This morning, history was made at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival when Denielle Gallagher-Legriffon rode Steeped in Luck (aka Eamon), a fourteen-year-old Irish Draught Stallion owned by Pairadox Farm, in the CDI3* Grand Prix scoring 59.8. After their test, we talked to a very happy Denielle and Steeped in Luck’s owner Keith Douglas from Pairadox Farm.

Tell us about your test?

Denielle: “He was very very good. We had a clean test; we got all our changes our zigzags, our pirouettes, we got everything! I’m really, really happy. He was steady and clean. He was a really, really good boy. I’m very excited, this is just the beginning. We’re going to keep plugging away at it and hopefully, we keep getting better scores!”

Watch their ride:

Why did you decide to put him in dressage?

Keith: “Irish Draughts should do almost everything, but the injury rate is high in some of the other disciplines, like eventing, so we were trying to protect him, I guess, and have him as durable for as long as possible. Every horse should have a good dressage background anyway. It’s the basis of good riding.”

What’s his breeding?

Keith: “He’s by a stallion called Mount Diamond Flag and out of a mare called Steepled View. He was actually bred to be a jumper but he seems to like dressage and he definitely likes Denielle!”

What’s the challenge with these horses breed?

Denielle: “They’re very good at pulling, so you have to teach them to be a bit light, but once you get the suspension, they actually have so much power that they can really bounce off the ground. That’s one of my favourite things about him. When I start doing the piaffe and the passage, there’s so much power, if you can just channel it up and out a bit it gives you a great feeling. I would say teaching them to do that is the greatest challenge.”

How did you find him?

Keith: “We were travelling in Ireland, actually looking for Irish Draught horses because they’re amateur-friendly and user-friendly, and we found him. He hadn’t yet been weaned from his mother, he was about five months old. We liked the look of him, he looked then very much like he looks now: kind of a tree equal parts and a leg on each corner. He had a nice disposition and he caught our hearts right there. That was fourteen years ago.”

Does your groom complain that he’s so big she has to brush a big surface?

Denielle: “No, she doesn’t mind that. The braiding though is slightly a challenge because his neck is THIS wide, so it takes her 45 minutes to braid, when normally she she can do it in ten minutes. She spends a lot of time working on his mane and his tail and everything, she makes him look so beautiful. He actually won an award last week in the National ring for best turned out horse.”

What was his journey to the CDI Grand Prix?

Denielle: “He did the small tour with Tom Dvorak and CDIs, and also a year of National Grand Prixs with Shannon Dueck, so they did a great job getting the basis on him and getting him ready..for me basically! So lucky me! (laughs)”

And what’s the plan?

Denielle: “We’re just going to keep campaigning, I guess. We take it one day at a time.”

Keith: “We’re just going to see what he can do.”

Denielle: “We wanted to get our toes wet here and now, we’re going to pick our shows carefully and we’re going to campaign the horse without overfacing him. I don’t want to push him to the point where I’m just trying to get points. It’s all about gaining confidence and doing what’s right by him. He’ll tell us.”

Are you breeding him this year?

Keith: “He has frozen semen. Trying to get fresh semen when he has a show career and a show schedule is awkward, so there is frozen semen available. And he has nice foals on the ground. Some of them are doing dressage, some are doing eventing actually – Just My Luck and Pairadox Stella are two that I can think of right now; they are both with amateur riders.”

So they can do anything?

Denielle: “Pretty much. He [Steeped in Luck] likes to jump too. We’ll do poles and cavalettis and he’ll take you right to the jump, like a jumper would. They are very versatile.”

Keith: “And they can do the higher levels too, apparently. (laughs)”

Have you had more interest in the farm thanks to him?

Keith: “Absolutely! Especially when he broke into the Grand Prix level. People have paid more attention to him and appreciated what he can do.”

Where are you based?

Keith: “Pairadox Farm is in Camlachie, a little town in Southwestern Ontario.”

Do you have a freestyle for him?

Denielle: “We’re working on it. I have different music getting emailed to me, we’re trying to decide what direction to take – whether to go kind of fun and cute or serious, so I guess we have to see.”

Go Riverdance!

Denielle: “That’s what Jacquie Brooks said. She said: “You gotta do Riverdance!” Because it’s very Irish, it’s powerful and something people know as well. I don’t know, we’re looking at different avenues.”

Do you want to do a poll? Leave it to the people to vote?

Denielle: “I know, right? We should! Either Riverdance, Jungle Book, or kind of hip hop, people are saying all kinds of things so give me a poll! What do we want? What do his fans want? (laughs).”

*Help Denielle pick a music for Steeped in Luck’s freestyle. Comment below with your choice: Riverdance, Jungle Book, hip hop-style music or give your own suggestion?