Five minutes with: Show producer Justine Armstrong-Small *H&H Plus*

The show producer on painting jumps in her smart jacket, hankering for a palomino and her missed vocation

  • Justine is a professional show rider and producer who has won at all major shows including Horse of the Year Show, where she was supreme in 2003 with the working hunter Zin Zan. She is known for her achievements both in worker ranks and in flat classes, most recently with the middleweight Carlingfords King.

    What was the last book you read?
    The Beekeeper’s Cottage by Emma Davies. It had loads of complex twists and storylines; I loved it. I don’t get the chance to read very often but I took this one with me on holiday to Tenerife.

    What are your favourite tunes for a road-trip?
    I usually have the radio on but if we go to a show the kids plug their iPhones in and we listen to all the chart music. It gets our spirits up.

    Which famous person would you invite to dinner?
    Robbie Williams; I’ve always been a big fan.

    If you weren’t a rider, you would be…
    I actually wanted to be a barrister when I was younger. I was due to go to law school but took a year out and never ended up going.

    Do you speak any other languages?
    Not particularly, I gave up both German and French when I was at school.

    What’s your favourite country?
    I’m always stuck in downtown Upshire. I once went on a trip to Johannesburg and while it wasn’t necessarily my favourite place it was very interesting.

    What’s your most annoying habit?
    Probably looking at my phone when I’m meant to be doing other things. I also drink too much tea. I regretted not putting a bet on Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham, he would have been a very apt choice.

    How many dogs do you have?
    I have a Jack Russell called Tia Maria. She is a rescue dog. Her owner had passed away and showman Chris Nicholson posted an advert to see if anyone could take her on. My mum had recently lost her dog, so I said we’d have her. Though she was meant for Mum she’s become attached to me. I also have a cat called Mable – she and Tia are arch-enemies.

    What got you into the most trouble as a child?
    Painting all our showjumps while wearing my best show jacket.

    What is the best thing you cook?
    I do an amazing omelette with ham and cheese. I like to use cream cheese; its delicious.

    How are you and your horses coping during the coronavirus crisis?
    It will be business as usual, though it will be different not having a specific focus. But we will carry on. We might go riding in Epping Forest which we don’t normally do as we’re usually out showing every weekend.

    What are you going to do more of during the lockdown?
    I plan to spring-clean the house and tidy the yard. We’ll have a major sort-out and get everything organised.

    Give us the lowdown on your future top horse
    I bought a potential horse worker, called Ballypatrick Liberty. We were planning on doing the six-year-olds at Windsor. He came from a showjumping yard and he has a serious pop.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 7 May 2020