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Carruthers [née Torrie], Pamela Isabel Jameson (1916–2009), showjumping course designer, was born on 11 August 1916 at 19 Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, the only child of Thomas George Jameson Torrie (1880–1916), a lieutenant-colonel in the Life Guards, and his wife, Esmé Muriel, née Crabbe (1895–1984). Her parents had married in Killin, Perthshire, on 6 September 1915, and her father was killed in action on the western front in November 1916. In 1920 her mother married Basil Eddis, a merchant in India, where Pamela spent part of her childhood. After the breakdown of this marriage Pamela and her mother moved back to Britain, where her mother was married for a third time, to Ralph Hope Vere. In her late teens Pamela and her family lived in Dumfriesshire. She was educated at Westonbirt School, near Tetbury, and at the Ozanne finishing school, Paris. She embarked on her riding career at an early age and while in France she attended a course at Saumur, the French cavalry school, as part of her education. On returning to Scotland she opened her own riding school in Dumfriesshire and commenced her career as a showjumper and a hunter exhibitor. On 8 November 1939 she married, in All Saints (Episcopal) Church, Lockerbie, Hew Douglas Carruthers (b. 1914), RAF officer, son of Lieutenant-Colonel Francis John Carruthers, army officer. Eventually the couple bought a farm in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. They had two sons: Christopher Hew, born in Hoddom, Dumfriesshire, in 1940, and John Anthony, born in Chippenham, Wiltshire, in 1941.

During the 1940s Pamela Carruthers became an international showjumper and had considerable success showing hacks and cobs. At the International Horse Show at the White City she won the Winston Churchill cup on her cob Benjamin in 1947. After her victory the horse was poisoned, presumably by a jealous rival, although this could never be proven. The horse survived, but even so Carruthers decided to quit showing and focus on showjumping, in which she represented Britain in several events. One of her best horses was Galway Boy. She was one of a very small number of women who competed in showjumping, at a time when men dominated the national and international horse riding events and women were debarred from the highest levels of the showjumping events. These regulations forced female riders to lend their best horses to male competitors so as to enable the horses to compete at this level.

In the early 1950s Hew and Pamela Carruthers sold the farming enterprise in Wiltshire, and shortly afterwards the marriage failed. Pamela Carruthers began teaching horse riding and designing courses for minor shows in order to provide for herself and her two sons. Somewhat later Douglas Bunn, the equestrian and businessman, invited her to work on the jumping complex at Hickstead. Bunn had purchased Hickstead Place in order to create an equestrian competition arena matching those in the USA and in Europe. This proved to be a sound investment, as Hickstead became the first permanent showground for equestrian sport in England. Together with Bunn, Pamela Carruthers designed courses and fences (both permanent and moveable). She attended the opening of Hickstead in 1960 and remained as a senior course designer for approximately thirty years.

Carruthers's knowledge in course design took her far beyond Britain. She was in charge of the development of Spruce Meadows in Canada, and designed courses in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Venezuela, Brazil, Ireland, and the USA. Between 1973 and 1982 she was invited to design the grand prix courses for the American Invitational in Tampa, Florida, the premier showjumping competition in the USA at that time. She was assistant course builder for the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and technical delegate for the 1982 world championships in Ireland and the 1988 Seoul Olympic games. She also served two terms on the Fédération Equestre Internationale's jumper committee. She was co-author (with Chrystine Jones Hogan, George H. Morris, and Bill Thomson) of Designing Courses and Obstacles (1978), which provided instructions on how to design safe and challenging courses, as well as guidelines for how to build the individual jumps. She continued working until 2003. She lived latterly near Castle Combe in Wiltshire and died on 23 September 2009. She was survived by her two sons.

Susanna Hedenborg


Daily Telegraph (26 Sept 2009) · The Independent (20 Nov 2009) · showjumpinghalloffame.net/pdf/1996%20Pamela%20Carruthers.pdf, accessed on 27 April 2012 · www.bef.co.uk/Downloads/BEF%20News%20Archive%20Jul-Sep09%202.pdf, accessed on 27 April 2012 · www.britishshowjumping.co.uk/international/news/pamela-carruthers, accessed on 27 April 2012 · www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/397/289965.html, accessed on 24 April 2012 · www.horsetalk.co.nz/news/2009/10/002.shtml, accessed on 27 April 2012 · b. cert. · m. cert.

Wealth at death  

£842,194: probate, 26 March 2010, CGPLA Eng. & Wales