A HOST of young riders helped fly the flag for Yorkshire at this summer’s Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials.
With the likes of 20-somethings Holly Woodhead, James Sommerville and Charlotte Brear all excelling, the county’s future of British Eventing is in excellent hands.
But Hull eventer Rachel Robinson remains determined to fly the flag for the ‘established brigade’ admitting at 47 years of age: “I’m not maxed out yet!”
Robinson is enjoying an action-packed summer competing on four separate horses whilst also holding a full-time job and being mother to eight-year-old Bud and husband to her farmer partner Andrew. The couple have been married for 12 years, during which time Rachel has gradually progressed to competing regularly at CCI and CIC three-star level, so much so that the rider was able to make her third appearance at Bramham in 2016, some 22 years after her first.
After debuting at the Yorkshire venue in 1994 on Triton Brigadier, Rachel and MJI Limmerick Bell returned to the venue 20 years on in 2014 to finish 43rd in the CCI three-star class of 2014. Robinson and her equine star were back for more in the same event this year in which they filled the same finishing position as two years earlier.
CIC three-star outings have since followed at both Burgham and Hartpury International, with evergreen Rachel rightly proud of her achievements in coping admirably with a quadruple balancing act of being wife, mum, eventer and full-time employee.
“I envy people who just work with horses and compete,” says Rachel, who is a director of All She Surveys Ltd and an associate at Assent Building Control. “Sometimes my head is a shed.
“I try to leave early for big events to try and sleep and focus a little as being a mum and a wife is also quite tiring.
“Building a lego police station or an airfix Lancaster bomber while you are trying to work and learn a dressage test is tricky and I do make expensive mistakes.
“I need to somehow make a little more ‘room on the shelf.’
“I saw a sport psychologist last year – she said I had poor concentration but I had a lot of potential given how far I had come with it. I am working on that but at the end of the day money buys time. I suppose if I just had as many FEI points as speeding points I’d have cracked the balancing act!
“But it’s a thrill to be able to compete at the top level and I am not maxed out yet!”
Amazingly, this year marks Robinson’s 25th year of competing under the British Eventing banner, and the rider can still vividly, and poignantly, remember her first.
“I started riding when I was about seven or eight,” recalled Robinson.
“My parents bought my sister and brother and I a pony when I was 10.
“I was hooked from the start.
“I then started eventing when I was 21 on my birthday.
“My dad died out of the blue in 1989 and it really gave me something to focus on.
“My dad had bought me an unbroken three-year-old called Triton Brigadier who was my first horse and went to Advanced in four years.
“I did Bramham on him. He pulled 45 places after the dressage in 1994 and it was the best day of my life.”
Two more outings at Bramham were to follow, but Robinson hopes her visits to the Yorkshire course are not done yet, with the eventer even dreaming of Burghley or Badminton.
Robinson also competes on MJI Maktub, Meirama and Mobile Sizer, but MJI Limerick Bell is the definite stable star.
Robinson pondered: “We need to qualify four star and this horse has the scope and is bold enough. But I am old enough now to be able to enjoy the journey and enjoy it we do.”