British Equestrian Young Professional Programme cohort 2023/24
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British Equestrian’s Young Professionals Programme welcomes new cohort of aspiring equestrian entrepreneurs.
On Monday 30 October, British Equestrian welcomed a new cohort for its Young Professionals Programme, which aims to help young people build a wider skill set to support their personal and career development in the equestrian industry.
This year’s cohort, who are all under the age of 28 years old, have either recently set up their own equestrian business or are looking to do so in the near future. Over the coming months, they’ll have the opportunity to attend a series of interactive workshops with specialist speakers, covering a broad range of topics essential to running a business. These include contract writing, employment law, conflict management, insurance and finances, and building a personal brand.
This first induction day began with an introduction from British Equestrian’s Performance Pathways Coordinator, Georgie Allen, who manages the programme. She shared some insight into what the cohort can expect during their time on the programme.
The morning’s keynote speaker was Kirsty Henshaw, the founder of free-from food brand Kirsty’s. Kirsty started out by sharing her business journey, from being a young single mum in Preston to the life-changing moment when her son nearly died from a peanut-induced anaphylactic shock. Identifying a niche in the market, she began developing a dairy-free ice cream brand and this led her to appear on the BBC programme Dragon’s Den, where she secured an investment from Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne. Over the years, Kirsty’s brand has grown to incorporate healthy ready meals and now has a multi-million pound turnover, but this hasn’t come without many trials and tribulations. Kirsty shared the lessons she’s learned along the way, from surrounding yourself with trustworthy people to the importance of remaining true to your business values.
The final point led neatly on to the afternoon session, led by Performance Lifestyle Advisor Jane Holden from British Equestrian’s World Class Programme. Through a number of practical exercises and open conversations, she encouraged everyone in the room to think about the core values that make up their individual identities, and how these can carry over into their roles as athletes and business people. The next stage was to begin to use these values to put together a personal development plan, which will support their journey through the programme and into the business world.
Feeling inspired, the cohort left the day with a log book in which to track their learnings from the programme, and a Young Professionals Programme-branded British Equestrian jacket from our official partners, Toggi.
Dressage rider Isobel Lickley, who has previously represented Great Britain at Pony level, explained why she applied for the Young Professionals Programme: “I spent eight months of this year based in Holland, and now I’ve come home and I’m starting to think about setting myself up for the future. My family has an equestrian business, but I want to play more of a role in it rather than just being in the background. When I saw the Young Professionals Programme, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to gain some business skills and learn the other aspects of what it takes to create a successful business.
“I’ve learned a lot from today – it was really good hearing the talk from Kirsty and how she’s overcome all her challenges. It shows that everyone makes mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from them and you can still be successful in spite of them. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the programme. I think you can always gain and learn from everything – even if you think you know everything already, you can always learn more.”
Eventer Cerys Macauley, who was selected for her first senior Nations Cup team this year, also took a lot from the day.
“I’m in my first year of running an equestrian business – an equine rehab yard with eventers based on site – so applying to the programme was mainly to help with that. However, it’ll help with learning how to attract new owners,” she explained. “I don’t come from a particularly horsey family, so it’s not something that’s just a given and I need to find a way to supply my string of horses for the future.
“It was interesting to listen to Kirsty and hearing about her journey from a council estate and rented home through to running a business that turns over millions of pounds. Despite the challenges she’s faced, she’s just kept going and it all worked out in the end.
“I’ve never been a great one for all the personal stuff but, in the afternoon session, it was good to think about all the things that I could work on and the things that make me good at what I do. It’s good to be made to sit and do that rather than just ignore it – which is probably what most horse people do!
“I’m looking forward to the whole course, but the conflict management content will be particularly helpful because we have a lot of different people on the yard, from clients to people above me, people who I manage, and people who don’t actually work for us but are based on site. As well as that, it’s the communication and social media side for how to attract the right people to join my team because that can be quite difficult,” she concluded.
Showjumper Jocasta Symons, who had previously been a part of British Equestrian’s Podium Potential Pathway, summarised her experience of the day: “I applied to be on the programme because I’m in my first year of running a livery yard, and I thought I’d be able to get some valuable advice because I don’t have a very horsey background in my family – although they encouraged me to apply and get learning, so I can make the best of the business going forward.
“I found the first session really motivating – it was nice to hear someone being so real about business and how hard it can be, but also how well you can come out of it in the end. The second talk was really interesting, figuring out the key values that we have. I still haven’t quite figured mine out, but I’m going to read back on my notes and see if I can start thinking more deeply about where my values are.
“Going forward, I’m really forward to the contract law side of things, and also how to deal with different personality types and learning who we work best with and who we clash with.”
David Hamer, British Equestrian’s Head of Performance Pathways, commented: “The Young Professionals Programme continues to evolve to meet the changing requirements of the equestrian workplace and the needs of the young people who are transitioning into the equestrian workforce from our youth pathways. The financial uncertainty that many businesses currently face means that young people wanting to run a viable business to support their career and sporting aspirations can benefit from the bespoke and unique process of personal development and education that this programme provides, which in turn will help them progress and achieve – be it in running their business or their continued sporting career.”
The Young Professionals Programme, which has been running since 2017, is funded by Sport England and delivered in collaboration with British Dressage, British Eventing and British Showjumping.
The Young Professionals selected for the 2023/24 programme are:
- Emilia Bishop
- Isobel Lickley
- Zofia Matyjasik
- Kaitlyn Freeman
- Millie Kold
- Cerys Macauley
- Tilly Milbank
- Ria Scott
- Annie Smith
- Hugh Davies
- Sophie Bowen Howard
- Jessica Howard
- Rhyleigh Kendle
- Tatiane Mauree
- Tilly Shaw
- Jocasta Symons