He was crowned champion working hunter for the second time at Royal Windsor last year, and he is vying to defend his title in 2015. H&H finds out more about the prolific Harley Foxtrot
A quirky favourite drink, an intolerance of closed stable doors and a passion for hunting — there is much more to working hunter supremo Harley Foxtrot than meets the eye.
Guest editor Jayne Ross asked for Harley to be stripped bare in this week’s H&H (19 March) to find out what makes him so successful. Turn to page 36 of the magazine to see the results.
Meanwhile, here are some of our favourite little-known facts about the horse who won 12 times last year, including his second Royal Windsor Horse Show title.
1 Rider Libby Cooke first spotted Harley in Ireland when he was four and owned by John O’Brien.
“I saw Harley in the stables at Millstreet Show — he had dug a hole inside his door because he was angry about it being closed. I liked Harley there and then but John wouldn’t sell. I finally got him the following September.”
2 The 12-year-old gelding hates his stable door being closed. It makes him very cross and the only way to prevent his persistent banging is having a chain across the doorway instead.
3 Ann Redmond bred Harley, and he is by the stallion Ricardo Z. Harley is now owned by David Reid-Scott.
4 Libby says she knew immediately that 16.2hh Harley had something special.
However, she believes that Irish horses take until they are seven or eight to come into themselves, and so she produced him slowly.
“He did well as a five-year-old in novice classes, but I don’t like to put too much pressure on young horses so I gave him plenty of time.”
5 Libby believes that hunting regularly with the North Cotswold is what makes Harley so good, and all of her show horses do it.
“Hunting is a great education. It teaches horses balance and how to cope if something doesn’t go to plan. They learn self-preservation and it exposes them to new situations. Horses become confident and brave,” explains Libby.
6 Royal Windsor and Devon County Show are two of Harley’s favourite places to compete, but he is not so keen on Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).
“HOYS is a very different show to the norm and it’s not your typical worker track — he gets a little nervous,” says Libby. “Harley is better outside, although has won indoors before.”
7 Harley loves apple-flavoured Lucozade and he will drink it straight from the bottle.
8 Two things make Harley happy — attention from people and food.
“If the lorry goes out without him he gets very upset,” says Libby.
9 Although very good now, the gallop hasn’t always been one of Harley’s strengths.
“He’s got better at it over time, largely due to hunting. Now he really lowers his head, lengthens and gradually strengthens out. He will go until you say stop,” adds Libby.
H&H guest editor Jayne Ross will be online on Friday 20 March answering your questions about showing and discussing the features she has commissioned between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. Sign up for a reminder at www.horseandhound.co.uk/jayne-ross-web-chat or send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.