Dressage rider and trainer Steve Wallace combines classical training with competition riding. He has a particular interest in Iberian horses and is currently competing at small tour level

Horses have been an important part of my life since I was a young child. I started riding at five-years-old and loved it from the very beginning, something that my family of golfing enthusiasts thought a little strange!

Growing up my first passion was showjumping, then eventing. But after school I felt I should pursue a conventional career and worked in the banking sector for over a decade.

But my passion for horses never went away and in my early thirties I took a huge leap of faith and decided I would leave the security of a ‘sensible job’ and get myself a ‘proper job’ i.e. working with horses full-time.

Initially I evented during the summer months and showjumped through the winter. But gradually I realised I had a real aptitude and love for dressage and started to focus my energies there.

A real turning point in my riding career was when I met and began training with the legendary Portuguese classical trainer João Trigueiros; he was an inspiration and totally transformed my way of riding.

Poor João, I took him a string of moderately talented, always tricky, event horses and never dismissive, he helped me work through their issues and bring out the best in each and every one of them. He was unfailingly helpful and positive and I’ll always be grateful for the support and encouragement he gave me. The techniques and philosophy he taught me form the basis of my training today.

Xan training at home

Xan training at home

I now work as a freelancer trainer, based in the Cotswolds near Chipping Norton. I also run a weekly clinic in Surrey.

Teaching is my passion and I enjoy working with anyone on any horse from prelim upwards, as long as they share my enthusiasm and have a willingness to learn.

I’m interested in the psychology of horse and rider and have created a training formula that works to improve the quality of a horse’s basic paces and uses exercises to improve elasticity, much as a dancer would.

I believe it’s important to be patient with both horse and rider and take as much time as is needed — no two combinations are ever the same. I try and ensure that everyone I train (horses and riders) are ‘happy athletes’.

Lenny in bed

Lenny in bed

I own two horses, seven-year-old El Alexandro (Xan), who is a Dutch horse by the Gelderlander Alexandro P out of a KWPN mare by Inspekteur. As yet he has not competed but I hope to bring him out later this year.

I also have eight-year-old Isleno XCV (Lenny, pictured top and bottom) who is a PRE by Impaciente II and has just qualified for the regionals at medium level. I’m also currently competing Don Fabriano (Donni) on behalf of my good friend and owner Philippa Tickle at prix st george (PSG).

I have a busy summer of competitions lined up both riding and also supporting some of my pupils and look forward to sharing some of the highs (and no doubt some lows too) that training and competing horses brings.

Steve