By Nancy Jaffer
June 18, 2017
Robin Rost is reinventing her life.
Is it merely coincidence that the green hunter with whom she has been having success in the 3-foot, 3-inch division is named Master Plan?
At age 60, Robin, a native of Sussex County and a national equitation champion once best known for her riding prowess, is focusing on judging and governance–with just enough showing and training on the side.
“I still want to keep my hand in teaching some people and riding, but it won’t be a priority. I don’t want to have the headache of managing my own facility,” said Robin, noting she enjoys doing clinics and teaching people who have their own crew. Also, she doesn’t want a conflict with shows she’d like to judge, which automatically cuts down on the number of people she can teach.
After a divorce from four-in-hand driver Jimmy Fairclough, her husband of 35 years, she is in a serious relationship with trainer and fellow judge Otis Brown Jr., known as Brownie, with whom she owns Master Plan.
The Oldenburg, champion at his last show in Ocala, also was named after Master Dan, a blast from the past whom he resembles.
Robin isn’t planning on competing grand prix jumpers again, but she would like to do the hunter derbies. They would be a perfect match for her expertise in both hunters and jumpers with the higher fences utilized in those classes.
The mother of two grown sons, Robin also has branched out geographically. She noted that after spending most of her life in Zone 2 (New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) she is dividing her time between winters in Ocala, where she has a farm, and summers in Kentucky, Brownie’s base. She would like to sell or lease her Ocala farm, in keeping with her more mobile lifestyle.
Her responsibilities also include work for the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association, which she serves as chair of the Joint Equitation Task Force. It was announced last week that the East Coast final for the new USHJA 3-3 Jumping Seat Medal will be held at the Capital Challenge in Maryland this fall. Robin is a big fan of the new class.
“My passion is still with the equitation,” said Robin, whose victories in those classes as a teenager included the AHSA Medal Finals. While that class, and other key equitation tests have always been held over 3-foot, 6-inch fences, she feels the advent of 3-3 classes is a good innovation.
“I want equitation to flourish. We don’t want people to get discouraged and think they don’t have a place there,” she said, referring to the difficulty of the 3-6 classes.
“The 3-3 equitation classes are great events to bring new people in, and encourage people to either make it their goal or make it a step up for them.”
A 3-3 Jumping Seat Medal class will be presented the day before the formal start of the CP National Horse Show at the Alltech Arena in Kentucky, where Robin will be one of the judges.
With her move out of state, Robin has stepped back a bit from the Sussex County Horse Show, which she served last year as chairman of the show committee.
Her late father, Dr. Robert Rost, took Sussex from a local fixture to a major competition where stars such as Rodney Jenkins, Bernie Traurig and Michael Matz competed in its heyday during the 1970s, ’80s and early ‘90s. After his death in 2002, the Augusta fixture had some lean years, but certainly it has come back strong recently, despite increased competition from other shows, and it had a good run in 2016.
This year, Robin is vice-chairman of the Sussex show, as energetic farrier Ralph Anthony “a hands-on person” took over the lead. She said he’d like to see the $35,000 grand prix go to $50,000 in prize money at some point. Draft horses, once a great attraction at the Sussex Fairgrounds, are coming back this year for the first weekend of the Aug. 4-13 show.
“I have a great feeling about it. We’ve got a loyal following of exhibitors,” said Robin, who likely will be less involved with Sussex in the future.
But she does have another ambition.
“I’m working on getting my jumper (judge’s) card. I don’t think my Dad would rest in peace if I don’t get my jumper card,” she said, adding she will also get a hunter breeding card.
As Robin looks back at the way things have changed for her, she’s enjoying it and yes, she’s happy. “Life is good,” she said.