Marion Coakes came from a family of fanatic showjumpers (her two brothers were already in the Junior British Show Jumping team!!) and when she met ‘Stroller’ in 1960, they had to prove their worth! At the time Marion was just 13 and was moving on from her previous pony ‘Magic’. Stroller was 10. The Thoroughbred cross Connemara was 14.2hh and just one hand taller than her previous pony but had a good frame for jumping.
As told in an interview with Horse Nation, Marion couldn’t say no to ‘Stroller’:
“He hadn’t achieved anything outstanding but was such a lovely pony, plucky and handsome with the look of a real winner!”
Marion Coakes and her plucky pony soon became a force to be reckoned with in the show jumping world. In her second year of competing in the senior division (she was over 16 now), Marion and ‘Stroller’ had won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at the Royal International Horse Show AND not one, not two, but three Nations Cup events!!! Holy moly this horse could jump! They took on the Hickstead Derby – known for its gruelling and crazy show jumping course – and won their round and placed second in the finals against Seamus Hayes! She later won this hard course two years later! The year of 1965 saw the duo riding to win the gold medal in the Ladies World Championship – she now had the nation’s attention.
It was in 1968 that Marion and ‘Stroller’ represented their country in Mexico at the Olympic Games! It was a super hard course as the arena was over 2,300 metres above sea level, which made the air thinner. On top of that, the course was so tough and the central fence was 170 cm!! ‘Stroller’ could have walked underneath it easily!!! But he sailed over the fence with ease and after two rounds AND then a jump-off against the legendary Bill Steinkraus and ‘Snowbound’, the pair took out the silver medal! ‘Stroller’ achieved many ‘firsts’ in his career, on such ‘first’ being the only pony to ever win the Hamburg Derby!
‘Stroller’ was soon placed in retirement where he spent more than 15 years on glorious grass and rest before he passed away at the ripe old age of 36.
What a plucky pony! What did you love about your childhood pony?
Reference: Horse Nation
Image credits: Horse Nation and Pinterest