Ruth has always had a massive passion and determination to succeed in equestrianism. By the age of eight she had set her sights on competing at the famous Badminton Horse Trials, a goal she achieved ten years later in 1998. To date Ruth has completed 16 Five Star events, with four top 10 placings including a win. She then turned her competitive focus to include more Dressage, a sport in which she had already carved an impressive reputation.
Born in August 1979 in Kent, Ruth spent her childhood riding all sorts of ponies. Her parents were farmers who specialised in renovating derelict properties. This resulted in moving house a number of times and taking the ‘Friend’ (Ruth’s maiden name) family to Aberdeenshire. Here Ruth spent the majority of her Pony Club years with the Aberdeenshire Pony Club. Ruth’s parents relocated for the final time, retiring to Cumbria to enable Ruth to progress her riding career.
Ruth was now building a great partnership with Ice Dancer, winning the Pony Club Championships in 1995 and fulfilling her Badminton dream in 1998 with a clear round. The pair also completed Burghley that year.
The following Spring, with the help of longstanding backers Henry and Cathy Marriott, Ruth started her own business. 1999 proved to be successful: she completed another Badminton on Ice Dancer and won the coveted Young Rider National Championships at Bramham, this time riding Classic Wizard. Subsequently Ruth’s northern roots led her to be based in Cumbria with owners, Hugh and Ann Lawson, for what turned out to be a most happy eleven and a half years.
A chance meeting during the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001 resulted in her riding for Phil and Maureen Smith. The first notable achievement for the Smiths was when Two Thyme won the British Eventing Intermediate Championships at Gatcombe in 2002. Two Thyme went on to win the British Eventing Open Championships twice, a title Ruth also won with Mayhem.
Two Thyme’s greatest success came when he won the Luhmühlen Five Star in 2007. This resulted in the pair being listed as reserve for the Beijing Olympics but, disappointingly, Two Thyme was injured and unable to compete – the biggest low of Ruth’s career.
In 2012 Ruth moved to Foston Stud, near Uttoxeter, to be in the hub of the Eventing and Dressage scenes, and more recently set up home at New House Farm, near Cheadle. She currently competes her horses out of great friend and fellow event rider Jeanette Brakewell’s Abbotsholme Stud, while she establishes new facilities for training competition horses at home.
Before Ruth temporarily hung up her Eventing boots in 2016, she already had six National Dressage titles to her name with a variety of different horses. In December 2013 she finished second at her first ever Grand Prix competition riding her own, home produced, Shadowfax. To succeed at the very highest level in both Eventing and Dressage is almost unheard of.
Ruth is a highly esteemed coach in both disciplines, training riders away from competition and at events. She has benefited from being a part of the Lottery Funded World Class Programme and has a fantastic back up team of vets, farriers, physios, sponsors, grooms and trainers. Ruth has combined hard work with the ultimate dedicated care and training for all the horses in her yard.
Her immense drive, dedication and ambition is very much still in place, as she now balances both sports in pursuit of success. Ruth is looking for investors to help realise this goal and has a number of packages and ideas available to interested parties.
Photos © Trevor Holt