The versatile coloured cob Curious George has made his owner’s dream come true as he’s set to attend this year’s Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in the maxi cob of the year final.
Curious George was bought by his owner Sam Winn from Ireland just prior to the COVID-19 lockdown. He was just a four-year-old and had received little handling up to this point.
“He cost me £1500 and he was to be my lockdown project,” Sam says. “He was home on the farm for about eight days until I was sitting on him in the bullpen.
“One day, a friend was hacking him on a cross-country course. She was curious as to what would happen if she trotted him to a log. The rest is history and it resulted in him doing four runs and making four top 10 finishes at BE 80. Not a bad result for a chunky little cob!”
Due to George’s ever-growing height, Sam made the decision to curtail the jumping and turned her attention to the show ring.
“I had bought him for low-key, local showing and I wanted to keep him sound and bump-free for as long as possible,” she explains. “In 2022, he exceeded every expectation I could have ever dreamed of when he qualified for the SEIB Search For A Star final, finishing eighth at HOYS. He also qualified for the RIHS. This was a complete shock; I am a total amateur and George was totally home-produced.
“Riding at HOYS last year was a first for me and what a set up and experience it was. I’d definitely caught the bug and I decided that I wanted to see just how good George could be this season in his seven-year-old year.
“I asked my trainer, James Munro, to run him as an open maxi cob in some HOYS qualifiers. At the Royal Highland in June, James and George won their ticket. As James came out the ring he said the ride was mine. I cried over and over; I couldn’t believe it.
“George has never been about money for me. He’s taught me so much. He’s stubborn, quirky and sharp, and he definitely is not a typical cob. He’s pushed every single button I have, and blood, sweat and tears have been lost over him, but I wouldn’t have him any other way.
“Many competitors chase this dream year in, year out, buy the HOYS-placed horse or spend thousands on trying to get a ticket. I spend what I can afford, put in time and lots of effort and in return I have a coveted return ticket to the final, something I am so grateful for.
“George is also the reason why I am on a mission to keep six stone of weight off. I initially lost it so I could ride my Clydesdale, Bulwark Bay, in the show ring after years of paying other people to ride my horses for me.
“I’ll have the biggest smile on my face riding around at HOYS with the creme de la creme of producers and top show riders.”
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