One of my New Year goals was to support other local, equine businesses. To do this, I set up this Supporting Local Equine Businesses project, to provide business owners with a set of images for their social media pages and website, as well as blogging all about their business and putting it out to my followers.
The plan and the hope, is that by promoting one another, with a shared target audience, we can work together to create a supportive, forward thinking, friendly, modern community to be a part of. I believe that by building relationships with other people in this industry, and working with one another, rather than competing against one another, we will all benefit. It’s something that is common place in the photography industry, but that I haven’t really seen much of in the equine world.
This is the first step and it goes live today. To check out the new Supporting Local Equine Businesses project page on my website, click here.
So, on Tuesday, I had my first shoot for this project, with the very lovely, Katie Dartnell of Katie Dartnell Dressage. It was such a beautiful, sunny winter’s day and I really enjoyed my time spent with Katie and her horses.
Katie is the sweetest, smileyest person and her passion for what she does is infectious. I could have watched her work with her two beautiful boys all day. They clearly love their work and it was a pleasure to see. Katie agreed to answer some questions for me, and her answers are really inspiring and well worth the read. So here goes…
Sophie: Tell us three interesting un-horsey facts about yourself.
Katie: I love to bake and cook… People have been known to call me a feeder!
I was Mary in my school nativity when I was 5!
I represented both my school and my county in the 1500m.
S: What’s your business called? And when did you set it up?
K: I set up on my own in 2008 and it’s called Katie Dartnell Dressage.
S: Tell us a little about what you do.
K: I am a UKCC2 qualified freelance dressage rider and coach. I coach combinations across all disciplines, helping them to improve their dressage and achieve a harmonious connection with their equine partner, using sympathetic but effective training methods. I also ride and compete horses for owners. I currently cover all areas between Chingford and Braintree, offering private lessons and clinics. Essex Hunt North Pony Club have been a big part of my working life, for the past 5 years. Since 2010 we have seen our dressage teams and individuals compete at numerous Area and Championship competitions, with fantastic results and numerous wins.
S: What made you decide to set up your own business?
K: I was working for an interior design company and although I loved my job, working indoors wasn’t for me.
S: Is this your full time job?
K: Yes, I think myself extremely lucky to have the best job in the world!
S: Haha, I would beg to differ. I think I have the best job in the world. 😉
S: What would you go back and tell yourself when you were starting out?
K: Be confident in yourself and what you are saying.
Follow your heart and go for it!
S: What’s your best piece of advice for anyone looking into self-employment?
K: Try it! Give it all you have but be patient and flexible with your clients. They’re your bread and butter, look after them and they’ll look after you.
S: What is your biggest achievement?
K: I would say that my biggest achievement has been training my horses from the bottom to where they are now. Gladys had only ever hunted when we bought her at 10yrs old, we competed up to Advanced Medium. The boys were both unbacked youngsters and are working at Adv Med now.
S: Tell us a little about your horsey history.
K: I started riding, aged 2, on my mums welsh D mare, Kelpie. After sharing a few ponies I asked for my own, when I was 7. Mum and Dad said if I did three winters at the stables (without moaning!) I could have a pony. I did and they bought me Gladys. Gladys and I represented our riding club for many years and went to many BD regional championships… They were known as semi finals in those days. We also attended National training and two talent spotting finals. I represented the BYRDS Eastern Region from the age of 17-23, with both Mandy Luesley’s The General, Marina Harley’s Don Oscar and my own Akaers Amigo. Aged 23 I was given a place on the Regional Foundation squad, with Ann Taylor’s River. We stayed on the squad until 2010. We learned so much in those two years and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. In 2010 my mum and I bought Highlight (Rudi to his friends), who is my horse of a lifetime. He never ceases to amaze me with his cheeky persona and very clever brain. I couldn’t have done any of it without the support of my wonderful parents. My mum who was my best friend, passed away in 2013 and I miss her enormously everyday. Being able to do the job I do is the best thing in the world and having shared every riding moment with my mum makes me even more determined to achieve the ambitions that we shared and make her proud.
S: Tell us about the horses you have now.
K: Highlight III – Rudi, is an 8yr old, 17’2hh, dark bay gelding, by Rubin Royal/Donnerhall. He is the most talented horse I have ever sat on and always a pleasure to ride. He’s taken a long time to grow up and mature, but has been given the time to do this, due to his sheer obsession with growing!! He’s working Adv Med towards PSG and we will be contesting Premier league competitions this year.
Frans Josef MA – Jojo, is a 9yr old, 16’2hh, bright bay gelding, by Freshman B. Jojo is owned by David Evans. He’s a hot little chap, with a big heart and is a very quick learner. With a talent for collection, he too will be out at Premier leagues this season.
S: What’s your top dressage tip?
K: What’s in the brain goes down the rein! Keep your head clear and your mind focused on the task at hand when training. Smiling also helps us to breathe.
S: What are your ambitions for the future, both business and horsey?
K: My ultimate ambition is to train my horses to Grand Prix and represent Great Britain in international competition.
Running my own training yard and having more talented horses to compete for owners are my ambitions for my business.
Alongside training horses and riders I would love to be able to provide the opportunity for under privileged youngsters to be involved with horses and dressage.
S: So, if we want to stalk you online, where can we find you?
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