Words and photography by Bernie Leadon-Bolger
It was on a blustery Irish summer’s day, in a rain drenched meadow, that ‘Ameer’, or more properly ‘Hallo Magic’ introduced himself to us. He is by the prolific performance stallion Halal (Hanif x Sharilla) and out of Djammella (Djammal x Blue Orla). We had actually gone to view his younger brother and took the chance of seeing the more mature version that was not for sale at the time. Ameer, charming as ever, blew velvet kisses and coiled himself for hugs; I fell in love. The fact that his conformation was very correct was an added bonus.
We put in an offer on Ameer’s brother but were pipped to the post by another bidder. A couple of weeks passed and, while at the checkout purchasing wine and cheese at the Auchan supermarket in Bordeaux, I received a telephone call telling me that Ameer was for sale and that his owners were offering me first option! I held my breath and held on to my shopping. A week later, and back home in Ireland, the deal was closed. It was the week of Dublin Horse Show and we were on the road in gale force winds going to collect Ameer.
Ameer is a strong bay, liked a burnished conker, with perfect black points and chocolate drop eyes. Some mornings we joke that he has contoured and highlighted his face. Whoever his make up artist is, I would certainly like their number! He settled on the yard with the other horses like he had been there all his life. He has been a true ambassador for all Arabians with Crabbet bloodlines; he schools, concentrates and performs.
We decided to try him in Intermediate Show Riding Type (ISRT) classes as there are sadly very few classes for pure-bred Arabians in Ireland. My son Dale took up the reins and together they were the ultimate characters. During 2014 they won up and down the country including Champion Intermediate at Wexford Equestrian show.
When Dale’s acting took up more of his time with roles in Ripper Street and other film work, he hung up his boots and his sister, Dawn, began schooling Ameer in the sidesaddle. Ameer, ever obliging, took to sidesaddle like a camel to the dessert! There was no bucking or hesitation, he just went steadily and sweetly forward from the beginning and I could only stand back and admire the elegant combination.
Dawn has produced Dublin Horse Show winners, won the Little Dragon 80km class at the Red Dragon Festival of Endurance in Wales, is an accomplished FEI rider, and is the proud owner/rider/trainer of HeWillTurnUp; the 2014 Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Racehorse to Riding Horse of the Year. In between all this, Dawn models, does television work, and is attaining her BA in television and media with a thesis on Feminisation.
Together Dawn and Ameer placed third at their first sidesaddle show, the diminutive Arabian standing aloof against the 16.2hh plus hunters! Covering the ground beautifully, the picture of elegance, I think Lady Wentworth would have been very proud to watch them. On their third time out they scooped first prize and Champion gaining the High Acre Farm trophy at Tinahely Show, the first pure-bred Arabian ever to do so. In fact, Ameer is the only one of his breed to compete in sidesaddle in Ireland. He loves his showing; to say that Ameer also loves his food, and a sunny day at a show, posing for the camera would be an understatement!
Dawn describes Ameer as “an exceptional horse that rides beautifully and with the same competitive edge as myself. I look forward to many more successes, both astride and aside on this ‘magic Arabian’.”
As for me, well I am extremely grateful to Mr. John Garry for having bred such a fine horse, grateful to Ameer’s jockeys and of course to Ameer himself. There is a marvellous quote from the movie Jerry Maguire, “You had me at hello” and in the case of my bay beauty, ‘Hallo Magic’, it is so very true.