5 Minutes with Sponsored Rider Steph Gumn
This month we stopped in to catch up with Steph after a very busy year. We wanted to know a little more about what it was that sparked her passion for horses, why she does what she does and where she’s up to now.
Why do you do what you do Steph?
I have always been very driven with the horses and constantly want to learn and improve. I find training young horses fascinating and rewarding. Every horse I work with is an individual and what works for one, doesn’t always for another. I enjoying learning something new everyday.
How, and when, did you start riding?
When I was around seven, my friend at school got a pony. I remember going down to her yard and having a go, I couldn’t ride, tried to jump and slid off! It just got me hooked! So I started lessons at the local riding school. Around a year later my dad got me my first pony, typically the one I hated the most from the school! I think it took me a good few weeks to get on him and get on with it, but there was no stopping me after that! One thing just lead to another.
Whats your typical daily routine?
I get to the yard around 8am, hay and muck all the horses out. Depending on if I am coaching, riding away or at my part time job as a support worker will depend on what time I work the horses. I try to get them all worked in a morning, so I can spend the afternoons doing jobs if I get a free afternoon. I work until I finish, some days its 5pm, others its 10pm, you just never know!
What horses do you have in at the moment, and can you tell us a little about them?
At the moment I have six horses based with me. I have my own two three year olds, Jewel and Jelly Bean. They are currently being broken in and are aimed at national 4 year old classes next year. Ideally I would like to keep them until 5 year old and jump some international classes with them, and go from there!
I half own a six year old, she’s new to me and not done much for her age but I really like her type and think she’s got plenty of potential. I think she will catch up quickly and I would like to aim her at some Blue Chip qualifiers this winter.
I have Eppo, who is eight years old, he belongs to a fantastic owner of mine. Eppo is jumping 90cm and due to some health issues, he will likely stay at this level. Hes a lovely horse and I love working with him, I am very grateful that his owner bases him with me.
I have another owners horse, Ted, who has been with me for over a year now. Teds owner lives in the USA so I’ve been keeping him ticking over for her, hes due to be reunited with his owner in the US next year.
I also have a thirteen year old mare in to sell and she is a lovely addition to the yard. My team is forever changing but I am lucky that I always have lovely horses in. I also ride a few horses away from the yard too.
What horse have you the highest hope for?
It’s hard to say, all my horses are just starting their careers. At the moment I would say Jelly Bean. She’s very sharp minded, and nervous but all she wants to do is jump! I have seen her loose a couple of times and she’s amazing to watch, she’s so focused and always wants to jump the fence and leave it up, she can bend like a rubber ball! She’s shown plenty of scope (I’ve seen her trot and make a lovely job jumping out the 1.45 field fence). I never want to sound too confident, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she turned out to be a good one!
What would you say to someone who wants to become a professional rider?
Never turn down any opportunity. I did ride for someone when younger, but I regret not doing a long term working pupil job on a professional yard. I would 100% recommend anyone to do that! Be prepared to work long hours working for yourself, you wont be rich! You will have plenty of hard times, but the good ones make it worth it.
♥ Never give up, I’ve seen people take until they are 50 years old to break the industry. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Don’t get too hung up on hard times, clients will cancel, horses will go lame and you will get injured, but how amazing to spend all day doing what you love and making a living doing it. For myself, I have so many plans, I’ve only just started.
Whats been your biggest learning curve in your career so far?
That you cant please everyone all the time. I am the sort of person who wants everyone to be happy. Sometimes its just not possible to please everyone and its normal! Stay professional, learn from it and move on! I am very lucky that I’ve had little to no issues in the five years that I’ve been running, but sometimes people will expect more from you than you can physically give! Don’t spread yourself too thin.
How important do you think rider fitness is and what do you do to stay in shape?
I did a human and equine sports science degree, so I know the importance of rider fitness and the difference it makes! I try hard to eat and train as hard as the horses I work with, but the gym membership is always the first thing to go when monies tight! I would love to keep going six times a week, but I have to be sensible. I try to walk when I have free time and the yard work (I have no staff so I do everything myself) does help keep my fitness and strength up.
What item couldn’t you live without?
I seem to have had a few items over the years where I’ve said, its the best thing I’ve ever bought. If I had to narrow it down to one when I think the one item I now couldn’t cope without would be my Claydon Round Pen! I always seem to find myself highly strung horses who love to field hop, and sometimes harm themselves in the process! I bought the round pen last year as a last resort and its been a life saver. The horses are very settled in there, head down, eat, roll and even lie down and sleep! I don’t have to worry about accidents and the horses get more time out settled and doing what horses should be. I am saving up to expand the size of it ready for next summer!
Whats your New Years resolution?
I think everyone is going to agree with this, to keep one of my horses long term! I have had to sell in order to pump money into my business, but its meant a couple of slow years in the ring jumping the odd 4 year old before selling. My aim now is to keep at least one of my own for a couple of years and build my CV in the ring further and take the International step. It gives me something to look forward to also.
For more information on Steph Gumn, services and achievements so far, please visit www.sgsportshorses.co.uk