Simon is a leading show rider who has won numerous championships at top level. He has won at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) on several occasions and took the supreme with Hallmark IX in 2013. He has also won the supreme at Great Yorkshire twice.
As a producer I take it upon myself to get to know each horse I have inside and out. As good as your staff may be, it’s your responsibility as a trainer and rider to get to know each horse.
Once, this was put to the test when my dad and sister had gone to the sales and left instructions for my brother Crock and I to work the horses. The instructions then said to ride “the grey horse”. Now, there were two grey horses and unfortunately for us we didn’t pick the right one.
My brother tacked him up and he did seem a bit tense on tightening the girth. We pulled him up to the mounting block and Crock jumped on. It bucked him off with such force, he landed on the stable roof causing it to collapse. Little did we know that this was the unbroken one.
Despite the dramatics, he was unhurt, although explaining that to Dad when he returned home was interesting. We laugh about it now. You only get out what you put in, and in this profession you have to work hard to see results.
I like to vary my horses’ work and ensure they do lots of different things at home.
On a show day I always arrive at the showground early so the horses can settle and we can avoid any stress. Being prepared before you leave the yard goes a long way in ensuring everything goes smoothly. As I’m about to go into the ring I try and be confident, which transfers to the horse.
Proper horse people
Back when I was 16, the showing job was full of proper horse people. Nowadays, the scene has more people with horses in it.
My dad always gave me sound advice when looking to buy a horse. He said: “If you have to convince yourself, leave it,” adding that you should “let your eyes be the judge and your money the last thing you part with”.
I’ve also learnt to be more careful with my own health and safety. In 2013 I fractured my back after a fall and it taught me that you don’t win any medals for trying to be a hero. I will now always lunge a fresh horse.
I would love to have my small hunter Sporting Sam back. He was found by my dad at Goresbridge Horse Sales. He really was a one-off. He won Horse of the Year Show four times running from 1999 to 2002 and when his career finished I said: “We’ll not see the likes of him again,” and I was right.
Ref Horse & Hound; 19 March 2020