Taken there by my father to watch my childhood heroes, I never dreamt that one day I would be the man in charge, the man responsible for creating a cross-country course the world’s top event riders would do battle with.Designing has always fascinated me; how one jump relates to another and how you use the terrain. What happens at one fence will dictate how the rider tackles the next. Whenever I go into an event that is established, I always think where do I want to go with it; what would I do if there was nothing here, and then how could I develop that.
What I do
I am an FEI [Federation Equestre Internationale] international level designer, and one of only 17 ‘A’ listed British Eventing Accredited Course Designer in the UK; as well as a FEI Technical Delegate (TD), and a Technical Advisor (TA) for British Eventing. As a result of all this, I have undertaken the design of advanced courses in many different venues in Britain, Western Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia. For example, the South African Individual Eventing Championships and for the United States Eventing Association.I have been instrumental in delivering much of the training of Course Designers and TA's in the UK. In addition, I sit on the British Eventing Cross Country Safety Advisory Group; where my extensive experience as a rider, having ridden up to British Showjumping level Grade-A before moving across to Eventing and successfully competing at CCI4 level; has been a tremendous help in appreciating the riders view and the safety aspects of the sport.Together, with my wife Lizzel, we have built a successful business and training centre; creating educational programmes for schools, as well as developing and delivering career paths for students from school-leavers through to Fellowship levels. Both of us are trainers of Event-riders from those at grassroots level, right up to successful CCI4level competitors
My horsey roots had a somewhat inauspicious start. Growing up in North Somerset my love of horses started when my father visited Bridgewater Fair, and came home with a pen of ponies. Although we started out with a completely non-horsey background we bumbled along and learnt as we went. I spent most of my formative years taking part in show jumping; where I won major classes at the Horse of the Year Show, Royal International and at Hickstead. Eventually, I became a show jumping trainer, but in 1986 I turned my attention to Eventing. I soon learnt to love the sport of eventing, which tests horse and rider over three disciplines; the elegant dressage, the thrill-seeking cross-country, and the nerve-biting showjumping that test the horse’s carefulness over easily-knocked down coloured poles. I competed at Badminton and Burgley in 1989 and 1990; and represented England internationally, competing at 4level in Holland and France (where I rode on the team).This led to me being involved with local events I my home town of Chepstow, where I joined the committee and then became the event’s designer. I finally reached the heights of competing at Badminton Horse Trials, and turned to full-time designing when I hung up my riding boots.Through the years I have come up from designing Pre-Novice courses and gone through a training scheme at British Eventing that has very much started from the base level of designing. Later, I started with Mike Etherington-Smith [top international course designer and former CEO of British Eventing] and he taught me the principles of course designing.From these beginnings I got involved with one of the Cotswold’s eventing jewels, the three star Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, and ending up designing there for 10 years, until Badminton called.Credits:•Header Picture - Stephen Richards Photography•‘Vision’ picture - H&C TV•‘Aim’ picture - Yate and Sodbury Voice
“. . thrill-seeking cross-country, and the nerve-biting showjumping”
“ . . appreciating the riders view and the safety aspects of the sport”