Podcast – Pharmacists after Hours Ep.2: The pharmacist making moves in British Dressage
In the second episode of a new podcast series, which explores which interesting hobbies pharmacists get up to in their spare time, Anna Robinson – a specialist clinical pharmacist for the NHS and research assistant at Newcastle University – talks about competing in British Dressage with her horse Reuben.
“We’re dancing with our horses,” Ms Robinson explains on the podcast. “We get a set test or a set routine that we do, and it’s basically a case of doing the routine the best that you can.”
As well as being a specialist clinical pharmacist, Ms Robinson trains five to six times a week for British Dressage, a competition in the UK that now has more than 2,000 days’ worth of contests per year. “Actually, fitting [it] in around work and around my research is quite challenging, but when you love something so much, […] you wouldn’t want to do anything else,” she says.
Ms Robinson draws an analogy between the sport and the various football leagues – she’s currently competing regionally, but has her sights set on the equivalent of the Premier League.
Asked a question she must have been asked a thousand times – how do you make a horse dance? – Ms Robinson doesn’t skip a beat: “With great difficulty.”
However, after “a lot of time and patience”, Ms Robinson says that the horses actually enjoy it, and even come to play up to the crowd.
“It’s just such a lovely feeling to be out there and on the journey together,” she says. “It’s totally worth it.”
Her horse Reuben, in particular, “loves to add in the extra kicks and flicks that probably I wasn’t planning on adding into the routine,” she explains.
Reuben is also something of a diva. He “plays to the crowd. He absolutely loves having people watch him.
“It’s been strange not being able to have that at the competitions because they totally play up to the audience.”
Dressage during lockdown
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person events and competitions for a vast swathe of the past year, however Ms Robinson notes that she was able to visit Reuben during the lockdowns on animal welfare grounds.
“A lot of the dressage competitions got moved online during the pandemic,” she explains. “You had to video yourself and submit the video to be judged.”
However, in-person competitions are now returning in a restricted way, Ms Robinson tells the podcast, with no social interaction allowed.
At the time of recording, the Toyko Olympics were in full swing, and Great Britain had just taken the bronze in dressage.
“We’ve done exceptionally well this Olympics – I must sound crazy but I’m just so passionate about it. It’s been brilliant to watch,” Ms Robinson comments.
She expresses awe for the Olympic team and those competing at that level – notably Charlotte Dujardin, Team GB’s second most successful medalist.
“I’m not saying I’m anywhere near the level of Charlotte [Dujardin] at all, but I’m definitely trying my best to make myself and [Reuben] dance at test speed.”
For those inspired by the equestrian sports at the Olympics, but perhaps not quite at Olympic level just yet, Ms Robinson implores listeners to try out horse-riding at least once in their life.
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