‘They laughed when I bought him’: self-confessed ‘cob convert’ wins dressage titles

  • A rider who had always had hunters and never imagine herself riding with feathers flying has become a “cob convert”, enjoying national success with her coloured gelding.

    Laura Rose had no plans to take on anything like 14.2hh Borough’s Doorman (Barry), but “took a gamble”. That gamble paid off as the six-year-old has this year not only won at the British Dressage Associated Championships, but also equalled the winning score at the Petplan Equine Summer Area Festival Championships.

    “I was that person,” Laura told H&H. “I’d never had a cob, it was all big ladies’ hunters, and I wasn’t looking for him until he came.”

    Laura was looking, unsuccessfully, for a horse when Barry became available on her livery yard, and having ummed and ahhed and said no twice, she ended up buying him for herself.

    “He was only four and had been backed and ridden away, so I started with hacking him,” she said. “We’ve got a beach two minutes away so I’d ride there and to the North Yorkshire moors. We’d go on our own and pay £10 to camp in a field for the night, then go climbing mountains, and we bonded like that.”

    Once the partnership was formed, Laura started taking Barry to shows, starting at preliminary level but enjoying success from the start.

    “We qualified for the winter and summer Petplan Area Festivals, then went to the final and were joint first in the bronze freestyle, and were only pipped to second on the collectives. To do that on a cob was crazy.”

    The pair then went to the associated championships at Bury Farm, won the prelim silver Traditional Gypsy Cob Association class and the bronze novice, and was the overall highest-scoring cob in the prelim sections.

    The day was not without its dramas, as when Laura arrived after her journey of five and a half hours, she found she had left her hat at home.

    “I asked other competitors but no one had a spare hat so I went to the secretary’s table to withdraw,” she said. “The lady who runs Bury Farm ran down to the closed-down tack shop and found the only BD-legal hat she had left in storage, still with tags, and let me use it. I took home four beautiful sashes, all thanks to that lady.”

    Laura added: “I’m on a yard of about 300 liveries, and everyone knows me as having a type. When I got Barry, he was all hairy and looked like he should have been tied on the side of a roundabout. People laughed at me and said ‘What have you bought?’ and even my mum said ‘What have you bought him for?’. So after that, I thought ‘Watch me turn him into a champion’, and that I’d prove them all wrong.”

    She added that Barry can be “a bit of a showman” in the ring, and she has to contain his enthusiasm at times.

    “He loves to flash his feathers and do his fancy trot, but that’s not required at prelim!” she said. “I’m a cob convert and I wouldn’t have anything else now.

    “Look at what we’ve achieved; don’t be like me and snub cobs because I’d missed out on this opportunity and journey for so many years.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...