We had an awesome interview with model and riding celeb Matt Harnacke!
We spoke to the wonderful Matt Harnacke, all about his super-star life. He’s super-popular on social media and has interviewed some big horsey names, too! We had so much to talk to him about, that we have some extra content we want to share!
Do you have any memorable ponies from your riding school days?
Well, I was always so tall that I kind of skipped the pony stage and went straight onto horses! I do remember this one pony though who would always buck when you asked him to canter.
What’s your most embarrassing moment with horses?
To be honest, it’s quite difficult for me to get super-embarrassed around horses because we all know these things happen! It’s so boring, but I don’t really have anything super-embarrassing! Even if things don’t go your way at a show, I feel like we’re all in the same ship so how can I be embarrassed about something that happens to everyone? Plus, I’ve only fallen off three times throughout my riding career so far, and I’ve always fallen on my feet! I’ve been very lucky!
What traits do you look for when you’re buying a horse?
I’m not super-score driven as what makes me really happy is developing a good partnership with my horse. So, the main thing I look for is that we have good compatibility from the offset. I look for a horse I can connect with and who has a great character, too. Equally, I love to step back and just admire my horses! So they need to have that presence about them that takes your breath away, too.
What’s your top riding goal right now?
My main aim is always to make sure my horses are happy and healthy, but of course I want to progress, so I have regular lessons and I’m training my horses higher and higher. My main long-term goal is to one day take Emporio to Grand Prix level. He’s almost six now and is already showing a lot of talent so I’m excited to take that journey with him.
Do you have any good luck charms that you bring with you to a comp?
I don’t think I have that as such, but I am the kind of person who needs everything to be perfect if I’m competing. My tack and the horse needs to be super-clean, everything needs to be fresh and washed, and the plaits have to be sewn in rather than using rubber bands. That way, when I’m on, I know nothing could’ve been done better and my next job’s to ride the best I can. It would completely throw me off if everything wasn’t done 100% perfectly!
Would you ever consider moving from the Netherlands?
Never say never, but it’s not that fun moving countries because you need to learn new languages, find friends there and all the admin is horrendous! You’ve got to have a really good motive to move and if I had that then yes, but I’m really happy here for now and its great horse country as well. Plus, moving horses abroad is very stressful!
What opportunities have come your way because of social media?
My whole life! Everything down to how I get to live my life, I was able to buy a house etc. and that was all because of my success on social media. I’ve travelled the world with Longines, it’s helped me a lot with my modelling and I’ve had insane opportunities to meet incredible riders. Everything I’ve got to do comes down to me being about to bring people with me and that’s been a huge privilege. It’s something I couldn’t have done if I didn’t have the following.
What’s your fave social platform?
I like a combination of YouTube and Insta but it’s also very different to be a creator on both platforms. I try not to go too scheduled with my social media because I like to keep it authentic and, where I haven’t been able to travel so much recently, I haven’t been putting out as much YouTube content as I normally would. There’s days when I’m really into a new video idea, but equally if I do an amazing shoot I can’t wait to share the pics on Instagram. So it really just depends on what things are looking like in my life.
When you did some reporting for the FEI, who did you most enjoy interviewing?
I interviewed a lot of showjumpers which was really fun because it was outside of my realm, so I learned a lot. I was a bit nervous at first, but I got to learn alongside the viewers which was cool. People like Harrie Smolders I really enjoyed talking to, but I think it’s always fun talking to people who are really passionate and hardworking at the top of their game.
Do the other models know about your horsey life?
Obviously, it’s all over my social media so I think they know, but I started modelling before I became big on social so that’s how they know me. I started at 17-years-old modelling full time so that really came first and they remember me from those times, and they don’t associate me with the horses that much.
Do any of the other models have a separate life too?
Yeah, some do. It’s really difficult to just be a model as you need to have other interests on the side, too. A lot of them have other ventures on Instagram etc. There’s usually another side to everyone.
If you had to choose, which would you pick – modelling or riding?
Riding! I already chose it. I was full-time modelling before, and I couldn’t sustain it. I was travelling all the time from job to job and I used to work nine months of the year away from home – it just wasn’t the lifestyle I’d envisioned for myself. I had to make a change and I’m very glad that it all worked out.
To get to know more about Matt’s horses, especially his super-adorable miniature horse, Bear, check out the May issue of PONY mag!