A Hanoverian gelding once struggling with challenging behaviour has transformed into a successful dressage horse. Fay Lai from Lymington spotted diamond-in-the-rough Bengal across a riding school arena and decided she would take him on despite his difficulties.

Fay visited a local riding school to purchase ponies in 2018. Having lost her beloved horse only months before, she was offered Bengal by his owner. He had breathing difficulties, was “challenging, older and had had no training”, but was on sale for “a steal”.

Unfortunately, Bengals breathing difficulties required surgery and according to the vet, his tieback was “the worst case she had ever seen”. After the surgery and a long recovery, Fay decided Bengal’s challenging nature meant she should ride him herself.

“I couldn’t have someone having an accident on my conscience,” she said.

It took months of baby steps and hacking in the forest to build Bengal’s trust and after six months Fay felt progress.

“The cathartic forest hacking seemed to calm Bengal’s behaviours and with a combination of this and training in the arena, I started to feel like he was really trying and showing talent as a dressage horse,” she said.

Fay runs a livery yard, riding school and has trained horses to PSG level, as well as eventing successfully to novice level. Both Bengal and Fay have been competing at British Dressage Intermediate II competitions over the last 12 months.

Their highest score, 75 percent, was achieved this month, and together they took first place at Hickstead Inter II Premier League.

“I never gave up on him and I believed his bad behaviours were down to his past, it’s been a lot of work to get where we are today and I am so, so proud of him,” added Fay.

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