Millfield Lancando may look like a big, brave cross-country horse in competition, but at home, he’s more of a gentle giant and a worrywart, according to his rider Booli Selmayr.
The Millbrook, New York-based rider has been partnered with “Lance” for six years, and this spring, they completed their first five-star at Land Rover Kentucky.
“For me he’s that story that a lot of people would have,” Selmayr said. “He was definitely unconventional when I got him. Even though I knew he had the raw talent, he was so quirky. He’s definitely a horse that somebody just looking at him would have been like, ‘This seems a bit odd. I wouldn’t waste too much time on him.’ But there you go: You waste your time on him, and he goes to Kentucky.
“He’s that kind of horse who makes people say, no matter how quirky a horse is, if you give it the right time and attention, they end up paying you back,” she added. “That’s for sure.”
Go behind the stall door with the 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Lancer II—Fancy II, Langata Express) Selmayr co-owns with Kelly Morgan and Jacqueline Thorne.
• He’s a big guy.
“He’s 17.1, but it’s also how he’s built,” Selmayr said. “I swear his neck is the same length as his entire body. He’s a very large animal to put together. He’s big and rangy and everything you’d want in a big galloping cross-country horse.”
• He’s shy—and very claustrophobic.
“You have to be careful how you put the bridle and halter on or how you lead him through doors because he’s so concerned,” Selmayr said. “I think he’s like a big dog who doesn’t want to be big: ‘I’m so large; I’m so nervous about injuring people.’ It’s very cute. I think he would love to be 15.2.”
It’s taken him a while to get him to relax and feel more confident in the barn.
“My main girl Anna Ciampaglione, who’s been working with him for three years, has been able to get him out of his shell,” Selmayr said. “I would describe him as the kid in the back of the class not doing anything bad. He’s doing his work, but he’ll never raise his hand. He doesn’t really want to bang the door. Now he sticks his head out of the door and tries to nag you for something.
“Anna loves that horse,” she continued. “She’s such a hard worker, and I love having her in the barn. She definitely takes an extra second with Lance. She has this ridiculous baby voice she talks to him in, and I swear he loves it.”
• Selmayr is usually the only one to ride Lance.
“He’s a bit particular, and he does have a pretty wicked spook in him, so I’m always very hesitant to have other people ride him, but [Ciampaglione’s] definitely hacked him for me,” she said. “It was the right match for me since I tend to deal with those quirky and nervous horses on a regular basis.”
• He likes his turnout, but on his watch.
“His turnout is a little bit up to him,” Selmayr said. “I like my horses outside as much as possible, but he definitely has an internal timer. There are some days he’ll be out for six to seven hours, and if that’s happening, it’s like, ‘OK guys, let’s not disrupt him.’ But then there’s some days he’ll be out for an hour, and we call him a periscope. His head goes up, and he’s like, ‘Guys, get me inside right now, or I’m going to lose my lid.’ He just gets a funny look in his eye.”
• He’s not a natural cuddler, but he’ll allow his people love on him.
“He’s very much like, ‘OK, these girls are hugging me right now, and it’s fine,’ ” Selmayr said. “He’s not going to wrap his head around you and give you a snuggle.”