Laura Collett: Horse Rider
PUBLISHED: 13:48 31 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:55 20 February 2013
Laura Collett is not only the best up-and-coming young rider on the circuit, but is also building a successful business for herself - all at the tender age of 19....
It was an absolute pleasure to be given the opportunity to drive through the refreshing hills and perfect views of the Cotswold countryside. Laura met me at the end of her quaint road near Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, surrounded by acres of land, riding, what appeared to be, one of her rather feisty horses. She then explained that the horses were rather agitated by a hunt that was going on across the field.
Laura's yard is extremely impressive and as we took a walk I was introduced to all twelve of her horses. They all call the yard home, along with her dogs: a black Labrador called Bilbo and a terrier called Pimms.
"All the horses are at different levels depending on how experienced they are and I use them all for different events," she explains.
Laura shares the nearby exceptionally pretty farmhouse with her mum Tracey and brother who is currently awaiting upon an offer to join the RAF. Tracey is her chief helper whether it be on the yard or while she is traveling around the globe to events.
Laura was determined to start an eventing business and so as soon as school was done and dusted in 2005, at the age of sixteen, she bravely stepped out into the world of full-time work in order to fulfill her dreams.
"Mum wanted me to stay at school and at least do my A Levels but I have always wanted to do this. I wouldn't swap it for anything, it's always been the main part of my life and I have never really known anything else; it's what I love doing."
Laura's love of all things equestrian began from a very early age indeed. "I was about two the first time I sat on a horse. I did showing until I was twelve when I started to find it a bit boring. I knew I wanted to do something more exciting and so I went and bought a 14-two pony. I hadn't really made my mind up then, so I show jumped him over the winter in 2002. As it turned out when I started eventing him through the pony club he actually went on to win team gold and individual bronze at the Pony Europeans in 2005. I haven't looked back since. I was lucky that I had a really good start."
Laura's love of horses is not just the riding and eventing but the partnership between horse and rider as well as producing horses and getting them to where they need to be to win. "I love winning, but it's all part of a cycle. I have to work hard to get there."
The business is run primarily for Laura's eventing. "Owners pay for their horses to be here and for me to compete with them, which in turn, makes me money."
Laura explains that when looking for a horse, it works both ways; sometimes the owners approach her to ride their horses or her to them. "I owned Rayef my top horse and trained him. Then the first year he was competing, Jason Houghton approached me and said he wanted to buy him and contract the ride to me. It's usually word of mouth - owners phone up or they approach me at events to see if I'm interested."
Talking about her sport, it is clear Laura is doing something she truly loves. "My favourite event when competing is cross-country because it is the biggest challenge and you get such a buzz from winning." She enthuses, "I also enjoy the social side of the three-day events as I don't really have a lot of time to do anything else - this takes up so much of my time."
Laura already has a huge amount of respect in the industry and with many sponsors already under her belt she is on the right road to not only gold medals but also becoming a well-respected businesswoman. Her hopes for the business and the future are to keep making enough money to run the yard to be able to event full-time. "It would be ideal to own a yard but it is whether we can buy and sell enough horses to build the money up. I get all my boots, clothing and equipment from a number of sponsors which is a great help."
With the Olympics firmly set in her sights, it is a case of not enough hours in the day to get her horses to where they need to be.
"For now I'm concentrating on trying to find the right sort of horses that will be qualified by 2012, who can go on and be competitors. Hopefully Rayef and Fernhill Sox, who I ride for owner, Mary Hambro will both go three-star and maybe four-star this year."
Olympic medalist and renowned equestrian champion Yogi Breisner has taught her all she needs to know. He trains her for every eventing phase, apart from dressage, which Nick Burton trains her for.
"The best advice from a trainer I have been given is to believe in yourself. I do get nervous but Yogi tells me to believe in myself. He is really good in making you feel you can do something. Luckily, I can turn nerves into positives when it matters at the right time. Once I'm in the ring and actually doing it, I'm not nervous and just get on with it."
It is not just eventing that fills Laura's time: "I'm quite into racing as well. My boyfriend is a Jockey so I'm also into that side of riding too. He rides for Nikki Henderson, Henry Daly and George Baker. I start the day at 7.15am by riding out racehorses at Condicote racetrack for Martin and Belinder Keighley. I ride two horses up the gallops in the morning to earn some money. Then I come back to the yard, ride all day and finish at about 6.30pm."
So what are her plans for this year then? "I hope to have my first ride around a four star this year and maybe go and win a young rider gold medal." She explains.
The horses, like Laura, are in constant work and training; they have a six-week holiday at the end of the year.
"They have been in work since December time, building them up gradually doing fitness work. They are in constant training. It is 24/7 really."
With Laura's determination and hard-work, there isn't much standing in the way of success for this young lady. With her business firmly being built on solid foundations, it seems the best is yet to come for Laura Collett.