Meet the narcoleptic equine superstar who jumps fences as they blow down

  • Meet Millfield Baloney, the superstar speed merchant who thrives on work, pays no attention when freak hurricanes blow fences down beneath him – and drops off to sleep three or four times a day with no warning.

    Judith Whitham’s 16-year-old has been cutting a dash at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) with rider Adrian Speight, finishing second a hair’s breadth behind William Whitaker and Jalellah OL in tonight’s ranking class, the Grandstand Challenge Cup.

    The Balou Du Rouet gelding and Adrian have enjoyed great success, as 2021 British Showjumping national champions, and throughout the county circuit, and with wins in everything from grands prix to puissances.

    Louie, as he is known at home, is a powerful, blood type, fast, scopey and careful – and brave, as he proved when he jumped a fence as it blew down beneath him at the Great Yorkshire Show this summer. He also has narcolepsy, rare in horses, which means he falls asleep suddenly.

    Adrian told H&H this does not affect Louie at all; he is bandaged carefully and has good deep beds, and has no ill effects from the condition – although it gave Adrian a shock when he first saw it.

    “I panicked like hell!” Adrian said. “I was straight on the phone to [his former owner] and said he’d collapsed in the stable and she said ‘Oh, he does that’.

    “He does it so regularly, you almost don’t notice it any more, it’s an everyday thing.”

    Adrian said Louie’s dropping off is regular; he never does it during work but has his set times of the day for his extra naps.

    “We feed and muck out, ride him, put him back in and you can tell he’s going to do it; he’ll have a pee, take a big breath, then boof, he’s down. It’s like when people fall over in public; jump up quickly and look round to see if anyone’s noticed, with shavings all over his muzzle.”

    Louie lowered a couple of poles in yesterday’s Thistledown Cup, but was back on top form this evening.

    “He was a bit full of himself last night,” Adrian said. “He’s so fit, and he was strong tonight; I didn’t quite get the turn I wanted back to the second-last; I came round like a 50p piece, and took hold to the double so I was probably a bit slow there but it’s all split-second decisions.

    “He’s so blood, he’s like 10 men, and the more he jumps the better he gets, but then he gets more fit and the more he needs to do!”

    He added: “He’s got so much jump; he’s quick and the bigger the jumps the better. He was born to do this job.”

    Adrian Speight and Millfield Baloney will contest tonight’s HOYS grand prix, the JCB leading showjumper of the year.

    Read more about this superstar horse in H&H – coming soon!

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