Meet the Team
Here at the King's Schools Equestrian Centre, we are lucky enough to have an experienced team of staff, under the leadership of Head of Equestrian, Laura Bennett.
We thought you might like to meet the team, both human and equine!
Mildred is our newest resident and is owned by Fourth Form pupil Isabel. Mildred is forward-going and enjoys many disciplines, equally good on the flat and over fences. She is very sweet and is an absolute delight to handle.
Olly is a real favourite with staff and pupils, in and out of the stable. He is worth his weight in gold, gently taking care of beginners and novice riders, but equally happy to pick up the reins, and the speed, with a more capable rider. He works well in an outline – in the right hands – and is happy to jump a variety of showjumping and cross-country fences.
Toby has joined us as a livery, being a new pony for pupil Erin. Toby has done a bit of everything and will no doubt fit right in with the rest of the team.
Viva is a real superstar jumping pony, owned by Third Form pupil Dandi. Dandi is a regular on the competition circuit and hopes to emulate the success she achieved with her old pony Robin.
Hattie is another great addition to the team. She can turn her hand to most things and loves cross-country, but hates cyclists!
Delilah is owned by Jaime, one of our livery owners. Jaime competes as an individual rider as well as part of the King's Schools Equestrian Team. The pair enjoy much success in show jumping and Eventer's Challenge competitions, having qualified for championship events over the last few years.
Sam is owned by one of our full livery riders, Millie. Although Sam is blind in one eye, he gets on with life, and enjoys hacking out, as well as jumping both show jumping courses and cross-country. He is a real sweetheart in the stable and a well-loved resident. Millie is looking forward to competing with Sam this year.
Bruce is a working livery, owned by the Reisner family, and ridden by mum, and brother and sister Rudi and Dascher. Bruce is a capable, forward-going gentleman who can pick up the gears with a more capable rider, but who takes care of any less experienced riders with perfect ease.
Tilly is our smallest mount, suitable for children and small adults. She is a real character and is settling into the 'herd' nicely. She is used for hacking and children's lessons.
Laura Bennett, BHS Stage 3
Laura started riding as a child at Stowe Ridings in Buckinghamshire. She competed in many different disciplines as part of the Grafton Pony Club, but her love at this age was show jumping. She went on to have holiday jobs at show jumping yards and attended national competitions including Hickstead. Laura then worked at a riding school in Oxfordshire where she was able to teach and continue to compete her own horses in cross-country, dressage and show jumping. Whilst there she completed her NVQ Level 2 in Horse Care and Management as well as her BHS Stage 3 in Stable Management and Riding. Laura has worked at various yards including point-to-point and eventing, and one year spent the summer as Head Girl at an eventing yard, travelling around the country to prestigious events. Over the past ten years Laura has branched out into other sports and disciplines. She has completed a BSC (Hons) degree and is a Level 3 Hockey Coach. She manages the yard and delivers ridden and stable management instruction during the week.
Claire attended the British Racing School aged 16, where she learned the essential skills of working in the racing industry. Having worked for David Elsworth for a couple of years, Claire then went to college and studied a national diploma in thoroughbred horses. Claire was able to combine her acquisition of practical skills with the theoretical understanding and principles of working with these specialist animals. Landing a job at Paul Nichols’ yard, she spent the next seven years working as a groom, looking after and riding Grand National winner Silver Birch, as well as high performer Royal Auclair. Claire now assists Laura at the equestrian centre, transporting children, overseeing informal riding sessions, instructing pupils in and out of the saddle, hacking out and caring for our horses and ponies.
Vicki Crandley, Stage 1, Riding & Road Safety
Vicki started riding as a child in South Yorkshire and soon became hooked. Her first pony helped her gain confidence and she competed in various disciplines with the local pony club. As her confidence grew, so did her legs (!) and she was soon on the lookout for pony number two. A feisty chestnut mare was found, and although the pairing got off to a rocky start, under the guidance of her late instructor and former HOYS judge, the duo soon found their way onto the local showing circuit, with regular wins and placings, cementing the show ring as a firm favourite. Vicki continued riding in her teenage years, competing her friend’s show pony, and worked as a groom at a number of different yards, taking her BHS Stage 1, and Road Safety qualifications. After a few years working and then trotting off to university, the calling found her again and she resumed riding on a regular basis at a local riding school. Over the years Vicki has worked on both her flatwork and jumping, the latter being something she admits to ‘feeling the fear’ about, the older she gets! Vicki helps Laura with administration and takes pupils out hacking when time allows.
Laura has a solid background in riding and caring for horses. Growing up with her family's horses in Southern Spain, there was nothing more she enjoyed than heading out into hills, getting lost on her lovely mare! Since joining King's, Laura has regularly supported Laura at the equestrian centre, reigniting her love of horses. She is hoping to commence training for her BHS Stage 1 exam in the coming months.
Sarah has ridden from a young, spending some of her youth at Taunton Vale Polo Club. Time out to have a family, and then the inevitable career building (in medical pathology) took Sarah away from riding until a few years ago. Having recently joined King’s College as a science technician, Sarah has been helping at the equestrian centre and likes to ride out when time allows. She feels it is a privilege to be involved and enjoys encouraging pupils to follow their passion for riding.
Naomi is on hand to support the running of the centre. She has a wealth of experience gained across polo and other equestrian disciplines, including ride leader roles overseas. She cares for our horses on a daily basis.
Nigel Payne, BHS Stage 2, Stage 2 Teach, Riding & Road Safety
Nigel is an experienced horseman, having started his career running a popular riding school and livery yard. Still involved in equestrianism, he works on the showing circuit in the summer and helps us with all manner of equestrian services, from advice and coaching to horse transportation and support at local competitions.
Tonia Ainsworth, BHS Stage 4 Senior Coach in Complete Horsemanship, UKCC Level 3 Generic
Tonia teaches our pupils as part of our equestrian timetable, helping many prepare for competitions. With over 20 years experience of teaching both adults and children, she has an approachable and sympathetic manner and will always give an honest opinion. As well as teaching, Tonia competes in the three main disciplines of dressage, cross-country and show jumping.
Joining King's in 2020 from Quebec, Audrey is new to the world of equestrianism, but what she might lack in experience, she makes up for in enthusiasm, and is thoroughly enjoying learning to ride and helping Laura and other staff at the yard on a regular basis.