Hesse is a Hanoverian gelding who joined us for retirement last fall after retiring from a long career in dressage. When Hesse and his mom first met 15 years ago she wasn’t looking for a horse. His mom was at a sales barn in Michigan to look at horses for one of her friends.
They found themselves at this particular sales barn as they were in the area to compete in the Regional Championships. His mom was showing a horse named Louie in the Intermediare II Championships. Louie had been a fantastic horse for her but Louie was getting very advanced in age at that point and she knew that the Regionals were going to be their last show together before he retired. Louie was a chestnut Hanoverian gelding from the “L” line of Hanoverians.
As they discussed potential horses for her friend to try at the sales barn it came up in the conversation that they had a big chestnut Hanoverian from the L line for sale. The horse in question was much too big for his mom’s friend, but yet he appeared tacked up in the arena anyway. Despite the fact that she wasn’t looking for a horse at the time, he was there, tacked up, ready to ride, and a chestnut Hanoverian from the L line. Of course she rode him and the rest, as they say, is history. It has now been 15 years since she bought Hesse on the day she wasn’t looking for a horse.
Hesse is a big horse at about 17.2 hands with a very solid build. His sire is a Hanoverian approved Thoroughbred stallion by the name of Hill Hawk, hence the H name for Hesse. His dam was a States Premium mare named Larissa and she represented the L line in his pedigree. Hesse was bred in Germany. When he was five years old he was presented for sale in the Verden auction. He was purchased at the auction by someone that imported horses to the U.S. for resale, and that was how he found his way to the sales barn in Michigan and eventually met his mom.
Hesse and his mom did quite a bit of showing together through the years. Together they worked their way up the levels in dressage. They did quite a bit of traveling together as well, travelling both regionally from their home base in Ohio, and also spending three winters together in Wellington, Florida. As his mom said, both she and Hesse love hot weather so they always enjoyed spending the winter season in Florida. After several years of very focused training and showing Hesse went on to be a mentor and schoolmaster for some of his mom’s students.
Hesse’s mom said that Hesse was always a very soft horse to ride and work around. Hesse is a very large horse who could easily use his size against his handlers or riders, but he never did. Hesse’s mom said he was a very hot and sensitive horse to ride, but never strong or heavy in a pushy way. Even when he would leap or buck or otherwise be fresh, it was always soft and never alarming. She said it always felt like riding a truly gentle giant. When Hesse was in his later teen years, many of his mom’s students were lucky enough to ride him. Even though he was big and sensitive, he made even her most timid riders feel safe. He was so soft in the connection that they never felt that he took over the ride.
The biggest change in their routine together came when Hesse’s mom moved him from a large boarding facility that had very limited turnout and limited trails, to a small, private facility with significantly more turnout and a lot of trails. Hesse not only loved all of his additional turnout time, but he really loved hacking out on the trails. As his mom said she came to realize just how much being outside meant to Hesse. Even when they worked in the arena she rode him in the outdoor arena instead of the indoor arena whenever possible. She said that although he was always a gentleman about his work in any arena, she could tell he simply happier when working outside.
When they spent the winters in Florida she had more time to ride him on the trails than when they were home in Ohio. She said Hesse would always prick his ears and get very excited when she would point him down the driveway instead of to the arena for one of their trail adventures. When they headed down the driveway Hesse would really pick up the pace and start marching. However his mom said that Hesse would never break into a trot. Hesse has always been very German about following the rules so he would march along at the walk but not break into a trot. His mom said that Hesse would power walk as they headed out on the trail, and then start to walk slower and slower when they turned to head home. Since most horses tend to head out slow and come home faster she said she and Hesse were often walking at a very different pace than any companions they might be trail riding with.
In addition to dressage Hesse also had another specialty, and that was being the “Minder” on trail rides. If a friend of his mom’s had a young horse or a horse that tended to be naughty on the trails she would get asked if she could ride Hesse with the horse in question so he could teach them a few lessons. His mom said she remembered one young horse named Rudy who had a tendency to bolt on trail. Hesse was put next to him on several trail rides and just as Rudy would start to get ready for a bolt, Hesse would wheel on him, pushing Rudy in front of him and even snapping at him. Eventually Rudy learned not to bolt and Hesse earned his reputation for teaching trail manners to other horses.
After almost 15 years together, when he was 21 years old, Hesse’s mom made the decision to retire him. She said there wasn’t any particular event that led to the decision. Hesse wasn’t lame or otherwise unhealthy. However she said that although he was in high demand from her students most of the year, he had very limited work in the winter months. As him mom said, the winters in northern Ohio are harsh, and most people ride very sporadically due to the weather. Turnout could also be very sporadic during their winters as well. Hesse had done a couple of long and boring winters, standing around in his stall getting stiff and missing his turnout. She decided that she wanted to go ahead and retire him while he was still in great health without any physical issues. His mom wanted Hesse to be able to enjoy finally having what he always wanted, extensive turnout with a group of friends.
Hesse made the trip to our farm from Ohio last fall. Just as him mom knew he would, Hesse had no issues at all acclimating to life at our farm. A lot of turnout and friends were everything he wanted. Hesse happened to arrive at our farm at the same time Remmy arrived. Hesse bonded with Remmy immediately as they hung out in stalls next to each other and went out in a paddock together. Hesse and Remmy got along so well we ended up integrating them into the same family group. Almost eight months later Hesse and Remmy are still best buddies and love to play, groom and graze with each other.
I hope you have enjoyed getting to knew Hesse as much as we have!