ISSUE 62
JANUARY 2021
SAMMI &
GIZMO

FIND THEIR GROOVE
HAPPY DAYS
FOR HAYLEY
BERESFORD

JAMES PATERSON
-ROBINSON’S
FULL CIRCLE

PLUS: BLACK BEAUTY RIDES AGAIN, KERRY MACK, KELLY LAYNE, THE BILLY STUD, CAROLYN LIEUTENANT, DREAM BEACH ESCAPE, OTT TRANSFORMATION, HOW TO BEAT HEAT STRESS, THE POWER OF LIGHT & MORE!

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
click here to start reading

ISSUE 62

CONTENTS

JANUARY 2021
click on left side to read the previous article
click on right side to read the next article
scroll down or click icon to read article

A few Words

FROM THE CHAIRMAN

ROBERT MCKAY

Opinion

BACK TO THE FUTURE

RYAN’S RAVE BY HEATH RYAN

Eventing

SAMMI BIRCH & GIZMO FIND THEIR GROOVE

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Dressage

HAPPY DAYS FOR HAYLEY BERESFORD

BY ADELE SEVERS

Showjumping

FULL CIRCLE FOR JAMES PATERSON-ROBINSON

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Lifestyle

BLACK BEAUTY RIDES AGAIN

BY SUZY JARRATT

Dressage

KELLY LAYNE & SAMHITAS MAKE A SPLASH IN FLORIDA

BY ADELE SEVERS

Special feature

‘MAIZY’ LANDS ON HER FEET IN NEW ROLE

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Special feature

COURAGEOUS KIWI BLAZES HER OWN TRAIL (Part 6)

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Training

BUILDING BETTER RELATIONSHIPS

DR KERRY MACK

Health

THE POWER OF LIGHT

BY EQUILUME

Showjumping

EVERYONE NEEDS A BILLY!

BY ELLI BIRCH

Health

HOW TO BEAT HEAT STRESS

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

EQ Journeys

HIDDEN TREASURE OF DIAMOND BEACH

BY MELISSA RIMAC

My Favourite Dish

SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE

WITH JAMES PATERSON-ROBINSON
content placeholder
Previous
Next

Australian Olympian and WEG representative James Paterson-Robinson is back on home soil after 20 tumultuous years nailing the international circuit, and he couldn’t be happier.

“He was head and
shoulders above the
other students.”

James Paterson-Robinson was born in Carlton, Victoria, in 1978, and grew up in a rural riding community on the Bellarine Peninsula under the encouraging eye of his mother, Fay.

Fay had been a talented horsewoman on the Sydney scene, competing in eventing, including the Sydney three-day event when it was at Centennial Park, and the steeplechase at Randwick racecourse. James’s father died before he was born and Fay remarried Joseph Paxton Robinson, an ophthalmologist. They moved to Victoria to a property at Leopold, between Geelong and Queenscliff, and then to the nearby village of Wallington. Fay continued to ride for pleasure and training but didn’t compete after James was born. There was no need to, as James started very young – in fact, he competed at Melbourne Royal when he was two years old!

James never looked back, and has been a really stimulating, competitive and successful character all along. His attitude exudes confidence and bravado, and as much as he is a joker and fun-loving, there is a very serious side to him. He is diligent and hardworking and has an uncanny calmness and ability to focus when necessary. As a competition rider there are not many better. He has a will to win along with a clear understanding of how to train and get the best out of every horse. He is never ever slapdash and is forever learning and enjoying becoming a better rider and coach.

He attended Geelong College where he was a good student, but horses started to rule his life. He started out showing ponies and then galloways and hacks. His mother encouraged and helped him at every turn to make sure those turns were with the right people and in the correct direction.

He won many rider classes and show championships at all the Royal Shows on the east coast. He took up showjumping and he did some eventing at Pony Club. Fay eventually decided it was time for James to specialise and not be a ‘Jack of all trades’. She felt he’d had a smattering of experiences in many disciplines and it was time to decide on a path. At the same time he was showing, he took to showjumping and demonstrated natural flare and attitude.

At 15, straight from school, he was offered a position at David Brideoake’s property and invited to go overseas with two horses, Quamby and Zaphod, that David was taking to Wiesbaden, Helsinki, Drummond, Falsterbo and Hickstead. It was an amazing experience for the teenager and no doubt the catalyst for James to later return to Europe to indulge in the sport of showjumping that was starting to dominate his life.

On returning to Victoria, James’s Pony Club coach, Kate Wallace, who was a great friend of his mother, bought James a horse called Savoir Faire, and James continued the horse’s journey that had been started by Chris Smith. Impressively, James competed the grey at Grand Prix level at the age of 17. Kate was a great behind-the-scenes supporter of James and Fay. James went to work for Dirk Dijkstra at the Australian Equine Academy (AEA) at nearby Wallington Park, from where he rode young horses and stallions from small classes to Mini Prix and Grand Prix. He also had Savoir Faire there at the time and he is forever grateful to Kate Wallace for her support.

From here he decided to give it a crack by himself and started to break in horses and train others for good owners on 100 acres that was leased to him through a friend. All was going well until he seriously injured an ankle in a horse fall that rendered him unable to ride for a long time. He decided to go to Marcus Oldham College and do a horse business and management course. He applied for a scholarship and was awarded it over many applicants. The head horse management lecturer was the talented rider and coach, Chrissy Johnson.

“He was a very generous and giving young man,” Chrissy recalls. “Of course, he was head and shoulders above the other students in talent and practical and competitive ability, yet he was always humble and endearing to their needs. He was always there to help them out and be positive. He amazed me with his work ethic when we all knew he was a wild character at heart if let loose to have a great time. He was always respectful. It was obvious he was in a bit of a league of his own. He had a truck at the college and never, ever was it left dirty. He paid attention to detail and when it was time to toe the line he was always the first one up to the mark. He was competitive but was calm and it was in him to be this way.”

“With a pair of riding boots
but no money to his name, he went
to the other side of the world.”

Chrissy says it was obvious then that he was on a mission to make the most of his talent as a rider. “As I look back I am not at all surprised to have seen how successful he has been. Two Olympics and two World Equestrian Games and I believe he is only 42 now! I am also not surprised to see him back in Australia and again being unassuming (yet strong-minded in a good way) and helping others to get better and bring out the best in his students. As I said, he is a very generous, respectful and professional guy with a great work ethic… and I have to mention what a gem Fay his mother was!”

During his time at Marcus Oldham, James did a practical two weeks at Chris and Helen Chuggs’ Diamond B Farm. He then had two weeks off but decided to stay and work with George Sanna at Chatham Park. After completing his course, he returned to Diamond B and stayed for 10 months with Chris, riding many young horses and competing. He says it was “absolutely full on” and his head was spinning with information and riding and training and possibilities. He went home and needed a break. The time at Diamond B and with Chris had his head spinning, and not really having a clear direction didn’t suit James! He realised that to be successful you need to do the hard yards. He went on to do the hard work and is forever grateful for the opportunity to work with the likes of David Brideoake and Chris Chugg. It was tough at the time, but it set a valuable foundation.

He went home and was looking for another avenue when a few weeks later Edwina Tops-Alexander called from Belgium and asked him to come over. He took the challenge and with a pair of riding boots but no money to his name, he went to the other side of the world to work for Marc Suls with young horses in the Netherlands. (Marc Suls was a vet for the Swiss team at the Sydney Olympics and is one of the most respected vets in Europe). After a stint with Marc he returned to Edwina, however with her business in a transition period, he instead went to work for Alan Waldman again in the Netherlands and continued to train and compete, especially with young horses. He proved his worth and the results he gained at the World Young Horse Championships were staggering.

“The work wasn’t easy and doing 48
shows a year was quite some feat.”

In 2001 James won the five-year-old class at the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses at Domein Zangersheide in Lanaken (Belgium), with Cor De Son. In 2002 he was second with Miss Hans, and in 2003 he won the five-year-old class with Run DMC. In 2004 he was third in the six-year-old class. Not a bad run! From 2005 to 2007 James continued to be very successful with young horses, working for Neil Jones in the Netherlands. Then when he didn’t qualify for the World Championships in 2006, he went to Calgary, and the World Cup shows in Helsinki and Oslo, winning and placing in many classes. He also competed in the Grand Prix class at Eindhoven where he was third and then at the Spruce Meadows Masters. In 2003 James rode Sydney Aachen in the Olympic qualification event and qualified there for an Australian individual spot for the Athens Olympics, however Sydney was sold before the Olympics.

In 2008 James made another move to Ger Poels in the Netherlands and stayed there until 2015. It was a time where he started to see some real rewards for all his efforts. The work wasn’t easy and doing 48 shows a year was quite some feat. Often he would see horses truck off to a show while he stayed behind to work horses, and then fly to the show and ride before immediately flying home to ride the ones at home again ready for the next weekend. It sounds fantastic but it was taxing indeed and you need to have your head in the right place to cope with all the stress of not only the serious competition, but also the logistics involved. It is also a sport where horses are bought and sold for big money so the pressure to produce and look after owners’ interests and do the best thing for the equine athlete takes serious management.

In 2010, James had a great partnership with the black stallion Niack De L’Abbaye. He had him for the previous three years and knew the horse well. He took him to WEG in Kentucky where he was on the team with Edwina Tops-Alexander, Chris Chugg and Matt Williams; they came fifth in the teams and qualified for the London Olympics. Before Kentucky, James, with Chris Chugg, Phillip Lever and Paul Athanasoff, were also second in the Nations Cup in Lumen, Belgium as well, and what a great year that was.

“In 2012, James took
Lanosso to the Olympics.”

What was interesting was that all those years back, when James travelled with David Brideoake to Europe when he was 15 to groom, Paul Athanasoff travelled and groomed for Jenny Parlevliet on the same tour. Paul happened to be the reserve rider for WEG in Kentucky.

WEG aside, career highlights for James and Niack were winning the CSI4* Grand Prix at Twente in Geesteren (the Netherlands), as well as being one of only two double clears in the 2011 Nations Cup in Wellington, Florida (the other being McLean Ward and Sapphire). Quite some performances. The Australian team was also third there in the Nations Cup with Harley Brown, Thaisa Erwin, Damien Guthrie and James.

What also happened was that Vivant, of Chris and Helen Chugg, and Niack were both sold to the Ukrainian Alexander Onishchenko and both stallions competed at the London Olympics. It is always the way with the super talented horses that the money offered is too good to refuse and so many a great Australian ride is lost. James realises that is part and parcel of the competition scene in Europe and knows that his good horses may not be around for an Olympics or Worlds as they get snaffled up by the guys with the money and hunger to be super successful in the sport.

In 2012, James took Lanosso to the Olympics and in that Australian team, he was alongside Edwina Tops-Alexander with Itot De Chateau, Matt Williams with Catch Me, and Julia Hargreaves with Vedor. In the lead up to London, Lanosso and James won the Grand Prix at the qualification show at Bourg-en-Bresse, France. Lanosso, again like so many of the good horses, was sold after London. It was back to riding up to 10 horses a day at Ger Poels’ and travelling to qualifying shows in America, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Scandanavia, and Great Britain. Again for the 2014 WEG, James was on the Australian team, this time with a horse called Boris III. The team included Edwina, Jamie Kermond and Amy Graham. Boris was fourth at Hickstead CSIO5* and James was winning until the last three went in — Beezie Madden, Marcus Ehning and Bertram Allen. After WEG, the Australian team was second in the Challenge Cup (in Barcelona) and equal with the USA.

James then had Athene from a six-year-old to a 10-year-old and was for sure heading to the Rio Olympics, but after changing stables the ride on Athene was lost. The horse went on to jump a double clear in the Nations Cup at Aachen with his new rider. Then in 2015, James moved back to ride for Alan Waldman on young horses and had the ride on Grand Prix horse Amarillo at the 2016 Rio Olympics alongside Aussie team members Edwina, Matt and Scott Keach.

The year 2017 was not such a great year as James had a fall from a horse in a competition, landing on his outstretched right leg, shattering the femur and ramming it into his knee. It was two weeks in agony in a cast and then major surgery to piece the leg back together followed by a long rehab. James actually tried to make a video of himself riding after some months to send to his mother. The effort was so painful that he did not try to ride for several more months. From August until December it was physio and hydrotherapy every day. At this time he was helping Anky van Grunsven’s brothers, Wilco and Eric, who had showjumping yards next to her. James gave their children, Demi and Jens, riding lessons. James also rode two young stallions at small shows and helped the kids with their competition skills at the same time. That year he met Sarah Duggan, an English rider who was then riding in Holland for Albert Zoer. Their relationship grew and in 2019 they went to spend two weeks with Sarah’s parents in England and they stayed three months.

James had not returned home much since packing his boots and an overnight bag all those years ago. He returned in 2004 to judge the jumping at Dressage and Jumping with the Stars in Melbourne. He came back again in 2017 for Jamie Kermond and Jamie Winning’s wedding and later that year for Christmas, and then again in 2018. In 2019 he visited their property, Yandoo Park at Ebenezer, NSW, to do some coaching and then went to shows with the Yandoo group at Boneo Park (Victoria) and the Canberra Championships. He was here with Sarah and they were looking at becoming partners in Yandoo. After a successful tour, coaching and competition time, Sarah and James and Jamie and Jamie became partners in Yandoo. Of course, Murphy’s Law prevailed, and the Covid year came along, which meant no shows and only training for all.

However, there were some positives to the situation. “Actually, it gave us all the chance to get right back to the grass roots and to really sort out our basic principles in the school and training and in fact was a plus,” says James. “We simply all had the time to change some ideas and consolidate without having any pressures about getting out there and proving our worth in the competition arena. A lot of our work is about flatwork and getting a horse to be supple, but most importantly straight. We also spend a lot of time on position and soft-balanced riding and so this year has been a blessing to get all these principles ingrained a little more so with the new year we can forge ahead with a strong baseline.”

I ask James who was the biggest influence on his riding and without hesitating he says, “My mother”. He then rattles off such influential names as Albert Voorn, George Morris and Rob Ehrens, the Dutch national coach, to mention a few. He adds that when he was at Ger Poels’ for all those years, once a week he had dressage lessons with a very old school disciplinarian in John Swaab who would often put James on the lunge for balance and position work. James agrees it was an essential part of his training and brought home, yet again, the need for balanced, straight riding. Horses need to be relaxed and know their job with the rider having the feeling of being able to rebalance and close up the horse from the back to the front. Once learnt in working paces, it’s so important to have this feeling when you are riding at 350 metres a minute. It is something that Aussie riders do not focus on enough, as often the time allowed in Australia is generous and riders don’t learn the use of the half-halt and rebalancing at the more ground-covering speeds.

“The added bonus is
there are no more freezing,
miserable winters.”

“It’s great to be back in Australia and the reason is that I love this country. My leg isn’t the greatest and I can no longer compete to my best at the high grades at the moment and so I’d rather get fit and strong again,” says James. “I want to ride at the lower levels and build up to Grand Prix again, and I have to say that at Yandoo I am doing exactly this. With what I have experienced in the years I have been away I feel I can really help the riders as well.

“Yandoo, with Sarah, Jamie and Jamie Kermond, is a fantastic establishment and the students I coach are all exciting for the future. With the experienced ones it’s about the icing on the cake and keeping the mind in the right place. Sarah and I are so looking forward to the coming years and to see where it leads us, and that is hoping to produce some very talented horses and riders through the levels to Grand Prix, and for us to have a top Grand Prix ride as well. I have to say that our sponsors need a huge thanks — CWD (saddles), Kingsland, GPA Helmets and GPI Racing. We are on track so far and loving the decision to move back home. Sarah has some great horses and is a super-talented rider herself and coach with a sharp and great eye for detail. We are going to really enjoy the challenges and take them head-on. The added bonus is there are no more freezing, miserable winters, which I never got used to!”

James Paterson-Robinson is one interesting man with a huge wealth of experience who sourced out the right places to be, to gain the most experience he could. He has worked hard and long and the experience he has gained is incredible. Two Olympics and two WEGs… what an achievement yet he remains modest and humble and we look forward to seeing him competing again and seeing his students making their mark.

Here’s to an exciting 2021… let’s hope! EQ

×

Enter your name and email to view the content.



* By providing your email via this form, you agree to receiving emails from Equestrian Life. You can unsubscribe at any time.