A brilliant young horse producer, she is a rider that will always have multiple top-class prospects, carefully introducing them to the sport and then taking them right up through the ranks.
With this in mind, we asked her to tell us a bit more about how she goes about spotting and producing her next generation of equestrian talent.
What are the key things you look for when sourcing a young horse?
For me, a horse needs to be naturally uphill, proportioned, light on their feet and naturally athletic. Being forward thinking and intelligent are very important qualities. Good conformation and good feet are key for longevity as a top-level event horse. A bright, kind eye always gets my attention.
Do you have a particular type?
Not exactly. I love finding the key to a horse and working out how to get the best out of them as individuals.
What would you say are the attributes that a modern-day event horse needs to have? And how easy are these to spot with 3/4YOs?
Temperament counts for so much. Even if the horse is very green you can get a good feel when sitting on them if they are at least trying to work out what you are asking and learn from their mistakes. If you are just watching a horse loose jump, I would pay close attention to their outlook and attitude even more so than them just jumping a big fence.
How would you look to produce a top young horse?
The most important thing for any horse is for them to enjoy their work and develop a partnership. Horses all develop at different stages and it is important not to push a young horse if it is physically too week. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with other horses of the same age, do what your horse is physically and mentally able to cope with. I love doing lots of short hacking on different surfaces and terrain for them to work out their own balance and confidence.
Monbeg Odyssey, who I won the 4YO National Championships on back in 2016, was exceptionally mature and found it very easy so it never felt like I was rushing him. Whereas I’ve had young horses who might only do a couple of events at the end of their 5YO year. Lots of little breaks during the season are really important, and it’s amazing what a couple of months turned away over the winter can do to allow them to grow and mature.
Can you give us the story of past superstars Cooley Earl and Cooley Business Time?
We bought CBT as a rising 6YO for family friends, John and Jenny Newton, as a surprise birthday present from John to Jenny. We all adored him, and we were a perfect match from the start really. Every question I ask him he responded with so much enthusiasm, and every level he stepped up he just got better and better. He was so sensitive though and had the biggest ego I’ve ever known. Sadly, he was injured after completing our first 5* at Burghley. He taught me so much and I will always dream of what we could have achieved.
Earl was very different physically and mentally as a youngster. He didn’t compete at all until he was 6. He was the most gentle kind horse you could imagine. He needed time to establish at each level because he would clear every jump by another 2ft, and his owner Diana Morrish and myself were careful not to push him too far, too soon. But we always had huge belief in him, and patience in the early days paid off, as he ended up completing his first 5* at the end of his 10yo year and Badminton aged 11.
And finally, tell us a bit about your current rising star Red Hot Cooley
Finn was bought from Ireland as a just backed 4yo. He was incredibly eye catching, being bright chestnut, extremely athletic, with stunning loose paces. He is sharp and sensitive but hates getting anything wrong and learns very quickly. It has taken a while for him to physically develop, he struggled with his balance while still growing so again we haven’t rushed him and now he’s in his 9th year everything is starting to click and his confidence has hugely increased.
With eventing poised to restart, it will be interesting to see how the next generation of young horses develops over the coming years, but it looks certain that Georgie will continue to have breadth and depth in her string.