- Beginning a New Chapter in Her Story of Success -
It is a scientific fact that no two people are exactly the same.
And because of this fact, every person has a unique life story.
Every phase of our life - our childhood, our coming of age, our introduction
into society and the world, as well as our leaving this world
- can be compared to chapters in a book.
If you were to read Robin Hopkinson's story you would find adventure,
excitement, challenges, adversity, victory, and from almost the very beginning,
the common theme would be a deep love for the Arabian horse.
Recently Robin Hopkinson began a new chapter in her life.
She took a leap of faith and opened her own Arabian horse business,
Hopkinson Equine Management. Although this new chapter is still being written,
it is a continuation of the story of a person who is pursuing her dream and
her passion for the Arabian horse. It is a mystery where that will lead her
but there's no doubt it will have a very happy ending....
Chapter one of Robin's life would introduce us to a little girl whose days were full of horse dreams. "Horses, horses, horses, they were all I thought about, read about, and talked about as I grew up," said Robin Hopkinson. "When I was old enough, I went over to a nearby farm that had Saddlebred horses and I asked for a job. I loved horses so much I would have done almost anything just to be close to them. A man by the name of J.R. Ragsdale owned the farm. He was a trainer by trade, but J.R. Ragsdale was more than just a trainer, he was a true horseman. Mr. Ragsdale gave me a job mucking his stalls but more importantly, he gave me an education in work ethic and horsemanship. Mr. Ragsdale also gave me the direction for my life."
While Robin worked at that Saddlebred farm, she watched, listened and learned about horses. She was interested in anything and everything equine. When Robin was 16 she had an eye opening experience which would begin the next chapter of her young life. Robin remembers, "When I was 16, I saw the most beautiful horse of my life. It was an Arabian stallion and he had an expression and a curiosity about me that was different from any other horse I had known. I will never forget the image of that stallion. It remains in my memory as the day that I fell in love with the Arabian horse."
That meeting left a deep impression on Robin. Two years later an opportunity appeared. Robin met Harriet Howle DeWitt, a breeder of Arabian horses. Harriet had two daughters who had just left for college and she needed some help with her horses. Robin jumped at the chance to work with Arabian horses. The next chapter of her life was about to begin. The title could be "Coming of Age", because Robin left her childhood behind her and became a talented young woman. Robin expressed her deep appreciation, "I am so grateful to Harriet. She gave me my first opportunity to actually train and show her horses at local Arabian Class A competitions. I had no formal training, but I continued to learn from others who were successful. I watched and I learned what to do, and also, what not to do. I worked seven years at Harriet Howle DeWitt's farm, Riverwood Arabians, which was located in Gainesville, Georgia. I learned many valuable lessons about training Arabians in Halter, Western Pleasure, Hunter Pleasure, English Pleasure, Pleasure Driving, and Costume.
When Harriet decided to retire and relocate, she sold me two of her best mares and a stallion that I had fallen in love with - all three for $1.00. At that time I had no choice, I had to work, so I helped out at my mother's convenience store for several months. I was miserable. I deeply missed working with Arabian show horses. To console myself I indulged in a guilty pleasure, the Arabian Horse Times magazine. While flipping through the pages of the Times magazine, I discovered that Michael Byatt had relocated to Cumming, Georgia - just 20 minutes from my home! In my opinion, Michael Byatt is one of the greatest Arabian horse trainers in the world.
I made a call and Michael answered the phone. I don't remember exactly what I said to him because I was so nervous. Regardless, it must have been pretty good because the next day I started working for Michael part time turning out broodmares at his farm. Soon I advanced to other duties and eventually I became a full time show groom. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I had the amazing opportunity of conditioning some of the most incredible Arabian horses in the world. I also was given the task of riding the halter horses to qualify them for halter competition at the national level. It was a tremendous honor to ride such wonderful horses including NV Natasham, Fames Fax, Anaza El Farid, and many others.
At one point, Michael Byatt asked me if I would like to go to Belgium for a couple of weeks to work at Arminta Farm, a well respected Arabian horse training center. I jumped at the opportunity. I loved it so much that I stayed for a full year. During that time I was able to take all of the valuable lessons I had learned from Michael and apply them with my own style. That year I trained the Reserve World Champion Junior Colt, Ansata Sinan, and the Reserve World Champion Junior Filly, Victoria HPS."
The next chapter for Robin could be titled, "Stepping out from the Shadow". Working with someone like Michael Byatt, a horseman who is recognized around the world for his talent in the show arena, as well as his expertise with breeding top quality Arabian horses, well a person working behind the scenes can go unnoticed. That had been the case with Robin Hopkinson, but that soon changed. Robin returned to the United States the following year and again she was given the opportunity to work with Michael Byatt. However, this time it was a very different story. Robin now assisted in the training of halter horses full time.
Robin remembers a day that she had worked toward for a very long time. "Michael Byatt provided me with many opportunities to learn and to develop my skills. Then he gave me the chance to prove my skills. It resulted in an unprecedented event. At the Scottsdale show, Michael was having an amazingly successful show. He had won several first place titles in qualifying classes and so he had multiple horses to show in the final championships. Michael allowed me to present the stallion FS Bengali, and by doing so I became the second woman in the history of the Arabian horse breed to show a horse to the title of Scottsdale Champion Stallion.
At that same show, Michael Byatt showed Shalina El Jamaal to the title of Scottsdale Champion Mare, while I had the honor of showing the phenomenal mare, *Zagrobla to the Reserve Champion Mare title! What a moment!
During the months leading up to that Scottsdale show, I had the pleasure of coaching owners who were to show their horses in Halter, Amateur Owner To Handle classes. When our client, Hank DeShazer, and his mare Shalina El Jamaal were named the Scottsdale Champion Mare, AOTH, I was extremely proud of them."
Bigger and better titles quickly followed for Robin. That same year she achieved her first Reserve National Championship title in Canada with Centurion, followed by a United States National Champion title with Alliegiece WF. That was a special moment for Robin because his full brother was Reserve National Champion in the same class with Michael on the lead.
Working with Michael Byatt created many exciting opportunities for Robin. In 2004 she received an invitation from Al Khalidiah Farm, located in Saudi Arabia, to prepare 32 of their horses for competition there. All of Robin's hard work resulted in a very successful show and a job offer. "While I was in Saudi Arabia I was graciously offered a position as trainer at Al Khalidiah Farm. However, I declined so that I was able to live my dream of training and presenting Arabians here in the United States."
Robin returned home triumphant. She had become recognized and rewarded for her talent, skills, and expertise not only in the United State, but in Europe and the Middle East as well. Up to now, working for Michael Byatt had provided a frame work for Robin to utilize her talents. However, it now seemed that the time was right for her to take control of her own destiny. To strike out on one's own, into unknown territory requires courage and faith, hard work and hope. Robin's next chapter could have been titled, "The Road Less Traveled."
In 2005 Robin was offered, and accepted, the position of head trainer at Brookville Arabians in Scottsdale, Arizona. At the time, David Cains of Stonewall Farms was employed as manager of the new farm and he recommended Robin for the position. The first show was Scottsdale. There's nothing like starting out a position with high expectations. However, Robin was up to the challenge and in her debut with Brookville Arabians, she earned the titles of the 2005 Unanimous Junior Champion Colt with Marajj. Robin commented on that particular success, "I would like to thank Joe Desmarto, the breeder of Marajj. Joe had sent Marajj to Brookville for me to train and present at the Scottsdale show. Just prior to the show, Marajj was sold to Sheikh Mohammed Bin Al Qasimi. I would also like to express my gratitude to Sheikh Mohammed Bin Al Qasimi, now the owner of Marajj, and Scott Allman his trainer in Europe, for trusting me and my abilities to present Marajj both as a yearling and as a three-year-old. That was a HUGE honor!"
At that same Scottsdale show, Robin showed the Reserve Champion Yearling Filly, Letyfh Falconess. Later that year, Letyfh Falconess was crowned unanimous National Champion Yearling Filly with Sandro Pinha. Robin explained her bond with this extraordinary filly, "I was very proud of all that Letyfh Falconess accomplished because I discovered her when she was just a three-month-old foal at DeShazer Arabians in Houston, Texas. I had recommended that the ranch buy the filly and her dam.
Also while Robin was at Brookville Arabians, she coached the DeShazer's grand daughter, Jordan DeShazer, to show Shalina El Jamaal and they won the title of Reserve Youth Nationals Champion Mare. Another Youth client was Brittnay Freise who Robin coached to show Allegence WF. They won the Youth National Reserve Champion Half-Arabian Stock Hunter Gelding title.
The following year would be just as rewarding for Robin who showed Magnum Force One to the Scottsdale Junior Gelding Championship. Robin also showed the Scottsdale Champion Half-Arabian Stock Hunter Gelding, A John Twitty. Another notable accomplishment was won with Monticello, a horse that Robin had recommended to her friend Todd Ehret who purchased the gelding for one of his clients. Monticello went on to be named Champion in JOTH, AOTH & Open competitions at several Regional shows and then went on to be crowned Canadian National Reserve Champion Gelding.
The spring of 2008 brought about the germination of an idea and an opportunity for growth for Robin. She had thought about the possibility of starting her own business for some time and it seemed like the time was right. So she decided to take another step toward her future and opened her own training center. Robin respectfully named the enterprise after her father, a man who had always encouraged her to follow her dream of a career with horses. Thus the name of Robin's business is, "Hopkinson Equine Management." The title for this newest chapter in Robin's life could be, "A woman of Substance", because Robin brings talent, skill, expertise, knowledge, commitment, concern, work ethic, experience, and determination - all important ingredients to success - no matter what business you are in.
Although in its infancy, Robin has already established goals for Hopkinson Equine Management. "The goal for my business is to provide the highest quality of care in a safe and friendly environment with the horse's best interest "always" the first and foremost priority. My next goal is to provide a full selection of services to benefit and fulfill my clients' needs. Those services will include consultation, evaluation and selection; conditioning, halter training, performance training, and showing; sale, promotion, and marketing; stallion management, breeding, and foaling."
That is a quite a comprehensive list of services and some very ambitious goals. But if anyone can accomplish these, it's Robin Hopkinson - and she'll do it with a smile. Robin summarized her thoughts about her life right now, "I have always been a very dedicated person, but I don't know that I've ever worked as hard as I am right now. But that's okay - I am so happy to be able to do the work I love. Also, I am really, deeply grateful - for this opportunity and for the support of friends and clients. I promise I will do everything I can to continue to earn their trust and respect, now, and in the future."