“He may bite you,” Liz Halliday-Sharp cautioned as I approached Cooley Quicksilver’s stall. Her warning proved true, as the handsome gray immediately tried to nibble on anything in my possession.
“He’s the weirdest critter. That’s for sure,” Halliday-Sharp said. Many of the world’s most notable brilliant horses come with their share of madness, and “Monster” is no exception.
The 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Womanizer—Kylemore Crystal, Creggan Diamond) has enjoyed a swift ascent to the upper ranks of the sport. After doing his first event as a 5-year-old, he went on to compete in the FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Eventing Championships (France) as a 6- and 7-year-old. By age 8, he was representing the United States as a traveling reserve at the Pan American Games (Peru) and in the FEI Nations Cup CCIO4*-L at Boekelo (the Netherlands).
We go behind the stall door (carefully) to learn more about Cooley Quicksilver.
• Monster was sourced by Richard Sheane, who gave him the “Cooley” prefix, in Ireland in 2016. “He was a very, very green 5-year-old. He didn’t even turn right,” Halliday-Sharp said.
After 10 days in training, Sheane told Halliday-Sharp: “You might want to ride this one yourself for a little while. Don’t put the staff on him just yet.”
• “Cheeky” is how Monster is most frequently described. “He’s called the Monster for a few reasons,” Halliday-Sharp said. “Not because he’s a horrible person, but because he’s weird and cheeky. He’s always been the one you’d find with his halter off in the trailer doing something random.
“He’s quite a happy person; he enjoys his life, but he’s just really naughty,” she continued. “If he wants to throw a big one with you on him, then it’s as big as any explosion I’ve ever experienced. He can persevere for 20 minutes doing all the things. He wouldn’t be for everybody, but I love him.”
• Bananas are his favorite treat. “He loves bananas; he will eat the skin. I usually peel it for him, but he’s been known to grab the whole thing and wolf it down if you haven’t kept an eye on him,” Halliday-Sharp said.
• He’s really flexible, like really flexible. “He loves to itch on himself; he can reach the top of his tail. Both directions,” Halliday-Sharp said.
They learned of his flexibility because he’s always looking for a good scratch.
“We’ve had him checked out and allergy tested and everything,” Halliday-Sharp said. “I think he actually just likes to do it because he never tries to do it when you’re on him. We take his bridle off and just leave him when I get off, and he’ll just have a scratch both sides all the way around just loose in the barn.”
• You have to be on your guard when hand walking.
“He will just randomly drop and roll when you’re holding him,” said Halliday-Sharp. “Not with the tack on, but if you’re just out grazing him, he’ll just drop down and have a roll. No warning.”
• Monster is the namesake for one of Halliday-Sharp’s ownership groups, The Monster Partnership. This group includes Chris and Rob Desino, Renee Lane, and her mother, Deborah Halliday. “They thought it was a good idea to call it The Monster Partnership, because he is a monster,” Halliday-Sharp said.
• Above all, Monster is always very proud of himself. “He thinks life is great. He thinks he’s great. And he’s desperately arrogant. Always has been,” Halliday-Sharp said.