Three leading equestrians have been awarded honorary degrees by Writtle University College (WUC) in Essex.

On October 29, Ros Canter, Justine Harrison and Khadijah Mellah attended WUC’s first in-person graduation ceremony since 2019.

Khadijah, Justine and Ros

Event rider Ros (pictured top), who won individual and team gold medals in the 2018 World Equestrian Games, was “excited” to receive the honour.

She visited WUC’s campus last year to provide training and visit Lordships Stud, where Lordships Graffalo was bred and produced.

Ros and the nine-year-old gelding won Blair Castle International Horse Trials CCI4*-S and finished second at Blenheim this year.

“It was fun to visit the campus and stud with Lordships Graffalo and see the real passion and understanding the students and staff have for the equine sector,” she said.

Justine Harrison is one of the UK’s leading equine behaviourists. She strives to encourage horse owners to implement the most ethical training techniques and adopt more horse-centred methods.

“I feel very honoured and extremely grateful to be receiving this award,” she said. “It is particularly significant for me to receive this from Writtle University College, as the equine behavioural science team is leading the way with research-led practice.”

New opportunities

Jockey Khadijah Mellah was also delighted to receive the honorary degree. In 2019, she won the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood, becoming the first British Muslim woman to win a UK horse race.

“I feel extremely privileged to be receiving this honorary degree and to now be connected to Writtle University College,” she said. “I hope I have encouraged the graduates to open doors to opportunities with confidence as they continue through life.

“I cannot wait to work with Writtle in the future and lend a helping hand to all students trying to get into the equestrian world.”

The presentation at Chelmsford Cathedral celebrated the success of the classes of 2020 and 2021 and highlighted Ros, Justine and Khadijah’s achievements.

“We were delighted to confer honorary awards as part of our graduation ceremony,” said WUC’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Middleton. “They are an inspiration to our students and have made incredible contributions to the equine sector.”

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