The world of equestrian sport is in shock this week after horse trainer James Roberts died in a car crash on the A345 near Manningford Abbots on Sunday.

Mr Roberts, 32, of Roman Way, Market Lavington, was at the wheel of his Chevrolet pick-up when it was in head-on collision with a silver Renault Clio coming the other way.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. Mr Roberts was reportedly on his way back from carrying out a horse “clinic” when the accident happened. He specialised in training and handling horses in a completely natural way.
Police have appealed for witnesses.

Mr Roberts was a highly regarded trainer in the Parelli system. He completed his apprenticeship in farriery in 2001 and set up his own business. However, after shoeing a nervous horse that he could not calm, he decided to attend a level one Parelli clinic.

Inspired by what he learned in those three days, Mr Roberts gave up being a farrier to become a working student the Parelli UK Savvy centre, and went on to study at Parelli centres in Florida and Colorado under the tutelage of Pat and Linda Parelli, the founders of the system.

In 2004 he became a Parelli professional and in 2006 returned to Wiltshire where he set up the JR Foundation Station, at Easterton Sands, near Devizes, a centre designed for naturally developing and producing horses.

Mr Roberts has trained horses for some of the world’s top riders, including Robert Whittaker, polo legend Andrew Seavil, three-day eventers Georgie Spence and Kitty Boggis and Sue Benson,of Eastcott near Devizes, who designed the 2012 Olympics cross country course.

Mrs Benson said: “He was a talented communicator with horses and handled troubled horses with such patience and understanding. To many horse owners he worked miracles.

“It is so sad he has gone but he leaves a lasting legacy as he shared his knowledge with everyone.”

His fiancee, eventer Victoria Craig, wrote on Mr Roberts’ Facebook page: “It is with great sadness that we need to share with you the news that we lost James last night in a car crash.

“It is hard to know what else to write at this moment but please feel free to offer your condolences on the the wall here and his personal page.”