Ashley Holzer’s “Giant” Christmas Gift…& Only 6 Years Old

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It's a long way up there! Ashley Holzer preparing to ride Nureyev, a Christmas gift sight unseen from her husband. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
It’s a long way up there! Ashley Holzer preparing to ride Nureyev, a Christmas gift sight unseen from her husband. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 5, 2017–Ashley Holzer received a “giant” Christmas gift from her husband. an 18-hand (183 cm) six-year-old that was bought, sight unseen, from longtime family friend Sjef Janssen.

Nureyev, the name of the gelding by Johnson from a Kennedy mare, arrived at Ashley’s Wellington farm the first week of 2017 on a flight arranged by Tim Dutta and right before the start of the three-month long Adequan Global Dressage Festival.

Ashley, 53 years old and a four-time Olympian including 1988 team bronze for Canada, received a video from Sjef with the note: “Your one and only chance to buy this super five-year-old.”

“He’s never said to me before to buy a horse,” she said, “although I ask him all the time which horse should I buy. It’s the first time he said: ‘Buy it.’

“So I called him and said, ‘OK, let’s do it!’

“‘You’re kidding,’ Sjef said. I said, ‘No, my husband said to vet it. It will be my Christmas present.’

“So Sjef vetted it and put it on the ‘plane before we even paid for it.”

After arrival and a couple of rides on Nureyev, Ashley described the horse as an “unbelievable mover.”

Ashley Holzer working Nureyev after his arrival in Wellington from Europe. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Ashley Holzer working Nureyev after his arrival in Wellington from Europe. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Pop Art, Ashley Holzer's 2008 Olympic and 2010 World Games mount now 20 years old and in retirement, "baby" sitting Nureyev. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Pop Art, Ashley Holzer’s 2008 Olympic and 2010 World Games mount now 20 years old and in retirement, “baby” sitting Nureyev. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com