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Meet The Latest Member Of Our Content Team, Laura Collins!

Hi, my name is Laura and I’m an 18 year old equestrian from the East of England. I got my first taste of riding when I was 4 years old and my parents took me to my first riding lesson at a local equestrian centre. From that very first time sat in the saddle, looking at the fluffy set of ears and crazy Shetland mane in front of me, I was hooked! One by one, all the other members of my family began to start taking riding lessons too, so my parents always joke that I’m the reason we have horses to this day! Now, I mainly compete in unaffiliated showjumping and I have four lovely horses that I am lucky enough to call my own. So, enough about me, let me introduce you to them…

First up is Buster, my little Welsh pony with a big personality! Buster and I met at the riding school I went to as a child when we were both only 7 years old – I was an excited little girl ready to graduate from Shetland ponies, and he was a cheeky little chestnut who somewhat lacked brakes and had a penchant for speed! Whilst I remember being positively terrified the first time I rode him, I also felt the happiest that I ever could remember feeling, and I was lucky enough for Buster to become my own on Christmas Day 2009.

You could say that Buster and I had a rather tumultuous relationship (with me once writing out a list of reasons why I should keep him which, 10 years later, made for some amusing reading!) but I could not have asked for a better first pony, as he taught me so much and made me quite the resilient little rider! Buster is still with me today, and he is just as cheeky and speedy as ever! As I became a teenager and got more confident, I started to teach Buster little things just for the fun of it (like how, no matter what we are doing, if I take my feet out of the stirrups, he will stop) and it always makes me immensely nostalgic and proud when I get on him today and find that he remembers them all, and I wouldn’t change his cheeky little personality for the world!

The next one to enter our lives was Taffy, another Welshie, but this time quite a bit bigger, standing at 15.1hh compared to Buster’s tiny 12.2hh frame! He was bought for my mum so that she could ride out with Buster and I, and he instantly became the best of friends with his mini-me Buster. Nothing changes, as the two of them are still double trouble together today!

Taffy is now retired, and happily so, and he is one of the most polite horses you will ever meet, which is one of the things we have always loved about him. The one thing about Taffy though? He is a rather nervous character and requires you to be a very quiet, compassionate horseperson if you want to be friends with him – something that I was not too good at as a young child! Now that we are both older though, he will treat me to the occasional cuddle, and is the prettiest field ornament that we could possibly ask for!

Next, we have Fagan, also known as the only pony in the world who is not remotely excited by the concept of galloping through an open field with his friends. Fagan was one of my favourite ponies on the riding school to have lessons on, as he gave me so much confidence and his ridiculously chilled out demeanour was rather novel for someone who had spent their childhood charging around on Buster! Occasionally, we would loan him for the day, when my sister and I would ride together on Fagan and Buster, which is still one of my fondest memories. When we moved house in 2012 to a place nearby with equestrian facilities and subsequently left the riding school, we simply couldn’t leave Fagan behind given how much we had fallen in love with everything about him, so we ended up buying him and taking him with us!

Getting Fagan was one of the greatest decisions that we ever made, as he allowed me to do my first showjumping competitions and that is what made me fall in love with showjumping in the first place. However, there was a reason that Fagan’s nickname at the riding school was “the artful dodger” and I quickly realised what it was! When the jumps got bigger or the fillers came out, Fagan lost quite a bit of confidence in himself and introduced me to his signature nifty little refusals that you could never see coming until the last moment, which landed me on the floor or between the two poles of an oxer quite a few times! It is because of Fagan that I can now safely say that I am able to sit nearly any refusal or spook that comes my way, with my newfound “sticky bum” that comes in rather handy sometimes!

Fagan gave me my first taste of being competitive, taking me up to 80cm in showjumping and teaching me to be a good sport all the time (I am reminded of our attempt at Trailblazers National Championships where we were eliminated at the first fence and trotted out the exit to the commentator deducing that Fagan “just wasn’t that interested today!”) I still enjoy jumping Fagan, and we often make an appearance at local shows where we have accumulated a fair few 3rd and 4th place rosettes (I think he might be trying to tell me he’s a secret fan of yellow and green!)

By the time I turned 17, I had saved up some money and was ready to graduate from ponies to my very own first horse…

Enter Mini, a flashy 15hh Connemara with a big personality and an even bigger appetite! He was quirky, fun and absolutely drop dead gorgeous, and I fell in love with him in an instant so, after passing his vetting with flying colours, he was coming home with me. Mini was the best introduction to horses that I could have possibly wanted – he challenged me (right from the moment we got him home and realised that he likes to eat wood pellet bedding so needed an emergency trip to the feed store to pick up some shavings), he taught me, he frustrated me at times, and he always made me laugh!

At first, our showjumping career was looking rather bleak, with us knocking over or completely obliterating almost every jump in our path, but I persevered with him and can now proudly say that we consistently jumped around 90cm at home, with him clearing a one off fence of 1m05, which was the most amazing feeling given how far we have come. However, the ultimate challenge for us was when we qualified for the Sunshine Tour National Championships at Hickstead. In all honesty, I was absolutely terrified, given that my only experience with a National show was the Trailblazers incident with Fagan! I gave it my all nonetheless and Mini looked after me unbelievably well, jumping everything in his path and only catching one pole over our two classes – something that I just had to commemorate with framed photos and a hoodie! I owe everything to Mini for allowing me to jump higher and experience a bigger show, just as I owe it all to the other three and my parents for filling my childhood with horses and so much joy!

So there it is, an introduction to me and my life with my horses! You can keep up to date with our antics by following us on Instagram (@mycrazyponies_x) and, with university in my path this year, I guarantee that there are big things to come. Watch this space!

Laura Collins
Horsemart Content Contributor
Published on 25-06-2020
Laura Collins is a keen young rider from the east of England. She spends her days being entertained by her four horses - Fagan, Buster, Taffy, and Mini. Her passion lies in showjumping and Laura keeps everyone updated on her horsey antics with her equestrian Instagram account, @mycrazyponies_x. Alongside the horses, Laura’s five pet sheep can often be seen wandering about the yard and making everyone laugh. When the antics of her animals aren’t keeping her busy, Laura enjoys writing, drawing, and dancing.