10 things you didn’t know about British dressage rider Stephen Hayes
1. Where are you from and how old are you?
I’m 25, I can’t believe I’m that old, it’s going so fast. I’m from Liverpool in the U.K but now based in New York, USA.
2. Why dressage?
I love the feeling of having a dance partner in a 1000lb animal, being on the exact wave length, my body and theirs communicating to each other harmoniously through a silent language. That feeling is just something else, it feeds me. I hope I never lose that love.
3. What’s your favorite food?
Oh god that’s like asking me to pick between my dogs. I love anything with garlic, and anything with chocolate, but the proper stuff like Belgium chocolate. American chocolate is overrated, sorry. I also love seafood, love it!
4. You’ve held clinics all over the world, which was your favorite country?
I can honestly say each country I’ve been too has been so different to one another. I loved Malaysia, because I got a cracking tan, and it was interesting to see how they coped in such a hot climate. I also love teaching in Australia, there enthusiasm is off the scale! That drives me even more. I’m looking forward to coaching in many more countries including Singapore, Bangkok Thailand and possibly South Africa and Dubai.
5. Dogs or cats?
Gotta be dogs. Cats all seem to have Split personalities.
6. What are your pet hates about things around the barn?
Stable doors being left open when a horse leaves their stable, I like them to be closed. People treading through poo in the arena, THAT really ruffles my feathers especially if I have to pick it up.
7. What do you love about coaching, you have a couple of hundred individual lesson reviews on your Facebook page ‘Stephen Hayes Dressage’ from riders all over the world?
Honestly I just love being able to help people, and even more so their horses, I really aim for the horses to become happy athletes and that means they feel good in their body while they work, if I can help a rider help their horse do that at the same time as the rider having a blast, I’m winning. I also love it when something just clicks for my riders or their horse, it’s like ‘they get it’. That smile at the end of their ride, I live for it.
8. What’s your favorite animal apart from horses?
Elephants, hands down, I went to Bali last year and got the opportunity to get really close to a group of rescued elephants. It was just the most amazing 4 days of my life.
9. 4 tips of advice for riders wanting to start a career in dressage?
You have to earn the time and dedication of what a trainer can offer you. There are no shortcuts. But there comes a point too that you need to know that your not just being a slave and seeing nothing in return. In time there has to be a healthy balance. It’s a tough industry and a lot of amazing competition to be in the mix with, but keep striving for what you dream of, don’t lose sight of your short term and long term goals. Help people along the way, good karma will pay you back. There’s been many times I’ve needed help and guidance from people much further along the road than I was, and let’s just say I had to find out how to get there myself. You never know when you’ll need help, so if you can help someone and point them in the right direction or do them a favor. Be good, and do the right thing. The universe will find a way in returning the favor. Think outside the box, try to bring to the table what makes you different, there is a huge amount of amazing trainers out there, don’t follow the crowd, be unique. I suppose that goes for every career path.
10. If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you decide to do with your life?
I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing now, I love coaching and riding, but I would definitely be on the next flight to Germany to go on a horse shopping spree. I’d also buy a big party house in Barbados for all my family to go on holiday when ever they wanted. My parents would also never have to worry about paying a single bill ever again, that’s the least I could for all the support they’ve given me to reach my dreams.