Conan Rowan from Kilmessan, Ireland, was crowned British Horse Society Instructor of the Year 2013 in a hotly contested final held at Warwickshire College on Wednesday 9 October.
Conan triumphed over 10 other talented instructors who had qualified at regional competitions held throughout the UK. The finalists were required to teach private lessons in both flatwork and showjumping, and deliver a presentation on Stable Management.
This year's competition was kindly sponsored by Haddon Training and supported by The Worshipful Company of Saddlers. Haddon Training is dedicated to providing the horse industry with the training and qualifications it needs. They are a Grade One (Ofsted 2011) training provider in work-based learning with the equine industry, supporting learners across a whole spectrum of equine specialities. For more information please see their website at haddontraining.co.uk.
The competition was judged by three top professionals from the equestrian world – Carl Hester, London 2012 Olympic dressage gold medallist, Di Lampard, former international showjumper and current selector for senior British teams, and Darrell Scaife, recently qualified Fellow of The British Horse Society.
Conan, who holds the BHSII, made the long journey over from Ireland for the final. He said: “The competition has been a great learning curve and I’ve found a few things out about myself from others, which is always good. I’d thoroughly recommend any Instructor to give the competition a go.
“It was great to network with the other instructors and even better to meet some of the royalty of the equestrian world that are Carl, Di and Darrell. I’m just delighted to be going home with the trophy!”
Second place went to Justine Hunter from Castle Douglas in Scotland, and Adam Cummins from Fylde in Lancashire took third place.
Speaking on behalf of the judges, Carl Hester said: “Judging a competition like this is never easy. With three different categories it obviously had to be someone who was strong across the board who won, not just somebody who was brilliant in one section. With that in mind, judging was very difficult, but the best all-rounder came out as our winner as we all had Conan very near the top. He was an entertaining instructor and so informative. The guinea-pig that rode for him had a big smile on her face at the end of her lesson which was so nice to see.
“There was very sound knowledge coming through from all the candidates, thanks to the theory which comes from the BHS. The next bit is getting the experience to apply that knowledge to riders, and I hope that all the candidates continue to further their field as an Instructor as well as improve their own theoretical knowledge.”
When he’s not busy teaching or competing, Conan is often involved in the media side of the sport. He commentates for the RDS Dublin Horse Show and has presented on programmes broadcast on the BBC, Sky Sports and Horse and Country TV. Visit Conan’s website at conanrowan.com.