Mai Baum, the 13-year-old German Sport Horse gelding by the Holsteiner stallion Loredano and out of Ramira, bred by Gunter Gerling in Germany and known in the barn as Lexus, will be making his U.S. Team debut at the 2019 Pan American Games next month in Lima, Peru.
In 2010, Alexandra Ahearn and her parents, Ellen Ahearn and Eric Markell, traveled to Germany to look for a horse that could take Alex up the levels. They found Lexus as a 4-year-old at an auction in Munich. With the help of Alex’s trainer, Michele Pestl, they made the decision to purchase Lexus and bring him home to the United States.
Pestl took Lexus to his first few Beginner Novice events and then Alex took over the ride. Together the pair moved up the levels together, frequently placing in the top five. After winning the Galway Downs International CIC* in March of 2014, Alex and Lexus moved up to the Intermediate level. They won their second Intermediate at Rebecca Farm, and Alex was talent spotted to the USEF Eventing 25 Training List.
Alex began working with Tamra Smith midway through 2014, and in 2015 Smith took over the ride. Smith and Lexus were hard to beat that year, winning seven of the 10 events they competed at including the Jersey Fresh CCI2* and the CIC3* events at Rebecca Farm, Copper Meadows, and Plantation Field. They rounded off the year with a win at the Fair Hill International CCI3* and Lexus was named the USEA Horse of the Year for 2015.
Mai Baum was sidelined by a mild tendon strain in 2016 and his return to competition was prolonged by an infection he contracted in his gut. Then, on the way home from an event in 2017, he fell in the trailer and injured his leg, requiring more time off. He returned once more to competition midway through 2018, winning the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced Final at the Colorado Horse Park and wrapping up the year with a third-place finish in the CIC3* at Stable View.
With their eyes on the Pan American Games, Smith set out to qualify with Mai Baum to be considered for the team in 2019. They competed in the CCI3*-S at Galway Downs and the CCI3*-L at Twin Rivers, handily winning both events. He has 14 top-five FEI finishes to his record, nine of which are wins.
“He’s like a magical unicorn,” said Smith. “He’s got quite a bit of personality. He’s really full of himself, but not in a cocky way, just like he knows he’s beautiful.”
“He’s really itchy, so he likes you to scratch him all the time, but he hates to be brushed and he hates any sprays,” Smith continued. “It’s like his skin is extra sensitive. But he’s really easy – he stands in his ice boots without anything and knows when it’s 20 minutes to take them out.”
“He’s Alex’s horse, they grew up together. He was a little girl’s horse, so he acts like that. He’s a very cuddly, sweet guy.”
Smith’s partnership with the Ahearn/Markell family has flourished over the years. They formed the MB Group, LLC and traveled back to Germany where they purchased two additional horses, MB MaiStein and MB MaiBlume. “It’s been a dream come true,” Smith said. “It’s been a little bit of a rough road because he got injured after Fair Hill, but it’s been really great to have him back and going well. You learn a lot when you have a horse like that.”
“It’s just so easy for him. Somebody said, ‘You two are magic together,’ and I said, ‘No, he’s magic and he makes me look very good, I’m just along for the ride.’”
It’s the turn of the world’s best Eventing athletes to stand under the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games spotlight over the next few days as all but one of the horses presented at this morning’s horse inspection at Baji Koen Equestrian Park were confirmed for action by the Ground Jury.
And they're off! Eventing kicks off today in Tokyo (Thursday, July 29 – 7:30 p.m. ET), with the first of three Olympic dressage sessions. Competitors from 29 nations will go head to head, vying for a spot on the coveted Olympic podium.
There were a few last-minute dramas at the first horse inspection for the Tokyo Olympics which took place in the main equestrian park at Baji Koen Equestrian Centre at 9:30 a.m. JST today.