Nicknames: Lexus, Black Stallion
Breed: German Sporthorse
Breeding: Loredano 2 out of Ramira
Owners: Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell
Career highlights: Team Gold at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games, 2015 USEA Horse of the Year.
At the 2021 Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event in May, U.S. Eventing Team member, Tamie Smith, spoke with Practical Horseman about her 15-year-old German Sporthorse gelding, Mai Baum. After a change in the U.S. Eventing Team roster for the 2021 Summer Games due to an injury to Liz Halliday-Sharp's Deniro Z, Tamie Smith and Mai Baum stepped into the traveling reserve spot for Tokyo. Smith told Practical Horseman everything there is to know about Mai Baum, aka "Lexus", ahead of their voyage to Japan.
What is your relationship with Mai Baum like?
I've been riding him the longest, so it's like we think for each other, which is such a fun feeling. You hear about that as you're going along in horse sports and you hear veterans say, "Gosh, I feel like I think and the horse just does it," and that's exactly what it feels like. It's such an incredible feeling.
How did you come to ride him?
Well, Eric Markell and Alex Ahearn own him, and I met them—Alex was a working student for me a long time ago. And, she rode him up through the three-long and then went off to college. And that's when I got the ride.
What's his personality like?
He actually is quite peculiar. He's super sensitive. Like on the ground, when you're just with him, he's great. But, if you try to do anything, you know, you can't fly spray him, you can't body clip him. If somebody asked me, "Who would he remind you of if he was a person?" I'm like, I think the Queen of England. He requires lots of people to take care of him. He's very particular and commands attention.
What are some of your most favorable wins with him thus far?
He won the Fairhill [International] four-long, with more than a rail in hand, back in his first four-star long back in 2015. Prior to that, I think he'd won seven FEI events in a row all at the four-star level.
Really, he's just been a spectacular horse through and through. He is quirky and he's funny, a lot of people think he's just a really super horse and easy because an amateur rode him. But, Alex had her hands full. Because he's super sensitive, he's really careful, but then he's all these things that make him tricky. He can go down gallop down to a jump and leave a stride out and you don't even know why, but he's so scopey I almost thinks he does it to joke around a little bit.
Since Erik [Duvander] came on board and really helped me over the last few years with him, he's really gotten really broke and really trained. Prior to that, I think I was training him, but because it was Lexus, I kind of wasn't as disciplined as I could have been. And, I really see the effects of it now, because he just is such a showman. He loves, loves, loves, loves the cameras. Lexus is like, "Oh my gosh, they've done this amazing thing all for me!" You would think that with the way he is with the cameras and all that that he would be a cocky horse, but he's not. He's likes to be alone, he likes to have his quiet time, he's not in your face in the barn.
What is he like to ride?
Very wiggly. It was funny, somebody—I think it might've been Erik—was like, "Oh my gosh. He does not look the way he feels." Like, you get on him and he's just all over. Very hard to keep him straight and through.
What are some of his strengths?
I think he's a phenomenal jumper. I think he's a phenomenal mover. I think he's got a great brain. Honestly, if I were to ever have a horse like that in this lifetime, I don't even know if it's possible. He's just such a phenomenal athlete and has every right piece. He's built well, he has enough blood, he gallops, he jumps. He loves the attention and he loves to perform. It's hard to get a horse like that. He's supple. He's incredible. It's just an incredible feel over the jumps. There's no doubt that I know that he's going to do all the things that I need him to.
Are there any specific training exercises that you work on with him?
He actually fun to kind of do everything with on the flat for sure. I really like to work on terrain with the horses on the flat. I feel like that makes a huge difference in the training with the horses. With him, I really love doing everything. There's not anything that I [don't like]. Preferably, in eventing, it would be great if we didn't have to dressage and we can just do the cross-country and show jumping. But, really every phase. I mean, everything I do with him is fun. He's fun to do everything. He's a unicorn.