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‘Get your son to ride, but don’t buy him a saddle’: top showman’s childhood riding lessons

H&H’s showing editor Alex Robinson caught up with show horse producer and H&H columnist Simon Reynolds on episode 13 of The Horse & Hound Podcast, during which he explained how he started riding as a child.

“I’m the youngest of four kids and we were all horsey — we had to be, really. My dad was a dealer, so everything we bought was for sale, and he was really into his hunting, as well as team chasing.

“It was a so-called family business, where dad was the captain, doing the buying and selling, and us kids all mucked in and ran the yard and produced whatever was bought. Mum kept us all washed, cleaned and fed, but from the age of nine I was sort of working full-time — it’s just what it was.

“I got into riding initially because I was born with a problem with my hips called Perthes’ disease, where one of my hips wasn’t properly formed. So I was in plaster for 18 months — I was incredibly strong from my hips up, but from my hips down, I was very weak. The specialist said to dad ‘Oh, Mr Reynolds, you’re a horse dealer, aren’t you? Get your son to ride, but don’t buy him a saddle so it strengthens his legs.’

“So it sort of stemmed from there — the first week I got a pony and I rode it without a saddle. And in less than a month, I was going round a showjumping track, because typical dad, he thought ‘Aye, aye, I’ve got another kid now who can probably earn me a few quid here…’, so straight away then he was off buying ponies and I ended up going down the showjumping route initially.”

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Having learnt his trade from an early age, and not having been much of a fan of school, Simon was keen to make horses into a career. He switched disciplines and has since gone on to huge success in the showing world, including producing numerous cob and hunter champions at the major shows including HOYS and the Royal International.

If you’d like to hear more from Simon, including what led to his interest in showing, some of his most special horses so far and much more listen here to episode 13 of The Horse & Hound podcast or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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