Gloucestershire-based riding teacher Tom Searle has been crowned the British Horse Society’s Young Instructor of the Year 2008.

BHSII-qualified Tom, 24, beat off nine other finalists at Warwickshire College yesterday to win the title. He also won a £500 bursary to spend on BHS training and examinations, and a free place on the BHS register of instructors for 12 months.

The nine finalists were assessed yesterday at Warwickshire College by two BHS Fellows, Jane Goldsmith, Jennie Loriston-Clarke, as well as the BHS director of standards, Margaret Linington-Payne.

The finalists were assessed while teaching private lessons, lasting 30min each, in both dressage and show jumping. They also had to deliver a practical stable management lecture to a group of three students.

Second-placed was Gemma Rawlings, winning a £300 bursary, and third-placed was Mark Cunclisse, winning £200. The other finalists won £100 bursaries to put towards BHS training.

Tom said: “I think the BHS Young Instructor of the Year competition gives much-needed direction to people like myself, and I am delighted to have won it.”

The BHS Young Instructor of the Year competition, sponsored by South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB), begins each spring. It is open to instructors holding a minimum of the BHS Preliminary Teaching Test, aged under 30. Regional qualifying competitions are held at BHS approved centres throughout the year, with the final in October.