Hartpury University student and Great Britain international rider Victoria Leabeater has been named Pony Club Young Coach of the Year.
The third-year BSc (Hons) Equestrian Sports Science student, who is captain of Hartpury’s Equine Academy, was announced as the winner of the award at the Pony Club Coaches Conference held at Hartpury.
Victoria has coached a wide variety of riders, as individuals and in large groups, including at the Pony Club Summer Camp, to help them learn and develop their horseriding skills.
“I’m thrilled to have won the award, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it – absolutely not,” said Victoria, who was part of the Great Britain eventing team that won the silver medal at the 2017 European Championships in Belgium.
“I enjoy working on a rider’s strengths and weakness to try and help them to become the best they can be.
“I’ve benefited from incredible coaching throughout my career, including as part of the Equine Academy at Hartpury, and I want to give something back whenever I can.
“In particular, I really enjoy applying the performance analysis techniques that I’m learning through my degree at Hartpury and as an intern with Gloucester Rugby – to have a Premiership rugby club based on campus is incredible.”
The Hartpury Equine Academy has a proven reputation for supporting and developing talented young riders, both in their competition career and academically.
Riders are offered competition support for high-profile events, visits to top-level riders and trainers’ yards and access to a range of professional support services, including rider performance and biomechanical analysis, psychology, strength and conditioning and physiotherapy, both human and equine.
Hartpury’s world-class facilities include the Equine Therapy Centre, which features a high-speed water treadmill, and the Margaret Giffen Centre for Rider Performance incorporating a £90,000 riding simulator and a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning suite.
With Hartpury tailoring academic and training timetables to suit student athletes, Victoria is determined to maximise her chances of achieving academic and sporting success.
“Having the flexibility to combine elite sport with academia at Hartpury is really important to me,” said Victoria.
“The facilities at Hartpury are superb and all the research that’s coming forward is really important for advancing equestrian sports.
“My tutors and the Sports Academy and Equine Academy teams have been absolutely fantastic in helping me to organise my time – I’m busy but I’m loving it.
“There’s never been a moment when I wished that I hadn’t come to Hartpury and, in fact, I’m planning stay on another year to do a Masters Degree.”
Picture: Victoria Leabeater at Hartpury