Last weekend Jonelle Price secured a nail-biting victory aboard Faerie Dianimo or Maggie May at Luhmühlen in Germany which, following on from her win at the prestigious 2018 Badminton Horse Trials in May, made Jonelle the first New Zealand female rider to claim back to back wins at the top level in equestrian sports. 

Her rides – Maggie May and Badminton winner Classic Moet or Molly to her friends – are both winners but couldn’t be more different away from the limelight. Maggie May is a princess, while Molly is the opposite.

What makes Molly the 15-year-old British Sport Horse tick?

Classic Moet (aka Molly) and Jonelle Price on the way to winning at Badminton

Molly isn’t the type for fuss and photos. She’s just totally and unapologetically her own horse, comfortable in her own skin and tough as nails. She might not be big—16.1 hands is an optimistic estimate, even fully studded—but she knows her role in life. And what is that role, exactly? Well, to be the speed-queen of eventing, of course.

She’s not a girly-girl.

“She lives outside, and her favourite thing to do is get dirty and be in the mud. The worst thing for her is being tarted up,” explains Lucy Miles, Tim and Jonelle Price’s head groom, who has looked after Molly for four years.

Jonelle agrees. “She’s a real tomboy,” she says. “Unladylike is probably the best way to describe her. She’s a real individual, and she knows what she likes.”

The Prices’ website perhaps describes her best: “Molly would, if she were a person, come from Swindon (or West Auckland, for our New Zealand followers), be a couple of stone overweight, have several tattoos, wear a too-tight leather jacket over skintight leopardskin pants, have a boyfriend with an IQ of 10 who’s a club bouncer, and four children by four different fathers.”

So, a bit like Cheryl West from Outrageous Fortune.

Molly is a new mother, just like Jonelle. The pair took much of the 2017 season off as Jonelle was pregnant with her first son, Otis. Molly, who is predominately Thoroughbred, had two female foals by embryo transfer.

Above: Molly’s embryo transfer foals.

She has more heart than her small frame should hold.

“She’s so unspecial that she’s incredibly special,” says Jonelle. “There’s nothing fantastic; she’s quite an ordinary mover, a bit of an unorthodox jumper, but she’s got a ginormous heart. She’s got a huge will to be an event horse, and she’s fierce and courageous, but equally, she’s like that every day, in everything she does, which doesn’t always make her the most enjoyable in terms of the dressage training!

And what does Molly like? Well, going fast, mostly.

“Everything has to be done flat-out,” says Jonelle. “She’s the most awful hack; she doesn’t spook or anything, but she just wants to go flat-out the whole time. I call it the tranter. She tries to trot so fast that she can’t trot anymore, and it turns into this pace; you rise for two beats, sit for one.”

Despite her penchant for speed, Molly is easy to take to competitions.

“She’s exactly the same out competing as she is at home,” says Miles. “The only thing she does is paw; I think it’s because she wants to go cross-country. She’s a pretty good free-grazer, too. We can just let her go.”

Despite their almost legendary relationship, Jonelle only got the ride on Molly five years ago, when Molly was 10. But she didn’t always think the mare would be the force of nature she’s proven to be.

“We did the two-star at Hartpury [England] that year, and I thought, ‘I don’t know how fast this is going to be.’ Thankfully, she’s proven me wrong,” Jonelle says. Molly is owned by Trisha Rickards, who also owns Jonelle’s four-star mare Faerie Dianimo (Maggie May).

“I’m sure even at the end of my career, I’ll look back and have had some of my best cross-country rides on her,” she continues. “When you gallop around a four-star, and no one’s made the time all day, and you come home on her as the fastest of the day—she’s done that a few times—and to make it as smooth and easy as she does, well, that’s pretty special. I’ll always look back at her fondly for that.”

Content for this story sourced from The Chronicle of the Horse: Behind the Stall Door with Classic Moet by Tilly Berendt

Also from Tim and Jonelle Price’s website – content by Jacky Green