Meet this week’s Horse & Hound cover stars

  • Not every horse and rider that makes it onto the front cover of Horse & Hound has won Badminton or become world champion in their equestrian discipline.

    Katie Croft and her four-year-old son Keiron Berry were caught on camera by www.rfmequinephotos.com while out hunting with the Holderness in Yorkshire on Boxing Day.

    We found out a few facts about the 8 January cover stars and what it meant to be chosen to be on the front of Britain’s favourite weekly equestrian magazine.

    “OMG, we have made it onto the cover of H&H” was Katie’s initial Facebook status when she first received notification that H&H had changed its cover photo and realised it was her and her son in the picture.

    “It was such a surprise to see it,” she told H&H.

    “The picture had been posted on the Countryside Alliance Facebook page, I then shared it and I was then contacted for details of the photographer,” Katie continued. “I was told we might appear in the gallery in the magazine but to make it onto the cover is the ultimate dream come true.”

    “It’s lovely to see the comments people have made about the picture too, it makes me very proud of Bertie and Emmy [the horse and pony] and of course Keiron who is loving his riding and is so enthusiastic about hunting.”

    Emmy, the 16-year-old Exmoor pony being ridden by Keiron, was purchased after being seen advertised on a website.

    “I don’t expect there are many who have starred on the cover who have been bought from Preloved,” said Katie.

    The pony was in a field just a couple of miles from where Katie and her partner lived at the time in Kimblewick Hunt country. The vendors had purchased her as a companion pony to their Shetland ponies that had subsequently been sold, so Emmy was no longer needed.

    Four-year-old Keiron, was diagnosed with type one diabetes when he was just two-and-a-half-years-old and is continuously monitored and on medication. He started to learn to ride aged three and is now enjoying hunting on the lead rein.

    Emmy’s showing name is Sweetcombe Sun and she successfully competed in Mountain & Moorland classes at county show level with a previous owner.

    Katie’s horse Captain Commanche (Bertie) is a 13-year-old thoroughbred chestnut gelding that slipped a ligament off his pastern as a five-year-old. It was thought to be the end of his ridden career, however following a complete year off, Bertie came back into work and ran in six point-to-points as a seven-year-old.

    Katie — who has worked as a groom for various Masters of Foxhounds and had a summer working for showjumper Paul Barker — has been riding Bertie since he finished racing in the summer of 2009.

    They have successfully competed in Racehorse to Riding Horse Classes and in 2013 they qualified for the 2014 finals at Hickstead.

    Bertie refused to jump out hunting for many years. However Katie — who hunts regularly with the Holderness — said that has all changed this season and “he has become very brave and nothing gets in his way now”.

    Don’t miss this week’s special Best of British issue of Horse & Hound magazine, out now (8 January 2015)

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