Lord Locksley’s charismatic presence has already garnered quite a fan legion and cheering section at various show venues in the U.S. but now the striking stallion becomes only the second North American bred dressage Trakehner to make the cover of the prestigious German Magazine "Der Trakehner."
Bred by Tylord Farm in Benson,VT and owned by Margaret Stevens of Phippsburgh Maine, Lord Locksley, a 2001 16.1h licensed Trakehner stallion (Unkenruf x Enrico Caruso), also passed his Oldenburg inspection and has his Performance Gold scores at the Grand Prix. Currently, he is the only licensed Trakehner Dressage Stallion titled “Pg” in the U.S.
His rider, Susanne Hamilton, a USDF Gold Medalist and Grand Prix trainer, has guided the stallion’s development since the fall of 2007 after they met at clinic where she was teaching and was asked to ride the stallion.
“Despite some shenanigans, I could tell from the moment I sat on him that we could make a really good team. There is a comfort level, where you just know ‘this is going to work’," she says.
Owner Meg Stevens fell for the colt at 7 months old. “I wasn't really looking for a young horse but it was one of those horse shopping moments!” Breeder Debra Tyler noted he exhibited true presence early. “You know pretty quickly, which ones should stay stallions and who should be gelded.” Locksley resided with Meg at her farm until crossing paths with Susanne. “He always had a wonderful temperament and was easy to live with,” she says.
Stevens also recognized the special chemistry between her horse and Susanne. “They immediately hit it off, and I realized I had to get serious about his training.” When she let Hamilton take him to Florida, it was start of a relationship that would flourish.
At 7 years old, Locksley had his walk/trot/canter but was not confirmed on leads and not consistently on the bit but Susanne says he was a happy horse. “I learned that it doesn't really matter if you start them late, as long as they haven't been ruined and Locksley was a happy, well-adjusted horse, very comfortable in his environment and confident in his people, just lacking an education.”
She notes the stallion quickly took center stage in their lives. The key to the dressage equation is harmony and Susanne’s radiate smile whenever she’s astride Locks reflects the cohesive quality woman and horse share. "Long ago, I was the herd leader and he had to learn to adapt to our program. Today, we are equal partners. It's my job to listen to what he as to say, just as much as I expect him to listen to my requests. We are truly a team!"
All in the Mind
Locksley’s standout quality, according to Hamilton, is his mind and supreme work ethic. “This horse has heart and brains that will always be in the forefront of whatever he does and everything else follows. I've never known a horse that loved his job as much as this horse does and it shows in his work.”
She likens it to a person who doesn’t know how to read but when learns, he suddenly inhales books. Locks is like that, she says. He wants the job he was bred and built to do
“Pam Goodrich was a great help to me early on,” says Susanne but notes over the last four years, she has relied on Shannon Dueck's insight to put it all together. "Shannon is my heart and soul trainer, the person I depend upon. She completely, utterly gets us.” She has also benefited from Shannon ties with Carl Hester in Wellington for added instruction.
“He is very little work physically to ride,” she says. “He has his own engine, I never feel I’m on the pushing end but he is an overachiever, so I must say all right, you did that well enough.”
At home in Maine, the stallion’s sensible nature allows him free access to couple acre field that adjoins his paddock. “He meanders or lopes in and out but he’s never stupid. It’s so nice to have a horse of this level that can really enjoy being a horse.” Susanne credits his owner Meg for raising him in a similar environment.
“If he throws a fraction of that steady mind on to his offspring, there will be a lot of happy owners in the future,” says Hamilton. She hopes knowledgeable foal and horse owners will bring them along as a boost for the Trakehners breed. She was so impressed with his filly out her own KWPN mare, she bred her back this year.
His first crop, in 2013, already has premium foals. He’s popular already with Trakehner breeders from out West, Tennessee and Wisconsin. After this winter’s CDI season, he will go to select breeders for collection, for frozen semen for both Europe and the U.S.
Hamilton enjoys stallions, saying she understands the boys with testicles. “They are in their way simple, like men. You feed them, tell them they’re wonderful, tell them how amazing they are and let them think what you want is their idea. Women are much more complicated,” she laughs. She says Locks is definitely treated in a kingly manner.
Susanne says she doesn’t entertain “ridiculous expectations” for the future but hopes to simply keep improving, honing and building a more solid Grand Prix performance. With Locksley remaining sound, happy and an eager pupil, there’s no reason not to keep going.
An Owner’s Gift
For owner Meg Stevens “it has been an amazing journey” to watch her talented horse blossom into his potential to reach the international ring. Meg is lifelong horsewoman with a lot of knowledge and Susanne says they discuss the details of Lock’s training, heath and career but she let’s me do my job. “Owners such as Meg are a 100% gift to trainers,” says Hamilton of their relationship. “I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing without Meg’s support on that end.”
Hamilton who came to the U.S. from Germany in 1984, operates her Crystal Spring Farm, a 65 acre farm in South Montville, ME and at White Fences, Loxahatchee FL during the winter, is an American citizen and an "r" licensed official, currently in the "R" program.
She thrives on the diversity of teaching professional and amateur riders, developing horses, plus taking clients to shows, while competing herself. She envisions Lord Locksley after his retirement going back to Meg as a perfectly suitable amateur ride to hack anywhere and enjoy. But right now, it’s their turn to dance in the spotlight. “He wants to be a high performance horse. He’s on fire!” says Susanne, sounding thrilled daily with the horse and deeply grateful for the ride.
Tylord Farm’s Lord Luciano was the first American bred Trakehner to be featured on the cover of Der Trakehner in 2006, as well as the first American born Trakehner to be approved by the German Verband. He currently competes with Finnish Grand Prix rider Terhi Stegars. His daughter, Dolce Luciana, followed suit on the cover in 2012, chosen as a gift for Queen Elizabeth for the Silver Jubilee. Prominent breeders of Trakehner bloodlines for 30 years, Tylord sires have produced champions in many rings: WEF small junior hunter champion, El Star (Emily Williams aboard); multiple grand prix jumper winner, Margo (Ian Silitch aboard); hunters Mirror Lake, Baron Von Laken, Grace Note, Blue Moon, and FEI dressage horses Rubelit von Unkenruf, Bronze medalist at the Lausanne, Switzerland World Cup, Pavarotti; Levi and Diane Fietti's Esquire (George Williams aboard).