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A Pony Wins an Olympic Medal
 By mosquito   •   8th Apr 2010   •   15,839 views   •   12 comments
Horse StrollerCan a pony win a medal at the Olympics? Some might say maybe in dressage. How about show jumping? Not likely. But it happened and not only did that pony win a silver medal at the Olympics, he was also won the world championships one year. He even won the Hickstead derby, known as one of the biggest, longest, and toughest show jumping courses in the world!

This pony is Stroller. At only 14.2 hands high, Stroller was only just at the height limit, but he was far smaller than most of his competitors, who usually topped 16 hands. He was the outcome of a cross between a Connemara pony and a thoroughbred.

A little bay with a big white star, Stroller was born in 1950, so most of you won’t have seen even, or even heard of him. He was born in Ireland, but was soon sent to England with several stablemates. He ended up as a jumping pony for a butcher’s daughter named Sally. Sally jumped Stroller until he was nine, and he was already attracting some attention. Stroller was sold at the 1960 Horse of the Year Show to Ralph Coakes, who wanted him as a schoolmaster for his showjumping children - two of his sons were already on the British Junior team.

But it was his daughter Marion who really fell in love with Stroller, and they joined the British junior team as an inseparable pair. When Marion turned 16, her father wanted her to move onto horses, and planned to sell Stroller. Marion begged him not to, and to let her jump Stroller in the open classes. Marion and Stroller held their own against bigger horses and older riders, even winning the ladies’ world championship at Hickstead in 1965, when Stroller was already fifteen.

That wasn’t enough for Stroller, he had to prove a point about ponies, and win all the big showjumping tests – the bigger the fences and tougher the courses, the better. He and Marion won the Queen Elizabeth Cup, a grueling three day show jumping competition – he even won a puissance event, jumping 6 feet 8 inches!

Stroller picked up medals at the world championships for the British team and as an individual, won the Hickstead Derby in 1967 (when he was seventeen!), where he was the only competitor that year to have a clear round despite stumbling down the Derby bank. That clear round was only the 50th ever on the Hickstead course, and the first ever for a woman rider, and the only win in the history of the Derby for a pony.

But it was the next year that Stroller really made history. It was 1968, Stroller was 18 years old, and the place was the Olympics in Mexico City. Stroller had a terrible toothache, but they couldn’t find a dental surgeon to take the tooth out. With painkillers and steam inhalations to ease the pain, Stroller went out for the first round and went clear. In the jump off, Stroller had eight faults, but it was enough to give him the silver medal, behind Bill Steinkraus and Snowbound. As an indication of how tough Stroller was, and how bad his tooth hurt him, he struggled into the team jumping round. He put in the only ever refusal of his whole life, and on his approach to the fence for a second attempt he fell. It was time to go home, but Stroller had done enough.

Stroller kept competing until he was 21, picking up more wins in top international shows. He was retired in the mid seventies, but he never left Marion’s care. He stayed busy throughout his retirement, visiting with fans, appearing at shows, and even as a guest on TV shows. He lived until 1986, finally passing away at the ripe old age of 36.
A Pony Wins an Olympic Medal
A Pony Wins an Olympic Medal
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