Insights from Brendon Stud Owner on Achieving Professional Rider Status


Unveiling the Secrets: Insights from Brendon Stud Owner, Shirley Light, on Achieving Professional Rider Status

Are you wanting to become a professional rider and finding it difficult to know where to start? In this interview owner of Sussex-based Brendon Stud, Shirley Light, gives a fascinating insight into what she looks for in a professional rider, while talking about the stud’s showjumping superstar, Ashley Boyce.

Interview by Phoebe Oliver

What qualities do you seek in a rider, and why does Ashley align so well with Brendon Stud?

The most crucial qualities are a sense of feel for the horse and common sense. Every horse is unique, and particularly, young ones can display variations from the beginning of a round to its end.

I am fortunate with Ashley because she can handle most horses. She has ridden the parents and even grandparents of some of the horses she’s currently competing for us.

Ashley Boyce competing at Bolesworth International Horse Show.
Ashley Boyce competing at Bolesworth International Horse Show 2023

How do you match a horse with a rider, and how significant is the bond between the horse and rider at this level?

Many of these characteristics are inherited, making it easier to make a suitable match and Ashley invests time in getting to know each horse individually, thus forming a strong bond. This year has witnessed the development of exceptional relationships between horse and rider. It’s not limited to Ashley; Phillip Miller and Gemma Stevens, who also ride for me, excel in building bonds with the horses.

What are the key “dos and don’ts” for riders at Brendon’s?

The “do” is to always give your best effort. The “don’t” is to give up, even if things don’t go as planned during a course. There’s always something to learn from every experience.

At what age do you consider taking on riders, and when do you commence the competition journey for your young horses?

I accept riders as young as 16 years old. Most horses participate in a few shows during their fourth year. However, some may not start until they turn five, especially if they are large and physically weak or if they are still mentally immature. We take each horse’s individual development into account.

Ashley Boyce competing at Bolesworth International Horse Show.
Ashley Boyce competing at Bolesworth International Horse Show 2023.

How can riders advance in the field of show jumping?

Hard work is key. Riders need to be dedicated and supported by a strong team. It’s essential to understand that there will always be more challenging rounds than successful ones. This is a challenging reality but a reality, nonetheless.

Hard work is key. Riders need to be dedicated and supported by a strong team.

owner of Sussex-based Brandon Stud, Shirley Light

Would you recommend this career to young aspiring riders who may not have the financial means to acquire top competition horses themselves?

Absolutely, without a doubt. As long as they meet the criteria mentioned above, I would highly recommend it.


To learn more about Brendon Stud visit the website here.


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