Meet the Team
I was born into a very horse orientated family. From the start I grew up with parents that had both evented, raced and competed in dressage.
From a very young age all I wanted to do was ride and follow in my parents foot steps. I loved to be with my ponies and spent hours riding around my parents farm and the surrounding mountains. I was always competitive and started showjumping and eventing as soon as I could.
My early competition achievements came in both show jumping and working hunter competitions. I won the Supreme Welsh Working Hunter title with my 13.2 pony Silver Sweep, and more success followed with the Pony Club area competitions and dressage success. Then I moved on to 14.2 ponies and won the Pony Club Open Eventing Championship, the Urky Newton Scholarship and the Katy and Eloise Plunkett Bursary with my amazing pony, Kaleidoscope Callisto, who I introduced to eventing and produced myself when i was 12.
With the sale of Kaleidoscope Callisto, I purchased and invested in an older more advanced horse to introduce me to the senior ranks. On this horse I completed my first 2* at the age of 16. I also purchased some young unbroken horses from Belgium and they form the basis of my current string.
When I finished College I set off to a top class showjumping and dealing yard in Belgium, which was the base for three well known horsemen in the industry; Robert Whitaker, Neil Jones and Jaime Guera .
While I was in Belgium I was able to ride top class jumpers and receive instruction from the Internationally established and well known rider Robert Whitaker and Jaime Guera. This promoted my success in both pure showjumping and eventing.
In 2010 I was short-listed for the British Young Rider Team and selected for the final viewing of the World Class Scheme. The winter of 2010 I spent training in the Netherlands with Dutch dressage team rider Stefannie Peters and Grand Prix showjumper and dressage rider Xavier Schulkens .
British Fellow Pammy Hutton invited me to base with her, whilst their. Pammy Hutton acted as my mentor and assisted me in furthering my International career and raising my career profile.
In 2012 Jade and I moved to our current base in Surrey and started AJ Sportshorses together. We combine both of our talents and backgrounds in equestrian sport to help produce our competition horses and students.
I began riding when I was five years old. I started out by doing Western on a Quarter horse; I showed at the local fairs and became very competitive at a young age. I also showed Arabs in some under saddle breeder classes.
I started dressage at the young age of 10. When I was 12 I started competing in the FEI Ponies. First with Thunder a 12hh Newforest Pony, then with Columbo a 14hh German Riding Pony.
In 2005, based on my FEI Pony results with Columbo, I qualified to compete at the CDI Invitational in Mexico City, as an FEI Child. It was in Mexico that I started to become known for my riding internationally due to the fact that I was Champion of all the other countries.
In 2006 I made the transition to horses and the first horse I bought who we still own to this day was a very special horse named Mastermind. Mastermind has taken me from Ponies to I1 level capturing 3 golds and 1 bronze on the way. He has been my partner for 7 years.
Right through till the end of High School, Mastermind and I worked successfully with Ruth and Albrecht, even topping the charts as the #1 Ranked Junior in North America in 2007. It was in my final year at St. Michael Catholic High School in Kemptville, Ontario, when I really had to decide what I was going to do once I graduated. The hardest part about making this decision is that I was given so many great options, such as going to Germany and working with Klaus Balkenhol or going to America and working with Steffan Peters. I was also offered two full scholarships, one to a school in America and one to Hartpury College in England.
In September 2009, Mastermind and I boarded a plane in Toronto and were off on our new adventure to England. Before I even got off the plane I had my goals set high, aiming to develop a close training relationship with the renowned British rider Carl Hester, who has 51 national titles to this date.
Carl Hester came and taught me twice at Hartpury College before December 2009 rolled around. As it neared close to December I had sent Carl a text asking him if I would be able to come and work and train at his yard over my Christmas school holidays. Days and weeks passed, then finally I got a phone call from Carl saying “Hi Darl (my nickname from Carl), so when are you and your horse coming here?” It was the best Christmas present ever! I was going to be at Carl Hester’s yard with my horse to train with him everyday and work with his horses for two months!!!! I loved every minute at Carl’s and learned so much, from managing his horses to riding them. Over those two months I developed a special training relationship with Carl that I hope to keep with him forever. When I left to come back to school at Hartpury for my 2nd semester Carl said I was welcome back anytime.
The summer of 2010 I spent 2 months with British event rider William Fox-Pitt. My sponsor Sherry Belton from Albion arranged for me to go to William as he was interested in having me there to help him with the flat work with his horses before he left for the WEG. It was quite an experience for me to go from a top Dressage yard such as Carl Hester’s to a top Eventer’s yard. While I was there I also learnt a lot about fitness of the horses and managing training schedules. It was a very good thing for me to do as it gave me a wider perspective of equestrian sport. Since working with William I have continued to help Event riders such as Louise Skelton, Louisa Lockwood, Angus Humfrey and Duarte Seabra.
In the winter of 2010 I went back to Canada with the goal of getting my Competition Coaching Certificate, which is equivalent to a BHSAI in the UK. In January 2011 I was certified and was then granted an International Trainers Passport, which makes my Certification recognized in 30 different countries.
In February 2011 I was offered a place with British Fellow Pammy Hutton at her own Riding School (Talland) as her under-rider. I rode under Pammy for the 2011 season as well as still receiving training from Carl. While at Pammy’s I took on the responsibility of riding all her competition horses and also developed my teaching skills working and teaching alongside Pammy.
In September 2011 I purchased a new horse with the assistance of Klaus and Anabel Balkenhol, De Bon Coeur, an 8-year-old Westfalen gelding. I am particularly excited about the future of this horse even though it is a very new partnership. I have very high hopes for him.