Stroller and Marion Coakes

I can’t resist writing about Stroller because he was my absolute hero as a child.

There was this 14.2hh pony and a young girl competing against the world’s best – and frequently winning. I don’t think there’s ever been such a jumping pony, either before or since.

Marion was a farmer’s daughter from Hampshire when Stroller was bought for her as a junior showjumping pony. It’s a lovely story.

Stroller came over from Ireland in a job-lot of horses, as was usual in those days and was bought by a horse dealer from Sussex. The dealer sold the pony to a local butcher for his daughter Sally.  It soon became apparent that Stroller had some talent and he was sold to Marion’s father in 1960 at the end of the Horse of the Year Show. Stroller was eight.

Marion and her two brothers had been taught by their father and were excellent showjumpers, all becoming members of the British Junior Showjumping team.

The two made a brilliant partnership and were both exceptionally talented. When Marion turned 16 her father wanted to sell Stroller and move her on to bigger horses, but Marion wasn’t going to give up her beloved pony so easily.

The rest is history. Together they went on to take on the best showjumping horses in the world. They won the Ladies World Championship at Hickstead in 1965 then the same year won the Queen Elizabeth Cup at the Royal International Horse Show. Astonishingly they won the QE cup again 6 years later.

In 1967 in a puissance class at Antwerp, Stroller amazed his audience by clearing the wall at 6’8″, and almost clearing 6’10”.  To put it into perspective, he was only 5’4″ at the withers!

Stroller and Marion went on to win many more major showjumping competitions and to win a place in every schoolgirl’s heart.

The great pony retired in the 1970s and lived until he was 36.