story is one of a transition, a whole transition in discipline! Another Pony who defected from his previous discipline and his mum is so glad as she always wanted her eventers to show jump like showjumpers! This is certainly proven as we welcome to Martin Collins Australia Grand Prix………
Chicobello is ridden by the beautiful Rachael Lee and is known at home simply as 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨, he stands at an impressive 17hh and was imported by Rachael when he was 5 from Germany. 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 was bred by Wilhelm Struck, and was born in 2010.
He is by Clinton I and his Dam is Haupstutbuch Astrid (this line goes back to Accord II)
Normally here we would dig into some more breeding facts, however this story is so special and there is much detail and great bits, we are going to go straight to 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 and his journey with Rachael.
Rachael imported 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 as a 5yr old from Germany, Rachael bought him from a video, Rachael didn’t go over to try him. Rachael liked how athletic he looked, and his jump breeding, and Rachael figured if he didn’t work out as an eventer, Rachael should be able to make a showjumper out of him! (But Rachael never expected that he would be talented enough or trainable enough to compete at the top level across both sports, 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨truly is an amazing horse!).
𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 was rather spirited, stubborn, and cheeky in his younger years, he was definitely a handful at times! Thankfully he has mellowed a little with age, and he really has enjoyed swapping sports from Eventing to Showjumping, he is a happier horse overall now which Rachael didn’t expect, but Rachael love that we are both loving our showjumping journey together.
𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 is the quirkiest horse Rachael have ever had, (and she tells us she has had some quirky horses over the years!), it’s taken many years to truly understand him, and to learn how to best train and manage him.
Thankfully Rachael seems to have a handle on it now, and has earned his trust. He has taught Rachael so much as a trainer and she is ever grateful to 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 for that.
𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 has such an amazing bond with Rachael’s family his first love is Rachael’s 4yr old son Jack, he’s so sweet and gentle with him. He also has taken an affinity to the playing with the dog’s plush toys!
Chico is VERY horse shy! (Hence the red ribbons he wears on his browband and in his tail). Warmups are interesting! Heads up to others..
𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 is a rather sensitive and anxious character, he overreacts in almost all situations. He hates surprises and he also hates things that move, and things that don’t!
𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 is also tricky to catch in the paddock. He’s very attached to his equine teammates, he demonstrates circus like acrobatics at times when his friends go to compete in their classes at shows. He can tell the time! Every day at 11am Chico will curl up in the paddock for his late morning nap!
For a horse that is so brave in jumping (whether it be 4* cross country fences, or Grand Prix showjumping fences), he is overly suspicious and afraid of pretty much everything other than jumps, hence one of his nicknames is “chicken” bc he can be a real CHICKEN! But Rachael wouldn’t have him any other way, Rachael has so much love and respect for this horse.
Rachael tells us 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 is an incredible athlete, he has exceeded all of her expectations.
As an Eventer, he was competing at 4* level at the age of 7 (which is very impressive, especially as when Rachael imported him he had never evented!). 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 & Rachael competed together at 4* level for 6yrs, and he was a very successful elite Eventer placing consistently at 4* level. Unfortunately 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 never got to compete at Adelaide 5*, he was qualified to compete at 5* level for years but things kept getting in the way and interrupted Chico’s 5* plans… ie. Rachaels, pregnancy with Jack, then covid, then Rachael had breast cancer, then covid again, and then Rachael fractured her back. It’s a shame 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 didn’t get to tick that 5* box bc as an athlete Rachael thinks he deserved it, but now he is kicking other goals in Showjumping!
Swapping sports has been a great change for Chico & Rachael, they have always competed in a lot of showjumping, as an eventer Rachael always wanted her horses to showjump like Showjumpers so it is a discipline Rachael have worked hard to improve in over the years.
Funnily enough Showjumping was for a long time 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨’s weakest phase as an eventing horse! Rachael never dreamt he would compete in big showjumping classes, let alone at Grand Prix level. But towards the end of the 2022 season, they spent a good few months really focussing on showjumping competitions, and Rachael realised how much she personally loved the sport and the people! She found out her eventing horses were actually pretty good straight Showjumping horses. At that time, George Sanna started coaching at the NSW eventing squad clinics, so Rachael had the privilege to meet and train with George, and he was very encouraging of her horses & Rachael to jump in some bigger showjumping classes.
After competing at Mini Prix level with both 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 and Rachael’s other 5* eventer Amigo at Willinga Park in 2022, Rachael realised how much she was loving the challenge of a new sport, and that Rachael really loved jumping big Showjumping fences, so last year they officially did their first season as Showjumpers and they are LOVING it!
Som of Rachael favorite memories with 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 are the placings at 4* level eventing oh and the big one being long listed for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in Eventing.
Recently she is proud of her jumping places with some standouts being 3rd Place SJA 1.35m and 4th Place Stonewall Mini Prix 1.45m As well as the 1.55m Grand Prix debut at Willinga Park he had just the first rail down, Rachael thinks the height of the fence surprised him momentarily! Jumping the rest of that round clear is one of the proudest moments of her riding career, and she am so grateful to 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 for that.
Rachael really wants to thank and acknowledge two very influential coaches in 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨’s competition career….
Stuart Tinney coached 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 & Rachael for many years throughout thier eventing career, Rachael is truly grateful for all that he taught us. Stuart was there the first day she jumped 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨, and he would agree with her that the way the young gangly chestnut jumped on that day, they would NEVER have imagined him jumping Grand Prix!
Through the eventing squads in 2022 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 & Rachael were very fortunate to have the opportunity to train with George Sanna. George’s support, knowledge and guidance are the reason we are having a crack at Grand Prix and hopefully a World Cup start later this season, She is incredibly grateful for George’s help.
𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐨 we are soooo glad you defected and we are so excited to have you in our Grand Prix. You will have many fans and us cheering you on!
We would also like to say that this story was pretty much completely written by Rachael.. so thank you Rachael for the great information.
See you at the Classic!