Event rider Georgie Goss (née Spence) has paid tribute to the “very special” Halltown Harley as her globetrotting five-star campaigner steps back from international competition aged 17.
The Irish Sport Horse gelding completed Badminton on two occasions, enjoyed four-star wins and scored top results across multiple countries and three continents during his career.
The eye-catching chestnut, affectionately known as Barbie, gave Georgie her first four-star victories – scooping the CCI4*-S at the Austrian leg of the FEI Nations Cup series in Weiner Neustadt in 2017, and Millstreet CCI4*-L the following year.
Harley came into Georgie’s life through the support of owner Suzanne Doggett, and the team travelled the world together. Suzanne initially came on board as a co-owner of Georgie’s five-star ride Wii Limbo, who after a lifetime of being sound, went lame. Suzanne said she would invest in another horse and around four months later, they found Harley.
“He has been an amazing horse,” George told H&H. “He has been one of those horses who has always given his all. He would have jumped anything for me. I was really lucky to have him.”
The pair finished second by 0.1 of a penalty in the CCI4*-S Nations Cup at Great Meadow in the US, before going one better at Millstreet the following month. In 2019, they travelled to Tokyo for the Olympic test event, finishing fourth on their dressage score. They were also part of the winning home side at the British Nations Cup leg at Houghton Hall in 2021.
“How amazing it was that his owner, who didn’t know me, invested in him – and how lucky we were to travel all over the world with him,” she said.
Georgie, who switched nationalities to ride for Ireland this year, added that while it is sad not to have him at that top level, it would have been too much to try to get him to five-star this year.
“He deserves to have an easy few years now just chilling out and finding everything very fun. It was a tough decision, but I definitely feel that it has been the right one,” said Georgie, adding they have had “great feedback” following the announcement.
For Harley to retire fit and well is a happy outcome, particularly as 18 months ago he overcame a life-threatening illness, which involved round-the-clock care with Georgie feeding him every two hours through the night.
“He is such a special horse to me,” said Georgie. “We are going to look for a younger rider to just do some BE100s and novices on. He will remain at the yard with us, so that he is in my care, purely as he is a very spoilt boy to me. He’ll be at home with Wii Limbo, my other retired boy, who my sister does a little bit of dressage with.
“We’ve had so much fun over the past seven years and I’m forever grateful to Suzanne for the opportunities she has given me, via Harley.”
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