Meet a married couple competing at Badminton: a building site manager and a rider who almost gave up after pregnancy complications

  • There are two married couples competing at this year’s Badminton Horse Trials, presented by Mars Equestrian. One of them is New Zealand’s Tim and Jonelle Price, and the other is Kirsty and Arthur Chabert. But, unlike Tim and Jonelle, who are both full-time event riders, the dynamic is slightly different for Kirsty and Arthur.

    Kirsty events full-time, while Arthur works full-time as a building site manager.

    “Arthur only has two horses; his top one and a youngster, so he’s very much a professional amateur,” explains Kirsty. “We’ve got a great team at home that support us. Each day Arthur comes home from work at 6pm, rides his two horses, reads a bedtime story to our three-year-old son Henry and then we do it all again the next day.”

    Arthur Chabert and Goldsmiths Imber

    Arthur Chabert and Goldsmiths Imber

    Kirsty and Arthur married in December 2016 and make up Team Opposition, based near Salisbury in Wiltshire at Landford Common Stud, which was set up by Kirsty’s parents, John and Debbie Johnston. At this year’s Badminton, Kirsty is riding Classic VI, and was first to go, posting a 32.8 dressage score this morning (5 May). Arthur, who competes under the French flag, rides Goldsmiths Imber and the pair will perform their dressage on Friday.

    “We’ve competed as a couple for a while now, so we’re in sync with it,” says Kirsty. “We’re both here for the same reason, but we have different plans as we are riding very, very different horses. Classic is a fiery little thing, while Arthur’s is a much rangier type.

    “I sent them both to Burghley in 2019 for their first five-star and they made it like a BE90 track – there’s not many horses that could do that for you to be confident enough to go to Burghley for your first five-star and pick up a rosette at the end of it for finishing 17th.

    “At these sorts of competitions we try and keep ourselves to ourselves on the plan side of things, and then we can discuss elements as and when we need to.”

    Kirsty gave birth to Henry in December 2018, and things were far from straightforward.

    “I was in labour for quite a few days and then ended up having an emergency C-section,” explains Kirsty, who has a number of five-star completions to her name. “I had quite a few complications following that in 2020 when the pandemic hit. I came back to riding, but I was in so much pain while trying to ride sitting trot that I very nearly gave up – that was horrible, because I really like doing dressage, but the pain made it very hard and the feeling of not enjoying dressage was horrible.”

    Thankfully Kirsty says she is feeling much better now.

    “I’ve had some surgery and that’s all sorted now so we’re looking forward to the rest of this week.”

    Read our full Badminton form guide in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound (issue dated 5 May 2022). Our bumper 20-page Badminton report will be in our 12 May issue and keep fully up-to-date with all the action during Badminton week via horseandhound.co.uk, where a host of features and reports will be published.

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