EQ LIFE: So, after considering hanging up your riding boots forever, you have decided to buy a new horse and continue riding. Can you tell us what changed your mind?
ROGER: Perhaps it is a delusion of grandeur – or a late midlife crisis! Or perhaps I’m lost for words as to why. Bloomfield Vision found me, as weird as that may sound – and not being that sort of person that thinks horses necessarily find you – I truly believe that is what happened in this case.
My life originally started with competitive sailing, and I think genetically I’m a very competitive person. I produced several Grand Prix horses and many, many show hacks who were crowned champions at royal shows. Early on I dedicated my life to eventing and was shortlisted for the Olympics, however, following a spinal injury, jumping and the forward seat was aggravating – and so I made the switch the dressage. The mental as well as the physical process that goes into producing a dressage horse has always enthralled me.
The last horse I had, Amerigo, by Alabaster, I managed to get to Grand Prix, but he was quite a lazy soul; quite talented, but a little introverted. Being of a mature age, I eventually found him quite hard work and lacking enthusiasm, and despite him being up to all the Grand Prix movements, he no longer excited me. I rode less and less, and then unfortunately Amerigo got Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and became quite ill; about four months ago he was sadly put to rest after a bout of laminitis.
I was quite saddened at not having a horse, yet nothing really enthused me to want to ride. The lack of fitness on my part, my changing body shape, and aches and pains from arthritic joints didn’t encourage me to get out and find a new horse. I found myself finally via a good friend who loved sailing and has a wonderful 45-foot yacht. My attention turned from horses to sailing (well, sailing… and pottering around the Sydney Harbour, swimming, enjoying great food and drinking champagne) and it was, for two days every week, like heaven.
All the same, there was still something within me that simply loved horses and dressage. My life is spent coaching, which I simply adore, and when I coach I feel that I’m actually sitting on the horse and riding while voicing opinion. My mind often thought that I would love to find a beautiful, trainable and exciting horse that I could perhaps put all my experience and coaching skills into that I’ve gained over the years. I did look at many, but none of them really touched me.
I was at a property going to coach and as I walked to the arena, a very beautiful brown horse walked over to the edge of his yard and put his neck over the fence and said to me, ‘I think you should come and give me a pat’, which I did. That was very cunning of him, and a big mistake on my part. He was absolutely beautiful, full of confidence but gentle and quiet; I inquired who it was and it was simply of course there for some training – not for sale. I was informed that it was owned by Cheryl Ludlow. A few weeks later at the Sydney CDI, I saw Cheryl and commented on what a beautiful horse she had. I didn’t even know its breeding.