12 stars of Christmas: Meet the up-and-coming native producer who had six ponies at HOYS…

Over the 12 days of Christmas this festive season, we are shining a light on up-and-coming talent across the disciplines. These are people you really need to keep an eye out for in 2019...

Next up in our 12 stars of Christmas feature is up-and-coming showing talent Lauren Brill. Lauren won the 2018 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) New Forest final in October with Clare Davis’ Harvey’s Magic Moment and made her debut at Olympia this year with  Edwinsfield Nocturne.

Here are 9 things you might not know about Lauren:

1. A pony with one eye

Laura started riding as a small child at a riding school and began piloting a pony who only had one eye.

“When I was 10 years old, my mum Helen had a brainwave and decided we should get a pony we could ‘share’,” said Lauren. “She bought a lovely Connemara gelding for the job. The fact that I was a pea on a drum didn’t seem to matter at all and I happily hacked out alone on him and had some jumping lessons.

“It wasn’t until we took said pony to show our local showing producer Katy Marriott Payne that things took a slightly different turn. Whilst Katy said that he was a very nice pony she also said that we couldn’t possibly compete in the show ring together. With that, she thought she would show us what sort of pony a child of my age should be riding. Out of the stable came a very nice first ridden show pony and that was us hooked.”

2. An important little show pony

Lauren got her big break in the pony ranks in 2006 when she took the Show Pony of the Year title at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) with the Katy Marriott Payne-produced Anton Princess Nadia.

“I was then extremely lucky to be offered the ride on Wendy Edgar’s 14.2hh show pony Wilderness Fancy Spice, and we had a couple of amazing seasons being produced by Sam and Julian Quiney. As a producer, the pony who has put me on the map is Edwinsfield Nocturne (George). He was the first pony I ever took on and four years later we are now Olympia bound.”

3. School or ponies?

Having lived and breathed ponies at Katy’s, Lauren had to make a tough decision when her mum was made redundant — school or ponies?

“It seemed the perfect time for me to go into a career with equines. Perhaps not a popular choice at the time with my parents who had paid for my private education for many years. I agreed to do a two year apprenticeship at Moulton College whilst working for Theresa Jackson.”

4. She has a penchant for natives (and the occasional plaited)

“I currently have between 10 and 12 ponies on the yard. After a long season, some owners take their ponies home for a nice winter break and order for me to keep the yard going at this time of year, I take in breakers and novice ponies for education and often a project of my own. We mainly specialise in native ponies, but considering my previous years in the show pony ranks we do occasionally take on a plaited.”

5. Her showing pet hates include…

“I don’t like shows with extremely early closing dates. While I understand the work that goes in behind the scenes organising the county shows, with entries shutting in March and April it is so hard to know which ponies to enter. I also don’t approve of being given a set show to do and not being rewarded accordingly as well as bad ring-craft from fellow competitors who cover you up during the go-round.”

6. Proud moments

Aside from the HOYS title in 2006, Lauren has a host of other proud show ring memories.

“I was twice Blue Riband Champion with Wilderness Fancy Spice, once with a score of 20/20. In 2018 at the Royal Three Counties it was very special to quality my own pony Amilas Clicquot (Colin) for HOYS, winning the class by 10 marks. Colin was the first pony I have broken and started myself to qualify.”

7. Making the dream work

“As I don’t have my own yard, I have large overheads and therefore I try my best to manage on my own. Mum helps out with the breakers if I have a tricky one and drives me to all the shows, although taking my HGV is on my priority list.

“I tend to get yard cover on show days so I am not returning late and then having to muck out the whole yard before bedding down the ones who have had a long day at the show. Eleanor and her mum Polly have recently joined the team, to help with general yard duties so I am free to work the ponies. Eleanor also helps me with riding out which is proving invaluable with the babies, and also some companionship in what can be a hard lonely job!”

8. ‘Perfect Colin’ and other exciting rides

“I intend to run Amilas Clicquot my Welsh section A for another season, as I am sure the best is yet to come from this young man. Nicknamed Perfect Colin, he is a total delight to take out and absolutely loves strutting his stuff at the big county shows. My young intermediate show riding type will also hopefully be making his debut next year. I also have a really special New Forest mare owned by Jill Stapleton who we are going to aim at the novice circuit, and we also have high hopes for Tarbarl April Showers, a lovely Dales mare will return to us in 2019.”

9. Building a track record

“Although I have had a most amazing season with six ponies at HOYS, I am still building a track record and I am often left wondering about what ponies I may have for next season. With producing being my only source of income, the struggle to afford to rent the facilities needed to enable me to achieve my dreams is a very real challenge.

“The highlights are competing alongside the well established producers and being lucky enough to be on board ponies good enough to be in with a shout. I love seeing the young ponies that I have broken in progress and have lovely ridden careers. And best of all has to be every day riding beautiful ponies in our gorgeous countryside — there is never a dull day in the office.”

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