The Equestrian of the Year trophy was introduced to Horse of the Year Show in 2003 and is awarded to the team or the individual who have attained a unique achievement in the equestrian world. This may involve an unsurpassed performance, a string of victories or in this case, in recognition of a lifetime of achievement.
Robert Oliver has dedicated his whole life to the equestrian industry, in particular through showing and judging. As a schoolboy, Robert used to visit yards with his uncle, a leading farrier. His first introduction to showing came through Pat and Vivien Eckley who owned the famous Cusop show ponies. In 1968, he set up his own yard near Ross-on-Wye and produced his first HOYS Champion, the small hunter Lord Sorcerer; this was just the start of what was to become an incredibly accomplished career.
From the mid-1970s, Robert’s career went into overdrive; he produced Champion Small Hunters, Working Hunters, Cobs, Hacks and Show Hunters. In 1977, he broke all HOYS records by winning the Cob, Small Hunter and Hack titles and taking reserve in the Hunter Championship. He won the Cob Championship six times with Super Ted between 1987 and 1994 and by 2011, Robert had won nine Show Hunter Championships, twelve Cob Championships, two Riding Horse Championships, five Small Hunter Championships and six Hack Championships.
Robert is an international judge whose opinion is both sought after and respected, and he regularly gives lectures and demonstrations all over the British Isles. He is a weekly columnist for Horse & Hound and is the author of Showing Horses and Ponies. Robert has been a judge for the Search For A Star Finals at HOYS since they started in 1998 and this year will see his 21st year (and his last, after which he will enjoy a well-deserved retirement.
Robert commented: “I have been lucky in my time at HOYS to have seen some of the great names of showing, and the standard of horses and riders have been amazing. I am also very proud and honoured to have been invited once again to judge the SEIB Search For A Star; this will be my 21st year of judging it and I am sad to say it will be my last.”