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‘I couldn’t say no to The Queen!’: dressage rider retrains RoR Horse of the Year for Her Majesty

Dressage rider Louise Robson has been riding 13-year-old Quadrille for his owner/breeder, The Queen, since the ex-racehorse was five, and on Saturday, 18 January, he was crowned Horse of the Year at the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Awards in Newmarket.

“He’s a proper character and I always have a neck strap on him. He’s never naughty, he’s just a very bouncy, happy and cheeky horse,” said Louise of the son of Danehill Dancer.

“Thoroughbreds are starting to hold their own in dressage. You find many ex-racehorses at prelim up to elementary, but not so many at the higher levels. Once they are past those lower levels, they have to be pushed harder — both mentally and physically.”

She added: “But thoroughbreds always try hard for you, and Quadrille defies all logic, he is croup high and we’ve had to work hard on his trot and canter. He’ll move onto Inter II classes this year. He can now do canter pirouettes, passage and piaffe — it’s taken patience and time, but I adore him.”

Louise Robson and Quadrille. Credit: Thoroughbred Dressage

Louise, who specialises in retraining former racehorses and runs Thoroughbred Dressage in Buckinghamshire, has enjoyed winning many accolades with the former Richard Hannon Senior-trained gelding, including success at the National Championships.

Quadrille is the second racehorse Louise has retrained for The Queen — the first was Mister Glum, who retired from his post-racing career in 2013.

The introduction to The Queen came through a mutual friend of Louise’s who knew Terry Pendry, Her Majesty’s head groom, when they were looking to rehome Mister Glum.

After that successful partnership, Louise was asked to take on Quadrille and she also has a third horse for The Queen, called Prince’s Trust.

“I went to Windsor Castle to try Quadrille and could tell straightaway he was a lovely type of horse,” said Louise. “I wasn’t convinced to start with he had the paces for dressage, but I couldn’t say no to The Queen!

“As soon as I started doing lateral work with him, he made it all feel so easy. I never expected this much from him, but I have given him plenty of time to develop and never pushed him beyond his ability.”

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Louise is invited to Windsor Castle “once or twice a year” and takes The Queen’s horses there for her to see.

“She always asks after them whenever I go to Windsor and tells wonderful stories about each horse. She is the most fantastic horsewoman,” said Louise. “She is a brilliant owner/breeder, who loves and cares about her horses so much and wants to see them through from foaling to their post-racing careers.

“She loves watching her horses and always has a bag of carrots with her. I keep Terry updated with how The Queen’s horses are, what they are up to and often send pictures of them. He always replies ‘I’ll tell the boss in the morning!’ It makes me extremely proud to be riding for The Queen.”

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