‘The best decision I’ve ever made’: dressage riders celebrate their engagement

  • Two riders who described meeting at the under-25 European Dressage Championships last year as “fate” have got engaged.

    Dressage rider Lewis Carrier, 24, proposed to Olivia Robertson, 26, on Sunday evening (13 February) at the Hogarths Hotel in Solihull, where the pair were staying while Lewis was attending World Class training this week.

    Lewis was competing on the British squad at the under-25 European Championships in Hagen, Germany, in September 2021 when he met Olivia, who was grooming for her friend Alex Harrison as a favour. The pair “hit it off”, and met again a week later at the British Dressage national championships at Somerford.

    “I was only at the Europeans because Alex’s groom wasn’t able to go so I stepped in to give him a hand. It feels like fate – I wasn’t really meant to go, but it’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Olivia, an international dressage rider who competes under the Canadian flag and who also works in PR and marketing.

    Olivia and Lewis said they have “crammed in a lot” since getting together five months ago, and have been through “more dramas” than most couples, owing to Olivia breaking a number of vertebrae in a hacking fall on 9 January.

    “I heard a crack and couldn’t feel anything from my hips down. The next day I had surgery to put in a metal rod and create a space for the vertebrae to knit back together. The surgeon said afterwards that I could have been paralysed from my injuries and I’d been very lucky,” said Olivia.

    “When I got out of hospital I spent a week at Lewis’s parents’ house in Norfolk so I didn’t need to travel home to Bristol, and I began rehab. A decision will be made in 8 to 10 months if the metalwork can come out, and there’s a long road ahead – but the surgeon can’t believe how quickly I’m progressing. It’s still very frustrating because I just want to get up and go, but I’m holding on to the fact it’s only really been a month since the fall.”

    Lewis said it was a “very difficult” time for the couple, but it had shown “how strong” they were.

    “Mentally it was difficult for me, but I can’t imagine how difficult it was for Liv. She has done amazingly,” he said.

    “I had already planned to propose around Valentine’s Day, and thankfully I was still able to do that. We had planned to celebrate Valentine’s on the Sunday because of the training on Monday (14 February) so we had a meal and after that we went for a walk round the garden. It’s a hotel we’ve been to before and they’ve got really nice fairy lights around the garden so I thought it would be the perfect place. I finally plucked up the courage.

    “I don’t usually get nervous competing and have ridden at three Europeans now, but getting down on one knee was one of the scariest things I’ve done!”

    Olivia said it was an easy decision to make.

    “I know it sounds mad but even a month in, I thought ‘this is the guy I’m going to marry’. I’ve never been so happy,” she said.

    Olivia plans to focus on her rehab this year, while Lewis will be competing at his first senior international at Keysoe next month with his Europeans ride Diego, with hopes for team selection in future. The couple said they are in “no rush” to plan the wedding, but are looking potentially at 2024.

    “We have got a lot to think about in terms of buying a house, and where we decide to be based but we’re both easy-going and as long as we’re together we’ll make it work,” said Olivia.

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