Many of our friends and readers have been wondering what’s been happening with our wonderful Idilio. Following a promising start at Grand Prix in 2006, Idilio’s scores have been inconsistent and often disappointing. He was last seen in the show ring in 2008 in Wellington and seemed to have disappeared since then. We are happy to now give you this update:
One year ago we began a new training program with Idilio, and we removed him from the show ring to address issues that had developed in his work and performance. We had no choice but to take him out of all competition in order make certain improvements which were crucial if we wanted to continue to show him at the upper levels, and ultimately again at Grand Prix. Although we are still on the road back, we are very pleased to have made significant progress.
Starting in April last year, we took 8 months to focus on only two things with Idilio—his connection issues and his overall fitness. Both Ana (in the summer) and Maria (his permanent rider) worked patiently over this time period to correct and improve his contact with the bridle through systematic exercises to strengthen his back and hind quarters and to encourage him to continue to move forward into a correct contact in front without curling or shortening his neck. Fitness and through-ness were the key goals for him and we agreed that we would take as much time as he needed. Once we were comfortable that the horse was moving correctly over the back and maintaining a happy and proper connection to the rider’s hand, we began to address the straightness and through-ness of the changes with the help of Lendon Gray. When we were comfortable with the work we were getting at home, we made the decision to bring Idilio out with his new rider at levels lower than he had been showing previously, in order to encourage him to be more relaxed in the show ring and to confirm at the show what we were getting consistently in schooling.
This past weekend, Idilio did two Prix St. George tests at the White Fences show. We were pleased to see that he maintained his relaxed attitude and the improvements that had been worked on over the past year. He maintained a strong and through connection throughout the entire test, and he produced big, straight and clean single and tempi changes consistently in both tests. His scores were his highest ever at PSG—on Saturday he received a 68.6% from judge Joan Humphrey for a Fourth Place (out of 17) and on Sunday he received a 68.1% from judge Margaret Heath to tie for First Place in the class of 16. We feel that Maria and Idilio are on the right track and that our program of bringing him slowly back up through the FEI levels is the best thing for the horse.
From Maria: “This year with Idilio has been an amazing experience. He has a heart of gold and a better work ethic than any horse I have ever ridden. Thanks to the patience of all involved, we have had the time to build a relationship based on trust and confidence, and really confirm every step we have taken together. The feeling I got at the show this weekend is that we have really become friends.”
Many people came up to tell us how happy they were to see him back in the ring and looking so good—we appreciate all of you who commented and we can’t be happier ourselves with the stunning changes in this horse over the past year.
Congratulations Maria and Idilio!