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Name: Christine Grub

Superpower: Competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor

When Christine isn’t riding horses or teaching others how to ride, she’s sitting around a dinner table with our mutual group of friends talking about horses. Yes, she literally eats, sleeps and breathes these majestic animals.

Christine took time out from the horse world this week to talk to us about, you guessed it, horses! Here she tells us how she got into the field and how she makes a living from her lifelong passion. She also explains how horse riding can teach riders important life skills.

What really stands out in this interview is Christine’s kindness and compassion in such a competitive world, which is what she shares freely with her animals and her students. She’s the real deal. The enthusiastic instructor with the big heart. She’s Christine Grub, and here’s her fascinating story…

Welcome Christine!

I’d love to hear what made you choose to work with horses.

I’ve loved animals my whole life. When I was very young, I made my dad take me for outrides (riding horses out in the open) nearly every weekend. I wouldn’t let the family go on holiday unless we went somewhere that offered horseback safaris. And do you know what’s the first thing I did when we got there? I said hi to every horse there!

I’m a competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor | Our Stories

Christine on a horse as a very young girl. This is how it all started.

When driving around I would look for horses grazing along the side of the road. I was a bit obsessed.

I finally convinced my dad to let me start horse-riding lessons when I was 12, and I’ve never looked back.

What are you doing with horses now that you’re all grown up?

 I’m now a competitive rider, competing at the 1.2 metre show jumping level.

Christine competing in a show jumping competition.

We have a family-run stable yard, where I teach students how to ride and help them compete. I’ve managed to combine my two passions in life: riding and teaching. My students have competed successfully up to 1,25 metres in jumping and 1,10 metres in eventing.

I’m a competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor | Our Stories

Christine with one of her students, who came second in the Nationals 90cm show jumping event.

Wow. What did you study to become a competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor?

I knew that working in an office would never make me happy, so I did what I loved most: learnt all I could about horses.

I started by getting my National Diploma in Equine Science. Then I got my Certificate of Horsemastership and Riding Instruction from the Equestrian Qualification Authority of Southern Africa (EQASA).

I moved on to qualify as a Federation Equestrian International (FEI) Coach in showjumping, dressage and eventing.

Can you tell us the difference between jumping, dressage and eventing?

I’m a competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor | Our Stories

One of Christine’s students jumping over a 1m pole obstacle in a show jumping event.

Show jumping teaches horses to jump over pole obstacles in an arena. The horse needs to jump in a controlled, happy manner, without stopping or knocking down any poles when they jump. There are usually 10 to 14 jumps to do, which are anything from 50cm up to 1.60m high.

I’m a competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor | Our Stories

Sybrand and Calela Donnie competing in a dressage event.

Dressage teaches horses to listen to horse aids or commands. The horse needs to be able to do gaits or movements that are balanced and obedient. At shows we do a pre-decided test of these movements in an arena, and each level requires more advanced movements. The competitions are judged with points for each movement.

I’m a competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor | Our Stories

Charlotte Grub, Christine’s sister and student, climbing up a steep hill during an eventing competition.

Eventing is a three-phase competition that is the hardest test for both the rider and the horse. It entails dressage, show jumping and cross-country, where competitors have to jump over scary natural obstacles, go through water, climb through ditches, or go up hills. Whoever performs the best in all three events wins the competition.

What teaching philosophy do you have?

I believe that each horse and rider is an individual. The horse and rider need to be happy and comfortable with where they are. Horses are not machines, they are the riders’ partners through it all.

I believe in consistent work. I never push a horse or a rider up just to say I got them there. Slow is fast in the horse world, and I want to set a strong foundation so the rider and horse can stay at the top when they get there. There are no shortcuts when you want to excel in this sport.

I’m a competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor | Our Stories

Christine helping some of her students get ready for a show.

I also encourage my students to support their fellow riders. Teamwork and cheering are important lessons in riding and in life.

We know you never wanted to do an office job. What does a ‘horsey job’ look like?

I’m a competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor | Our Stories

A row of happy horses at the CG Equestrian Instruction yard.

 A typical day means checking up on the horses in the yard at 6am. I start riding and schooling the horses at 8am.

Schooling involves teaching horses to do their specific ‘work’, such as doing jumps or learning movements. This keeps the horses fit and supple, and they learn how to listen to and understand commands.

A competitive horse is an athlete, so he needs to work. This keeps him happy and makes sure that his muscles, tendons, ligaments, heart and mind stay strong and healthy.

After that, there are chores to be done and admin for the yard and riding school.

I usually start giving horse-riding lessons at 14:00 until about 17:00.

I do a final check of the horses before going to bed every night.

I spend weekends at shows as a competitive show jumper and helping my students with their events.

What challenges do you face in this business?

Horses are very unpredictable. They are a lot of hard work and need consistent attention. I can’t just go on holiday and leave them for a few days. They also like to do something silly when I’ve made plans to go out ?

Also, equestrian sports change all the time for the better. I need to keep on learning more skills and updating the yard, which costs money and involves a lot of hard work.

Being an outdoor activity, you must have a funny story to share about this?

We wear white pants to shows. I was at a show and in a hurry one morning, as always, and I fell straight into a big mud pool with my white pants on. I had to wear those dirty pants all day long and there was still a long day to go!

I’m a competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor | Our Stories

Christine wearing white pants at a show.

What do you love about what you do and what do you believe has made it happen?

I love doing what I’m passionate about and the lifestyle I get to lead. The bad days are really bad, but when you have a good day it makes you forget the tough ones. I’ve also made some amazing friends by working in this field.

I truly believe that there are many things I can’t control, but how hard I work isn’t one of them. So, I always give 100%, whether it’s riding or teaching. I never just go through the motions to make money.

I keep student groups small so that everyone gets individual attention. This way I get the best out of the horse and the rider. My horses are happy and well looked after, so they try their best to please the riders. My students are happy because of their solid training foundation and the reliable horses.

I’m a competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor | Our Stories

Stefan patting Butterfly, to say thank you for helping him win the 70cm jumping event at the South African National Equestrian Schools Association (SANESA). Christine encourages her students to bond with the horses, so that both horse and rider enjoy the shows.

My results speak for themselves, which you can follow on my Facebook page here: CG Equestrian Instruction.


Christine, thank you for a very interesting interview and for telling us how you became a competitive show jumper and horse-riding instructor. I can tell how much of your heart goes into your job – but I already knew that from many years of friendship.

What you do is wonderful and makes a difference in so many lives, for your students and your animals.

There are so many parallels between horse-riding and life. It’s a great reminder to: set a strong foundation for what we want to achieve, cheer for those around us, work consistently as we grow, and keep our own skills up to date in the field we work in.

I also know now that there’s always something new and interesting to learn about a topic as I thought I knew a lot about the equestrian world, but this interview taught me so much more.

Put on that tiara riding hat and always let it shine.