When you’re part of a family like Laura Milner’s, it’s never going to be easy to find time to study alongside top class competition.
While Laura, 19, is an elite dressage rider, her sister, Steph, 17, is a World Champion pony carriage driver, youngest sister Katie, 14, is a national grass track racing star and dad, Johnny, was a double British Rally Champion in 2002 and 2003.
With all those sporting commitments, not to mention running her own equine rug washing business and managing the 30-horse yard and the breeding programme at her parents’ South Grange Stud, going away to study at college was never an option for Laura.
That’s why the Equine AASE apprenticeship – provided by British Dressage and British Eventing and run exclusively by Hartpury – was the perfect choice for her with its long distance learning offer.
It allows her to combine studying at home in Yorkshire with running her business and competing, while giving her the skills and development opportunities to succeed at the very highest level. This is all under the expert guidance of mentors who have played a starring role in the equestrian world – as competitors and coaches.
The programme is seen as a stepping stone to prepare the best young riders for the world class performance programmes. Applications for this year’s programme, which starts in June, will close on April 7th, 2014. There’s more information at www.hartpury.ac.uk and you can apply here
Laura said: “With working so hard and competing, there’s no way I could afford the time to go to college a few days a week. The AASE programme is fantastic in developing my riding performance and that of my horse, and, by being super organised, I’m able to balance it with my other commitments.”
On the Equine AASE Apprenticeship, riders are supported to apply what they learn on nine ‘centre’ days at Hartpury and as part of their virtual learning programme to improve and evaluate both their own performance and that of their horse.
Modules are focused on improving riding, horse management, tactical skills and fitness and nutrition as well as to support riders to manage their lifestyle and their career so that they are physically and mentally prepared to meet the challenges of top level competition.
Laura’s mentor is Nick Burton - former international event rider and British team member at European Championship level and current leading international dressage and eventing judge. Nick is also the Equine Academy Director at Hartpury.
“Coming to Hartpury for centre days to benefit from the fantastic facilities and having access to people like Nick Burton and Claire Moir (five times British Dressage National Championship winner and top British Coach, who is another mentor on the programme), is invaluable,” said Laura.
“Nick sets my work and development programmes and comes to visit me with my coach at home, Becky Moody, every nine weeks. He watches me ride and we analyse videos of my performance, both in training and competitions. He’s also on the other end of the phone whenever I need him.
“The programme supports me with goal-setting so that I’m clear about where I’m heading as a rider but it also gives me skills that will help with my wider career, especially horse management. With my involvement in breeding, breaking in and working with the foals I hope to be the dressage horses I compete on one day, that is really important.
“It has really improved my self-evaluation skills too. That’s not something people my age tend to be very good at and it is key to continuing to progress and will help me develop as a teacher, which adds to my career options.”
As well as Nick Burton and Claire Moirs, the other mentors for the AASE Equine Apprenticeship are:
• Jonquil Hemming - current British Pony Eventing Team coach and represented Great Britain as a rider three times.
• Christie Wright - British Equestrian Federation Excel Talent Programme Discipline Coach, founder of the Coaching Development Team and former 4* competitor
In 2010, Laura won the Under-21s Advanced Championships at Addington. She was selected for British Dressage’s High Performance Camp in 2012 and was based with top dressage rider, Andrew Gould, for six months. She improved her dressage scores from 62% to 70% and achieved fourth and fifth placed finishes in the advanced classes at the Hartpury Festival of Dressage. She is sponsored by Equiform Nutrition and Merlin International Trading.
For more information about the Equine AASE apprenticeship run by Hartpury, e-mail Jennifer.email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org