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2017 TEAM

Get to know some of the most regularly training Academy riders and horses


Location: Brackenhill Stud,

Henley on Thames


Location: Downs Barns Farm,

Northolt, London

Aisha - Development Programme

Joined the Academy lessons in 2015 with Boo, an older TBx mare whom she has on full loan. 18 years old with all the life dilemmas on her mind but always stands up to the training challenges. A rare combination of striving in competitive environment and yet being fully committed to no-cutting-corners training. Always fun to teach and makes amazing brownies and packed lunches! 

Lou - Performance Programme

Joined the Academy lessons in 2015. Never shy of ambitious goals, fiercely competitive and totally in love with Eventing, Lou - like Aisha - is another rider who appreciates no gadgets/no short cuts training. 

In 2016, Lou lost her beautiful mare Roulette to a freak accident in the electric storm but is slowly regaining her riding mojo with the new ride. 

Not just an Academy rider but also a great support to me in this coaching venture, Lou is a perfectionist and always strives to be the best she can be in all she does. 

This year she will train and event on Robyn, a Thoroughbred ex-racehorse owned by Laura Williams. 


Location: Brackenhill Stud, Henley on Thames

Nigel - Foundation Programme

Joined the Academy lessons in the summer 2014 as a complete beginner and as he would happily admit himself, in an unfit and very non flexible state! Two years later and we are working on little courses of x-poles and having a much better understanding of what this equestrian lifestyle is all about ;) Nigel is one my most committed riders and only ever missed lessons due to ill-health (man-flu a couple of times possibly!)

Always very determined to get things right, ambitious and never, ever complains (oh wait, that last bit might be a little different). I cheer him on on his way to achieve his riding goals for this year. 

Nigel's current training partner is Aisha's Boo. 

Sarah - Development programme lessons outside of main Academy structure. Sarah works at Brackenhill Stud and rides with me weekly schooling various full liveries on the yard. 

Always happy to learn new things and puts it all into her sessions. Our current schooling project she rides in her lesson is Prince, an ex-racehorse who belongs to Charlotte.

On photo above Sarah is riding Luna, a TB mare who was on sales livery and who is now sold to a super home. 

Alison & Piper. Development Programme. Started lessons with me on Wednesday 11th January 2017.  

Tierney - Foundation Programme.

Joined the Academy lessons in the winter 2015 on her little horse Harvey. Together they have been through a lot of highs and lows as Harvey battled with soundness issues but she loves that pony so much I forgive her riding in muddy boots sometimes (she did clean them beautifully after specifically muddy appearance to be fair), hair everywhere but inside her hat and fashionable jackets flowing all over the place. 

From a wobbly novice rider, Tierney has become a much more aware and focused (reasonably focused) one and I am looking forward to helping her with her 2017 riding aims.


Location: Downs Barns Farm, Northolt, London

Photo: Christine Dunnington Photography

Kelly - Development/Performance Programme.

I've known Kelly for over 10 years and have taught her a few times before but her regular lessons with me started in the spring 2015 when she bought a young carthorse to bring on. Actually, a young carthorse turned into a stunning Welsh sec. D whom she produced to a very good standard to go on to a wonderful home and with whom we had some great training times along the way. I have taken back the carthorse nickname ;) 

Every now and then most instructors will come across a rider whom they find easiest yet most challenging to teach. Kelly is one like that for me! Easiest because teaching her feels like riding the horse myself, what I say to do, she does with often the exact effect I thought the action would have. Most challenging because she's been mostly self-taught to this point so I am trying to add to her skills without destroying any of the natural ability and feel she's worked out by herself. 

Possibly the only rider I let "argue" with me during the lessons (mostly because it's an amusing insight into how she perceives the horse's way of going) but then she does work to the second last breath (sometimes quite literally) once in the arena ;) 

This year we are working with a very green but superbly promising gelding - Mojo (pictured) - and aiming his white socks at Show-Jumping shenanigans. 

Kelly is also the Academy's liveries head honcho, my total hero for finding me the most amazing spaniel puppy in the world, possibly most dependable person I have ever worked with, always happy to help and an is an invaluable support for me in this coaching project. 

Caitlin Thorpe. Development Programme. 

I still think of Caitlin as a Little One because as she joined the Academy programme in the spring 2014, she could just about lift her bum from the saddle to do rising trot in a fashion and at 13 years old she was the youngest rider I had on the programme at the time.

Fast forward to 2017 and if I ever wanted to call anyone my protégé, she would sure be the one! 

She has proven to be a dedicated, driven and committed young rider, an absolute pleasure to work with and as I have taught her from nearly the beginning of her riding "career", we do have a good understanding that makes developing further an engaging and rewarding process. 

Life takes us in various directions and who knows what's in store for young Caitlin but I hope she stays connected with the Academy for many years to come and helps me teach other young people how no gadgets and patient horsemanship is one of the most personally and emotionally rewarding ways to train horses. 

In the last three years we have been on a wonderful training journey, laughed our heads off during late night lessons and pushed on through some doubts and worries. We are starting 2017 with a new horse - Mollie - to develop and compete with the goal to start eventing this season.

Caitlin rides on Fridays & Saturdays, usually 2-3 horses each day. 

She started her own Facebook & Instagram pages documenting her training and competitions so do give her a like and follow her adventures in equestrian industry :) Links below. 

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Mairi & Gilly. Development Programme.

Joined the Academy in the winter 2014, Mairi is one of the most inquisitive and driven riders one could hope to get to teach. Interested in horse & rider biomechanics and bringing the most out of every horse she rides, our lessons are never a walk in the park ;) This year she has set herself a few brave goals and I am going to make sure we have a decent go at making them happen. 

Winter 2017 will be spend on bringing her loan horse back into fitness following field injury he sustained in October last year.

I should add that thanks to Mairi I met the most ridiculous A&E doctor, slightly feared for my life as she tried to find a lip balm at the back of her car whilst driving into hedges (I subsequently drive her car towards a ditch whenever at the wheel just to let her re-live my horror) and found a kindred spirit who is equally addicted to coffee and home made banana cakes as I am! 

If you would like to follow Mairi's adventures this year, check out her guest blog series she is writing for the Academy blog. Link below.

Sofija - Development Programme.

I first met Sofija when she was six years old going on 26 with her attitude to riding! She rode with me twice a week at a riding school I taught at the time. A little girl who wanted to ride well even though she mustn't have yet fully understood what it meant. She moved abroad with her family for several years but got in touch last year when she returned to England and has re-joined the Academy in the autumn 2016, now 14 years old.

Very determined and always striving to improve, Sofija is sharing two horses -  5 years old ISH Ozzy (pictured) owned by Gemma Hill and Welsh sec. C pony Jack, owned by Kate Sullivan.  

With a never-ending energy, always a big smile, happy to ride in a pouring rain and always with a wonderful, patient and caring approach towards all horses she rides, Sofija is a pleasure to teach and I can't wait to see what we manage to achieve this year.

She's got her eyes set on more jumping adventures and entry level professional instructor exams this year so the game is on! 

Oscar (left) and Jack (right) are my schooling clients on Tuesdays. Two very different characters. Five years old Oscar has had troubled youth with many injuries and time off work so the work with him is of rehabilitative nature. Jack has crookedness and tension issues but is a fighter and doesn't know he is only 13.2hh! 

Oscar is owned by Paige Burford, Jack is owned by Kate Sullivan.

Catherine  - Foundation Programme

Joined Academy lessons at Start Programme in January 2016, currently loaning a New Forest x mare, India. Her first jump on photo above in January 2017. 

Very committed to thorough understanding of the training and determined despite some serious health issues, Catherine has made a huge progress last year and we have our antennas set on further challenges in 2017 :) 

Catherine says: "I am registered disabled after having a stroke which left me with lifetime physical problems. I also have ehlers danlos syndrome which causes chronic pain and joint instability. I want to inspire and encourage others with physical and mental health issues to get riding, it has helped me so much"

India owned by Julie Middleton. 

Mollie aka Shanaclough Fireblade. Eight years old Irish Sport Horse mare. A new horse for my young rider, Caitlin Thorpe, a confident jumper which will hopefully give Caitlin a lovely first season eventing this year. I usually work with her on Tuesdays filling the gaps in her flatwork and groundwork education. 

Mollie owned by the Thorpe family.

Christine of Christine Dunnington Photography.

Joined the Academy in November 2016 initially for 10 weeks but I am not sure if we can now let her go! 

Best if you see here why and what Chris is up to in her lessons and her days with Academy: 


Location: Brackenhill Stud, Henley on Thames

Emma Brinkworth. Owner of the livery business at Brackenhill Stud, fabulous support for the Academy project and always willing to go extra mile to help us. Started lessons with me in the summer 2014. 

Totally addicted to Eventing, lives, breathes and sleeps horses. Talented and crazily determined, Emma is always in her brave pants on her highly strung ex-racehorses and up for any training challenge I throw at her. I've been known to test many of my coaching ideas in our lessons ;) 

My favourite thing about our lessons is that Emma is as happy to be pushed as I like to push the boundaries of all possibilities. I would like to take a little credit for her incredibly quick loss of new mummy belly :-P 

I currently try to learn baby sitting as Emma's 2016 born baby Florence comes to most of the lessons (and sometimes decides to feed a couple of times during them!). I have so far mastered setting up jumps and picking up poles from the ground with a 5 month old strapped to me. 

Big goals for this year with 2 main players: ex-racehorses Merehead and Repo. 

Alex - an experienced rider, Alex joined my lessons in the autumn 2016 after having a break following birth of her daughter. She is one of those riders I wished I could teach more often but the baby duties don't let her increase training frequency! Focused, determined to help the horse move as well and as comfortable as possible, very easy to correct, with good feel for tensions and resistances in horse's body. Always wanting to learn, always willing to try different approaches and always searching problems in herself not the horse. 

Currently training on an ex-racehorse Prince, owned by Charlotte, another livery at Brackenhill Stud.  

Karen and her HEROS re-homed ex-racehorse, Charlie. Development Programme. Karen joined my coaching programme when she moved Charlie to Brackenhill Stud in November 2016. She was looking for a non-competitive, horse centred tuition which I really love providing. Charlie has various body issues and suffered racing related injuries but is a typical TB - always trying his hardest to please. Fabulous pair to work with, we focus on rehabilitative schooling with Charlie combining in-hand work with ridden work as well as knocking Karen into riding shape ;) Watch this space as this horse is a diamond!

Susanna and Ferris. Development Programme. 

I've known Susanna for many years and in November 2016 she got in touch sharing she really missed having a connection with one horse and that relationship you can develop when focusing your training/communication. I thought I knew just the horse for her and after checking with Emma Brinkworth, Ferris' owner, the temporary share deal was formed!

I help Susanna with Ferris' basic ridden horse education. He has had a long racing career and is being re-trained as a pleasure horse. 

Susanna is a very thoughtful, connection driven horse person and I love seeing her bond with Ferris develop. 

Our main goal for this year is to help this lovely horse become happy in body and mind, accept his ridden work without unnecessary stress and to re-school his posture to the one of a functional, ridden horse. 

Currently working in-hand on restoring three calm, balanced and functional paces. 

Ferris will be available for sale very shortly. 

Derek - Start Programme. Joining the Academy on the 12th January 2016 and will share Boo for his lessons.

More details once he gets into his adventures with Academy training ;) 

Tatiana & Jasper. Development programme In-Hand.

Involved with the Academy since spring 2014 via her daughter, Caitlin, Tatiana is now turning her focus on her own training and I look forward to taking this pair from decent groundwork foundations to some memorable times in the saddle. Big goals for these guys in 2017.

Great Academy cheerleader, lunch maker, driver and overall helpful hand. Together with her husband Gary they are a very valued members of the Academy support team :) 

Kate & Jack - Development Programme.

Kate first got involved with the Academy via me schooling her pony Jack, who she needed help with due to his crookedness and readability issues. As I normally don't take other people's horses for schooling if I don't also teach the owner (I just don't believe in sorting out the horse without working on the rider too), she had a lesson now and then last year but has caught a training bug and rides weekly now. 

An experienced and long term rider with some bad habits that has crept in over time, Kate is a very hard task master and has made a huge improvement last year. 

We work on developing Kate's confidence in her ability to work on Jack, giving her the tools to improve Jack's issues and ironing out straightness problems in both of them ;) 


Sasha. Development Programme. 

Joined us mid 2015 after visiting the Academy's Intensive Training Camp at Brackenhill Stud. Even though she has a very demanding academic schedule with plenty of extracurricular activities other than riding, Sasha manages to progress well and is always up for a training challenge. 

She rides on my so called days off as that's the only day of the week we pinpointed as a possibility of regular training so hey ho! 

2017 is our last full time year with Sasha as she will be off to University in September so I am hoping we will get enough hours in the saddle to reach her goal of completing a BE80 event this season. We will be aiming at an event in late August/beginning of September but there are still plenty of details to sort out, most important being the horse to take her to that event! 

Sasha currently trains on Leo (pictured) & Boo. 

Gustav & Anna Clara. Father and daughter team.

Foundation Programme & Aspire Kids Academy. 

Joined the Academy as Start Programme in early 2016 and continue their riding adventures with us this year. They bring a little Scandinavian flair to my teaching experiences and despite having no big equestrian development goals, they enjoy Academy approach and appreciate the deeper understanding of finer details :) 

Gustav's learning partner is Jasper, owned by the Thorpe family and Anna Clara learns on Larry owned by Niamh T.

Caitlin McGrath. Aspire Kids Academy/Foundation Programme. Joined the Academy in the early 2016 and completed Kids Academy Start Programme with Gemma Hill. She now rides with me on Foundation Programme, mainly in Northolt sharing Larry with Anna Clara, but also came for Leo experience in December 2016 (pictured). 

Fearless, pony mad and hungry to ride more, she's a perfect match for Academy's aims of thorough education and diverse riding opportunities.

Caitlin rides on Saturdays with her mum, Catherine, and on some weekdays during school breaks. 

Paige & Oscar. Development programme with focus on rehabilitative schooling of Paige's young horse. 

Paige got involved with the Academy in mid 2015 via her injury prone young gelding and started her lessons after a few months of me schooling Oscar. 

Together they've been through many highs and lows as Oscar likes to steadily cover Veterinary Manual but after yet another surgery and box rest he seems to be on the roll and I am hoping 2017 will be a good year for this pair. 

We have some tentative goals in place and keeping everything crossed we can have a good go at them! 

Moira. Development Programme. Joined the Academy in April 2014 and has travelled to several different counties from her home in London to take part in Academy lessons. She's managed to lose her bank cards twice and her phone once on ways to the lessons but kept going against all odds ;) 

In 2017 Moira is taking training sabbatical to focus on her creative projects and we are wishing her all the best and success with them! 

Moira shares Tilly (pictured; currently also on "holiday" cooking a foal by Royaldik), owned by Kelly Hill and India owned by Julie Middleton. 

Look forward to having you back with us Moira! 

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