a chance on the upper-level dressage schoolmaster.
Over the course of their time together, she’s learned exactly what the 15-year-old Westphalian gelding (Fuerst Piccolo—Reikia, Rapallo) needs to be successful in the ring, and they put it all together at the GAIG/USDF Region 2 Championships, held Sept. 11-15 at Waterloo Hunt Club in Grass Lake, Michigan, winning the adult amateur Prix St. Georges championship with a 70.73 percent.
“He was ready to show off and listen,” said Maul, 36, Delaware, Ohio. “He was really a good boy. My one error is I miscounted in the fours [tempi changes], but he was perfect otherwise.”
Maul has been splitting her time between her first love, eventing, and taking up pure dressage with “Theo.” She’s a full-time small animal veterinarian too, and she keeps Theo and her event horse Cedric Diggory at home.
Two weeks before regionals she took “Cedric,” a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Lucky Boy, to the USEA American Eventing Championships (Kentucky) where they finished 37th in the training amateur division.
Theo has club feet and is the most sensitive horse Maul’s ever ridden, but they’ve gelled quickly, winning the fourth level adult amateur championship at regionals last year. They’ve been training with Jennifer Roth, who had a huge weekend herself, winning five championships.
“I can’t do awards ceremonies with him,” she said. “He gets too wild. He always has to wear his little hat, or ear bonnet. When it comes off the world ends, and he panics. I have to be his buddy and his confidence builder because he does get a little nervous about everybody that’s nearby, but once we get in there he loves to show off. He’s very fun and intelligent to ride, but with a huge ego, so there’s lots of giggling at his own self-importance. He’s probably the most sensitive and mental ride I’ve ever had. There’s a lot going on in his brain, not always productive!”
Maul trains with Alex O’Neal in eventing, and Cedric has gone to Florida during the winter months to compete at preliminary with him, but after this season, Maul thinks she’ll likely sell the gelding and focus on dressage.
“I just wanted to do more dressage from a lifestyle thing—as a small animal vet it can get a little hard to do the upper-level eventing because you have to go and school and condition and all of that,” she said. “That’s why I did more of the dressage because I can ride at home in my backyard at night. I [also] wanted to ride better, and dressage is the foundation for almost everything.”
Maul is looking forward to what’s next with Theo, which will hopefully include a trip to the U.S. Dressage Finals in Kentucky in November, then possibly trying out some Grand Prix next year. Wherever the gelding takes her, she’s just enjoying the journey.
“The biggest thing for me about showing isn’t necessarily always the ribbons or the placings, although it doesn’t hurt to come in first, but I think the biggest thing is the people you enjoy the time with,” she said. “Your ride is only 45 minutes between warm-up and your competition of the day, so the other 16 or so hours that you’re at the horse show, it really comes down to actually enjoying time with your horse and enjoying time with your friends. I train with Jen, who won everything, and we had 15 horses there and a whole bunch of people, so we were our own little barn at the show. It’s really everything else that matters.”
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