‘It was touching’: top rider comes to the rescue when amateur’s stirrup snaps moments before supreme

  • When Robyn Butler was just moments from stepping into the amateur supreme championship at Wiltshire autumn show (24 September) she was panicked and horrified in equal measures when the stirrup on her vintage side saddle suddenly snapped beneath her.

    However, thanks to a generous showing producer, who is no stranger to success sitting aside herself, Robyn was able to contend the supreme final with her Irish Draught Carrabawn Francis (Chunky).

    Robyn, who works as the hospitality coordinator for Wincanton and Exeter racecourse, had placed third in the Royal International (RIHS) ladies’ hunter class that morning, being the highest placed amateur combination. Consequently, they booked themselves into the amateur supreme held in the evening performance.

    “This was only our fifth side saddle class and I’m still a newbie to riding sideways,” said Robyn, who has been partnered with 14-year-old Chunky for four years.

    The stitching on Robyn’s stirrup had completely come away

    “Just minutes before we were due to go into the supreme, I shuffled in my saddle and as I put all my weight into my left stirrup, it snapped; the stitching had completely gone. I panicked and thought that was it for Chunky and I.”

    Earlier in the day, Robyn had watched show horse producer Lynn Russell ride in one of the side saddle classes at the show. Thankfully, Lynn had not yet left the show ground at the time of the amateur supreme.

    “Side saddles have different fastenings for the stirrup, so finding another was always going to be a gamble,” continued Robyn. “I noticed Lynn’s lorry had not yet left the venue, so we rushed to find her. We managed to catch her and she lent us a stirrup so we could still compete in the class. Thankfully it had the same fitting despite it being far too long.

    “Unfortunately, it wasn’t the fairy tale ending of winning but Chunky performed a beautiful show considering the challenge of a too long stirrup being used by a not very experienced side saddle rider.

    “I owe a huge thank you to Lynn for helping an amateur like me have fun in an evening performance. As an amateur, I always look up to the pros and I aspire to be like them, so for one of the best in the business to help me out like that was really touching.”

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