Hannah Colman must bring luck. From the moment she arrived as a freelance groom to do two shows with Scott Brash, who would later become the world no. one for an unbelievable sixteen consecutive months, the team went on to a winning streak. Not surprisingly, Scott kept Hannah – probably one of the best decisions he ever made – and what played out since the summer of 2013 is like a never ending fairy tale with new pages waiting to be turned.
The beginning was like it is for everybody though. Hannah went to college, did horses next to school – but wanted more of the latter. “When I was 17 I went to Manfred Marcel’s yard in Germany, and was send off to the Sunshine Tour. They were brilliant so I finished college and went back to them, and worked as a groom there for Tim Hoster. After that I came home for a little while and freelanced a little, and then Scott needed someone for two shows – Estoril and Chantilly. I went with, and Sanctos finished second and third in the Grand Prix classes. So it went pretty well, and I stayed,” Hannah says.
This 22 year old British girl is like a reflection of Brash. Calm, collected, quiet and relaxed – no wonder Scott and the horses like her. “My job is all quite easy,” she says. “Scott is really laid back, he is never causing stress. I get more stressed than him on a Grand Prix day I think. How he is must wear off on the horses. Scott trusts the people around him to let them do their job and that is his strong side – so it all becomes a big team effort. He is not a person that needs to control things down to the final detail. I think I get a bit like this though,” she laughs “he does not at all!”
With a horse like Hello Sanctos in the stable, it’s easy to believe that this is the horse that take up the most room in Hannah’s heart. But, as we ask we find out that Hannah has a different approach to the subject. “I try not to have a favourite, because all the horses are so nice. I also think it is important not to get a favourite horse, I am of the opinion they all need to be treated the same way. Scott treats them all the same, so why should I do it different? They all deserve the same amount of attention.”
That being said, Hannah is clear about the fact that Sanctos does get spoiled. But not necessarily by her, she laughs. “He gets a lot of sweets, but from everybody else. So he can be a bit naughty and nick them out of my hand, or get really disappointed with me if I bring a sweet for one of the other horses.”
Although his rider was no. one in the world, Sanctos did not get crowned in the same honourable way until late last summer. “He did not become no. one in the world until last August, and I was a little bit like ‘How is that possible?’ And it was actually annoying me a little bit, so I was very happy when it finally happened. Sanctos deserved it,” she smiles.
Not only is he one of the world’s best jumpers, Sanctos also has a lot of other qualities his groom reveals. "Sanctos has the best personality in the world. He is so laid back, and always the same – no matter where he is in this world – that being on a plane to Miami or at home getting his dinner. Sanctos is just such a nice horse,” Hannah says.
Being a real globe trotter – Sanctos travels all over the world; Doha, Miami, back to Europe – he definitely needs to be the relaxed type. “He is brilliant as a traveller, he always drinks and he loves his food – so if he does not eat or drink you know you have a problem,” Hannah says. “He is always good when he travels, and I never have to worry about him. If you have a scared horse going on a container to fly, he can get on the other side and travel with them – that’s what he is like.”
In one way, Sanctos is Hannah’s favourite though. “I don’t ride so much, but Sanctos I get on. He is my favourite to ride, because he is a bit more quiet than the rest of the group and he loves hacking out when we are at home. And of course he loves the field. Sanctos is the only horse at home I can take out first and bring in last, he will just be standing there eating his grass. He is a really simple horse.”
At Brash’s yard the horses go out every day, as long as the weather allows it. “I think they can go so sour if they are not turned out. These horses are often on the road for a few weeks in a row, and they can sometimes be stuck inside these show boxes for quite a long period of time. Then they go on the lorry, and then on to another show in another show stable. So when they are home, I believe they should get out.”
2015 will be an exciting year for Team Brash, with three new horses that recently joined the team. “We now have Hello Forever, Hello M’Lord and Hello Guv’nor. Forever is so nice, and so lovely – he is a joy to work with. M’Lord is very well behaved for a stallion, although he can be a bit loud sometimes. Guv’nor, well he is really cheeky – like a little kid. And he does things to annoy me,” she laughs. “But it’s been fun with some new ones!”
“Our mares Annie, Ursula and M’Lady are also so amazing. Ursula is the easiest horse for a mare, she is just so quiet and nice. I am really starting to love M’Lady, she is a bit quirky and wants to do things her own way and you kind of have to a little bit – I love to get to know her more and more,” Hannah smiles.
It’s not only the horses on Team Brash that are amazing though. “Our team at home is incredible,” Hannah states when asked about their key to success. “Kelly Fitzgerald – Scott’s rider at home – is fantastic. In 2013 when Sanctos won both the Grand Prix and the World Cup in Oslo, me and Scott had been away with Ursula and Bon Ami for one month. Kelly was riding Sanctos the whole time at home, and Scott was nearly never at there. Then he went straight to Oslo, and did what he did – that just shows how amazing our team at home is.”
“That being said,” she adds “I think Scott himself would do it anyway. He has got the right personality for it – if he has a plan he sticks to it, and will do his best to make that plan reality.”
This must make a pretty good work environment for anybody. “Yes,” Hannah says. “I love the feeling when the horses go well. The last one and a half year has been incredible. Sixteen months on top like that – that is just unbelievable. And when we went down to rank two, well then it was nice to see Daniel on top – nobody deserved more than him to become the new no. one.”
And with an amazing attitude like that, Hannah Colman and the rest of Team Brash will more than likely be able to get back on top any time soon – and deserve it.
Photos by Jenny Abrahamsson / text by Jannicke Naustdal - copyright © worldofshowjumping.com 2015.
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