THE STORY OF ACHIL
Achil is the gentle giant of the yard and very popular with all our members both young and old.
Sally bought Achil unseen from Bulgaria when he was heading to the UK as part of a “job lot” for a friend of Sally’s. On arrival, he was isolated off site and had a strangles test and having insisted she wasn’t buying him if he was over 17.2h.h. and having been assured he wasn’t, Sally was surprised to find an 18.1h.h giant in the field when she went to meet him for the first time. 😊
He was 12 years old at the time and when we rode him, he was really well schooled and very polite both on the flat and jumping. Being so big, he was quite weak behind – he has such a long back that it’s difficult for him to really engage his back end and build up muscle, so we have always been careful with the type of work he does and the surfaces he works on.
Achil does a variety of lesson standards from Novice to Advanced and is also responsible for doing a lot of the career pathway training and assessments. The other thing that Achil is well known for (as well as being a giant) is having a million-dollar smile 😊 When we bought Achil, he had an MOT (teeth checked e.t.c.) and it was immediately picked up that he had a problematic shaped mouth and had also not had the best dental care in his younger years. This resulted in Achil having quite a bit of decay and requiring his teeth to be rasped more regularly than your standard horse. His teeth were managed in this way for 2 years and then one day when he came into one of Sally’s lessons, he had a tiny bit of blood coming from one nostril, along with a little bit of pus. Luckily it appeared just as he came into a lesson as it would have been easy to miss it in the stable and Achil was still eating normally and accepting his bridle/going well. We got the vet out immediately and discovered that one of his molars had fractured, explaining the tiny bit of blood so he was booked in to go to the vet hospital and have a general anaesthetic to have the broken tooth removed. A general anaesthetic is not a risk-free process for horses as they don’t deal particularly well with them due to their size and anatomy and a flight animal coming round from an anaesthetic provides a lot of risk so we did consider whether it was the best thing for Achil, but he was such a lovely chap we decided it was best to give him the op.
Achil did really well with it and returned to work fairly quickly but has struggled with his teeth ever since – he has had another extraction (not under general) and fillings. He’s also had a sinus infection due to his broken tooth and an infection in the suture lines of his skull which related to the sinus infection. His infections were a long road, and we will always be hugely grateful to the vets at Ardene (particularly Alice) for going the extra mile for our giant resident. Achil’s teeth have cost somewhere in the region of £18000 to date – much higher than your average dental work, but that’s over several years and with a horse that has had several complications and had really poor teeth at the start. To us he’s worth it though – he is such a lovely guy and has so much to teach people, but he is an indicator of just quite how expensive horses can get as they are very good at getting sick! It’s also important to remember that horses are so incredibly generous, Achil had never objected to having his bridle put on or being ridden and his mouth must have been sore, so regular dental checks are absolutely vital!