‘You never stop learning’: Ian Stark on his next chapter after final year as Bramham course-designer

  • Ian Stark is looking to the future after wrapping on a successful final year as cross-country course-designer at Defender Bramham Horse Trials.

    Ian, 70, who revealed in September that 2024 would be his final year as a course-designer, will continue coaching – and is looking forward to receiving his free ski lift pass.

    “I’m relieved first and foremost,” said Ian, on the conclusion of his time at Bramham. “I was dreading this week. Now that it’s over, I’m kind of resigned to it. It’s definitely happening and I’m happy about that.

    “At the end of last year, by the time I got to Maryland [CCI5*], and I thought, ‘this has been a really good year’ – I rang [my wife] Jenny, who was still in Scotland, and said, ‘there’s a huge part of me that wants to bring my retirement forward a year, because it’s been such a good year it can only go downhill!’

    “So it’s just a relief that it has gone well, that there were good results and that people enjoyed the course.”

    Maryland this autumn will be Ian’s final event as a course-designer. As his sights look to what will come next, the multiple Olympic medallist, who is contracted to coach the US eventing squad until the end of 2024, adds that he is still enjoying coaching and learning new things.

    “It doesn’t matter how old you get, you never stop learning about horses – and people, for that matter,” he said.

    “At home I am helping with our young horses, I’m helping a grand prix rider and I’m riding that horse and some of the others. Although I’m helping the rider, riding her horses has taught me even more so it’s great – I’m still learning.

    “I’m going to keep coaching. I don’t know whether I’ll sign up for another four years with America, we’ll see how Paris goes, and then we’ll think about it!

    “When you’re 75 you get a free skiing lift pass – that’s what’s keeping me going!”

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