Grey cob to hack in Ashdown Forest
Avril Bartolomy bought her first show cob, Miss Minnie, by chance. At the time, she didn’t even know what a show Builders North Wales cob was; now, Avril is one of the most successful and popular amateur competitors on the circuit and in the nicest possible way, a true cob nut.
She and her husband, Robin, have seven cobs at their Sussex home, ranging from the prolific winning maxi cob, Clantara Shadow Play, to a home-bred coloured youngster, Simply The Best – known as Tina. Both Tina and another maxi cob in the Bartolomy string, Robert The Bruce, are out of Miss Minnie, so Avril has a lot to thank the mare for.
It all began about 15 years ago when she wanted a dapple grey cob to hack in Ashdown Forest. “I looked in the paper and there was an advert for just the right one,” she recalls.
Although she had ridden for many years, Avril decided she needed to brush up her skills and went to the multi-talented Ali Remmen – show jumper, course-builder and trainer – for help. Ali told her that Minnie would make a nice show cob. “My first reaction was: ‘And just what is a show cob?'” remembers Avril.
Minnie took her all the way to what is now the British Show Horse Association’s national championships and after retiring from the show ring, produced three foals. Avril continues not only to compete against and often beat the professionals with the established Clantara Shadow Play and her coloured lightweight, Benetton, but also produces her horses from home, with Robin’s help. “I’ve always gone for the cob type, even before I started showing,” she says. “They tend to be sensible and sane and have plenty of character, but no badness. ‘Benny’ is the naughtiest cob out and will take another horse’s rug off over the fence. But I love him to bits. He’s a real showman and a pleasure to own. I couldn’t manage without Robin’s help. He hacks out with me, but I can’t get him into the ring.”
Avril believes that if you want to succeed with a young show cob, you have to put in time and patience. “Compared to other types, they’re slow to mature and take longer to produce,” she says. “I don’t think they’re as naturally flexible as, say, a Thoroughbred and it takes time to get them off their forehand. I don’t spend a lot of time in the school, but we do a lot of hillwork.”