Young showjumpers Eleanor Stevenson and Emily Ward won apprentice of the year titles last week (8 July).

The 17-year-olds are both on the Stubbing Court Training (SCT) apprenticeship programme.

Eleanor is SCT’s apprentice of the year 2016 and Emily won the advanced apprentice title.

Emily, Britain’s number one under-18 rider, was nominated for the title by her employer Michael Whitaker.

“Doing the advanced apprenticeship has developed my overall knowledge and skills in horse, yard and business management, and further demonstrated the importance of correct procedures and the highest standards in all aspects,” she said. “It has prepared me for running my own yard.”

A member of the winning junior Nations Cup team in Belgium in June, Emily has also been selected for the Junior European Championships at Millstreet in Ireland this month (26-31 July).

“Not only am I developing my equestrian skills through my apprenticeship, I am also learning different coaching techniques from other trainers and the principles of show centre management, both from a financial and operational perspective,” Eleanor said.

She is doing her level 2 training at her family’s Sykehouse Arena competition centre near Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

“The apprenticeship has given me a future career plan. I now want to progress to the advanced apprenticeship and then do the coaching units,” she added.


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The girls were awarded their prizes by showjumper Matthew Sampson at SCT’s Masterclass Series at Parklands Equestrian Centre, Sheffield.

“Both are very hard-working and exceptionally committed to doing horses at the highest level,” said Belinda Turner, whose mother set up the Chesterfield-based training company 34 years ago.

There are 150 apprentices from the East Midlands and Yorkshire currently on the SCT scheme, which provides online and hands-on learning.

The masterclasses, which give apprentices the chance to train with international riders and coaches including Michael Whitaker, Ian Stark, Yogi Breisner, Joe Whitaker and Mark Kyle.