It was love at first sight for Georgie Strang and her Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials ride Cooley Earl.
Geogie has produced Cooley Earl since he was a five-year-old and the pair completed their first four-star as a combination at Pau in October 2017, where they finished 20th.
Georgie, who recently moved to Mark Todd’s Wiltshire base, remembers going to try Cooley Earl for the first time at Richard Sheane’s Cooley Farm.
“I went on my own the first time I went to see him and really loved him,” says Georgie.
“I called Diana Morrish, who now owns him, and asked if she would come and see him.
“I had to warn her that he is a big horse — he isn’t your stereotypical event horse, especially for me — he is quite large (16.3hh) and I would normally go for the smaller, more blood type. But there was just something about him.
“When I sat on him I instantly just fell in love with him. We said at the start that he wasn’t going to go and be a world beater tomorrow, we knew he would take a bit of time.”
Georgie has had a number of horses from Cooley Farm, including the Cooley Business Time, with whom she completed Burghley in 2015, and rising star Red Hot Cooley.
“Richard knows what I like and he is always incredibly honest, I really trust his opinion,” she adds.
Georgie and Cooley Earl have enjoyed success on the national circuit, with wins at open intermediates and top-three placings at advanced, and have also shown form in international classes.
They have a host of placings at two-star level and eight cross-country clears at three-star.
“I don’t necessarily have one stand-out moment, the whole journey with him has been the most exciting thing,” says Georgie.
“Having produced him from such a young horse, he is always been an incredible jumper and has the kindest nature, whatever you ask of him he tries his hardest.
“He is so laid back you can put anyone on him, you wouldn’t look twice at him hacking down the road as he is usually miles behind the others he walks so slowly — then you pick up the reins and you realise the power and athleticism he has.”
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Georgie adds if she has to choose one competitive highlight, it would be their performance at Pau.
“I had the most amazing ride across country on him, I was third to go so didn’t know the problems the course would cause [for other competitors] and he really stepped up,” she says.
“It was amazingly exciting to get the call to say I had been accepted into Badminton — at the time it did still feel like a long way away, there was still so much preparation to be done, I stuck to my plan and put it to the back of my mind.
“Having been to Badminton for years and years as a kid, finally being there is going to be quite surreal — I’m really looking forward to the whole experience.”
This week’s magazine (26 April), features a full Badminton preview, including a cross-country course walk with Mary King and full form guide for every horse and rider
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