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SkillHORSE - A unique recognition of skills in the horse industry

Sixteen NVQ Level 3 Horse Care and Management students successfully competed in the SkillHORSE competition, which was held at SkillCity - The Skills Show, Manchester 13-16 November 2002. SkillCity was a celebration of skills for over 100 different industries with over 95,000 visitors attending the event over the four days.

SkillHORSE has been developed by leading riders and key professionals within the industry, with Patron Ian Stark OBE; Chair Belinda Turner, Chief Executive of Stubbing Court Combined Training Group; and Secretary Sarah Cartwright, Event Director of Equus - The Horse Event. SkillHORSE also received the full support and involvement of UK Skills, The Prince's Trust and the Learning and Skills Council.

The competitors for SkillHORSE were each allocated a horse that they had to turnout for competition, lunge for improvement, ride on the flat and finally jump a course of 1m. The horses were kindly provided by Myerscough College. Ian Stark also interviewed the competitors on all aspects of yard and horse management. All competitors coped admirably in completing these tasks under the unrelenting gaze of judges Ian Stark, Richard Davison and Sarah Hamlyn, with the added pressure of a huge audience of visitors.

The best two students from each of the three days went forward to the Final on Saturday. Sebastian Hughes from Moulton College was the successful winner and received the £1000 training bursary that was generously sponsored by Derby College. Ian Stark, Patron of SkillHORSE commented "The SkilllHORSE competition for NVQ students produced a very high standard, showing some true talent and commitment to work with horses. The competition was considered a positive step forward in the production of high quality grooms for the future."

Aside from the competition, the crowds were wowed by eventing demonstrations from Ian Stark and SkillHORSE committee member Jamie Atkinson in the Fibresand UK Ltd. Main Arena; and Richard Davison showed off some dressage movements and then silenced the crowd with a stunning dressage to music display.

The UK Mounted Police put on fantastic demonstrations on each of the four days and the visitors amassed to stroke these incredible horses after their display. Other features included displays by Capel Manor College's magnificent Heavy Horses, and visitors were also able to watch the high level craft skills involved in saddlery making by Walsall College and Capel Manor College; and questions on all aspects of the equestrian world were answered from the British Horse Society's stand.

The visitors to SkillCity were also able to learn from have-a-go experience at grooming and basic horse care skills. The British Racing School and The Northern Racing College had a continual supply of people wanting to have a go at racing on the horse simulator they provided.

Visitors interested in careers with horses were able to gain valuable information from the colleges and organisations that supported the event.

Belinda Turner, Chair of SkillHORSE comments: 'The aim of SkillHORSE is to inspire and motivate young people, raise the profile and status of careers in the horse industry, and celebrate the world-class talents that we have in Great Britain. For the first time, skills in the industry have been represented alongside over 100 other industries, to 95 000 young people, and given equal status and significance. We are delighted with the success of the first SkillHORSE, and extremely grateful to all those who supported SkillHORSE in its first year'.

The next Skills Show will be held at ExCeL, 13th -16th October 2004.


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Updated: October 2005.