Friday, May. 24, 2024

Behind The Stall Door With: Estimated Prophet

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He’s big. He’s handsome. He’s a force to be reckoned with in the hunter ring. But at home Estimated Prophet is a cuddlebug.

“There have been times when I’ve shown up at the barn extra early, before everyone else, at 5:30 a.m. just to hang out in his stall,” said owner Djuna Lauder, Los Angeles. “He’ll lick my hair, lick my ears. I’ll sit in his stall, and he’ll cuddle with me, and I’ll blow in his nose so gently, and he just melts. He’s such a sweet boy.”

Lauder first saw Estimated Prophet when she was trying horses in Kentucky with Allyson and Evan Coluccio in 2021.

Estimated Prophet. Mollie Bailey Photo

“I saw Evan riding a [jumper] stallion, galloping up to 1.60m verticals with a loop in the reins,” Lauder recalled. “[Trainer] Traci [Barmen Brooks] and I said to Evan, ‘That’s a hunter.’ He said, ‘I know. It’s a dreamboat.’ ”

Lauder left without trying the stallion, but she couldn’t get him out of her mind. A year later Brooks announced that she had found her a large junior hunter, and lo and behold, it was the same horse she saw Evan jumping the year before.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God! That can’t be real,’ ” she said. “I’ve been thinking about him ever since. He was the type of horse who just lingered in your mind. His beauty is just out of this world.”

Lauder bought him without a trial, and he was immediately gelded. Trainer Carleton Brooks started riding the then 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Cornet Obolensky—Gerona PP, Argentinus) while Lauder watched from the sidelines. She threw a leg over him for the first time three months after she purchased him, hacking him at Capital Challenge (Maryland). They jumped their first jumps together a month later during a ticketed warm-up at the Washington International (Maryland). In the interim, Estimated Prophet and Nick Haness earned the 3’9” green hunter championship and the high performance conformation hunter reserve titles at the Pennsylvania National in just their second show together.

Estimated Prophet. Mollie Bailey Photo

This year back at home on the West Coast, the horse scored a wire-to-wire win in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Desert Circuit V (California) with Haness and won the high performance conformation hunter circuit title. Lauder started showing him in the large junior hunter, 15 and under, division during the circuit as well, winning their first time out.

He’s making his Devon Horse Show (Pennsylvania) debut this year. He competed with Lauder in the junior hunters last weekend, and Haness will ride him in the high performance conformation hunters this week.

Come behind the stall door with this special horse and get to know what he’s like when the tack comes off.

Side eye, but super handsome: “Lollipop” with groom Rodrigo Vega. Mollie Bailey Photo

• Estimated Prophet came with the name Oliver Obolensky and the barn name of “Oliver.” Lauder gave him his new nickname, “Lollipop” or “Lolly,” as well as his formal moniker, which comes from a Grateful Dead song. Lauder and her parents are all big fans of the band.

“If you listen to Estimated Prophet it says ‘California’ a bunch of times; it’s a big part of the song,” said Lauder. “It was my favorite song growing up. That song has a lot of meaning to me. Originally Carleton didn’t love the name, but as soon as he heard it announced in the show ring, and he saw the horse go, he was like ‘OK.’ ”

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• Despite being gelded late he’s not too stallion-y, Lauder said. The worst thing he does is play after jumps if the weather is cold or he’s feeling fresh.

“I love it when he gets playful, but Carleton tells me not to encourage him,” she said. “He never wants you to come off; he’s just having fun and feeling himself.” 

Estimated Prophet and Djuna Lauder. Photo Courtesy Of Djuna Lauder

• He’s a big confidence-booster.

“Everything about him, from the minute you get on, feels so empowering,” Lauder said. “No matter where I am, if I’m at a show or at the barn, as soon as I sit on him, I feel like all eyes are on us. He’s a looker. He’s beautiful, but sitting on that horse? No feeling like it. He has so much charisma. It’s an awesome feeling.

“He’s so smart, and once you get him on the pace he likes and connection he likes, which is really specific, but once you get him there, he’s incredible to ride,” she added. “He sights in on every jump; he knows what to do. It feels like heaven.”

• He’s treat-crazy but agnostic about what the treats are.

“He’ll eat carrots, apples, mints, those fancy cookies with the icing, whatever,” Lauder said. “He’s a conformation horse, so Carleton doesn’t want me to [hand] feed him so he doesn’t get nippy in the models. But I always catch Carleton giving him mints and treats. It’s so funny.”

“Who me? Get nippy? Never!” Lollipop says. Mollie Bailey Photo

• He has an eye for a fellow good-looking horse.

“He’s friendly with everyone,” Lauder said. “He likes pretty horses. If he sees a pretty gelding or a pretty mare, his ears will go forward, and sometimes if we’re trotting by he’ll let out a little squeal.”

• Lollipop is a tidy fellow, aside from occasionally getting his dinner all over his face.

“He’s like a prince. He knows his worth,” Lauder said. “He’s super clean and super polite, and I don’t think he’s ever tried to nip me. He’s just such a treat to have in the barn.”

Estimated Prophet and Djuna Lauder. Photo Courtesy Of Djuna Lauder

• He loves his turnout.

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Lollipop goes out for an hour every morning, and some of Lauder’s favorite memories include spending time with him in the paddock.

“I was cuddling him, and he was playing with me,” she said. “I’d run, and he would chase me. It’s like having a dog.”

Estimated Prophet. Mollie Bailey Photo

• He’s a multi-talented guy.

“He’s a beautiful hunter and a perfect jumper, and sometimes I think he could have been a high junior/amateur horse or an equitation horse or a trail horse,” said Lauder. “He can do everything.”

Lauder regularly takes him out on the trail in Agoura Hills, California, where the Brookses’ Balmoral is based, and they come across rabbits and coyotes.

“He’s always curious and sniffing everything,” she said. “He has such a love for life.”

•He’s easy to get to the ring.

Lollipop starts show days with light longe with Balmoral head groom David Vega, then he gets a hack with Lauder if they show later in the day.

“I like him with a little more gas in the tank because I’m so small, and he’s not small,” she said. “He’s not tricky to prepare at all. He’s perfect.”

Estimated Prophet. Mollie Bailey Photo

• Lauder’s favorite quality about Lollipop? It’s a three-way tie.

“I love his eyes—I think he has the most intense eyes ever, and he stares straight into your soul,” she said. “I also love how he communicates with me. It sounds weird, but he’s like a human and so smart really good at communicating what he’s thinking. Jumping him is one of my favorites, too. It’s pretty awesome galloping up to a gigantic oxer on him.”

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