10 things about Jo that should make you smile.
· Jo was born into a competitive equestrian family. Entering the show ring on ponies produced by her mother she took up dressage when she was 12 and became one of the top young riders in GB in 1977 and finished Junior Dressage Champion in 1978.
· Jo was also side-saddle rider of the year in 1976 and 1977. At this time, Jo went on a side-saddle course with Jennie Loriston Clarke, who was to become a great influence and mentor for Jo in years to come.
· Jo was also on a coaching programme for the Royal Ballet School until her mid-teens, but severe knee problems meant she had to decide between riding and ballet, and riding was the choice she made.
· At the age of 16, Jo went to work for Ernst Bachinger at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, where she spent six months working as an au pair for his two children, in return for lessons.
· When Jo returned to the UK, she teamed up again with Jennie Loriston Clarke working for her at the Catherston Stud as assistant secretary. She then went to work for show jumping legend Iris Kellet, another period Jo very much enjoyed.
· Jo met her husband, Andrew Bates, through his sister at Cowes sailing week as she was Jennie’s student. Jo and Andrew married in 1995 and divorced 13 years later, although they still remain close. Jo believes that it was sadly her longing to run her own yard that actually caused the break-up of her marriage.
· Jo initially gave up horses and went to live with Andrew in London, where she did some secretarial temping work but realised how much she was missing riding. When she left the City, jobs at an Audi dealership, a furniture shop, British Horse Society welfare team member and then show secretary and sponsorship liaison officer for HOYS followed.
· It was a phonecall in 1992 from Broadstone Stud’s John Rose that gave Jo her focus once more, managing their PR and riding a part bred Arab called Daytona. She worked with dressage horses and show horses training them to a high level, under John Rose. When John left, Jo took over as joint manager.
· Broadstone Stud was disbanded in 2003, prompting Jo to set up in Hook Norton, on the same estate as four-star eventer Beanie Sturgis. Jo commutes from nearby Cropredy while her daughter, Holly, drives 50 minutes from Northampton, where she lives with her boyfriend, Jack, who is a teacher.
· Jo now offers to teach both at home and off-site. She will take on pupils at all levels and can teach pupils from novice to advanced dressage, together with the art of showing. She also accepts horses for schooling on a regular basis, and is happy to give showing masterclasses on a clinic basis or on an individual basis. Jo finally believes she is just where she wants to be in life, with her daughter, Holly, and many horses all around her.
For more information telephone Black Country Saddles on 01543 578 243 or visit www.blackcountrysaddles.com