‘I broke my leg and I thought that was game over’: top rider defies the odds to achieve success at Winter Dressage Championships *H&H Plus*

  • Sam Roberts is a name probably best known in the showing world, with several large championship titles to her name. However, keen-eyed competitors at the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships will have spotted her riding between the white boards earlier this week (30 June).

    Sam finished a very creditable eighth on 71.02% in the Baileys Horse Feeds novice freestyle silver championship aboard her incredibly consistent mountain and moorland show pony, Moelview Prince Consort. But Sam didn’t have the most straightforward of journeys to these championships.

    “I broke my leg eight weeks ago when I was riding at a show and the pony I was riding slipped and fell on top of it – that was two days after I had taken Moelview Prince Consort, or ‘Chip’ as he is known at home, to our regional dressage championships, and I thought that was the end of my chance of competing here,” explains Sam, who also had a baby in January. “I’ve broken that leg before and it already had a metal rod in there, and now it has a plate and five screws in there too.”

    Sam trains with Alice Oppenheimer and Alice was adamant that Chip would love to still compete at Hartpury if there was a chance Sam would be back in the saddle in time after she received a wild card entry to the championships.

    “Alice said ‘we can’t not take your pony – he is amazing!’, but I was only allowed to ride again last Saturday, so I managed to ride on each of the four days from then until our class on Wednesday,” laughs Sam. “I was really lucky that Georgie Nichols, who works for Alice is literally 10 minutes down the road, and so she came down to ride Chip for me twice a week, and and my mum has been lungeing and long-reining him too. I did a lot of physio to help me get back on board more quickly – if you trotted me up, I’d be lame, but I managed sitting trot competing here so it’s not too bad!

    “The whole year has been a bit special, shall we say! We sort of winged it this week – I only practised running through my test to the music once, but he was awesome – he’s such a showman.

    “He is just the coolest pony but dressage is my hobby, it’s not my job and I fit it in around my shows,” explains Sam, who has won at Royal Windsor, Olympia and had great success at Horse of the Year Show with Chip, an 11-year-old, 13.2hh Welsh section B stallion. “He loves a good atmosphere and he very much rises to an occasion – he smiles and just loves it.”

    Chip has by no means retired from the show ring but Sam says he is saved for “the big occasions” now.

    “Without sounding arrogant, he’s won so much and so he doesn’t really need to be in the show ring all the time, but he loves his dressage – he’s won a Petplan area festival and has been in the top 10 at every winter and summer dressage championships he has contested.

    “He puts a smile on my face and everybody else’s face and he always gives 100% – when people clapped at the end of his test, he just stood there and soaked it up – he loves it.”

    Read the full report from the Winter Dressage Championships in the 8 July 2021 issue of Horse & Hound magazine, and keep checking back to horseandhound.co.uk for more news and features.

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