Simon Charlesworth is a British showing producer.
His parents, Alan and Andrea, produced horses and ponies for the show ring and Simon was regularly seen at shows before he could walk. He was bought a lead-rein pony when he was two and had a natural position from the start.
The family moved to Jerome Harforth’s Stanley Grange Stud on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors when Simon was seven. It was there that Jerome gave him the grounding that stands him in such good stead today.
It was not all plain sailing, though. As a child Simon had a 12.2hh mare, Rotherwood Daydream, of whom he was “absolutely terrified”. But after spending some time with family friend Caroline Nelson in Suffolk, he worked through it and carried on riding.
Simon also cites Middlesbrough-based dressage trainer Sue Ritchie — with whom he started having weekly lessons when he was 16 — as a major influence.
Sue was sufficiently impressed by his aptitude to suggest he should train in a dressage yard in Germany. But Simon declined the offer on the basis that he “didn’t really fancy going round in little circles for days on end” and at only 16 he was quite shy around people he didn’t know — and hated flying.
Simon never won at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) on ponies, despite qualifying regularly. It was a standing joke at Stanley Grange that whatever he was riding there wouldn’t win .
Although Simon rides all types of horses, his first love is hacks.
During his time at Stanley Grange — he left in the autumn of 2011 to work for Steve Pitt and Vicky Smith in Newmarket — Simon had much success showing in-hand, winning at HOYS in 2010 with Catwalk.
In 2012 he won the horse supreme at HOYS with Sarah Carey’s hack Pearly King.
At the age of 29, Simon was the youngest senior rider ever to earn the top accolade in the competition’s 28-year history.
Don’t miss our exclusive interview with Simon in the current issue of H&H (10 January 2013)
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