Tonight is a very big night for Stud & Stable Staff with the annual Godolphin-sponsored Awards. Sam Trainor has been shortlisted for the Community Award.
I am 34 years old and am based in Middleham. Since a very young age I have had a passion for horses. While completing an equine course at Bishop Burton College, I was required to find a work placement. During this time, I visited James Bethell’s stables in Middleham for the summer and quickly got the racing bug! After graduating from Bishop Burton with an Equine Horse and Business Management Diploma and various BHS and teaching qualifications, I joined the National Horseracing College (NHC), on a two-week college conversion course.
I first joined the team at Micky Hammond’s, where I learnt the basics of working and riding racing horses. I achieved a NVQ level 3 in Racehorse Care and Management.
Looking to make a difference out of the saddle
After a bad fall, I felt my time had come to develop further skills in the non-riding field. I went to Kingsley House to work for Mark Johnston Racing, where I spent 11 years. Initially as a work rider, then being promoted to assistant yard manager where I worked alongside the head lad for seven years managing 40 horses and 10 staff. During this time, I started to get a feel for coaching staff new skills. and my confidence riding out had hit a low after having my daughter.
I contacted the NHC to seek a new role as a Roving Assessor, while completing an assessing course in my own time. My role grew from mentoring two members of staff to now over 40.
I started to feel there was a gap in the training opportunities and support staff received to enable them to maintain five-star horsemanship standards. I started to arrange some training sessions in horsemanship and riding. This has developed into an industry programme named the ‘Regional Staff Development Programme’ (RSDP), which is funded by the BHA and Racing Foundation; I am the Lead Coordinator. This holistic programme is delivered in conjunction with the NHC and BRS.
A pleasure to work with the racing community
I love horses. They are amazing athletes, and all have their own unique talents, but I also love the community within racing and the fantastic opportunities it provides horses and staff alike.
The best part of my role is seeing people who have low self-confidence blossom and achieve their ambitions. There is no better feeling to see the smiles on their faces when they achieve it and in turn the partnership between horse and rider is a truly unique bond.
During the pandemic as a roving tutor, we have continued to deliver essential visits and to support students and trainers alike, whenever possible. In turn, we have adapted some of our delivery to be completed remotely. The RSDP programme has provided us with the opportunity to make the programme more flexible in adapting face-to-face horsemanship events to be delivered as webinars.
A fantastic programme
The programme involves various elements, including yard-based work and rider training with a Rider Coach. A Rider Coaching Programme trains Rider Coaches and aims to have a Rider Coach in every yard in the racing community – to support progression and to mentor staff. Horsemanship skills is another focus of this work. The whole programme is currently funded and free to staff, which is a fantastic privilege for all industry staff!
To be nominated for the GSSSA has been very overwhelming. It is wonderful to think you can make such a difference to everyone in the industry. I received a ‘phone call from the BHA to say I had made the final 10, and let’s just say it was a very teary moment. I have always struggled with confidence and remember being told numerous times that ‘you won’t make it, give up working with horses, you’re no good’. To be able to help others achieve their ambitions and that to be recognised is fantastic.