For a decade, the flopped ears, the occasional out-of-nowhere antics and the ability to churn out tricolors have become the signature style of Betsee Parker’s Lucador. Since Parker purchased the now-14-year-old bay Oldenburg gelding (Lord Pezi—Quinta) in the fall of 2013 from Sagamore Farm Inc., “Luc” has been a central fixture in her powerhouse string.
He’s earned two grand hunter titles at the National Horse Show (Kentucky) as well as one from the Pennsylvania National with Scott Stewart in the irons—in addition to winning tricolors each year at all the major qualifying shows in the conformation divisions.
At the end of 2019, he took on a new role as Maddie Tosh’s small junior mount. They started at 3’3”, earning a championship their first time out, before moving up to the 3’6”—there again taking home the tricolor.
“He was just always a horse that you could get on, and you just knew he was going to give you his all in the show ring,” said Tosh. “He could be a little sassy at home sometimes; he’s not one that loves to practice. I think he kind of thinks he’s too good for that. But every time you walked into the show ring, you knew he was right there. You could really trust him to do anything. For sure, watching him all those years with Scott, I kind of had a lot of confidence on him right from the beginning because he’s been there, done that.”
With the conclusion of the 2022 horse show season, Luc now takes on a new job of munching away at all the green grass at Parker’s Huntland Farm in Middleburg, Virginia, as he grazes his way into retirement.
“Between all he’s won with Scott and with me, he’s pretty much given us everything we could ask out of him,” said Tosh. “He deserved it.”
We’re taking you behind the stall door with Luc the legend as he heads into retirement.
• He packages his fluid movement and power like a prima ballerina in a 15.2-hand frame, but his personality abounds beyond that. He’s a celebrity who knows his talents and appreciates those around him catering to his specific needs. One of those requirements was taking his time in warm-up.
“If you rush him, he cannot handle that,” said Tosh. “He shuts down. So, I always walk a lot and trot for like 15 minutes. You really have to take your time.”
• The girth also can’t be tight initially, as Tosh’s father, Hunt Tosh, learned the hard way.
“When we first got him, everyone at Rivers Edge told us that he could be a little funny when you get on sometimes,” remembered Maddie. “You can’t have your girth too tight, and you can’t just jump right on and go to work. You have to get on and take your time. The first time we ever rode him here at our farm, my dad rode him. And I was kind of like, ‘Hey don’t forget that they told us to be careful when you get on.’ And he didn’t think about it and got on and hopped straight on both feet in the stirrups and went to go straight to work. Luc was like, ‘Absolutely not.’ He took off bucking across the ring.
“Whatever Luc wants, goes,” she added. “He’s the boss.”
• Despite Luc’s occasional antics with others, Maddie always felt like he protected her.
“He kind of knew I was his kid, and he never once, the three years I had him, did that with me,” she said when remembering the initial ride with her dad. “I was kind of surprised because I definitely know he did that with other people.
“When we got him, they kind of warned us about that, and I was like ‘Oh god’ because I was so little still,” she added. “But after the first couple months we had him, I was like, ‘OK, he’s not going to do it with me.’ ”
• Some days, though, he just found schooling beneath him.
“It was very rare that he ever did anything wrong at a horse show, but sometimes at home if you were jumping him or something he’d be like, ‘I’m done practicing for the day,’ ” said Maddie. “He never bucked me off or anything bad, he’d just be like, ‘I’ve had enough.’ He has a good attitude, but he has enough sass to really keep you on your toes sometimes.
“[He’s] very arrogant,” she added. “He definitely thinks he’s better than anyone else.”
• Maddie believes that arrogance is one of the qualities that allowed him to shine in the ring.
“He had enough sass and enough attitude to him that it really gave him some fire in the show ring,” she said. “He wasn’t one that was going to go in and try to lose. He knows he’s awesome, and he wanted to prove it every time.”
“He gets all the treats when he’s showing,” she said. “A lot of times when I feel he’s in a bad mood, we shove the treats at the ingate like, ‘Please!’ He’s a good boy, though. He’s a lot of fun.
“Honestly, I find it so funny,” Maddie added. “Somedays you just get on, and you can just tell it’s not his day. And other times he’s perfect. He’s a cocky horse. He knows he’s awesome. And he’ll flat out tell you how he’s awesome. Most days he’s perfect, and some days he doesn’t want to play that day.”
• Food is the great love of Luc’s life, and he uses his hooves to say so.
“You have to feed him first—as soon as he hears the guys come up to start feeding, he starts kicking like crazy,” said Maddie.
“We can hear him from our house at 7 a.m.,” added Maddie’s mother, Mandy Tosh. “When he sees the guys coming from their house, he starts kicking.”
For the same reason, he got the luxury box stall in the trailer, so he could have all the room and no other horse to share it with.
• When tossing Luc hay, have arms extended.
“He’s a little bit of a shark,” said Mandy. “When you walk up with his hay, he’ll want to grab it before you put it in. You have to put it out in front of you.”
• Perhaps it’s for the best that jogs aren’t as prevalent anymore because Luc could be known to give some “love” nips while flicking his toes.
• Maddie gives all her horses stuffed animals according to their personality. Luc’s was a stuffed shark, but after an incident (may he rest in peace) the shark is no more.
“He can’t have one,” said Maddie. “One morning it was gone. I don’t know what happened to it.”
• Luc’s nickname is “Muffin.”
“He just reminds me of muffin,” said Maddie. “And when he’s being naughty we’re like ‘That’s a bad muffin.’ ”
The joke among the Toshes was: What sort of muffin was Muffin going to be on any given day?
“Hopefully he’s going to be like a nice blueberry muffin,” said Maddie.
• Looking back, Maddie believes that the opportunity Parker gave her to show Luc was key in helping her improve as a rider.
“He was a little more technical than Cold Harbor and Gotham and Carl—those were the three horses I had before Lucador,” Maddie said. “I feel like he really made me a strong rider and just made the horse riding a little more technical for me. ‘Larson’ [Cold Harbor] and ‘Bandit’ [Gotham] were both sweet and steady Eddie types. I definitely had to be a little bit more accurate—I feel like he really helped me become a stronger rider.”
Luc also taught her how to read the horse she had on any given day and adjust accordingly.
“When you got on him in the schooling area, you’d be like, ‘OK, this is where we’re at today,’ and realize what buttons you could push and you couldn’t push.”