And now for something completely different… The Whitaker family goes cross-country

  • The Whitaker name is synonymous with the sport of showjumping, so seeing the legendary family tackle some cross-country fences caught us all by surprise.

    But, as Robert Whitaker tells Horse & Hound, they loved every minute of the experience. He and his wife Kate took their daughters Evie, eight, and five-year-old Millie, both keen riders, to a local cross-country schooling venue near Lingfield, Surrey, and as these pictures show, it all came naturally to this gifted equestrian clan.

    “We’ve taken them once before and they loved popping over some small logs and cross-country fences,” says Robert.

    Evie is mounted on the lovely 12.2hh Buttons, with whom she has been showjumping competitively in classes between 60cm and 80cm, while her younger sister Millie is riding the sweet grey pony called Magnum. Both are clearly showing huge talent in the saddle, clearing the fences in great style.

    “I think it’s good for them to do a bit of everything,” Robert tells H&H. “They are really keen and it’s great that we can all go out and do something together. They’re enjoying it all and having fun, which is the main thing.

    “Evie’s done a bit of Pony Club and been to Pony Club camp – it’s the best way to learn.”

    But even Robert admitted he’d benefitted from the experience with the eight-year-old I’m Special Too, who has been showjumping successfully up to CSI3* level, but was equally in his element over these rustic obstacles.

    “He’d never been cross-country before but he’s maybe a bit spooky at shows, so it was good to do something different,” he says. “I didn’t jump anything too massive! But it was good  to have a play around and show him a few different natural fences.”

    Might we see the Whitaker name on the start list at Badminton or Burghley? Watch this space…

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