Do you remember Stroller and his rider Marion Coakes Mould? You may not, if you’re not of a ripe old age or have a fondness for equestrian stars of the past.
Stroller was a pony, standing 14.2h. When Marion Coakes was 14, in 1960, she spotted him at a horse show. Her father bought him for a thousand British pounds and they picked him up in a field behind a butcher’s shop.
After just four years together, the pair began an unprecedented winning streak, triumphing in 61 international competitions including the Hickstead Derby, two Ladies’ World Championships, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (twice), and the Leading Show Jumper of the Year. With Marion aboard, Stroller tied with Alwin Schockemohle and Athlet as winner of the Puissance class at Antwerp in 1967, clearing the wall at 6’8″ and putting a brick out at 6’10”.
A year later, Marion won the individual silver medal in show jumping at the Mexico Olympics on her pony Stroller. This despite the fact that the pony had a bad tooth.
Four days later, Marion and Stroller entered the arena for the team event. She knew her pony was feeling out of sorts, but they cleared the wall. Then they crashed to the ground at a parallel. The British team was eliminated. Marion walked alone in the closing parade of the Olympic Games. As she said, “the team had disappeared.”
But Stroller and Marion hadn’t disappeared. Two years later, they entered the 50th Hamburg Derby and won, jumping the only clear round.
Stroller was retired as he entered his second decade, in a place where Marion could always visit him — her own Equestrian Centre. One wet day in March 1986, when Stroller was 36, Marion arrived there to meet her parents for lunch. As soon as she arrived, Stroller fell ill and only a few hours later, succumbed to a heart attack. Marion had always known that she and Stroller were meant to be together. As she said, “I’m sure he had waited for me so I could say goodbye to him.”
Thank you for a wonderful moment of nostalgia – it took me right back to the days of Pony Annuals and Show Jumping on the BBC when there were only two TV channels. This was the era that inspired me to ride and Marion Coakes was a terrific heroine and Stroller the plucky hero! The memories sent me off searching for other names I remembered, like Anneli Drummond Hay and Pat Smythe from an even earlier generation …… ah, now I feel positively prehistoric, but rejuvenated at the same time! Lovely post 🙂
Elaine Lang said:
What a beautiful Irish pony. He looks like a minature TB. You would never know he was only 14.2 hands.
Wait, horses don’t have to be gigantic to jump? Maybe there is hope for my little girl after all 😉
PS- I’ve been feeling a bit confused about what I should be doing with Coriander right now so I went back and read your last lesson for me. It was just what I needed, thanks so much!
Oh good! Glad to be of service.
God, can that horse FLY!
Isn’t he gorgeous?! I believe that Stroller was a Connemara/TB X and you can see the TB in him, can’t you?