Throughout the last several years, Hunter Holloway has quickly become a household name within the class of America’s top junior equitation riders. A young talent who began her career at 18 months old in the leadline divisions has risen through the ranks, becoming a heavy weight competitor at some of the worlds most prestigious events, accumulating awards in the hunter, jumper, and equitation rings.

At just 12 years old, Hunter became the youngest rider to win a national grand prix, and at 14, she became the youngest to represent the United States on the FEI Junior Young Riders Nations Cup Team in Hagen, Germany in 2014.

But when Hunter entered the ring for the first round in the 2016 ASPCA Maclay Final on November 5, her last equitation final, heads turned for a host of reasons. This was in large part because of Hunter’s proven skill but also because she was competing on a new mount. Her veteran partner, the 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding Any Given Sunday, had been replaced by a grey called C’est La Vie.

So who is this talented gelding? And how did the last minute switch to compete with him enable Hunter to capture one of equitation’s most sought after titles?

Read on to learn the 10 Things You Need to Know About Hunter Holloway’s C’est La Vie:

  1. C’est La Vie is called “Vie” in the barn.
  2. Hunter actually has a long history with the horse, although it wasn’t until very recently that she really got to know him. “We actually imported him from Europe as a 5-year-old and sold him almost immediately when he arrived in the States. He went to a girl who ended up riding with us for a couple of years. And then she moved to Florida two or three years ago, so we hadn’t seen him since then.”
  3. While in Florida, Vie competed in the children’s hunter divisions with a young rider. Hunter was unaware of Vie’s career until she looked up his USEF record upon his return home.
  4. Vie came back to Hunter as a second equitation mount. “Over this past summer, he came up for sale and we knew about that and the owners called us. We ended up getting him as a back-up horse for the equitation just in case something did happen.”
  5. Vie was also Hunter’s mount for this year’s USET Finals East in Gladstone, NJ. “We ended up getting him back the week before USET Finals and I showed him there. Then I took Sunny (Any Given Sunday) to Pessoa Final and Washington Equitation Final. Sunny came to Kentucky and had a temperature. We wanted to be careful and not risk anything. So Vie stepped right up and performed for me.”
  6. According to Hunter, Vie is such an easy-going horse that he could do classes ranging from cross rails to the 3’6. “He loves to take care of everyone.”
  7. Vie has a total goofball personality, said Hunter. However, he is the ultimate sweetheart and always aims to please.
  8. Vie is often referred to as the “surfer dude” of the barn because he is so “chill.”
  9. Vie loves carrots. “He has probably had 30 of them today alone!”
  10. Despite being a gray, Vie likes to keep himself fairly clean. “He definitely isn’t as bad as some of my jumpers. He’ll get himself dirty sometimes, but at least he isn’t as bad as they are.”