As the star of Ariel Grald’s barn, Leamore Master Plan has his people wrapped around his hoof.
Whatever “Simon” wants, Simon gets, and Grald and her groom Meredith Ferraris just go with it.
“He’s a very particular horse at this point in his career,” said Grald with a laugh. “We accommodate him and his lifestyle needs. He’s a total puppy dog in the barn.”
Grald’s brought the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Master Imp—Ardragh Bash, Cavalier Royale) through the levels since she imported him at age 5 for owner Annie Eldridge.
Simon’s taken Grald’s career to new highs, and she earned her first five-star completion on him in 2019, finishing 12th at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. They went on to be the second-highest placed U.S. pair at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (England) in 10th. Most recently they earned 12th at the MARS Equestrian Tryon International CCI4*-L (North Carolina) in November.
We went behind the stall door with Simon, Grald and Ferraris at the MARS Equestrian Great Meadow International CCI4*-S (Virginia) this summer, where they finished 15th.
• Simon isn’t the type to contain his energy.
“He cannot be let out of the barn without a rope halter on because leading him in and out of his paddock, he squeals, he leaps, he strikes at you,” said Grald. “He’s kind of a monkey. Any time I have to jog him for the vet or bodywork, I have to jog him. The assistants won’t even jog him because he’s just a little bit exuberant.”
• He’s generally a happy dude.
“He doesn’t pin his ears; he doesn’t get mad; he’s always interactive, ears forward,” said Grald. “The only time he’ll make a snarly face is at the dogs.”
• Simon cribs, but Grald’s found that turnout is the key to keeping the habit in check. He goes out by himself most of the year. “When we got back from Burghley last year we got him a mini so he has some sort of entertainment because he doesn’t do well out of work, and he needed a bit of a holiday,” said Grald. “Lil’ Biscuit is his mini. He does enjoy time with him, but he can be a little bit mean to him!”
• Simon doesn’t over-indulge. He’s a bit of a hard keeper as well as a picky eater, so he receives many small meals throughout the day in between being ridden and going on the walker twice. Three years ago, Grald did allergy testing on Simon because of skin issues, and a change in diet has helped. He eats Crypto Aero feed, as well as a fiber beet mix, which is soaked alfalfa with beet pulp. Banixx products seem to help with his skin flareups.
• Simon loves his people. He’s developed a bond with Ferraris, who’s cared for him since he started going advanced three years ago.
“It’s pretty cool to watch him mature and grow,” she said. “He’s always been the same horse. He’s gotten much better under saddle, and he’s gotten more competitive, but he acts the same on the ground. He’s perfect.
“[He and Grald are] perfect, and nobody else would want to ride him!” Ferraris added with a laugh. “He squeals and leaps and does all that stuff under saddle too, and I don’t know if anyone else could control it as well as Ariel does. She never gets mad at him for doing it because that’s just who he is. They get along great.”
Grald has enjoyed watching Simon bond with his groom.
“He looks to her. He has his head out of his stall a lot in the barn, and he always watches me, but he watches her too,” she said. “She’s very good at looking after him and being very detail-oriented and being very aware of exactly what he needs at what time. She’s his emotional moral support too. He gets nervous and excited and all those things, and I think she’s very stabilizing and calm for him. They’ve traveled a lot together. She went on the plane with him. But I think that helps. One of us is with him all the time.”