Saturday, August 30, 2014

Andie Fessey, Stadium Arcadium

Stadium Arcadium aka Rico
Flaunting his regal lineage at his first horse show.

From Weedon Bec, Northhamptonshire, United Kingdom, Andie Fessey is the owner of beautiful ex-race horse, Stadium Arcadium - barn name Rico.

Stadium Arcadium is Rico’s Passport name and Andie is trying to find out Rico’s beginnings. As a retired thoroughbred racer, Rico has raced at Wincanton, United Kingdom, with an extremely promising start, but Andie discovered later that Rico received an injury and was dismissed from racing.

Andie is asking for help in finding Rico’s history. If you know of Rico’s beginnings and his famous connection in the horse-world, please leave a comment for Andie!  

Andie explains, “In short, Rico has had a hard life before he came into our life. Now, he has found his home. He will never be sold on. Without wishing sounding like a cliché; he is more than just a horse. He is a member of the family, a best friend, a confidante, a soul-mate.”

How did you acquire ex-TB racer, 'Rico' aka Stadium Arcadium?
When my son blessed me with a grandson, Harley (at an early age, I hasten to add, I am only 46!), I wanted to get something which the family could share and enjoy together (I was sorely tempted to buy a sports-car for myself but I now am glad I did not take that route even though I do on occasion say I wish I had bought the Subaru instead of the horse!). I looked at adverts for horses in Equine publications and on web-sites but, being a novice I could not tell the difference at the time between a decent horse and a rocking horse.

Rico's original advertisement photo.
A few horses were looked at but then we saw Rico advertised on a ‘horses for sale’ website. There was just something about him even in those initial pictures; he just stood out from the rest. We went to see him and fell in love with him. He was in the ownership of a young couple who had several horses and seemingly a lot of bills. He was really calm which we later found out to him being sedated. After we had him loaded on the transporter to take him back home, I was passed his passport. I joked that what did I need his passport for as he would not be flying anywhere with me. We settled him into his stable and later on had a chance to look at his passport in detail. That is when we realized what his registered name was.

Is he the famous racer?
Yup. There is only one other Stadium Arcadium (Kiwi). Rico is detailed with Weatherbys as Stadium Arcadium (IRE). Rico in detail... Rico is a 16'2 hh chestnut gelding. Born in 2003 (see bloodline below). He is bar and pin fired on both front legs. He walks with an aura of regal grace around him.

What is Rico's disposition?
Where to start lol? Rico is in some ways a typical ex racer, a typical TB. However he has the sweetest most quirky character. My partner says he is different than any other horse she has ever met in the 40 years she has been around horses. He is incredibly fast and can jump anything in front of him (when he wants to). Literally.

Whilst at the stables, he had been turned out into the gelding field. At the end of the day as the last horse in the field, he seemed to be enjoying his own company and did not wish to return to his stable. The stable-manager came out and started to shout at him, Rico trotted towards the stable-manager who said with his usual arrogance that some horses will ‘try this on, and this is how you stop them and show who is boss’ as he raised his arms above his head in front of Rico, who, went straight into full gallop, leapt and cleared well over the stable-manager (with a lot of room to spare) who stood there frozen in shock as Rico proceeded to just slow down and munch grass! He is very scopey. He doesn't really know how to canter, he falls and stumbles into this pace, often looking exactly like Bambi on ice for the first 20 or so strides. He is socially awkward when it comes to other horses and prefers the company of humans - though he will adopt the milder smaller horses in as such as not letting any of the larger horses in the field ‘bully’ them. He will not back down under any circumstances and has to be top of the pecking order in the field.

Rico is also extremely very clever. He has worked out how to open his stable door. He also figured out that if he stretches enough then he can reach the neighboring stables feed box, pulling it over to be in front of his own stable and therefore eating the contents (please be aware that the feed box in question is approx. 6ft wide and made of heavy wood with a heavy hinged lid!). He has a liking for a rare treat of coca cola, chocolate, mints and jelly tots. He becomes very 'alert' when he smells coffee or chocolate and will do anything to get them. Whilst being ridden he can be the most sweetest, adorable, obedient horse, doing everything you ask of him. However at other times he will simply decide that he does not want to be ridden and will try to unseat his rider anyway he can. He must still have flashbacks of being a racer, as when being schooled or when he is in the field, if another horse runs past him he will go from halt to full gallop without giving notice. Rico can be unpredictable (however we are now able to spot little changes and nuances in his behavior and the odd mannerism that gives us an indication that he may misbehave).
Rico does not like being lead in-hand and will often rear up when being turned out to graze. We have now learned how to prevent this. However, on a windy day, or if there is a mare in season, or if one of the dogs who live on the stables are near (plus several other incidental things) then we have to carefully plan the short walk from his stable to the fields gate to prevent any silliness. If you can imagine a 109 stone bouncing Tigger on the end of a lead rope then that may give you an indication of what he is like on these occasions! He has a very sweet nature, but he can figure out very quickly who he can get the better of. He seems to be able to read people. He started acting differently towards my partner when she became pregnant, from acting like a spoilt, obstinate child to gently nudging her when he wanted to get her attention. He is also extremely gentle with children allowing them to do anything to him.

Rico being a role model for the young ones.
What is your event/riding discipline?
I am currently under-going training with a fantastic coach, Rose, as I aim to be competing in dressage in 2015. My partner is multi-discipline and has been very successful in XC.

Training: Not applicable in regards to training, however, my partner has re-trained Rico from being what can only be described, as one other horse owner deemed, a 'dangerous animal' to being something that we can trust enough to have a small child enter his stable and pick his feet out. There has been lots of de-sensitizing (black bins). Rico was incredibly head shy due to mistreatment in the past when he was competing, yet now we can pick up a whip and stroke his face with it and he simply stands there with a 'okay, that feels nice, but can I have a treat please' kind of look on his face.

What's in the future for you, horse-wise?
A biggie, but every now and then you have to chase your dreams before they fly away. After long months of negotiation, we are about to have a dream fulfilled. The establishment / running / owning of an equestrian Centre. Not just a normal equestrian centre, though livery will play a part. An equestrian therapy centre. We will be taking people on a personal journey of recovery. People who have suffered loss, trauma, victors of cancer, ex-service-people, people with disabilities etc.
My partners dream is to also provide the opportunity to young people who live in cities and towns made of concrete to experience what it feels like to ride. To feel the adrenalin rush when cantering towards a jump. We would like to say that we would want to rescue horses that have been mistreated and provide them with a loving home where they felt safe and secure but to be honest, at the moment, that isn't going to pay the bills. But what we do intend doing however is when we are looking to purchase horses as therapy horses then these animals will come from rescue centres. Sadly, it is not only people which need rescuing.

When was your first encounter with a horse?
For me, I was a late starter in my equestrian life. My first real encounter was about 5 years ago whilst staying in Mexico (a psychotic cob named Zeppo). My partners’ first encounter was when she was 2 years old. Her aunt, on seeing her face light up with delight when visiting a riding school bought her a Shetland pony on the spot and her love of horses started then.

What does horsemanship mean to you?
It is a way of life, is our life. It's about having an unbreakable trust with an animal that could at any time hurt you but still getting onto its’ back and feeling that connection. It is about looking into the horses’ eyes and feeling love and pride. It's a feeling of freedom, human and horse joined as one in union. It is a skill, an art, a commitment to myself and to my horse. It is a journey along a very long road, learning something new every day. It is about having a best friend who can read you like a book, who knows when you are happy or sad without being told and who happens to have a mane and tail. It's about teamwork. 
Rico's first day at his new home.
Rico getting ready for his first show.


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