Here at Neue Schule we love to hold competitions! This month the spotlight was on the Ex Racers. Taking to Facebook we asked our followers to comment on what made their story unique and made their Ex Racehorse so special to them. We were delighted to see so many people get involved and thoroughly enjoyed reading through all their incredible stories. However, one boy caught our eye. Aimee Leech was a total novice when she purchased Maxilian fresh of the track, their journey together is truly inspirational…
MAXILIAN aka ‘Max’ is a 10-year-old Bay thoroughbred by Milan. He raced 4 times over hurdles and was trained by Emma Lavelle. His racing career was cut short due to him being too slow! Max was given to his stable lad/jockey Richie, he was turned away and then put up for sale to assist Richie with funds to help his niece learn to walk. Myself and my mum were on the hunt for a new horse, preferably a happy hacker, something sensible and safe as I couldn’t ride! This was when I saw Max’s advert on horse and hound website. He stuck out to me when I saw the main picture (Richie stood on his back in a river). Mums first words were ‘no way Aimee, you are not learning to ride on a thoroughbred!’, but my late uncle who was previously a jockey urged us to go and view Max. Both myself and my mum rode Max when we went to view him and instantly fell in love, with this lanky, skinny ex racehorse. His temperament was to die for (and still is!).
Max came home on 14th July 2014. For the first 2 weeks we had to deal with him in the paddock, he was terrified of his stable, however during this time we developed a special bond with this lovely boy. During these 2 weeks we allowed him to settle into his new home and his new routine, it was almost ‘down time’ for him. After these 2 weeks we tacked him up and took him into the arena at our yard. Nothing was asked of him it was just to get to know each other and quite frankly I didn’t know what to ask of him! Shortly after this we started having lessons with our yard owner, she brought us on over 6 months. This wasn’t an easy 6 months though, unfortunately we bought Max with white line disease/seedy toe on his front foot. This disease was proving tricky to solve and we ended up halting our learning to get a vet and remedial farrier out to assess the damage. Max had almost 1/4 of his hoof cut away and packed then had a cast attached to his foot for 6-8 weeks. This meant no riding for either me or mum. The 8 weeks passed, the cast was removed, and we had the all clear to start doing gentle work with Max (the miraculous thing through all of this was he wasn’t lame!). Fast forward another 6 months, we had cracked Max’s feed, his exercise regime was starting to form nicely with me schooling him and mum hacking him as well as being lunged somewhere in between and a day off once or twice a week. Me and Max started to jump, with the help of my friend Emily. She assisted me once a week for about 12 weeks to help us grasp the basics, after that we had the help of my wonderful trainer and now good friend Roberto.
Max continued to progress going from strength to strength. We started lessons cross country training and entered a pairs hunter trial to increase his confidence and then our first 80cm ODE in July 2017 we were placed last but we carried on our training! He went from barely clearing a 50cm cross pole to now jumping 1.05m at home. Our flatwork has probably improved the most, as many ex racehorses, Max is built ‘downhill’, he loads the front end, meaning the weight goes onto his shoulders, with careful and selective training over a course of the last 4 years, (we have never rushed max, his feet also wouldn’t allow us!) we have been able to encourage him to engage his core, hold himself together and move his weight from the front, to the back. He is and will always be ‘downhill’ but the more I can do as a rider to assist him with pushing through using his back end will continue to help him build muscles in the correct areas. Hacking has helped us immensely with the muscular building blocks and I’m very lucky to have my mum assist me with the hacking. In December 2018, I was schooling Max, and something didn’t feel right, I was worried there was a problem with his back (kissing spines or S. I issues) we routinely have, farrier every 4-5 weeks, physio every 12 weeks along with chiro. We had crossed all these bridges and our wonderful physio Annabelle had said it might be worth getting the vet out to assess his sacroiliac joint. Of course, we did get our vet to come and assess him. We did a full lameness work up and the outcome was that Max was suffering with mild S.I inflammation and would potentially benefit from having the joint medicated. As Max is insured we decided to go ahead, once he had recovered from the injection being given (7 days) and a gentle week of hacking and low intensity jumping and schooling, I entered him into an arena eventing competition, he jumped fantastically and was placed in his first event of the year this year. Since then we have had to have his S.I medicated again (6 months later) but this has again helped him in a brilliant way. Max is now out eventing at BE90, we successfully completed BE80 this year and he was placed 2nd at Ascot Under Wychwood in August. We then completed our first 90 at Swalcliffe 2 weeks later, we have lots to work on over winter but the aim next season is to end on a BE100. Between May and July this year the ground was too hard for Max so we focused on qualifying for the RoR dressage championships at Blenheim Palace. I am completely over the moon to say we did qualify, and we were placed 6th in a field of 26 riders, never would I ever imagine that being the novice rider who learnt to ride on a thoroughbred, I would be placed and have a prize giving at Blenheim Horse Trials! With all that myself, my mum and Max have been through over the last 5 years, he truly is our horse of a lifetime, he has a heart of gold and there isn’t much that bothers him, he is extra special to us after my uncle passed away, he was the main person we wanted involved in max’s retraining but unfortunately his time with us was cut short, this is why I now remember him by wearing his jockey colours as my cross country colours. Max’s welfare and wellbeing is most important to us, which is why we are so religious in making sure he has everything he needs, we are very lucky to now have such a great team behind us (especially Simon, our fantastic farrier, who has played a major part in all of this) We are excited to see what the future holds for all of us.