Breed: Swedish Warmblood
Breeding: Mighty Magic out of Qui Luma Cbf
Owners: Ocala Horse Properties & Deborah Palmer
Major accomplishments: 1st at the 2022 FEI Eventing Nations Cup – Bromont CCIO4*-S, 5th at the 2022 FEI Eventing Nations Cup – Boekelo CCIO4*-L.
Liz Halliday-Sharp spoke with Practical Horseman about her 2023 Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5* mount, Miks Master C. This year’s event, which will be held April 27-30, will be “Mikki’s” five-star debut.
How did you get the ride on Mikki?
Last May (2022), his then owner and breeder, Laurie Cameron, called me out of the blue and said, “Do you know my horse Miks Master C and would you take the ride on him?” I did know the horse with Maya Black (his previous rider) and I always thought he was a nice horse. I didn’t know quite how good he really was, if I’m honest, but I knew he was a nice horse. And Laurie said, “Ultimately I wanted him to be produced and I want to sell him.” I said sure, and she said, “Can we take him to Tryon and will you pick him up?” And that was where we got to. I rode him at Tryon while I was there and I thought, my God, this is a really nice horse, a really good horse. Erik Duvander and Peter Wylde were there and they knew the horse and they just said, “We really think you need to try and have him and keep him.”
I wasn’t sure how we were going to make that work, [but] we brought him home. He’s just such a genuine, lovely horse and wants to do everything right and has so much talent and ability, as we all have seen. I’m super lucky that Ocala Horse Properties and Debbie Palmer came to be involved and to make it possible for me to buy him, which was amazing. It’s a wonderful partnership and they are a very big supporters.
I think we’re really solidified now as a partnership—me and Mikki—and it’s taken a little while, obviously. We haven’t been together even a year. We’ve had a lot of great results and I think the best is still to come. I don’t even think we’re close to the polished product yet, which is exciting. Definitely on the flat we’re not quite where I believe he will be in another six months. But I think he’s the best horse I’ve ever ridden in my life, and I have a lot of good horses, so that’s a big statement. I have a lot of very good horses actually, and I might change my mind when one of the others comes up through, but [Mikki] is an incredible animal. He’s all the things—he’s great on the flat, he’s careful in the jumping and he gallops and he’s brave. He’s all the things.
What is Mikki’s personality like?
He’s gorgeous. He’s the nicest, kindest horse you’d ever see. He’s obviously quite a handful. He’s a lot of horse, extra horse. So, he is like that—he’s a really big, blood horse and he wants to do his job and he gets very excited about it. So, you do have to manage him that way. But in the stable, he’s the kindest horse and he just wants to do right. He wants to do it the right way, which is exciting, because it makes him a joy to train.
What does Mikki’s training look like on a day-to-day basis?
I keep a lot of variety in all my horses, so I try not to school them more than one day in a row. I kind of bounce it through. They do trot sets, they have gallop days, of course. They jump and then they do their schooling. I try to keep it very variable for him. Some days I’ll school him twice in a row if he’s a little hot, because he is a really blood horse. He can come out like a freight train some days, so sometimes you have to just reset him and go again the next day.
But, he’s naturally quite a powerful fit horse. From a galloping perspective, you don’t have to push him as hard as some of my others that don’t have the blood that he has. All in all, I’m just trying to get him really strong now, which might be to my detriment occasionally, because he’s like a Ferrari now. But, that’s what he lacked when I got him—physical core strength and strength behind. He was very wiggly. He was very weak. And that [strength] is what I ultimately believe will make him a winner at the very highest level.
Are there any specific exercises you like to practice to build that strength?
All my horses go to work every day. I wouldn’t say I work them for a super long time necessarily, but they all use themselves. Every time I work them, they use themselves. Every transition I try and make good, and if it isn’t good, I repeat it. They come out and they work and they use their core and they use their hindquarters and there’s no shortcuts. From that standpoint, that’s the same for all my horses. I think that’s what was missing for [Mikki]. He’d never learned to use himself right. That’s been the biggest step for him.
What do Mikki’s care and nutrition routines look like?
My team at home does an amazing job. Isabel Turner is my barn manager and has been at a lot of the events with me. She makes the horses look absolutely gorgeous, all my girls do. I have a really wonderful team at home.
Mane ‘n Tail is a big part of that. They are one of my biggest supporters. And they’re very open to working with us too, which I love. They’re asking, “What do you think we should create next?” I love that with my sponsors. I want to be involved and I feel like it’s a big thing that we should help each other. I’ve always believed that it should be a two-way street and Mane ‘n Tail is big on that.
We feed under the Nutrena umbrella—we’re now with ProElite, which is an outstanding feed. We’re sponsored by Platinum Performance and we use all of their supplements, which are, I believe, the best there is in this country, which is why I wanted to partner with them. I feel like we have the best of the best now, and I think my horses are strong and healthy and they’re showing that with their results.