Tales from Hickstead: Online dressage and university lectures pay off for Royal International-bound rider

  • ROYAL Agricultural University (RAU) student Robyn Butler made the most of lockdown to train and qualify two horses for her first ever Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) once restrictions were lifted and shows started up again. With her lectures taking place online, it meant she had more time to work her horses and the extra practise has paid off.

    Her Irish Draught Carrabawn Francis (Chunky) heads to the amateur midddleweight hunters while her Connemara gelding Lookout Laura’s Flash (Flash) qualified for the UK Ponies & Horses Intermediate M&M.

    “I’m currently in my second year at the RAU studying international equine and agricultural business management,” said Robyn. “Through the many lockdowns, I moved back home to Wiltshire so I could be back at home with the horses and do my lectures and assignments online.

    “We did a lot of online dressage during the pandemic to keep us motivated and work on our schooling, and it really helped prepare us for the ring. We came out again better than ever for the 2021 season, qualifying Chunky at the first show of the season at Wiltshire Show and Flash qualified at our first attempt at BSPS 13b.”

    Robyn bought 12-year-old Flash as a just-backed five-year-old seven years ago.

    “Covid has been putting everything back, so we didn’t go to our first show until Bath & West followed by Chard at BSPS 13b, which is where we qualified,” she said. “We were over the moon, especially as it was pouring down with rain all day.”

    She has owned 13-year-old Chunky, who hunts through the winter, for eight years.

    “We got him when he was five and all he had done was hunt,” said Robyn. “We bought him for my sister but she gave up, so my mum started riding him but she gets quite nervous in the ring, so I started competing him in 2018.”

    Robyn produces the horses herself.

    “We are as amateur as you can be – both horses have been stabled at the same local livery yard for the last nine years, and I am lucky that we have good schooling facilities as well as hacking to keep the boys fit and ready for shows,” added Robyn. “I am really excited to ride at Hickstead for the first time.”

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