It’s tough for young riders to progress to senior level — they may have already enjoyed heady, medal-winning fame, but how many of them grow into serious Olympic prospects? Top names give advice on how to move up successfully

1. Find the right horse

“Seek good people to advise you,” says dressage rider Sarah Millis, who was on 10 European teams from ponies to young riders, but didn’t ride her first grand prix until the age of 24.

“Flashy young horses aren’t always megastars. They have to have a certain technique, good balance and a good mind to do grand prix.”

2. Do jump in at the deep end…

“You’re in young riders for such a short time, you should be gaining experience at adult level then and you’ll do even better at young riders,” says Olympic showjumper Tim Stockdale.

“It’s like coming from the deep end to shallow waters.”

3. …but don’t push it

“Be realistic,” says Gill Watson, junior and young rider eventing trainer.

“If riders have a very good horse, we’ll encourage them to press on at seniors, but an average horse may not be up to it.”

This article was first published in full in the young rider special issue of Horse & Hound (29 April, ’10)