It was while she was studying for her BHS II I qualification at the infamous Talland School of Equitation that she met Jonny Clarke-West, who kept his horses at the yard. Standing in for Jonny’s regular groom one day proved a life changing experience as Jonny quickly recognised Elizabeth’s skill as a rider and horsewoman. After taking over full time care of Jonny’s string of horses, the two began to put together plans to establish their own yard.
After looking at several properties and following a temporary relocation to Jonny’s parents, finally Curls Farm was identified as the ideal location to launch Collective Equestrian. Since the roots of the property had once had ties to a member of Elizabeth’s family, the decision to take it on was relatively straightforward and from there Collective Equestrian was born.
As one of three trainers based at the yard, alongside owner Jonny and Alex Harrison, Elizabeth has quickly developed a reputation for her kind and systematic approach to training, which has led to her becoming a popular choice for children as well as adults looking to overcome any issues, be they confidence or technical skills related. Despite her age, Elizabeth would give someone 10 years older than herself a run for their money in terms of the amount of training experience she has managed to pack in during her lifetime! She took her Preliminary Teaching Test the day after her 18th birthday and by then was already teaching at riding schools. She moved on to do a British Dressage Advanced Apprenticeship at International Dressage rider Anna Ross-Davies’ yard (Altogether Equestrian) and continued her teaching whilst at Talland where she completed her Intermediate Teaching Test and Stage 4, making her eligible to qualify as a BHS Intermediate Instructor. In 2015, Elizabeth was a semi-finalist at the prestigious BD Young Professionals Awards.
Children are naturally drawn to Elizabeth’s sunny disposition and seemingly endless patience, and at just 5ft 3” and a mere 7.5 stones, her size and weight comes in very handy if she feels there is a need to actually demonstrate a particular training point, as she can easily ride a pony as small as 12.2 hh. Elizabeth explains:
“Sometimes children – and adults – really benefit from actually seeing in action what you are trying to explain. Not only does this visual approach work in terms of clarifying how a particular transition / movement is achieved, it also inspires confidence proving that the pony or horse is capable of what is being asked.”
Not that Elizabeth only rides the smaller horses on the yard, she is as comfortable riding a 12.2hh as she is Jonny’s 18.2 hh horse who she also competes at Advanced level, proving that size really doesn’t matter when it comes to proving your skill as a rider.