Is it really possible to combine a full-time career with a fulfilling competition life? And if so, how? Some inspirational working riders who have achieved their dream share the key to their success.

Honesty, says sales manager and member of the dressage World Class programme Sarah-Jane Elmslie:

“Be true to yourself in knowing what you really want out of horses. Either be a leisure rider and enjoy it, or accept that life will be tough.”

Realism, says vet and Badminton event rider Tony Warr:

“Be realistic and keep it in perspective. Remember you have a job and a family — then you won’t get so hacked off if you don’t achieve everything.”

Prudence, says global accounts director and intermediate event rider Sharon Polding:

“Save as much as you can during the winter and put the money in an eventing account to spend during the season.”

Practice, says boarding kennels proprietor and HOYS show rider Pippa Moon:

“Use riding club events. The times are designed for riders with jobs and they’re great for getting young horses out in company.”

Five things every working rider should do

• Ask your employer for flexible hours or to work from home

• Check out if your company might sponsor you

• Keep your fitness up while at work. Walk up the stairs, run in your lunch break or cycle to the office

• Check you are complying with the driving hour regulations — — or get a friend/parent/chauffeur to help out

• Ask the pros for help at competitions. Most are happy to share advice

For the full article on working and competing, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (4 March, ’10)