Sarah Holmes is a name that will be more than familiar to people in the horse community on the Island.

Based at Lake Farm Equestrian Centre, she is not just the Island’s only 4* event rider, but also dedicates a significant part of her time to the teaching of Island riders. No matter what level they are riding to or what dreams they have, she enjoys being there at every step of their journey and many of her clients have gone on to achieve local and national successes.

Even when she is not away competing or training, Sarah says her three-year-old son, Oliver always ensures that her days start early! She tries to have her own horses ridden by midday, which leaves her free to teach for the rest of the day. 

Equestrian Work Plans

Each of her own horses has an individual plan of work that has been developed with the support of her coaches. Their work is varied as much as possible and includes lots of hacking/gallop work for fitness and stamina, pole work and jumping to improve their athleticism and confidence when tackling technical fences at competitions and schoolwork to improve their suppleness and rideability during the dressage phase of an event. 

It takes a small army of people to keep Sarah’s team of horses fit and sound throughout the season. Alongside carefully balanced diets planned by Keyflow Feeds, Pete Moul has the unenviable task of keeping each horse well-shod, Georgina Leavold of Bringing Bodies Back into Balance keeps each horse in good physical shape, Reynolds & Read keep Sarah’s lorry on the road and for 2023, Sarah was lucky enough to be selected as an ambassador for Red Funnel. Travelling across the Solent is unavoidable when all her competitions and trainers are based on the Mainland and Red Funnel’s support this year is making a huge difference to her. Reliable staff are also a huge part of her successes, and she is very appreciative of the small but perfectly formed team she has at home, who take care of the horses daily and work closely alongside her and her family.

Eventing Support

Eventing, for those who might not know, is not an easy sport and aside from professional and personal support, riders need the support of owners.  In Sarah’s case, she is lucky to have the support of three owners.

Mr Alan and Mrs Anita Stay own Lily Marlenie aka Lily, a versatile little mare with a love for eventing; Mrs Lisa Fletcher owns Carno Star aka Moose who, despite his size, shows great talent and willingness in eventing, and Mr Edward and Mrs Alison Rann who own Golden Delicious aka Del, a young horse who is just starting his eventing career and is learning the ropes under Sarah’s guidance.

With her own horses ridden, Sarah will then spend the rest of her day teaching. As a qualified BHSAI and experienced instructor, she is always fully booked for lessons and will often be teaching until the early evening. 

Sarah will always begin a session by asking the client what they have been doing since she last saw them, how the horse is and what plans they have coming up. With this knowledge and drawing upon her own riding experience, Sarah can then structure the lesson and ensure the client finishes the session with a sense of achievement and a plan of exercises to work on until their next lesson together. For her younger clients, Sarah keeps lessons fun and really helps them to build their confidence. With an indoor school, outdoor school and accredited BE cross country course at Lake Farm, Sarah has the facilities to ensure that lessons are enjoyable, interesting and varied.

Award Nomination

It is because of her dedication and commitment to teaching that Sarah has been nominated for the Equestrian Business Awards Riding Instructor of the Year 2023. The Equestrian Business Awards give much-deserved recognition to small equestrian businesses across the UK, including Northern Ireland. The aim is to raise the  profile of such dedicated businesses and recognise and re ward them for all the hard work they put in. Judging is due to take place throughout July and August and category winners will be announced at a black-tie award ceremony on November 25 this year in Peterborough.