Sharn Linney’s life lessons: ‘you only reap what you put in’ *H&H Plus*

The mini pony queen on taking her time, her penchant for bandage sets and her real-life unicorn...

  • Sharn is a leading pony producer. Her team has won at all major shows and is best known for her 2017 HOYS supreme pony winner Thistledown Van-Der-Vaart. She is usually found on the end of the lead-rein, but also rides in the show ring.

    MY career didn’t start in the conventional way. My family owned a livery yard and someone asked me to lead a pony for her at a show. At the time I was working in accountancy with the intention of pursuing that – showing certainly wasn’t the route I planned to go down.

    When I started doing the job professionally it was daunting going up against all the top producers; I didn’t think I stood a chance. But everyone was lovely and welcoming. I learned you should never be afraid to ask a professional if you need advice.

    Horses are animals and we must always remember this. As trainers, we must work with them and not against them – it pays off in the long run. I treat every single pony as an individual.

    One big change I’ve made over the years is not to let other people rush me with my breakers. At first you think you need to try your hardest to get a pony out and winning as quickly as possible. Now, if someone asks me how long it will take to get a pony somewhere I simply say, “it will take as long as it takes”.

    Not everything will always go as planned but don’t give up if things get tough. Hard work, commitment and dedication will see you through.

    There are so many amazing horsemen and women I could aspire to be like. Watching the likes of Rob Walker and Danielle Heath win the supremes at the recent British Show Horse Association (BSHA) Championships (12–13 September) makes you realise how many talented people we have in our industry.

    I’m a very superstitious person. I get weird about things being kept in the same place or done in the same way; if something has worked once I will endeavour to do it again and hopefully the outcome will be the same.

    Each pony has their own stuff because if they win after wearing a certain rug or set of bandages it must be their lucky kit. I try not to change a plan that’s worked before. My outfits are never the same but each pony has to be in the same attire if it’s served them well in the past.

    I always tell my jockeys to focus on everything they’ve learned at home just as they enter the ring. And for them just to try their best. I keep everything fun and lighthearted for them. It’s meant to be a hobby. They need to enjoy it, even when they’re competing in the wind and rain.

    My parents always told me to enjoy every minute and don’t take it to heart if it’s not your day. As my career wasn’t something given to me this has stuck with me.

    I never had substantial financial backing to buy top ponies so I’ve had to dig in and work hard if I wanted to achieve anything. I had to take on ponies which no one else could get going in the hope of riding something good enough to go to the level I wanted. A career with horses isn’t going to carry on if you just sit on the fence; you only reap what you put in.

    I would have loved to have Thistledown Van-Der-Vaart (Charles, pictured above) when
    I was growing up. Charles is every little girl’s dream pony. He is a real-life unicorn and I would have loved to have ridden him at Horse of the Year Show when I was younger. He’s just amazing.

    H&H 24 September 2020


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