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Neo at his first show being ridden by Todd Firenz

Neo's story began in April 2013 at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital, where he was one of four Lipizzans (two geldings and two stallions) who had been confiscated in a case of animal neglect and abuse. Dr. Nicole Eller, of Siete Leguas Veterinary Clinic, and her husband, Dr. Victor Medina, were evaluating the horses' condition on behalf of the State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation. The four horses were starving and had been severely neglected. The U's Veterinary Hospital was trying to save their lives. But something about Neo caught Victor's eye. Victor called Kate Phillips, owner of Mississippi View Farm.

     “I really think that you should take a look at this little stallion,” Victor said. “He’s really something!”  I had severe misgivings about taking in an unbroken eight-year-old stallion, but I reminded myself that intact rescued horses were gelded. The first step for most rescued horses was to geld them, but when Drew Fitzpatrick, head of the MNHARF, contacted Lisa Simmons at the USLF, Lisa told me that this horse had bloodlines that were under-represented in this rare breed, and so was worth evaluating as a breeding stallion. Therefore it would be worth the effort to find him a home as a stallion until he could evaluated. Frankly, as a breeder, I know that everyone thinks their stallion is special, and hoped that this was not more of the “keep every baroque horse a stallion” mentality that dominates the Andalusian and Friesian world.  However, Victor knew that we had worked with many stallions in the past, and would be able to handle him until the gelding decision was made.

Well, Victor arrived with this little white stallion,bugling his way in to my busy barn.  “Oh, crap!”, I thought. “I am stuck now.” One look at him,and I decided I just couldn’t turn this one away. He was the reincarnation of the white stallions that I first saw as a child when my beloved father took me to a surprise trip to see the Lipizzan stallions perform. So I called Todd Firenz, my barn manager who starts all my young horses, and left it up to him. His reply…”I will start him on Monday.” 

Todd began the process of teaching him how to be a civilized horse, and although Neo felt the need to (loudly) tell every one of his whereabouts on the farm, we found we had two key advantages. First, he was good-natured, trainable and enjoyed people. Second, he would do anything for food. In less than two weeks, he was lunging and line-driving, and by June we were on his back. We had reached a critical point, and knew we needed to see how he was going to handle going places or he would need to be gelded for the safety of ourselves and other competitors.

We decided to take him to a dressage show at Otter Creek Farm, a lovely, fairly quiet facility in Wheeler, WI, where we entered him in the introductory walk-trot tests. And true to Todd’s prediction, Neo was a real gentleman, safe in the warm-ups and in the ring, and received great scores and comments from the judges and other competitors. We were truly in love with this horse,and made arrangements for adoption.

Neo being shown in Iron River, WI by Kate Phillips

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Click here to see Neapolitano Wandosa II's full lineage