The 2022 MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill was bitter sweet for competitor Hannah Sue Hollberg. The event marked her longtime partner Harbour Pilot’s last five-star run. After 12 years together, Hollberg made the decision to retire the then 19-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding in good health.
“It’s special to be able to take care of him his whole career and do the right thing for him,” Hollberg said at the time. At their last event together, the pair finished 10th.
This year, though, Hollberg returned to Maryland with a new CCI5* mount, Capitol H I M. She and the 16-year-old Holsteiner gelding finished fourth and were the highest placed Americans at the 2023 event.
A New Five-Star Mount
Capitol H I M made the move up to CCI5* for the first time at the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day event in April. But Hollberg had an unfortunate spill off of “Cheeto” that resulted in their elimination. “I made it almost all the way around, then I fell off stupidly at the very end.”
The duo redeemed themselves at Maryland, though. They cruised around cross country and moved up the rankings from ninth to sixth place ahead of show jumping. Capital H I M gave it his all. “He was just amazing. Every time I’d slow down and have to speed up again, I was like, ‘Oh no, is he going to be a little tired?’ And he was just digging in so hard.”
In comparison to Harbour Pilot, Hollberg remarked that Capitol H I M is “ready to go all the time. Cheeto listens a lot better on cross country than [Harbour Pilot] ever has.”
Hollberg and Capitol H I M went on to go double clear in show jumping. “He jumped better than he’s ever jumped in his life today. Just amazing. He was fresh as a daisy, perfectly even, and just felt like he hadn’t run at all.”
Get to Know H I M
Behind the stall door, Hollberg said that Capitol H I M is a “very stable horse. He knows who he is and he’s very confident in himself. He’s a total gentleman, just a perfect horse.”
As for their training at home, Hollberg admitted that he’s “a little bit harder to train” than Harbour Pilot. “He gets kind of hot as he goes rather than settling into the work, like a Warmblood would.”
Hollberg works to figure out how to get the best out of Capitol H I M on a day to day basis. “He tries really hard, he just kind of will be like, ‘This is not really what I want to do today,’ and get a little wound up. And I’m like, I just gotta keep going.”
But even with a hotter temperament, “He’s a real athletic horse. He tries really hard, loves to win, but he’s never rude or impolite. A little toddler could lead him around if they wanted to.”
After Kentucky in 2022, Hollberg’s vet had a look at Capitol H I M and diagnosed him with Cushing’s disease. “Once we figured that out, and he got on the medication he needed, it just has completely changed his life, and he’s become the horse that we always knew he was.”
But the medication that Capitol H I M was on for Cushing’s isn’t allowed in FEI competition, so Hollberg ran him in National events in the meantime. “It’s just helped his metabolism a lot and given him a whole new gear. I was able to do the conditioning and stuff without breaking him down, basically.”
She continued, “I was just really careful with him, but then all of a sudden he’s like a whole new man.”
Harbour Pilot’s New Job
Following his retirement from top-level eventing, Harbour Pilot took some time off at Jacqueline Mars’ farm. “I think [Harbour Pilot] is just going to hang out with me. He can go retire at Miss Mars’ beautiful farm in Virginia, but I’m not ready for that yet. He’s going to hang out with me a little while,” Hollberg shared last year.
As “mostly Thoroughbred,” Hollberg anticipated that Harbour Pilot would still want a job. Now, “William” serves as Mars’ daughter, Christa Schmidt’s, dressage mount. “He loves her. And he doesn’t love that many people. He’s very particular. And it’s just so sweet that he loves her and she loves him.” Hollberg continued, “He gets to keep doing something, which is great. He’s super happy.”
Thanks to ADM Animal Nutrition for our coverage of the 2023 Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more!