IN his twenty years, Ladydown Amadeus, based with the Wilkins Family at Westergate, West Sussex, has attracted many a spectators’ eye with his presence not only when ridden but also when he shows off his repertoire of tricks in the stable including nodding, winking, yawning and bowing not to mention dancing and opening his mouth all on command.
Over the years he has made quite a name for himself with his poses in front of the camera, mainly side saddle with Caroline Wilkins, Belinda’s daughter.
Colin Barker produced an majestic picture in front of the HiorneTower in Arundel Park for his collection ‘Part of the Pack’ exhibited at Petworth House. Local photographer Louise Harber has taken some very artistic photos on Climping beach, one of which was used for the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray Hunt calendar.
Last year they modelled for Benedict Luxmoore for a book he is working on entitled ‘Equestrian Attire’ . For this shoot Ladydown Amadeus showed off his tricks which Benedict captured. Belinda hacks him all over the South Downs and there is nothing he likes more than standing to be admired by walkers and many ask to take photos.
His next date is with local artist equine artist Trisha whose eye he caught on a recent hack with Belinda on Little Down near Slindon.
So when asked if he could perform loose in front of a film camera for an ITV film production for the Queens 90th Birthday at Windsor it was not a problem.
Lydia Cunningham, Production Director at Screen Light Design also wanted a rear; but for obvious reasons it was not in not in his repertoire. For such a special occasion Belinda Wilkins, who has trained Amadeus over the last ten years, felt it was worth attempting.
She had only a week to get this highly intelligent Trakehner, son of Lloyds Black Horse Beatos, to be able to rear on command. Looking at YouTube she tried various recommended methods and met a complete blank.
Amadeus had no idea what he was meant to do and stood puzzled at the various hand movements wondering if he should bow, yawn or open his mouth…
Three days had passed and she decided on a more risky idea. On a wild afternoon she put on her safety helmet and led him into the field and made use of his natural behaviour and praised his ‘wild excited horse rear ’ much to his surprise, he was more used to a strong reprimand…
Then encouraged to do it again, he immediately understood as to what was required. On day five he had perfected it in the field and then in the evening he performed in the arena.
All was going to plan until final practice on day six. The day was so wild with winds he became uncontrollable and was not able to perform the simplest of commands. A total disaster.
Luckily the evening of the filming was calm cold and crispy. With his winter coat gleaming, and Amadeus very bright eyed was at least in a suitable mood to perform. The two spotlights were set up and after a few takes of him trotting and bowing the moment came for the rear. Amadeus performed to perfection and the footage was captured, further enhancing his already fine reputation.
Also filmed at Boxgrove were Smart Rebel Girl, a talented palomino mare with her rider Phil Armitage, performing western movements and Soul Sister, an elegant Westfalian mare ridden by Louis Brown, performing dressage movements. Like Ladydown Amadeus they looked stunning in the spotlights and all will be seen later this year in a special ITV Film.