‘You only live once’: How a PE teacher became one of the country’s leading showing producers

  • Today, Vicky Smith is one of the most consistent showing stars in the business, but while she’s always had a knack for riding, the show ring hasn’t always been the Cheshire-based producer’s primary source of income. Before she took on producing horses full time, Vicky was a PE teacher. 

    “I did love my job,” said Vicky, when H&H’s showing editor Alex Robinson chatted to her on episode 56 of The Horse & Hound podcast. “I was very lucky to have some supportive owners such as the Sankey Family, who owned the 2016 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) ridden coloured of the year The Life Of Riley. We would meet up at shows and we generally did very well. As things progressed, myself and my partner, Alan Marnie, bought our base in Cheshire. We went from having four horses in the yard to having 14.”

    In 2017, Sally Iggulden approached Vicky about riding her string of impressive hunters.

    “Things just developed; we had a few of our own at the time and a couple more owners came on board,” continued Vicky. “The last year I went to HOYS as a teacher I had seven horses there and had to go back to school on the Monday morning; at that point I realised I couldn’t go on like this and I thought I should maybe give producing a try. 

    “A lot of the professionals were really supportive and I was lucky that school were also in support of me. They gave me a sabbatical and after the year I was able to decide if I wanted to go back or carry on with horses. Therefore, I felt there was less of a risk if things didn’t work out. But here we are!”

    For those unsure about taking on the equestrian world full time, Vicky advises them to go for it.

    “You only live once so you have to do what makes you happy and give things a go,” she said. “The fact I put a time scale on it was good because I had some stability. I always know that I have teaching there in the background and I’ll always have the qualification. Towards the end of my teaching I actually went down to four days in school, which gave me a good insight into what it would be like.

    “The other professionals were so helpful, too, advising me and helping me work out what to charge. People think the showing industry can be a difficult place, but the pros have really helped me get going – so if you want to do it, go for it.”

    If you’d like to hear more from Vicky and her journey to the top, and much more listen here to episode 56 of The Horse and Hound podcast or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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