Ben Royal Trainer Spotlight
Author: Lacy Tucker
Ronald Reagan once said, “ America is too great for small dreams.” Today, many of us read that, but do we hear it? Do we understand what it truly means? How many of us settle? How many of us actually know what it means to have dreams as big as the moon, and the courage to take off in a rocket in the hopes those dreams come true.
I wanted to bring you a story about an Aussie and his family, who not only saw the greatness America had to offer but also had the profound courage to follow their biggest dreams and seek out that greatness with nothing but gumption.
Ben Royal started to work cattle properties in North Queensland, Australia at the age of 17 but at the age of 21, decided he wanted to travel. Ben knew a few Aussies that came to the US and with only a couple phone calls he ended up on Gavin Jordan’s front step in Wilton, California. Surprisingly, cutting wasn’t the reason Ben wanted to come to the states, but quickly, like the rest of us crazy horse people, he fell in love.
After spending a few years working as Gav’s assistant, Ben snagged the ultimate opportunity to haul in the 2000 limit rider, which he went on to win in 2006. Unfortunately, after being on the road for so long, it was decided he needed a little break, and went on home, back to Australia.
After getting settled, he started training cutters for the public & shortly after, a beautiful, lively Aussie gal, Holly came into his world like a Kansas tornado on a humid afternoon. And as a whirlwind romance budded, they were soon married and expecting a baby boy shortly after! With the Royal family growing, Ben decided to quit training full time and concentrate on buying their first home. So Ben started managing a trucking depot and rode horses at night. In Australia, there were no indoor arenas, leaving the outside arena only to be lit up by lights from their pickup. Starting his day at 4 am and concluding it at around midnight most nights. Holly was sure to clean and feed everything so Ben could get to bed. “It was absolutely insane now when we look back on it!” Holly says.
Holly had absolutely no idea what cutting was when she met Ben. “I remember saying to him, “YOU DO WHAT TO HORSES?!”, my background was dressage, I was a vet technician in my former life before all of this. This made it easy to help Ben with the horse’s health and making them all look beautiful, but it wasn’t until we came to America that I rode cutters or was really around cattle, they terrified me, to say the least!” She says. “But, I love it to bits now!” Today, Holly is a showing machine herself!
Ben was getting offers to come back over to the US but kept turning them down for the needs of his family, but every day Ben spoke and reminisced on the amazing life he once had in the states. Holly finally said to him, “I can't imagine being that talented at something and not being able to do it. Most people live their lives trying to find something to be passionate about, let alone be great at it!” So in 2015 they threw the dice, sold everything they owned and moved to America. Horses, Holly’s photography business and eventually their house, absolutely everything. The visas and flights alone nearly broke the bank. Holly had never traveled overseas before so flying bling, she kept faith in a dream they needed to see through.
Holly says, “Ben had a great reputation from his first time living in the USA and the great thing about Americans is if you’re a good person and you work hard, people will support you and give you a go.” People were happy to help! Gavin, Brandis, Monty, Steve, Dylan, Andrew and Brent helped The Royals set up in anyway possible. Monty and Steve sent Ben horses to get him started and from there it seemed to take off. Dylan let them pay off a trailer, Steve sent saddles and Brent gave them bridles. “We’ve been so thankful for our friends.” The Royals said.
Being Australian natives coming to America the legal way can take a heavy toll on your bank account and put you in a scarce place financially. The Royal family explained how the biggest struggle encountered coming to the states was definitely financially. “We didn’t have a credit score, so everything we did in the early years had to be paid for in cash. We borrowed a clients truck for a year because getting a loan was impossible but eventually, we built up enough credit to buy a truck. We never expected that it would be so hard to set up a business, but we did it!” They said.
“The cost of visas alone is mentally and finically taxing, we actually just had to go back to Australia for 6 weeks to renew our visas, and as you can imagine, running your own business with no income for 6 weeks is tough. Thankfully we have amazing clients who are understanding. And although it’s hard, it’s worth doing properly. Most Australian trainers marry an American gal so they don’t encounter the same issues we do, I think Holly and I are the only Aussie couple in California that I know of, and even though the legal process is huge, we love the USA so it’s been worth every bit.” Ben says.
The other struggle they encountered was monumental, it was the lack of family support…“Having a son and no family to help care for him while showing is tough so he always tags along, but he makes a great co-pilot and we make the best of it!”
Ben’s father passed away last year after battling a quick and aggressive form of cancer. “It was so incredibly hard living over here while our family back home was doing it rough. Holly and Brooks couldn’t go back with me to the funeral, and that was hard but this year when we went back to renew our visas, it happened to be the anniversary of his passing. So it was nice to be home with family during that time.” Ben said.
While life and its struggles sometimes get the best of us, The Royal family keeps trucking along with a positive attitude and gratitude for both the industry and The States. In the next five years, Ben says the daily goal set for the horses in their barn is all about happiness and health, “If the horses don’t have that, then whats the point after all? We love to win, everyone does, but we’re here for the horses first and foremost!” Ben says.
The Royal barn has just moved into an amazing facility and signed on with some amazing sponsors like Icehorse, Eqyss, Hitchley & Harrow, and Biglow Farms. They seem to be very excited to work in conjunction with them and excited for a bright future ahead!
Ben closes with, “I’ve been given some incredible opportunities since being here, showing some wonderful horses. I’m excited to step to the pen to show, to watch my clients have fun and to enjoy the people that pour their hearts into this industry. America is our hearts home and cutting is the reason it beats.”