Tag Archives: event rider

Laura Collett, Pau 5* France.

Laura Collett beats off top-class field to win the only CCI5* of 2020.

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If anyone understands the sweet taste of triumph against adversity, then it’s Laura Collett. The 16-year journey to winning her first 5* Three Day Event at Pau 5* France last weekend, has involved more challenges than your average rider, including an accident that left her in a coma for six weeks and permanent loss of sight in one eye.

Les 5 Etoiles de Pau was the only CCI5*-L of the entire season so inevitably attracted a world-class field. This included the top six highest-ranked riders in the world. Riding her Boekelo 2019 winner London 52, Laura who is ranked 49th, led the entire competition, beating Piggy French (Brookfield Inocent) into second and Tim Price (Wesko) into third.


Speaking after her victory Laura said: “The dream became a reality and I still can’t believe this is all really happening. This morning I was saying to myself that if I had the choice, I wouldn’t have wanted to ride any other horse than London 52 in this kind of competition! He is a fantastic jumper. It was his first time competing at this level and I really wasn’t expecting this kind of result at the end of the competition. All of last year it was a case of ‘very nearly’. We were unlucky and they were split-second moments that caused our undoing but that’s all it takes in our sport.”


Laura Collett, winner or Pau 5* France
An emotional moment captured by Hannah Cole Photography.

It was one of those moments in 2013 when competing in the cross-country, her horse misread a corner fence at Tweseldown and suffered a rotational fall, landing directly on top of the petite 5ft 3 rider who was instantly knocked out. In the ambulance, the paramedics had to resuscitate her five times and on arrival at the hospital, the extent of her injuries was substantial, including fractured shoulder, broken ribs, a punctured lung, a lacerated liver, and injuries to her kidneys. She was placed in an induced coma for six days and it later transpired that a fragment of her shoulder bone had gravitated to her right eye through her bloodstream. It damaged the optic nerve, and she lost sight in that eye completely.

It took many months to adapt her eyesight even for day to day life and she recounts walking into things a lot. “When I started jumping, it seemed like the jumps would move.” She now wears goggles to protect her eyes from the elements when she is going cross-country.

Fortunately, Laura cannot remember the accident, so she had no confidence issues returning to eventing. “By the time I woke up, it was under control and I was lucky not to have any brain injuries. All I wanted to do was get back to competing.” It might not surprise you that just over six weeks later, she was back riding, which she admits may have been too soon. Although like our Horse Scout CEO Lucienne Elms, Laura spent several months living at the Injured Jockey Fund Rehabilitation Centre, Oaksey House. “They were amazing and there is no way I would have made such a comeback and so quickly, without their help.”


Beyond guts, grit and adversity, eventing is about a partnership, trust and understanding between human and horse. Laura Collett has that ability to make her horses achieve their full potential and she describes her Pau winner London 52 as an insecure horse who has put a lot of trust in her, which ultimately helps. He has only ever known Laura as a rider from an early age in his sporting career. Training from the beginning of a horse’s journey is what builds the partnership, she explains. Laura who rides at least 13 horses a day has trained most of her champions from scratch, having never had the means to buy ‘ready-made’ champions.


Laura Collett abooard London 52
The culmination of years of hard work. Image rights – Hannah Cole Photography.

Laura was smitten from the first time she sat on a pony at the age of two and started out in showing but always her dream was to be a professional event rider. From early childhood, she learned that in order to survive, ponies would have to be bought, produced and sold.

At the age of 12, she found a young pony called Noble Springbok from a one-lined advert and purchased him for the moderate sum of £5500. Her mother allowed her to keep this one, knowing he could be the one to achieve her dreams. Training the pony from scratch, in their first year of competitive eventing, they won everything and attracted the eyes of Youth team selectors. Laura Collett was placed on World Class Programme which meant she received lottery funding. A privilege that requires consistent exceptional results and one that she is still part of, 15 years later.

In 2005 the formidable partnership were selected for the British Pony Event Team at the European Championships, where she won team gold and individual bronze. ‘Spring’ was to launch her career, on both notoriety and monetary grounds. She signed away the right to admit how much he was sold for but a ‘life-changing’ amount passed hands. At just 16 years of age, she bought a new lorry to transport her horses, developed her facilities at home and purchased Rayef. This was another young horse who she trained on to win team and individual golds at both the Junior and Young Rider European Championships and finished 8th at her very first Badminton aged just 22.


There is little time for hobbies and even when the eventing season is over, Laura spends the winters producing young horses and doing plenty of showjumping. She also loves horse-racing and her event yard is partially funded by having racehorses in for some jump training. She was partially responsible for a first and second place at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Simply the Betts and St Calvados, two National Hunt horses trained by Harry Whittington were sent to her to jump, leading up the Festival where they finished first and second respectively.

Despite eventing often attracting an elitist image, Laura Collett is proof that hard work and talent are the real key to success. She has never felt particularly challenged by not having a big money pot and thinks it makes her success all the more rewarding. “I’ve never known it any different. We would always buy unbroken ones, train them and sell them to be able to afford to do it and I still have to do that now. With all the other challenges it feels extra special because you know exactly what has gone into that win.”


Featured Image rights – Solène Bailly photos.

MARS Great Meadow International 2-4*, VA, US starts today.

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The majority of 2020’s eventing season has taken a huge hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the vast amount of riders eagerly anticipating the return to some form of normality. It is, therefore, fantastic to finally see one of the first high-profile shows in North American eventing take place this year at the MARS Great Meadow international in Virginia, USA.

Following the cancellation of the USEA American Eventing Championships along with multiple other high-performance events this season, the organisers of Great Meadow international have introduced a CCI3*-L division to give competitors more opportunity to qualify for the fall season. Needless to say, the excitement leading toward this show has been building, although it will inevitably be unlike any show previously experienced.


The event organisers have taken multiple precautions in order to safely run this show and a strict safety protocol will be in effect for all participants to adhere to. Some of the measures taken will include:

  • Daily temperature checks for everyone entering the competition grounds.
  • Enforced social distancing measures throughout the showground and stabling.
  • Facemasks to be worn at all times on the premises unless mounted.
  • No access to the competition grounds for the general public, spectators, and non-essential personnel.

This ‘new normal’ for equestrians may take some getting used to, but in order for eventing to resume it is vital for shows to provide a safe environment for all participants. It is essential for these shows to run in compliance with both state and local health regulations, FEI regulations as well as the USEF COVID-19 Competition Action Plan.

Regardless of these necessary precautions, the show has seen a significant number of horse and rider combinations registering, with over 200 entries. The MARS Great Meadow International has received 75 entries in the CCI4*-S division alone, so a thrilling competition is guaranteed!


Some of this years riders to watch include:

  • Winner of the 2018 competition, Will Colman with three rides in the 4* – Tight Lines, Dondante and TKS Cooley.
  • Liz Halliday-Sharp with four rides in the 4* section – Flash Cooley, Fernhill By Night, Deniro Z, and Cooley Quicksilver.
  • Clayton Fredericks with FE Coldplay
  • Phillip Dutton with five entries including Fernhill Singapore, Luke 140, Z Sea of Clouds, and Blackfoot Mystery who he is riding for Boyd Martin.  
  • Founder and CEO of Horse Scout Group, Lucienne Elms has two rides in the 4* section, Mistralou her retrained racehorse and Diamond Duette, by Carrick Diamond Lad.

Lucienne Elms and Diamond Duette will be competing at MARS Great Meadow International this week
Lucienne Elms and Diamond Duette by Carrick Diamond Lad.

The show will kick off today (Wednesday 19th August 2020) and the full schedule can be viewed here.


Horse and Country TV will be live streaming the MARS Great Meadow International with Karen O’Connor and Sinead Halpin commentating and are sure to provide some great insights into this year’s competition. The live streaming schedule is as follows –

Friday, Aug. 21: CCI3*-L, CCI2*-S, and Preliminary cross country; CCI4*-S dressage.

Saturday, Aug. 22: Show jumping phase.

​Sunday, Aug. 23: CCI3*-S and CCI4*-S XC.

Don’t miss out on what is sure to be a spectacular event – Live Stream here.


The team at Horse Scout would like to wish the best of luck to all competitors at this year’s event.

Lucienne Elms and Mark Bellissimo Wedding

We did it

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The Horse Scout Team is delighted to announce that our CEO Lucienne Elms has married her partner Mark Bellissimo, a notable American entrepreneur and CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions. Due to the circumstances this momentous moment occurred in a private ceremony held in North Carolina, US, with just a handful of witnesses, together with the couple’s two dogs!


Lucienne, an active 4* event rider and the founder of the Horse Scout Group has described the event as “a phenomenal chapter, I have married my best friend, and a man that shares my thirst for entrepreneurship”.


The happy couple will be celebrating properly in Europe 2021, with their friends and families from around the world.


Photos by Monica Stevenson

Horse Scout supports ‘Polo for Life Charity’.

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After Horse Scout CEO Lucienne Elms took to Field One at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in support of the charity ‘Polo for Life’, Ellie Kelly caught up with Lucienne to find out how Horse Scout’s involvement with the charity came about.

 

What made you choose Polo for Life Organisation to support for 2020?


I recently spent time with friends and families who had or had been impacted by cancer.  Sadly it seems we all know someone, scarily frequent. That feeling of helplessness is unbearable. But it spurred me on to help in anyway I could via the Horse Scout network. Polo for Life is a non profit organisation, dedicated to raising funds to support cancer research and treatment for paediatric cancers. Which for me feels one of the cruellest things, to see young children suffering.

 

I myself had a challenging time in 2018 off the back of a car crash that arguably should have killed me, I broke twenty eight bones and punctured my lungs but was fortunate enough to have great surgeons and the Injured Jockeys rehabilitation centre UK to get back to health. I can remember always thinking however painful at least with those injuries I had a level of control. I remained grateful it wasn’t worse and optimistic that with time, patience and hard work with the rehab I would get better, and close to normal. Unlike the vast majority of those touched by cancer. Trauma is one thing, disease is quite another.

 

Furthermore, inflict disease on a child’s life and it really is something quite harrowing for all concerned. To give perspective on Monday afternoon at the event we had a young girl, she was under five years and had undergone numerous chemotherapy treatments already in her life. Her mum was a single mother with two other children to look after. I recognised how much the Polo for Life organisation had helped them.

 

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Who is the brainchild behind this all?

 

The professional polo player and charity co founder Brandon Phillips is a childhood non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor. He is an inspiration both in person and on the field, backed by co Founder Terrie Mooney they really deserve all the help we can offer.

 

You are better known as an event rider, how did you feel playing switching sports to Polo?


At the end of the day I have ridden for a long time, in fact before I could walk! So I feel at home on a horse, although I probably look as stiff as the polo mallet because I have so much titanium holding me together since the accident! I thought “what’s a little public humiliation of missing a polo ball a few times, if it’s helping these children and their families?”.

 

Needless to say, I only contributed one goal, but I intend to play again next year. Not only do I hope to play more of a competitive part in the match 2021 but the real objective is that Horse Scout can help raise awareness and make a significant contribution to the Polo for Life charity.

 

What has also been really exciting is the rise of women in polo. I for one have been bitten by the bug. It has been a welcome contrast to the office and the intensity of my three day eventing ambitions.

 

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