Readers will be forgiven for not recognizing the name of eventing’s new world champion.
Having led the idyllic childhood existence galloping around the family farm with her two sisters and jumping everything they could find, Ros Canter emerged into adulthood, not only with an appropriate surname, but also with a solid basis for her chosen career. However, she took her time about it.
Horses were not her ‘life’ then. She did not embrace her junior or young rider years “in a major way,” preferring to spend time travelling the world and getting a sports science degree from university before setting up a training yard alongside her mother’s livery at the family’s 1,000-acre farm in the rolling Lincolnshire Wolds. It wasn’t until 2015 that she competed in her first four-star event, finishing 37th at Burghley. Only one year before her victory in Tryon, she was making her gold medal-winning senior team debut for Great Britain at the European Championships.
Ginny Leng, Lucinda Green, Pippa Funnell, Mary King … the prospect of Ros Canter joining this league of Britain’s eventing greats must give British team coach Chris Bartle a warm and fuzzy feeling, particularly as Ros’s specialty is bringing on and making the most of young horses.
What does your typical day and work week consist of?
My day starts at 7:30 a.m. and I will ride ten or twelve of my seventeen horses up until around 4:00 p.m. Three evenings a week I will spend teaching. Most weeks will include two days of competing. In the off-season there is a bit more time for me to give clinics and teach and for taking some time off away from the horses.
How many generations of your family have been horse lovers?
My mother’s family farmed and my mum was always very keen on horses, although her father was not, so she had to find her own way into Pony Club and hunting. My two sisters and I have always ridden. My oldest memory is of us cantering around the farm on our ponies, playing games and hiding from Mum and Dad.
Can you identify a turning point in your career?
I’d say Badminton, the year I came fifth. That result got me onto the British team which went to the European Championships and came back with a team gold medal. It also led to me getting nicer horses to ride.
Were sacrifices made along the way?
Yes and no. I’m privileged to have those I care most about close to me so I don’t miss family get-togethers. My parents are very involved with the yard and my sisters live close by. I’m very lucky because it’s very important to me to have them around. I suppose not having more normal time away from the horses would be a sacrifice, but I’m learning to make that time, because my boyfriend, Chris, isn’t horsey at all.
If you could relive six months of your life, when would that be?
I wouldn’t confine it to just six months. I would love to go back to my youth and my days at Pony Club. How lucky we were to have ponies and such space and freedom to enjoy them.
Horsepower aside, is there another ingredient that gives you an edge?
This may sound a bit funny, but I think having a lack of confidence makes me work that much harder. I am always analyzing myself and my performance and look to myself to find fault, not the horses, which probably makes me try harder to be better next time.
How would you describe yourself?
I am hard-working and very competitive. I think I am a nice person; I like to be liked and I like to please people.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.
I’m very shy. People might not think that about me, but I am.
If life hadn’t taken you where it has, is there another profession you would have followed?
I would have stayed in the sports world one way or another. I probably would have gone into sports event management, maybe equestrian, maybe not; any large events that involved elite sport and would take me around the world.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
This will sound cheesy, but being at home with my boyfriend! If that’s not an acceptable answer then one of my fondest memories is standing on the bridge and watching the fireworks over Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve.
Where would you most like to go that you haven’t been?
When and where did you last go on vacation?
We went for a week in the Maldives last winter. My boyfriend is big into scuba diving.
Do you have a health and fitness regimen?
I enjoy being active and I still play netball and field hockey [Ed. Ros was a first team hockey player at University]. I do core stability work at home … well, as much as I have time for.
What have you seen or read lately you would recommend?
The musical The Greatest Showman. We listened to the soundtrack all summer long and went to a sing-along at the cinema. I love the music and the movie. It sends a good message.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Anything sweet. I love puddings and chocolate. Lucky I do a lot of exercise…
Do you have a life lesson to share with us?
Learn what makes you tick as a person. Of course, watch and learn as much as you can from others, but identify what works best for you. Take confidence from it, don’t change who you are. It gets easier as you grow older.
If a genie were to give you three wishes, what would you wish for?
My grooms told me to wish for a new lorry, so that would be number one! I would also wish for more time with my family and my boyfriend without compromising how well I do with the horses. And my third wish would be to go to the Olympics.
If you were having a dinner party and you could choose four celebrity guests, living or dead, who would you invite?
Prince Harry and Meghan. I’ve always liked Harry and I used to watch Meghan in Suits so I think they would be quite nice to get to know. The natural historian Sir David Attenborough; and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, the Olympic heptathlon champion. I really admire how she’s retained her true personality and turned it into a business. Chris said he wants me to invite Beyoncé because he’d like to meet her [laughs].
Money or medals, what’s more important to you?
Money helps, of course, but medals represent an achievement that money can’t buy.
Do you have a burning ambition?
Definitely to get to the Olympics, but also to keep on achieving at the highest level while maintaining a good balance with my home life.
What’s on the horizon for you in 2019 and beyond?
I hope to try and improve on what I did last year at Badminton with Allstar and hope to be selected for the Europeans while bringing the young horses along in a good way.