Thursday 20th of June 2019

Patience Pays Off – Training with Elizabeth Allen

Elizabeth riding ‘Pioneer Rosie’ owned by Roy Broughton and Rachel Jones. © Kevin Sparrow

Elizabeth riding ‘Pioneer Rosie’ owned by Roy Broughton and Rachel Jones. © Kevin Sparrow

Not too many trainers can claim to have started their riding career at the tender age of two and a half, but for Elizabeth Allen, that is precisely when her love affair with horses kicked in.

Raised locally, Elizabeth followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a member of the Mendip Pony Club and went on to focus on dressage as a discipline. This has ultimately led to her having notched up an impressive 9 years’ experience on the national competition circuit despite being only 23! Elizabeth is currently competing successfully at Intermediate 1 Level, with several good placings at recent Premier League Shows.

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.


Elizabeth riding ‘Pioneer Rosie’ owned by Roy Broughton and Rachel Jones. © Kevin Sparrow

Elizabeth riding ‘Pioneer Rosie’ owned by Roy Broughton and Rachel Jones. © Kevin Sparrow

Adult riders who might be starting up or returning to riding later in life; or who might have had a confidence crisis as a result of an accident or following a spate of problems with their horse, are also drawn to Elizabeth’s unique teaching style. A great believer in mental fitness and the power of the mind, Elizabeth works with every individual to encourage a stronger conviction in their abilities as a rider, slowly building confidence and rekindling the positive memories and fun that first attracted them to the sport.

In line with Collective Equestrian’s ‘inclusive’ ethos, Elizabeth is also keen to emphasise that you don’t have to come from a wealthy or established equestrian background to succeed.

“Although I started riding when I was very young, I don’t come from a traditional ‘horsey’ background.  My great grandfather was a successful point to point jockey, my grandmother achieved her Pony Club A test and competed to a high level despite only being born with one arm and my mother also evented. However, everything that I’ve achieved to date is largely due to my own commitment and determination. You don’t need to come from a background that allows you to gain experience with horses from the year dot to gain notoriety as a talented rider.   For example, I’m always advising my pupils that it is not essential to have an arena to become a dressage rider.  As a child I practiced out hacking and in a field and the reality is, most people don’t have the luxury of access to such facilities but that should not be perceived as a barrier to their success.”

Looking ahead, Elizabeth has her sights firmly set on building her career both as a professional rider and as a key member of the team that runs Collective Equestrian. 

“I’m currently working for my BHSI qualification and eventually would like to become a Fellow of the BHS.  As a rider, I’d like to think I have a good chance of further success in the Under 25 Grand Prix category as I’ve recently been given a ride on a horse that has masses of potential, I also hope to compete internationally at Grand Prix level. As for Collective Equestrian, it has already surpassed our original expectations for the first six months and we are delighted with the response we’ve received from the local community.  In the future, my vision – along with my colleagues – is to ensure Collective Equestrian builds its reputation as a natural centre of excellence for training and tuition, not just for amateur riders but also for those looking to pursue a professional career with horses.”

You may also like…

Join us on Facebook

Follow on Twitter