Equi-Youth Coaching: producing coaches to inspire and develop the urban rider
Tuesday 23 November 2021
Great coaches produce great athletes and British Equestrian has a commitment to work with our member bodies and the wider industry to ensure everyone has access to qualified coaching. As part of this pledge, we’re excited to share our latest initiative, Equi-Youth Coaching. Funded by Sport England to support their vision to transform lives and communities through sport, and run in partnership with the Pony Club, the programme aims to help those who work and volunteer at urban riding schools to develop their skills so that in the future they can inspire and coach young people, and to put them on a pathway to a career in the equestrian industry.
Places on the 18-month programme are fully funded and candidates are given a complete coaching education, as well as being mentored towards achieving the Pony Club’s Level 1 Award in Equestrian Coaching. During their time on the programme, candidates will receive guidance on building skills in teaching equitation, getting the best out of pupils, working with young people and providing a safe coaching environment. The opportunity to take qualifications in emergency first aid and safeguarding are also offered as part of the training.
To be considered, applicants had to be at least 18 years old, evidence a knowledge of horse care, and ride competently in each pace and over poles.
Applications for the programme opened in May this year and we’re now working with our first cohort with participants from a range of urban centres, including the Ebony Horse Club in Brixton, Park Palace Ponies in Liverpool, St James City Farm in Gloucester and the Urban Equestrian Academy in Leicester.
Head of Performance Pathways for British Equestrian, David Hamer commented: “Interviewing for our first cohort was a very rewarding experience – we were blown away by the enthusiasm, passion for the sport, and love of horses that each candidate shared. They all had a compelling narrative as to how they go into equestrian and how much they’ve gained from being able to ride. They also expressed so much gratitude for this opportunity, but we are genuinely grateful to them for coming forward. Already, I’m enjoying following their journeys and can’t wait to see how they progress.”
Lead mentors for the Equi-Youth Coaching initiative are Darrell Scaife FBHS and Sarah MacDonald FBHS. Both have decades of experience as coaches and coach educators across the levels, from grassroots riders to the elite. After delivering a detailed induction and a series of online sessions, Darrell and Sarah have recently started to the in-person practical element of the programme.
Following a session at Park Palace Ponies in Toxteth, Liverpool, Darrell said: “It’s been a great experience so far and the candidates are incredibly engaged, despite having to fit the programme in around busy lives and work commitments. We’ve been working on all elements of coaching – lesson plans, risks assessments and technical training skills, and each candidate has a portfolio to track and log their progress. All the coaches involved have the ability to go on and inspire so many young people and get them enjoying riding, and it’s really exciting to be a part of it.”
Clare Chapman is a member of the first cohort of Equi-Youth Coaching. She brought her daughters for a taster session at Park Place Ponies three years ago and they loved the experience. She started to volunteer at the centre, which then turned into an employed role. She helps with lessons, teaches pony care and assists on the yard. After hearing about the Equi-Youth Coaching programme from a director at Park Palace Ponies, Clare jumped at the chance to apply.