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Laura Collett on the ‘fairytale’ pony who launched her career

H&H’s magazine editor Pippa Roome caught up with top British eventer Laura Collett on episode 11 of The Horse & Hound Podcast to share memories of some of her most special ponies and horses of her career so far, including her superstar event pony Noble Springbok (pictured), the recent return of Laura’s favourite Mr Bass, who has been off games since picking up an injury at Badminton 2019, what she looks for in an event horse and her comeback from a serious fall at Tweseldown in 2013.

Laura describes her partnership with the brilliant event pony Noble Springbok, aka Spring, as a “fairytale” — he was responsible for launching her professional career.

“He was advertised in H&H in a job lot from the Noble stable run by Kelly Lyons. There was just one line [in the advert] that said ‘14.2hh, five-year-old, potential event pony’, and I had made the decision I wanted to move away from showing and do something a bit more exciting — I wasn’t sure if I wanted to showjump or event.

“He was the first pony we went to see and I fell in love with him and mum said: ‘well we can’t buy the first one we see because we don’t really know what we’re looking for’. But I was quite stubborn and I’d always had a pony that was my own that I’d made the decision to sell so that I could buy my next project, and so said ‘well it’s my money so I’m going to buy what I want’, and luckily I did.

“He was a freak of nature really and he took to it like a duck to water. I think I did a year in Pony Club on him, went to the Pony Club Championships and then went to the Horse of the Year Show as a 15hh worker [working hunter pony], and then started pony trials.

“He was phenomenal in 2005 and I don’t think he was ever out of the top three, and that ended with us winning gold and bronze at the Europeans, which was beyond my wildest dreams. I never thought it was possible — I still hadn’t got a clue what I was doing and he was one in a million really.

“I never wanted to sell him, obviously as a kid at that age — he was my pony of a lifetime. And I still to this day say that if I could ever choose any horse or pony to jump round Badminton on, I would choose him, because he was so scopey and honest — he was like riding a horse really, not a pony.

“But Yogi Breisner said ‘look, he can set you up for life and if you sell him, you can go and buy four or five young horses, one of which might take you to Badminton’. And he was right because one of the horses I then bought having sold Spring was Rayef, who took me to my first Badminton, so the whole story around Spring was a bit of a fairytale really.”

If you’d like to hear more from Laura, including the recent return from injury of her current superstar Mr Bass, the special relationship she had with Rayef, who took her to her first Badminton, what she looks for when purchasing a new potential event horse and much more listen here to episode 11 of The Horse & Hound podcast or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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