Downs brothers Karl and Christopher Burton have individually made their names known on national and international levels in professional horsemanship.
Growing up on Box Ridge at Brymaroo, a Darling Downs, family-run grain and cattle property, the former Brymaroo Pony Club members and Downlands College students Karl and Christopher have always been around horses. Taking almost complete opposite directions with their professional riding, Karl specialises in campdrafting and cutting while Christopher competes in equestrian events.
Recently moving from Australia to Dorset in the UK, Christopher’s bid to make the 2012 Eventing team for the London Olympic Games became a reality with his debut on the Greenwich Park course in July. He proved he was ready for the Olympic stage as he finished first on board Haruzac and second on board Holstein Park Leilani at the 2012 three-star Olympic Selection Event in Saumur, France. Alongside this tremendous victory came a triumph at Germany’s biggest, most prestigious eventing competition, Aachen to win DHL Prize for the CICO Three-Star, riding Underdiscussion. Previously representing Australia at the World Equestrian Games in 2010, Christopher played an integral part with the Australian Eventing team, overcoming many obstacles to achieve sixth place overall; an achievement of which to be proud. Being part of such a high standard of horsemanship and riding on a worldwide level, Saumur and winning the prestigious Adelaide Four-Star three-day event in 2008 are a few of Christopher’s fondest moments to date. Christopher explains the culture of the sport, “You have many ups and downs in the Eventing game, but I am definitely going to enjoy and make the most of good times while I can.”
A professional career in campdrafting and cutting has also seen his elder brother Karl achieve great success. Diamond K Performance Horses, a business venture owned by Karl and his fiancé, Felicity Forsyth, is a training and breeding establishment focused on producing quality horses. Karl worked for a number of trainers both in Australia and overseas such as Todd Graham, the highest earner of all time in the National Cutting Horse Association; Corey Holden, a very successful and highly competitive cutting horse trainer in Victoria; and further abroad with Darren Simpkins of Simpkins Cutting horses in the USA, making for an impressive resume. Such experiences have contributed to Karl’s successes in this area as did his recent win at the renowned Paradise Lagoons Annual Campdraft in July. Karl has many other titles to his name such as Cloncurry Stanbroke Stockmans Challenge Champion 2005 riding Office Boy, Darling Downs Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion 2006 on Diablo Spin, Rocky Rush Junior Horse Challenge Champion 2009 on Oaks Penny, Monto Silver Buckle Open Draft 2011 on Serenade Rose, Q11 World Show Down Under Maiden and Novice draft winner on Dandy Destiny. Karl regards his experiences as, “extremely valuable and character building. In the spirit of the sport, you have to roll with the punches; welcome and appreciate the highs when they come, pick up and go again when things get tough, and most importantly always look forward.”
Support from family is a major aspect to all achievements. Ken and Ruth, proud parents of the brothers, believe the boys’ successes stem from their passion and dedication, initially not expecting nor intending that either would want to be riders in a professional arena. Ruth said, “I loved teaching them both as little boys. They showed great compassion, always caring for the wellbeing of their mounts.”
Both brothers will also tell you that it has been a lot of hard work and not always smooth sailing. “Tough times have been prevalent, but if you fall down, ‘You just pick yourself up and go again’.”
Words by Laura MacDougall | Images supplied by the Burton family