Showgirl turns show jumper

  • How natural athleticism, good balance and a bit of help from the experts turned a nightclub dancer into a show jumper in four weeks

    It was a challenge which show jumper, Tim Stockdale, said was 95% impossible when he was asked by Channel 4 to take part in the “Faking It” series.

    The programme which was transmitted last night followed the progress of a 22-year-old nightclub dancer, Shelley Elvin, as she trained to be a showjumper in just 28 days.

    Not only had Shelley never sat on a horse before, she was also terrified of horses.

    “The programme makers didn’t tell us that until just before the we started filming, “explained Tim. “It added a twist to the programme.

    Shelley, who was found through a dance agency, said she wanted to do the programme so that she “could get over her irrational fear”. Shelley says she is delighted to have conquered her fears and completed the challenge.

    Shelley has ridden since making the programme, but says she hasn’t been tempted to change her career from being a dancer.

    Tim and instructor, Mary Ann Trevor-Roper were given the challenge to teach Shelley to ride and show jump from scratch.

    “Mary Ann had the brilliant idea of starting her off on a vaulting horse, [Cassie] which has a flat canter, and just doing walk to canter, missing out the trot which we didn’t need, “said Tim.

    “Shelley was very naturally well balanced and had a great position in the saddle.”

    But it was the toughness of the training which nearly got to Shelley.

    “She was having to ride three horses a day and by the end of the 28 days, she was riding six times a day, ” said Tim.

    “Shelley nearly got to point of chucking it in, so I had to have words.”

    But Tim’s tough approach paid off. Shelley admitted Tim was a hard taskmaster, but she also says she learnt so much from him and he helped her get over her fears.”In the end I adored him,” she says.At the end of the challenge, two of the three expert judges – Horse & Hound columnist Graham Fletcher and Derek Ricketts – guessed that Shelley was “faking it”, although her neat clear round helped to convince veteran Olympic show jumper Peter Robeson.

    Tim said: “I was very pleased with the end result but I certainly wouldn’t do it again.”

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