The “flying Scot” kept the eventing world on its toes with his party antics. Madeleine Silver reflects on a career that took him to five Olympic Games
Ian Stark is certain that he still owes the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) at least five years’ worth of work. It was 1972 when the then budding eventer waved goodbye to school, rode in his first novice at Sunderland Hall and decided to sign on as unemployed in the hope of garnering some cash for “doing nothing”. But within three days he’d been given a job at the DHSS.
“We worked on flexible hours, but mine were slightly more flexible than others,” laughs Ian, nearly 50 years after landing his unwanted job. “I used to go and visit people in their homes who were claiming benefits and sometimes I would just go and ride the horses instead.”
A decade of juggling a stifling office job and the slippery rungs of the eventing calendar came to a head when, aged 28, he couldn’t face going back after a Christmas break.