Known to friends as Figgy, Artisan Farms LLC’s Figor (Querly Elvis x Indoctro) was bred in Holland and began his early years in Germany, first with Marco Kutscher and then with Andreas Kreuzer. Purchased as a seven-year-old, Figgy has risen to the top of Tiffany Foster’s string with strong performances in Nations Cups and grand prix around the world
How did your partnership with Figgy come to be?
Andy and Carlene Ziegler have been my sponsors for many years. They decided about five years ago that they were going to slow down a little with their support and they very generously wanted to get me one more major young horse to develop. I enjoy jumping Nations Cups and championships so I wanted to make sure that the last horse they bought was one that could do those kinds of things – a horse to jump BIG jumps!
So I decided the best place to look was the Young Horse Final in Aachen. I watched the whole young horse division and Figor stood out to me as exceptionally scopey and brave. I asked Eric Lamaze what he thought about the horse and he agreed that it would be a good match. He arranged for me to try him and we loved him; he spoke to Andy and told him that this was a championship horse and Andy and Carlene agreed to buy him for me.
What were your first impressions of him?
When he arrived I have to admit that at first he was a little intimidating to me. He is a very high strung horse and was difficult to deal with on a day-to-day basis. He was always at his best in the show ring though, so I knew it was worth dealing with all the rest of it. I always knew he would jump five-star grand prixs. He always had explosive power and is the scopiest horse I’ve ever ridden.
As you developed your partnership, did you find that your styles meshed, or did you have to tweak your riding style to suit him?
I think my riding style suits him. The most important thing is that he is calm and relaxed and that’s my favourite thing to work on. I don’t do well on a horse you have to rev up, so trying to calm a horse down was something I was used to and am comfortable with.
What’s his personality like?
His major quirk is that he has severe separation anxiety. He gets very upset if he’s alone and it can be a little dangerous at times so I always make sure to ride him when the ring has other horses in it.
Best friend Caroline Holmberg: When we got Figgy as a young horse he was very wild and nervous. He has definitely matured over the last few years but can still be a handful sometimes. Essentially he’s like a big 17-hand puppy who loves people and other horses. He does not like being alone and gets very attached to his horsey friends. The more horses surrounding him, the happier he is; walking through the aisleway in the barn he drags me to every horse stall to say hello. He is also a real snuggle bug.
He’s a true athlete and in my opinion gets better and better as the week goes on – he’s literally never tired. The only place where he doesn’t mind being by himself (thank god) is the show ring, then he’s laser-focused. What makes him the most happy is turnout in our fields in Belgium. He’s probably outside in the paddock for at least six hours per day. He finishes his breakfast and then stands by the door impatiently waiting for me to bring his turnout gear; he always lays down grazing in the field.
I get the impression there isn’t a track you guys couldn’t jump; how do you approach them based on his strengths and weaknesses?
The best thing about Figgy is that there is no course he can’t jump. It’s a good feeling to walk a course thinking that. The most challenging thing is to figure out where I can use his massive stride to help make the time allowed. He can do two less strides than most horses in any given line so it’s up to me to pick where to do that. He definitely knows when it’s a big moment. I feel like he prefers classes during the day versus at night when there is a big crowd because he always seems to do well in that sort of a setting.
What’s your proudest moment as a partnership?
I think my proudest moment in the competition arena was last year when he won the World Cup Grand Prix at the WIHS. He had just come back from an injury and he just felt incredible and it was one of the first times I really tried to go fast with him. Another big moment for our partnership was when I took him to jump the 1.50 division at the Spruce Meadows Masters as an 8 year old. I think he was clear everyday and proved to me that he could do anything.
Nicknames: Figgy and Figgasaurus because he loves to eat leaves high up on trees and he looks like a huge dinosaur.
Downtime: He’s the most happy when he’s at home at the farm in Belgium because we have really nice paddocks there and he loves to spend the whole day outside.
Best friend: Incredible Bleu, a nine-year-old gelding that I ride for the Coxe Family and 5 Roosters LLC. They love each other!