A tribute to Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee

Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee at the Luhmuhlen CIC3*. Photo courtesy of Kerstin Hoffman.

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A tribute to Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee

Yesterday, the horse world lost an incredible and beloved equine athlete. Canadian eventer, Kathryn Robinson was competing her Rio Olympic mount, Let It Bee at Burnham Market when he collapsed and died between fences on the Advanced cross-country track. 

Musketeer Event Management released the following statement: “It is with great sadness that we announce that number 860, Let It Bee ridden and owned by Kathryn Robinson, died whilst competing in the Advanced class at approximately 5pm at Burnham Market International in Norfolk on 30th March 2018. Let It Bee, a 17-year-old gelding, collapsed between fences 13 and 14. No further details are available at present.”

In the fall of 2014, Eventing Connect featured Kathryn in our “Top 30 Under 30” series, which featured the most promising eventers who were under 30-years-old. After this article was written Kathryn and Let It Bee went on to represent Canada at two major games – the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games and the 2016 Rio Olympics. Let’s take a ride down memory lane to remember of one of Canada’s top event horses and Kathryn’s journey with him…

 

“I think the highest and lowest points are the important ones. Anything else is just…in between.” Jim Morrison

Riding the Eventing roller coaster would sum up 2014 for 29 year-old, Kathryn Robinson (CAN). After a successful and competitive spring, she was chosen to represent Canada at the 2014 World Equestrian Games. Ten days later she found out she was ineligible, as she had not submitted her paperwork by the required date. Moving on from her disappointment like a true professional, she put Pau in her sights as her four-star event for the year. Despite elimination at Pau in 2012 and 2013, Kathryn with grit and determination was up for the challenge a third time. It paid off. Finishing in 7th with a personal best, this is one of the most competitive results that a Canadian has achieved at a four-star in years.

With humility and grace, Kathryn perseveres despite the hard knocks that are common in Eventing. She is a rising star and is here to stay making her one of the worlds ‘Top 30 Under 30’.

I am Canadian
Despite her endearing British accent, Kathryn is Canadian. Her Canadian roots come from her mother who hails from Bracebridge, Ontario (right down the road from Eventing Connect headquarters). Her Dad is British. Her parents met in England and married then they moved to Canada. Before Kathryn was born, her dad inherited a family farm in England and moved the family there. This is where Kathryn grew up. However, she has spent many summers in Ontario’s cottage country and even visited during a few winters.

Kathryn’s parents are not ‘horsey’. Her love of horses came about on her own with her best friend. “There were horses in the village and my best friend and I went to a riding school because we were pony mad. My parents do not understand horses that much but they are really supportive,” she says.

There was one horse in particular that made Kathryn realize that she wanted to be a professional Eventer. Hugo Simon turned her on to Eventing when she was around 19. He was a well-traveled horse and had evented in Brazil. The rider of the horse at the time allowed his sister to bring Hugo Simon to England when she moved to study abroad. Kathryn says “She did a bit of Eventing with him but he never really kicked off so he got put up for sale. I bought him and he was the horse that actually made me get into Eventing. He was not great in dressage but he was an amazing cross-country horse and I caught the bug.”

Confidence conquers all
Fast-forward a number of years, a few horses and Kathryn almost lost her confidence as an Eventer. The wrong horse really had her questioning her abilities. “I did not have a fall or anything. I just bought the wrong horse after Hugo. He was a young horse and he did not like cross-country. He was big and in hindsight I should not have bought him, he was too much for me. I lost my confidence as a rider and the belief in myself that I could do it.”

This was a challenging time for Kathryn and she credits her fiancé Giovanni Ugolotti (ITA) with being there and helping her to get through this uncertain time. “I went through a bad stage a couple of years ago when I lost my nerve and he helped me get it back. He was always there. His support got me through it. He had my back. I could not do it without him really,” says Kathryn fondly.

Giovanni and Kathryn

Giovanni and Kathryn

Third time’s the charm
Let It Bee and Kathryn have been working on their partnership since 2009. They have competed at 29 FEI events together. The only letters they ever received for a score were at Pau in 2012 and 2013. With their 7th place finish at Pau a couple of weeks ago, they are proving that long-term relationships pay off. Reflecting on Pau, she says, “I couldn’t believe it when I finished. I was just happy that I had finally done it and it went better than I had expected. I was just over the moon really. You never know when you do a four-star if the horse will cope well and he just took it all in stride and seemed to enjoy it.”

How he came to Bee
Pau was well beyond any aspirations Kathryn had for Let It Bee when she bought him. Before Kathryn, Jen Thomin had the horse for two years but didn’t really get on with him.

Kathryn says, “When I tried him out, he would stick out his tongue and there was a lot of work that had to be done. I only bought him because I had lost my confidence with riding and I wanted a horse that was easy and he was cheap and cheerful.”

Interestingly enough, he didn’t pass the vetting and when she tried him out, she couldn’t even get him on the bit. However, what she liked about him was that when she would point him at a jump he just went. I thought this is the horse I want, something I can have fun on. I took a huge risk. Now if I looked at him, I would not buy him. There was everything going against him and he isn’t the most attractive horse. It is really impressive where he has gotten,” she says modestly. The truth is, Kathryn deserves full credit for her tenacity and consistency to produce this underestimated mount.

Producing pays the bills
As part of Kathryn’s business, she loves to buy young horses, produce them and then sell them. In fact, Hugo Simon is the only horse she bought already produced. All of her other mounts she produces herself. Kathryn works with an agent in Germany to help scout for young talent at sales and breeders.

She says. “Last year I sold one to Tina Cook which I really loved and thought would be a good horse. It is an expensive sport and sometimes you need to sell them to fund your other horses. I am going to look at some young ones in Germany next week. I love to get them when they are four or five and do all the levels with them.”

What’s next?
Kathryn would like to do Badminton or Rolex in the spring but she will work with the Canadian team selectors to determine a course of action. She has declared Let It Bee for the Pan Am Games in Toronto and she has the 2016 Olympics in her sights as well. This pair has proven their four-star prowess and is shaping up to be a competitive force for the Canadian team.

 

Kathryn achieved her goals of representing Canada at the 2015 Pan American games with Let It Bee where she was a member of the bronze medal winning team. They were also a member of the 2016 Rio Olympic team for Canada. They also competed at the Badminton CCI4* in 2016 and 2017,  finishing in 37th place in 2016 adding time to only their dressage score.

Our thoughts and condolences are with Kathryn, her team and everyone who knew and loved Let It Bee. 

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