Jade Ransley, who works at Sir Michael Stoute’s yard recently enrolled onto the new 12- week ILM Level 2 course in Mentoring, Leadership and Team Skills at the new facilities at The Racing Centre. Here she speaks to Racing Together about her first steps into racing, her reasons for joining the course and how she has benefitted.
First steps into the world of racing
As a child I was fortunate enough to have my own ponies and competed in various disciplines such as pony club, riding club, county level showing, BD, BSJA, BE, etc. but was not and had never been interested in horse racing! I first saw a pop-up stand advertising The British Racing School at a ‘Your Horse’ exhibition, which was organised as a team trip for the riding club I was a member of. Obviously I could not walk past without having a quick spin on the Equicizer and when the BRS representatives handed me an application form I thought nothing of it, especially as my plan upon finishing my A-levels was to travel abroad before accepting an offer to study a veterinary degree. However, after glancing at the brochure and researching the nine week course further; I followed the necessary application process to enrol, with the intent to complete the apprenticeship during my gap year. I immediately fell in love with the racing game and upon completion of the level 2 diploma I decided not to accept a university offer, but to continue progressing in the racing industry by gaining my level 3 diploma. Whilst working for Stoute he has given me many opportunities to ride work with top jockeys such as Ryan Moore, Jim Crowley, Andrea Atzeni and Ted Durcan, plus further my knowledge in the yard by working with senior members of staff. I cannot think of a better introduction into the racing industry than working for one of its greatest legends and his influence on my career will be eternal!
Finding out about the opportunity to learn
I have worked for Sir Michael Stoute since February 2011 and over the past 18 months I have been working with our head-people and assistant trainer to further my career in the hope that one day I will become a head-girl. Once I reach that position I want to be sure that I am the best head-girl I can be; not only to the horses in my care, but also the people working in my yard. I think this course will develop my skills as a leader and help prepare me to take on a more senior role.
Working with powerful, unpredictable animals means that instantaneous decisions must be made and orders given in accordance. Having a vast variety of people working in one industry is fantastic, but can also result in complicated circumstances due to differences in age, gender, ability, culture, language, etc. I think that because of the high-tempo industry we work in some situations are dealt with more rashly than those which can be approached gently at a specific time, in the correct manner. I am hoping that I will learn the techniques to conduct myself in an appropriate manner resulting in issues being solved fairly.
Expectations of the course
I was expecting the course to involve a lot of written work and to be fast-paced, however it is very interactive, which means we have the time and chance to work through things at a pace that suits everyone. There is some written work but it relates to us and our places of work – tow subjects I know a fair bit about. I was surprised that the course leader doesn’t work in the racing industry but actually I think it could be a positive because he can give an outside perspective on situations and almost give you a fresh view of things.
Giving me confidence to work with people in all situations
As someone working towards a senior position, there will be times when I am in charge of a team of people, some of whom are younger than me but also some who are much older and have much more experience than me. I am hoping to be able to be someone they can respect as a leader in the future and push myself to be the best I can be and get the best out of them, too!
We are all aware that sometimes the racing industry can be very high-speed and without room for error, this is normal when dealing with these incredible horses and the huge range of staff who work together. People of different ages come from all over the world with a variety of backgrounds to work together in yards. It is inevitable that this mix can sometimes create intense and quick-fire situations. Hopefully, this course will give me some ideas, techniques and some more confidence to approach problems that either I am struggling with, or to pass on to and help other people.
So far, so good
I have enjoyed the first couple of sessions. The relaxed atmosphere created by Darren our tutor makes it easy for us to question things when necessary. I think it is helpful being interactive with the other students and relating the course to real-life situations that we deal with every day in racing yards.
Start of a journey of development
I’ve learnt that encouraging team members to improve, to take responsibility for themselves and their teammates will help them develop their ability to work to the highest standard. From this, the confidence and efficiency of the whole team will improve over time. I think those results will speak volumes for anyone leading a group and I will try to continue this development when I’m out of the classroom and back in the thick of it.
Future plans after completion of the course
Although I am not yet ready to give up ‘looking after’ horses; my career aim is to become a head-girl. I love working in the yard, caring for horses and being able to deliver them to the racecourse in the best health possible, giving them their best chance in each race. In the future I hope progression into a head-girl role will still allow me to ride out one lot in the mornings, whilst taking on the responsibility of a yard.