Legendary show horse retires to the hunting field after HOYS triumph

  • A legendary intermediate and small hunter campaigner has bowed out at the very top after winning the small show hunter of the year title at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) 2021.

    The Cookson family’s multi-garlanded home-produced Louvaine Rooney trounced a high-class field of 21 to give a tearful Megan Cookson her first small hunter win at HOYS at her first attempt. It also marked her last show ring appearance with the family’s beloved 15-year-old, who has been with them for nine years, taking Megan up from pony to horse ranks.

    “Our winner went forward sweetly and without question,” said ride judge Wendy Gibson. “I could just imagine sitting on him all day out hunting.”

    Rooney’s 2021 campaign has been very limited. He came out at the beginning of the season to qualify for the Royal International (RIHS) amateur smalls at North of England Spring, and collected his HOYS ticket at North of England Summer show.

    “We haven’t pushed him this season — he has nothing to prove — and he’s been happy in the field for most of the year,” said Megan, a full-time pharmacist whose last HOYS win came in 2004 in first riddens. “This is our first season competing in the HOYS smalls, and it was fantastic competition out there today; I am completely overwhelmed.

    “Rooney will now chill in the field and go hunting with my dad.”

    During his nine-year career with the family, Rooney has racked up a string of impressive results, including four £1,000 North of England intermediate supremes and two consecutive wins in the amateur smalls at Hickstead.

    It was a close-run thing, though, as Edward Young’s ride, Lauren Mollard’s super-typey nine-year-old chestnut Be Smart, repeated his 2019 result to stand second. “Super-typey and a beautiful ride,” was Wendy’s verdict.

    An even younger horse was third. This was Ellie Just’s highly rated six-year-old Wall Street, in the ever-capable hands of Jayne Ross.

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