Years ago juniors didn’t have a separate horse for the jumpers, hunters and equitation—one mount could do it all. Though times have changed, the very aptly named Any Given Sunday is proving that one talented horse can find success in all three rings.
When Hunter Holloway’s equitation horse Lucky Strike suffered a muscle strain last year, her mother Brandie thought “Sunny” might be a good replacement. Just weeks after he last jumped a grand prix, he carried Hunter to sixth in the 2014 Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals (Pa.), and to second in both the Washington International Equitation Classic Final (D.C.) and the APSCA Maclay Final (Ky.) last fall.
And on Oct. 11, he and Hunter took second again in the Pessoa/USEF Medal Final (Pa.), just two weeks after a third place in the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Final—East (N.J.). In the meantime, he also was third in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Summer In The Rockies V (Colo.) in July, second in the $55,000 International of Omaha Grand Prix (Neb.) in April, and took various junior hunter championships and helped Hunter win the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship at Devon (Pa.).
The 12-year-old Oldenburg (Inductro—Victoria, Condor) was a grand prix horse for Brandie for four years before Hunter started getting a leg up on him last September.
He doesn’t have a specific groom, but working students Caleb Cooney and Caroline McCleese do help care for him.
Here’s what you need to know about Sunny:
- He knows how to make a first impression. The Holloways first met Sunny when he was an unbroke 3-year-old stallion in Argentina. Though they weren’t looking for a horse that young, they watched him free jump anyway.
“They put him in their free-jump chute, and he jumped the 3’6″ oxer, and he jumped it like it was five feet,’ ” Brandie explained. “He did that a couple of times and then they had this huge wall around the outside, and he just jumped the jump, then he cantered like three steps and jumped over the seven-foot fence and took off.
“That was our first introduction to Sunny, and I was like, ‘Well, we have to have this horse, but I don’t need a 3-year-old stallion.’ ” So, Sunny stayed in Argentina until he was 5, getting broke.”
- He’s not the biggest fan of dogs. When the Holloways first got him, he chased down Brandie’s mother’s German Shepherd. “We were going, ‘Oh my gosh, what did we get ourselves into? But he ended up being perfect,” Brandie said.
While he hasn’t chased any other dogs since then, the Holloways make sure to keep all canines out of his stall and his space.
Hunter Holloway and Any Given Sunday
- When he first came to the Holloways, Sunny was still a stallion. They kept him a stallion while Brandie showed him in the grand prix classes—only gelding him when Hunter started seriously showing him as an equitation horse. They collected him enough that they have several babies by him including one that was born earlier this year.
“What we really want to do is have enough [semen] for ourselves to continue the breeding. Even shipping a stallion to horse shows, we have to think about so much more. They need a stallion stall and just more management. When they’re geldings it’s simpler,” Brandie said.
- He always looks grumpy with his ears back, but the truth is it’s just an act. “He acts like he’s mean, but he’s actually really sweet,” Cooney said. “He likes attention. He’s mean to you, I think on purpose, so he can get attention. Another one of his quirks—his tongue. If you’re grooming him, and he’s mad, he’ll tell you by sticking out his tongue.”
- He never let’s his size affect him. Standing at 15.3 7/8 hands, Sunny isn’t the most obvious choice for the 5’11” tall Hunter, but the pair works together well.
He might be small, but Sunny is the big man in the barn. “He’s very over-confident,” Hunter said. “He has that attitude—he’s a little arrogant.”
“He’s very cocky; he doesn’t think there’s a thing he can’t do,” Brandie added. “He’d be the guy in school with 10 girlfriends—the quarterback of the football team. He knows he’s cool.”
At just shy of 16 hands, Any Given Sunday might not be the obvious choice for the tall Hunter Holloway, but they’re perfect for each other.
- He goes in a plain snaffle in all three rings. Brandie doesn’t believe in gimmicks such as draw reins or big bits, so they work to make sure that all of their horses can go nicely in snaffles.
- “I think most trainers would look at Hunter and say, ‘Well she needs a huge horse, and you need to go put [on] a pelham,” said Brandie. “When Hunter started doing equitation she went to the ring in a snaffle and they’re like ‘Where’s your pelham?’ I said, ‘Well he doesn’t need to go in a pelham.’ ‘But everybody else goes in a pelham,’ everyone tried to tell me.”
- He never requires any extra prep. He knows when it’s hunter or equitation day or if it’s a grand prix where he can be a bit more spirited. He never lunges and only occasionally goes for a hack in the ring—mainly to dot their I’s and cross their T’s, not because he needs it.
- If he spooks, it’s all just a game. He’s not afraid of anything. “It’s an excuse,” Hunter said. “It’s going to be scary for two seconds.”
“It’ll be a banner blowing—never a jump,” added Brandie. “When he’s in hunter mode or equitation mode nothing fazes him.
- He’s fiercely independent. “He’s funny, because he doesn’t really like other horses. He’s so independent—just that attitude. He knows he’s good. He kind of feels like other horses are a little bit beneath him,” Brandie said.
- You’ll never catch him with wraps on overnight—he’s not a fan. “He’ll take them off,” Hunter said. “It makes him mad. He’ll be kicking all night. He’s very opinionated in everything.”
- He gets a treat after every round. While he’s not picky about his goodies, he much prefers apples or carrots.