Monkeying Around: ‘He was meant to be a project to be sold, but I forgot the selling bit’ *H&H Plus*

  • This up-and-coming star won last year’s CCI4*-L at Burnham Market and is aimed at his first five-star at Luhmühlen next month. Pippa Roome speaks to his connections

    Need to know

    Age: 10
    Breeding: Bertoli W x Donnerhall
    Rider: Izzy Taylor
    Owner: Mark Sartori and rider
    Greatest achievements: first six-year-old World Championships at Le Lion d’Angers 2017; first Floors Castle CCI3*-S 2018; eighth British seven-year-old championships at Osberton 2018; sixth Burgham CCI4*-S 2019; third Burgham CCI4*-S 2020; first Burnham Market CCI4*-L 2020; third Burnham Market CCI4*-S 2021; second Aston-le-Walls CCI4*-S 2021 (class names updated to current format).


    “MONKEYING AROUND – known as ‘Bert’ originally but usually called ‘Monkey’ – came to me as a four-year-old from the dressage yard Woodcroft Stud to be sold. I trotted him over a pole and he was phenomenal, so I said I’d buy him – he was meant to be a project to be sold, but I forgot the selling bit.

    “He goes against all my rules. He’s foreign and I like blood horses, but he’s an athlete – he can put himself in positions with no effort.

    “He was quite naughty as a young horse, but not in a nasty way. I hunted him as a five- and six-year-old – I was fearful he’d be slow and useless and also his brain needed something to do.

    “I’d clear the collecting ring at his first few events with him lurching about, bucking and being a fool. But everything was easy for him – he won several novices and the six-year-old World Championships.

    “As an eight-year-old he had a bit of a blip across country. He figured out there was the option to go round things and had to be told it was better to go over them. This was the first time he’d had to try. A lot of it was confidence – he’d upgraded quickly and is a careful horse.

    “I love the horse, but somewhere along the line I fell out of love with him, so I had to get back to enjoying him rather than thinking there was a lot of pressure on him, which there wasn’t, except in my head. Also, because he’s eye-catching and because he could be an idiot in the warm-up, people knew him, so if he made a mistake it was noticed.

    “After that teenage phase, he came back good. He’s happy and he’s stronger every year. He’s grown up now and wants to do it right.”


    “MONKEY is very sweet and happy. The older he gets, the more comfortable he is in his own skin and he’s becoming more affectionate. He’s very polite and a pleasure to do.

    “It took us a while to find a stable he liked, but he’s now next to the tack room. He has two windows and because he has his head out and his ears forward, you can’t help giving him a fuss or a treat as you pass.

    “One thing he’s notorious for is giving you a nip every time you put a rug on. You can never tell him off as he always has his ears pricked and if he actually makes contact he’s immediately sorry.

    “I travel to all the events and he’s easier at stay-away, international events – he puts his competition hat on and knuckles down for the week. At one-day events, he finds it all very easy, treats it as a bit of a game and can be quite exuberant and cheeky.”


    “I’VE judged Monkeying Around three times at four-star and he’s a lovely, elegant horse – striking to look at with his four knee-high socks and central white stripe.

    “He has three naturally good paces, which he is able to show off with expression and elasticity. The picture is correct with good use of the neck, the poll at the highest point, swing through the back and an acceptance of the aids. This pair show clear and easy transitions within the paces due to the engagement coming through to an even contact, resulting in the self-carriage expected at advanced levels.

    “The horse is fortunate to be well trained by Izzy who is bred for the job, coming from a long line of good horsemen and women. She sits correctly so is in balance and the horses go for her. Every corner is used well to set up the next movement, with correct positioning of the shoulders and suppleness round her inside leg in the lateral work, which in turn gives her the ability to make the horse straight.

    “Monkeying Around appears to be developing rideability as he matures, largely due to the confidence he has in his very capable rider.”

    You can also read this feature in the 20 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine.

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