Sam York, a senior lecturer in equine science, in the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, has been awarded The British Horse Society Fellowship.
The Fellowship is the highest award made by The British Horse Society and represents the ultimate accolade for equestrians in the world.
Only 84 members of the equestrian world’s elite have ever been recognised with a Fellowship since the award began in 1949.
Sam has aspired towards the accolade since the age of 16, when she began taking equestrian and instructor qualifications.
She said that having her work and achievements recognised by a prestigious award is an amazing honour.
“The news is hard to process at the moment. In any walk of life you have your heroes that you look up to. It is just amazing to now have mine sending me messages of congratulation or welcoming me to the Fellowship club.”
To receive the Fellowship Sam was required to submit her CV to a team of senior British Horse Society assessors and under their scrutiny, she completed a gruelling two-day exam.
The exam saw Sam tested on her knowledge, theoretical understanding and practical ability, riding and assessing horses and teaching and coaching riders across a range of disciplines, under the scrutiny of a team of senior British Horse Society examiners.
She also gave a public lecture on where horses look when they are jumping and the impact it might have on course design, safety, coaching practice and rider success.
“My academic skills were put to great use in the assessment, enabling me to apply my subject research knowledge, innovative teaching methods, coaching ability and practitioner expertise, which I think impressed the assessors.”
Sam passed the exam on her first attempt, an achievement that is almost unheard of.
To be considered for the prestigious award, candidates must be a member of The British Horse Society, work full-time in the industry, demonstrate an in-depth knowledge in all areas of equitation and horsemanship, train riders and horses to a high level and be an ambassador for the Society.
Sam, who specialises in sport horse training and rider coaching at the Brackenhurst Campus, first discovered her love for riding at a young age.
Throughout her career she has ridden in many national equestrian teams including representing Team GB at the British Riding Club European Championships.
Sam has over 18 years of professional coaching experience, is a British Eventing Accredited coach, is an under 18 British Evening coach and is also working towards becoming a listed dressage judge.
She feels her career and expertise in the equestrian industry makes an important contribution to the academic subjects she teaches.
“I am passionate about training horses and riders and I hope that this recognition will open new doors to enable the wider dissemination of novel training research and practice in the industry,” said Sam.