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Farewell to judge, breeder and rider who had a ‘compassion for all things living’

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Farewell to judge, breeder and rider who had a ‘compassion for all things living’

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  • By William Humphreys

    Brenda Humphreys, the dressage judge, rider, and breeder died on 24 May, aged 88.



    Brenda was born in Worcestershire and her family moved to Wiltshire where she attended Stonar School, near Melksham, before becoming a working pupil with Colonel and Mrs Mary Gibson in the 1950s in Dorset.

    Following her marriage to a Worcestershire-based farmer, she continued to develop her interest in dressage, having additional instruction from British Olympic rider Lorna Johnstone MBE in the 1960s. As the 1970s progressed, following the tragic death of one of her talented and much-loved horses “Tim” and having by then become a mother, Brenda’s efforts focused more as a breeder.

    In the 1970s and ’80s, Brenda had also been active in helping arrange group sessions among her equine friends and contacts for one-to-one tuition with Olympic dressage rider, Tricia Gardiner, whom she had known from her own competitive days in the 1960s.

    Her own breeding stock, in part drawn from a granddaughter with the bloodlines of Big Game and Sun Chariot, some years later found success in the form of Oberon, a horse who had been owned and further developed by Paul Ingram, as well as being ridden to success by para dressage multi-medallist, Anne Dunham OBE.

    From the mid-1980s, Brenda became a frequent and well-known dressage judge at various horse trials, riding club and Pony Club events and as late as 2012, when she was 77, she was booked to judge at approximately 120 competitions. During her long career, it is not unreasonable to extrapolate she may have judged 40,000 individual tests or more.

    She was a dignified and reserved countrywoman, with a natural charity and compassion for all things living, whose formal education in life had been hampered by a troubling illness in early childhood, impairing some elements of her hearing as time progressed.

    She leaves her son, William.

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