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My Lucky Break

Soon after the year with Domini and Charlie, Brugs had the good fortune to experience two events which, together, brought about a huge change in her life.

The first was her parents’ purchase of Cockley Cley Weatherman (Spotty ), who quickly became the love of her young life and with whom she immediately established a wonderful relationship.

The second was her meeting with Franc Rochowansky ( Rocky), an Oberberieter from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, who originally came to the UK to train Jennie Loriston Clarke Kadett & Dutch Courage, but stayed on to work with Sarah Whitmore and Dutchman, and then Olympian Vicky Thompson and Enfant.

As a result of these, at 17yrs old, Brugs started weekly lessons under Rocky. These weekly lessons quickly became daily sessions and eventually led to Brugs working full time for Vicky & Rocky at Sedgewick Park in West Sussex. At this time, Spotty stayed at Sedgewick as a weekly boarder, returning home with Brugs each weekend to act as escort horse for her parents Riding School.

Herr Franz Rochowansky - Chief Rider Spanish Riding School (1937 - 1955)


Rocky was an incredible trainer, a wonderful rider and passionate about horses. He treated everyone as an equal while requiring strict discipline of those under training with him. He tolerated no speaking on lessons, in which, as in the Spanish Riding School, only word of mouth training was given.

He didn’t care much for book training and Brugs remembers competing from Novice to Grand-Prix without ever looking at a book on dressage, although, on one occasion he showed her Harry Boldt’s book which had recently been recently translated into English. Unfortunately, at the ripe old age of 90yrs., Rocky passed away on October 22nd 2001. He continued teaching to the very end and will be sadly missed by all who had the honour of knowing him.

Rocky, Brugs, Blair and Spotty

Cockley Cley Weatherman (Spotty) 16hh Blanket Spot Appaloosa gelding


During that first year at Rocky’s, for the first time Brugs competed at Medium Level on Spotty and has never looked back from there.

In the second year she rode at a friendly International Young Rider show held at Goodwood, a event which was quite new to the UK and a fantastic inspiration to all the young riders who took part.

By the following year, most were competing at Prix St George and in the spring they went to the Selection Trails for the Young Riders Team where, for four consecutive years, Spotty & Brugs were chosen to represent Great Britain at the C.D.A.Y. and once again with Catweazle, who was kindly lent to her.

It was not all plain sailing, however, as Brugs recalls:

I’m very proud of Spotty, he was a Blanket Spot Appaloosa and the only one to get to Grand Prix in Britain. Back in those days there was a lot of prejudice against a coloured horse representing GB, or even riding graded, but Rocky loved him & we had an ally in the F.E.I. judge, the late Mr.Pott.

In a Horse and Hound article by written by Jane Kidd, Spotty & Brugs were named as the youngest combination to train to GP in the UK.

In 1988 they qualified for the National Champs at Grand Prix level and were placed. From this the selectors eventually picked them to ride at a friendly International at Beek in Holland called a C.D.A.

They also competed in the Selection Trails for the Olympics, for which they were short-listed.

Nationally, Spotty won so many honours that it would be too much to list them here, but it is worth noting that he was National Gelding Appaloosa Champion, winning the Riding Horse class and Working Hunter class at the Breed show for many years. (With Brugs they even entered the Western Pleasure one year, which he duly won.) But he also loved riding on the beach, jumping, hunting, going in the field & drinking tea from his extra large mug. He lived life to the full every day with a huge amount of energy and had a huge, kind, but cheeky personality. Spotty was a remarkable horse, with a tremendous following and loved by all who met him. He retired at home and was only put down at the age of 28yrs

(More about Spotty can be found in Ann Hyland’s book Appaloosa, which has a chapter devoted to him.)

Spotty at Goodwood

Representing GB

Grand Prix

International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds - Appaloosa Book