From shooting geese during her childhood to hunting at university in Ireland, Rosie van Cutsem, a start-up entrepreneur, is a country girl at heart
From learning to shoot as a child to discovering her true love for horses and hunting, Rosie van Cutsem founded The Riding Club London for like minded equine enthusiasts and launched TROY London to make field clothing for women that is both functional and stylish.
For more sporting Dianas, seriously sporting ladies offering advice and encouragement, Marina Gibson founded the Northern Fishing School to introduce as many people as possible to the sport. And Megan Rowland hopes to ease new people’s way into deerstalking.
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ROSIE VAN CUTSEM
Some of my happiest teenage memories are of family summers on South Uist in the Western Isles. We would rise before dawn to motor down darkened roads in a fugged-up minibus, tramping out through the reed-beds and sprawling on the ground, falling into a deep reverie only to be jolted awake by a gaggling skein of geese streaming overhead. Clutching my father’s 12-bore I would gamely and consistently fill the air behind the geese before returning to eggs and bacon at Grogarry Lodge. Breakfasts never tasted better.
There was typically a conservation angle to most of my shooting experience as a girl, be it pushing geese off the crofts (I truly was no better than a crop scarer) or culling over-populated warrens of rabbits from the now famous links golf course. I was lucky enough to shoot my first stag, a magnificent 11-pointer that was considered small amongst the fine herd, and claim my first walked-up grouse with the help of Alastair Scott’s beautiful working red setter.
My true love has to be horses and hunting, following my mother, Tania, over rails and the occasional hedge with the warm welcome of the Bicester Hunt. It was no coincidence that I went to university at Trinity College Dublin, managing to attend most of my lectures while hunting all over the country and taking on more than my fair share of double banks and yawning dykes.
Perhaps it just felt good to be alive but it was the sing-songs after the hunt that made me happiest of all, the landlord handing out bowls of stew to the sodden and frozen field, also warmed by hot whiskies as the poems and songs flowed.
Returning to England I entered life in the City as a headhunter. My evenings were filled with founding The Riding Club London, a social and riding club for those in London missing horses – be it dressage, polo, gallops on the beach or hunting. The club is still going today, filling the lives of many a Londoner with happy equestrian adventures.
I tended to escape to the country at the weekends, and on one such occasion meeting my husband for a shoot at his home. As a less-experienced shot I was placed in front of the line, a terrifying prospect but one that guaranteed no reaction when I frequently missed, but shouts of congratulation when I had success. This experience, coupled with the fact I was shooting for the first time with a lighter gun, buoyed my confidence and I haven’t looked back. Now with two small children and less time for practice I have had to embrace the fact that I will not be on top of my game on the odd day that I do shoot. However, as I am sure many others can testify, being a mum and of competitive spirit can be tricky.
It was while walking across the fields five years ago that my sister, Lucia, and I recognised a lack of chic designs available for women who want to look good while staying warm and dry out in the elements. We launched our clothing brand, TROY London, in 2015 and recently designed our first jacket for men. We love to draw on the best of English heritage design but sharpening it up into a more contemporary look, making coats truly waterproof and functional while also feeling stylish. I run the business from our Norfolk home, making all our designs in the UK and shipping out across the world.
I now hunt with the West Norfolk Foxhounds and return to Ireland annually for a gallivant across the banks with a team of up to 10 equally enthusiastic and thirsty comrades. This will be our 12th year staying at the wonderful Bunratty Manor Hotel, Co Clare, hosted by the charming Noel Wallace, and singing our hearts out at Durty Nellie’s pub with the legend that is Aidan O’Connell. Some things, I hope, will never change.
TOP TIPS: Warmth and comfort are key when dressing for a day in the elements, but there is always room for a little playfulness – a frill shirt and stock tie or a neat gilet, pulling in a waist with an old belt, warming the throat with a silk scarf and topping your look with a suede baker’s hat.