STEVEN SMITH is back on home ground and he could not be happier.
“My heart’s always been here,” he says, looking out over the vast expanse of Bingley Moor on a wild and windy day.
Steven has been away from the county for 20 years but when he decided the time was right to move back, his father offered him a house on the farm and space to set up his own stables.
Now restoration work on the house is complete, an indoor school has been built and Steven is ready to start work.
Harvey Smith was a hard task master when Steven and his brother, Robert, were growing up and finding their way in the world of showjumping.
“We learnt by having to tough it out.You learnt that it was up to you to work on your horse and improve your animal,” said Steven.
He was at the peak of his career when it was ruined by a motorbike accident in 1990.
He smashed his leg and severed the nerves in the shoulder of his left arm. Doctors discussed amputating his leg but his brother insisted that this should not happen. He will be forever grateful to him and to Prof Simon Kay at St James’s Hospital who said he could save his leg but told him: “Your arm’s in trouble.”
Numerous operations followed. “It was such a shock. I was 27 – you never think it will happen to you. It took years to get over it,” says Steven.
Now he walks with a limp and still does not have full use of his arm. When he rides, he uses one hand.
Steven had competed at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and ridden on Nations Cup teams. His accident put an end to any competitive riding but he discovered he had a talent for coaching, which is what he has been doing ever since.
Steven worked with his brother, who was then based in Essex and began coaching youngsters who were starting out in show-jumping.
His successes have included Tim Gredley and Ben Maher, now one of our leading show-jumpers.
After travelling all over the world for the past five or six years, coaching and training, Steven was keen to have a permanent base. He is looking forward to teaching anybody who wants to learn about show-jumping, “even happy hackers who just want to do a bit more.”
He would also like to do some work with event riders.
His fiancee, Nicola Hale, is helping him with the new venture and his son, Joel, has also made the move north to ride his grandfather’s show-jumpers.
The icing on the cake so far as Steven is concerned would be some more, good quality show-jumping events in Yorkshire.
“The local agricultural shows used to be brilliant, that’s where we all learned our trade but show-jumping at many of them has faded away.
“The Yorkshire Show is still my favourite show and I’ve travelled all over the world.”
He would like to see more qualifying events being held in Yorkshire and some decent prize money made available. But right now he is just pleased to be back and working from home.
For more information regarding lessons, call Nicola on 07786 265600 or email Steven at firstname.lastname@example.org.