The USEA is saddened to share the news of the passing of Northern Spy (All Fair x Lavender Fair VII), Heidi White’s English Thoroughbred gelding, at the age of 27. Together, White and “Farley” competed successfully at the highest levels of the sport for many years and represented the United States on the world stage.
"A legend! Nine five-stars, World Championships, and an endless list of such successful competitions," White reflected. "A career I could have only dreamed of if not for him. He was a fierce competitor and all that watched him knew he loved what he did. Without a doubt, he made me who I am today, in so so many ways, and for that, I’m so grateful!"
Northern Spy was imported to the United States from England as a 4-year-old in 1997 and began his eventing career in the States with Margaret Bishop. Bishop and Northern Spy collected several top finishes at the Preliminary and Intermediate level in 1998 and 1999 before the ride passed to Mara DePuy in 2000.
White and Northern Spy’s partnership began in the winter of 2001 with three consecutive top-five finishes at the Preliminary level followed by a second-place finish in the long format one-star at the Virginia Horse Trials. Following several top-three finishes at the Intermediate level that fall, they won the long format two-star at the Camino Real Three-Day Event.
In 2002, Northern Spy ran his first Advanced level horse trials and continued to bring home top finishes at events like Fair Hill and Morven Park. In the fall of 2002, Northern Spy was third in his first long format three-star at Fair Hill International.
At the age of 10 in 2003, Northern Spy made his first trip to the Kentucky Three-Day Event, finishing in 24th place. That fall, they were third in the Advanced Championship at Over The Walls Horse Trials and traveled to England to contest the Burghley Horse Trials CCI4* (now CCI5*-L) for the first time, finishing in 44th place.
In 2004, the Kentucky Three-Day Event was modified to the short format, omitting roads and tracks and steeplechase for the first time. That year, Northern Spy placed eighth. White and Northern Spy returned to England in the fall to run at Burghley once again, and this time placed 23rd.
Northern Spy went back to England again in 2005, this time to run at Badminton, where they were 10th. From there they went to compete at the FEI Eventing World Cup Finals in Sweden where they also finished in the top 10.
After top finishes in the CIC3*s (now CCI4*-S) at Red Hills International and The Fork in the spring of 2006, White and Northern Spy made their third trip to Kentucky, finishing as the reserve champions and the top-ranked American pair. They were subsequently named to the U.S. Team for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, where they finished 27th individually and contributed to the U.S. Team’s fourth-place finish.
2007 marked Northern Spy’s fourth trip to Kentucky for the CCI4* - this time he finished in fourth place. The following spring, White and Northern Spy won the CIC3*-W FEI World Cup and Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series event at The Fork. They were selected to represent the U.S. at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong, but withdrew before the start of the competition due to an injury sustained during a gallop prior to the event.
Northern Spy returned to the three-star level one last time in 2010, placing 26th at The Fork. After his retirement from the upper levels, Northern Spy ran around at the lower levels for another six years with several different riders before his retirement from competition in 2016 at the age of 23.
Northern Spy had an impressive 18-year eventing career, completing 97 USEA recognized events including 21 FEI competitions and bringing home 11 wins and 56 top-five finishes. Of those 18 years, half were spent competing at the highest levels of the sport and included trips to Kentucky, Burghley, Badminton, and the FEI World Equestrian Games. Northern Spy is the 18th-ranked horse on the USEA Historical High Score Leaderboard with a total of 902 points.
"Northern Spy touched people around the world in so many different ways for many different reasons," White said. "His kindness and love affected everyone that had the privilege and honor to have met him, asking for nothing in return (well, maybe a cookie or two!) He was a best friend in my life and we had 22 amazing years together. For that friendship and joy, I will never forget him. WE LOVE YOU FARLEY!"
The USEA sends our deepest condolences to White and all of Farley’s connections and fans.
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