Lynn Russell is one of the most successful riders on the show circuit. She’s outspoken and forthright and has a reputation for being able to transform scruffy cobs into Wembley champions.
Lynn grew up in Surrey and first got into horses via the riding school route.
As a teenager, Lynn¨s artistic talents shone and when she was due to leave school she had to decide between going to art college or working with horses. Eventually Lynn decided on a career with horses and started workingas a groom, looking after hunters.
But then Lynn had a bad accident where she was kicked and smashed her leg which put her off horses to the extent that she decided to work for Avis rent-a-car instead as a sales rep.
It wasn’t long before Lynn started riding again and began to buy her own horses. She then moved into Avis’s advertising department where she had an understanding boss who used to let her take time off to go show jumping.
To begin with, showing wasn’t Lynn¨s great passion in life and she says she got into the sport by accident.
“I bought a four-year-old black gelding to show jump and decided to ride him in a working hunter class at the Goring and District Riding Club Show.
“The judge said Ishould show him as a hunter and the world of showing suddenly became more appealing. I continued to show the horses and ended up qualifying for Wembley. I never show jumped again!”
As competing became a more important part of her life, Lynn realised she was going to have to choose between her career and her horses.
Lynn rented some stables and started to buy and sell horses on a small scale to help fund her competing.
After marrying Dave, Lynn expanded her business and moved to a yard with more land. The dealing business continued to grow and she soon developed the knack of buying horses for peanuts and turning them into winners.
Although life was going well for Lynn, it took a bit of a conflict with the Show, Hack & Cob Association (SHCA) to propel her to the top of the showing tree.
“I had a lovely dappled grey cob called Cosmic and we soon started winning. I had a very successful first half of the season and then I got a call from the SHCA to say that Cosmic needed re-measuring,” she recalls.
Showing rules state that this has to be carried out by a vet, but on the day of the measuring, a horse had just been put down in the yard in front of Cosmic and he measured ¬in over. Lynn was convinced this was due to him having his back up after being upset.
Cosmic was measured by three different vets and the cob measured in. Lynn then approached the SHCA again and Cosmic was re-measured as under 15hh and allowed to compete in the relevant classes.
From then on, Lynn¨s career as a show producer took off and has kept going. It’s now unusual to read a report of a major show and not see Lynn Russell’s name among the winners.
After such a long time at the top of her profession, what is it that makes Lynn get out of bed?
“I always get a kick out of buying a real bit of rubbish. A horse that’s nappy, naughty or looks like a hat rack and then turning it into something amazing.”