A 45-year-old riding instructor has received a £1,000 award in recognition of the lifelong training she has undertaken throughout her 28-year career.

Janice Evans, a freelance instructor from Cardiff, received the “Lifelong Learner of the Year” award from Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for the Environmental and Land-based Sector, and ELWa (Education and Learning in Wales).

Janice started her career as a riding instructor after leaving school and passed her BHSAI aged 17 while training as a working pupil at Cardiff Riding School. Once qualified she worked at local riding schools until getting married in 1983.

“I took a career break to have a family after getting married, and returned to work part-time after having my two boys,” explains Janice.

In 1994, after an 11-year break, Janice returned to full-time work as chief instructor and operations manager at South Wales Equestrian Centre.

“I realised that I needed to continue my training and improve my qualifications to improve the service I offered as an instructor and manager. I passed my Intermediate Instructor qualification in my mid-30s and took my Stable Managers exam in 2002, aged 42. I completed my Instructor qualification last April, aged 44.”

Although Janice initially believed her age might stand against her when qualifying as a BHSI, with hindsight she believes her life experience helped her gain this prestigious qualification.

“Although I was training among students much younger than myself, I became aware that my confidence and maturity helped me cope in situations which younger instructors found difficult.”

Janice is now in great demand as a freelance instructor and has helped a number of local farmers diversify into livery yards.

“I really enjoy teaching amateur riders who love spending time with their horses. The fact that I help them escape for them from the pressures of their working lives gives me a real buzz.”

In spite of having gained her BHSI, Janice has noplans to give up further training.

” I have used the money from the award to pay for regular training with the German dressage rider, Michael Beining who visits my area regularly. My own training is important to me as I find I teach better when I am inspired by my own learning. I am also planning to become a listed dressage judge.”