First & Last: Vom Feinsten

Julie Brougham tells us about her flamboyant, fiery import who has smashed New Zealand dressage records and who she hopes to take to Rio

(Image: Annie Studholme)
(Image: Annie Studholme)

When did you first… see him?

We were in Aachen, Germany, looking for horses. I had sold JK Supersonic, my Grand Prix horse, so for once I had some dollars in my pocket. Having said that, everything I liked was 300,000 euros! By chance we landed up at Ton De Ridder’s stable and every horse there was sublime. I happened to walk past Steiny’s stable and was told he was by Fidermark, so I was most interested. I think I was just the person they wanted to walk by, because he’d only been gelded the week before and was such a handful that he was really a man’s horse, but he wasn’t big enough for a man.

What did you think when you first… sat on him?

I was left to ride him on my own, and when Ton came back half an hour later to see how I was getting on, I told him the horse was too hot for me. He just bolted everywhere and I couldn’t stop him! So Ton gave me a lesson on Steiny, and in the end we decided he was the nicest horse we’d seen. We were incredibly lucky to get him.

When did he first… reveal his personality?

It was really only when the hormones finally got out of his system two years later that his true personality began to show and then he progressed flat out. Prior to that, there were many times we questioned what we had done – if Germany was closer, I would have sent him back! He was tense and hot with so much energy, but not channelling it in the right way. He’d do the tests, but the judges would write all over it: ‘tension, tension, tension.’

What is the first… word you would use to describe him?

HOY-220315-FEI Grand Prix Freestlyle-223 Julie Brougham & Vom Feinsten copy
(Image: Annie Studholme)

Ferrari – there’s just this engine in him going all the time and I never have to think about trying to get more power. When he’s on song he’s a dream to ride as he takes you every inch of the way.

What is the first… thing he does when he sees you?

At home when he hears the back door open there’s a bit of a neigh because he knows I’m coming to feed him and let him out. Wherever I am, Steiny always has his ears pricked, watching me.

What is the last… thing he’ll let you do?

He doesn’t like his mane being pulled.

When did somebody last… try to buy him?

Nobody ever has. I think they’d probably be too nervous about trying to ride him! And I also think they know how much I adore him.

What is his first… reaction when scared?

Flight – he’ll turn around and bolt.

When did he last... get loose?

I can’t remember because we handle him with great care. We never tie him up to the truck at a show. We usually have a stallion bit on him and [my husband] David tends to be on the end of it, because he’s bigger and stronger than me.

Steiny set NZ records at the 2015 Horse of the Year Show (Image: Libby Law)
Steiny set NZ records at the 2015 Horse of the Year Show (Image: Libby Law)

When did you last… fall off him?

I’ve never fallen off him, but he has smashed my wrist to pieces trying to get through the gate into the paddock. You’re actually safer on him than on the ground.

When did he last… disgrace himself?

In the Grand Prix at the 2015 Horse of the Year – he was just too hyper. There were some beautiful bits in it, but during the second piaffe, everyone burst into applause over in the show jumping ring and with that my piaffe turned into a levade!

When did he last… have a holiday?

He has a holiday when David and I go away. We try to get overseas each year to see a big dressage event, but I usually have somebody come in and keep my horses lunged. After a big show he’ll have a few days off, but never a week – he needs to be flexed and bent and stretched. He’s an athlete and we look after him.

If he was a human he would be…

Somebody with a tremendous amount of energy! The immediate person who springs to mind is Heath Ryan – he’s got a ton of enthusiasm and I believe he doesn’t sleep very much.

His party piece…

HOY-200315-FEI Grand prix-672 Julie Brougham & Vom Feinsten copy
Showing off his party piece! (Image: Annie Studholme)

Is probably his extended trot. I don’t always get marked well by the New Zealand judges for it, but I do by the internationals and I certainly did in Australia. His canter pirouettes are also very good.

What you didn’t know about Steiny…

  • He’s good at jumping. Julie says she isn’t very brave and at the moment is only going over 60cm but they both enjoy jumping and try to do it once a week.
  • The thing Steiny loves most at a show is the safety of his stable. He’s an acutely sensitive horse who gets frightened in big show environments and has given the stewards some heart-stopping moments! As soon as he’s in his stable, however, he relaxes.
  • Julie and Steiny set their first New Zealand record in 2011 at the World Dressage Challenge, when they scored 71.67% in the Prix St Georges. Then he had 18 months off with a strained suspensory ligament, only returning to competition last season.
  • Steiny was supposed to be a licensed stallion, but he was so unruly he was gelded instead.
Out for a hack at home
Out for a hack at home

Fun Facts about Vom Feinsten

Stable name: Steiny

Age: 13

Height: 165cm

Breed: Rhinelander

Sire: Fidermark

Dam: Wellcome (by Weltmeyer)

Owners: David and Julie Brougham

Best-ever show: Dressage Horse of the Year 2015 where he set New Zealand records in both the Grand Prix Kur (76.02%) and the Grand Prix Special (69.94%)