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.’”
Conditioning makes the horse fit and increases his endurance performance with less wear and tear on feet and legs. The idea is to work his heart and lungs in short intervals, let him recover a bit, then work him again. The following schedule for Training level horse provides an introduction for the horse and rider at the lower levels to the principle of interval training.
Within their first few years of being born, young horses have the opportunity to get a taste of U.S. Eventing through the USEA’s young horse programs. The USEA Future Event Horse Program (FEH) evaluates the potential of yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds under saddle to become successful upper level event horses while the USEA Young Event Horse Program (YEH) evaluates the potential of 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds to become successful upper level event horses.
If your farm has the space to set up a cross-country schooling course, it can be to your advantage to have cross-country jumps available for schooling purposes. Safety should be the number one priority when designing and building cross-country jumps, and an expert should be consulted whenever possible.
By this time I am sure that you have received the news that the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds (AEC) has been canceled. I sincerely apologize for the difficulty this has caused everyone involved. I want to commend the USEA Board of Governors for making an extremely hard decision.