On International Women’s Day we talk to Ashely Boyce. Sussex Showjumping Coach
Ashely Boyce. Sussex Showjumping Coach. Pyecombe.
Ash trains various riders all over Sussex and was selected for the Aase programme in 2020 which is a year long training programme run by British showjumping amd Haddon training which offers an advance apprentice in sporting excellence.
What age did you start riding and what was the name of your first pony?
I was riding from the moment I was born! My parents run the Three Greys Riding School and my mum had this little basket saddle that she used to use for my first grey Welsh pony Chico. I used to sit on a pony and go for walkies round the yard, usually accompanied by at least 10 dogs.
When did you realise showjumping was the path you wanted to follow?
I think it was was about 19. As a child I experimented with every discipline (and loved cross country) but at 19 I started to help out and ride a few horses at the local showjumping venue and stud Brendon Stud and my passion for showjumping went from there.
What is the best horse you have had and how far did you get with it?
My best horse is Batman aka “Welshman” who I brought as a 4yo from the Brendon Stud and produced him through the levels from novice to international level, he won numerous classes before then jumping him in the Hickstead speed derby in 2014 at the ripe old age of 22. He now he takes it easy but still hacks everyday he will be with me forever as I owe him the world – he’s very special.
What is your approach to training your clients and your horses and how does it differ from other instructors?
My approach to training clients is keep it simple and my aim is to boost confidence in the rider to help them believe they can achieve their goals. It has to be fun. Training my horses especially on their schooling is the most important aspect, its the same with any sport – you have to sacrifice alot of other things to be good and train daily.
Working the horses through dressage movements and gymnastic style jumping exercises helps to keep them toned, strong and fit and keeping work varied helps keeps their mind fresh. The most important part (that some competitors forget) is that you have to spend time with your horse to create that magic bond, so they actually want to perform for you. The relationship between you and your horse is so important, as it is also with my clients too. At the end of the day we are all on the same team and need to help and support each other – not just training at home but also at competitions.
Who is the instructor you have learnt most from and why?
Corinne Bracken has been my coach for 18 years and she is magical. She gives me belief in myself and helps me get the best performance from the horses, plus is always on the end of the phone if I need help and advice
What do you look for in the ideal horse?
I’m terrible for “looks” I like them to be a “perfect model”but in my older age I am beginning to realise that a good horse is never a bad colour and looks arnt everything. I like horses to be athletic, scopey and have good jumping technique but also be careful (meaning they want to leave the fences up) and they need to be brave as a lion too – with a good trainable brain. Brave youngsters are hard to find but worth their weight in gold.
How has covid affected your sport and when do you feel you will return to normality?
Well for a start show centres have been been closed so this has stopped all competitions so getting the horses out for “match practice” has not been possible, however I’ve used this time to fine tune their rideability which is paramount so they ride from one fence to the other with ease.
As a coach my income has halved with visiting clients unable to make the journey for training sessions but at the end of the day I’m healthy and there is light at the end of the tunnel finally!
Who is your most exciting prospect horse for the future and why?
My most exciting horse is Summerbridge Lulu (who I co own with my other half) and I’m aiming her at the Hickstead speed derby once she is ready. She’s still a baby with a lot to learn but she’s mega scopey and is a brave as a lion with the biggest heart. She would jump a house if I asked her too!
People think that riding and showjumping are an elite sport but actually we have some incredible show centres round us (Brendon Stud and Hickstead as just two) and its a fantastic day out. I realise would say this but the sport is infectious – both to compete in and watch.
Anyone wanting to have their horse trained by Ashley or indeed find out more about the sport and how to support AB Equestrian please contact Phoebe Oliver at Equestrian Collective 07970739695