My Concept and Philosophy
Why is it so difficult to bring old values to the modern horse industry? Standards of horsemanship and general standards of horse mastership have slipped and as a consequence I believe learning of riding and the willingness to absorb knowledge over a long period of time have suffered. It seems that a quick fix is what everyone is looking for, or as the Americans put it, ‘Instant mashed potatoes’.
I am of course generalising. There are still many people who want to get it right. All my clients are great, still you either love me or hate me….! I was asked to describe my teaching philosophy once and the best I could come up with was 'Tough Love'
Many years ago in the UK there were establishments that boasted facilities which at that time were state of the art. Indoor arenas were practically unknown and the concept of indoor riding was mostly reserved for Continental Europe.
Gradually more Equestrian Centres were opened and in the most part were headed by owners who were very experienced and successful competitors, teachers, and trainers. In other words they had a Figure Head that people could look up to and respect. Most of these establishments could deal with every aspect of the Equestrian world. They had a boarding livery service; teaching at every level from beginners to International competition training was available. They trained young people to take their place in the horse industry as competent, hands on, horse carers. They taught basic riding from the very beginner novice stage.
The scope of that training was wide and varied. Some establishments concentrated on Dressage, some Show Jumping and some on Three Day Eventing. All had a specific system that was easily recognised and riders and trainers travelled from all over the world to come to Britain to train. Examples are; Fulmer School of Equitation, Northern Equitation Centre, Talland, Burton Hall, Silver Hound, Waterstock, Crabbet Park and the Yorkshire Riding centre. There were more but these spring to mind. They had remarkably high standards and an amazing success rate in both producing competition riders and well trained and well qualified instructors and coaches. All but a very small number have sadly gone and in my opinion much missed.
I was lucky to have trained with some of these world renowned trainers and absorbed a great deal of their knowledge and enthusiasm.
For a long time the UK horse industry thrived and we turned out some of the best trained and successful riders and teachers in the world. Our British horse Society exam system was and still is the envy of the world. It gives a clear path for young people to follow from the very first stage one examination right up to the Fellowship of which there are only around 50 in the world. Many of these highly qualified people are heavily involved in training Olympic riders as well as National riders and grass roots recreational weekend riders.
Unfortunately most of the old Equestrian establishments died out. Some because those iconic figure heads like Robert Hall, Lars Sederholme, Eddy Goldman, Cyril Johnson, and Brian Young had became too old to carry on or in fact have died and did not have any successors. State run colleges sprang up all over the country and offered degree courses in all manner of equine related subjects. Most of the qualified teachers either had to join the College system or freelance teach wherever they could.
Competition establishments also sprang up all over the UK offering competitions on a regular basis but no training. In my opinion the standard of teaching dropped and consequently so did the standard of riding at the grass roots middle road riders. The top will always survive in part because highly motivated and talented people find a way to succeed.
My ambition has always been to bring back some of the magic of that era and create a learning experience where people know that they can develop from beginners to competent riders without having to change horses in mid stream! A situation in which riders can train their horses and receive top quality and up to date coaching.
Ernest Dillon F.B.H.S.
Ernest Dillon is one of the most respected and influential members of the British Show Jumping community with an international reputation. He is an outstanding show jumping coach, an accomplished rider and has excellent management and personal skills.
He is one of Britain’s leading show jumping coaches with regular engagements throughout the UK and overseas. He specialises in coaching show jumping competitors and event riders. He has stimulated riders in both these disciplines to achieve success at National and International level
His successful show jumping career has included Grand Prix, International Trial and Derby wins and placings. He has competed internationally to CSI level.
He became the 46th Fellow of the British Horse Society in 1990 (one of four specialising in show jumping). He has been involved with top level sport encompassing riding, coaching and administration. He has been active in the administration of equine sport and was formerly chairman of the British Horse Society Training Advisory Group.
He has developed an excellent range of business and personal skills through the management of a number of businesses and administration activities within the sport. These include the development of his Precision Rein. He is the author of the very successful Show Jumping Manual “Showjumping for Fun or Glory”, and more recently "The Complete Showjumper" (2011). He has published many articles in the equine press relating to training horses and coaching riders at every level.
Fellow of the British Horse Society, 1990
British Show Jumping Level 3 UKCC
Accredited British Eventing Master Coach 2006
Sport UK Coach Educator
Interests and Hobbies:
Sporting activities including tennis, golf and skiing. Reading, mainly classics and good quality contemporary literature. Amateur dramatics and music.
He has a proven record of developing horses and riders to international competition standards. He has trained riders from novice to international level in both show jumping and horse trials including Young Riders Championships. He has been recognised as a British Show Jumping Association Accredited Coach for many years.
He is a regular visiting coach in several prestigious locations in USA, including clinics in New York, Texas, Virginia, California and regular trips to South Africa, Canada, Hong Kong and Dubai. He has conducted training courses for the grass roots BSJA members throughout the UK and has been involved in the training of the British Show Jumping junior under eighteen and young rider International squads.
Ernest Dillon’s successful show jumping career has included Grand Prix, International Trial and Derby wins.He has competed at The Horse of the Year Show, on numerous occasions in Newcomer, Foxhunter and Grade C national finals and was in the top fifty of the B.S.J.A. computer rankings for a number of years.
He has upgraded horses from novice to international standard. He has successfully competed in three-day events and advanced one-day horse trials.
Ernest Dillon has developed a range of business and personal skills through his business management and administration activities within the sport.
He has a proven management track record: working for others and for himself. This has involved managing teams of up to 20 staff. He has demonstrated his management ability as Chairman of the BHS Training Advisory Group and in organising international events for the BHS.
He is a strong believer in defining and agreeing a strategic direction and ensuring that the full resources are focussed on achieving the objectives and goals. He is conversant with the budgeting process: agreeing budgets and managing resources within them. These skills have been demonstrated in the management of his own businesses and activities for BHS.
He is an excellent communicator, developed over years of experience as a show jumping coach. He is able to express himself to individual’s large groups or the media. He is an author with a clear direct style that is welcomed by publishers and readers alike. He maintains a strong network as part of his BHS and BSJA activities and in support of his national and international teaching activities. Ernest Dillon has been directly involved with top-level show jumping and eventing for most of his career.
He has worked for a number of British and Irish Olympic team trainers. He coaches to international standard within the UK and overseas.
He has been active in the administration of the sport in Great Britain and has managed international conventions on behalf of the British Horse Society.
2009 - Present
Self Employed. Still pursuing freelance coaching throughout the UK and Abroad. Conducting regular clinics throughout the UK, monthly visits to Scotland and regular trips to the USA.
Self Employed. Coaching on a freelance basis throughout the UK and the USA
Acting as development consultant at Kingsbarn Equestrian Centre.
2005 - 2007
Self Employed. Further development of overseas involvement and development of Kingsbarn Equestrian Centre. Invitations accepted to visit Hong Kong, Dubai and South Africa and Canada as well as continuing to expand involvement in the USA. Became Acredited BS and BE Coach.
1990 - 2005
Self Employed. Extended teaching career and developing sport horses:
1982 - 1990
Self Employed. Focussed on show jumping career, teaching and developing sport horses:
1977 - 1982
Self Employed. Owned and successfully managed business involving boarding livery yard, developing sport horses and show jumping through to International Trials:
1975 - 1977
Fred Welch (Former member of the British Show Jumping team)
1972 - 1975
Stocklands Equitation Centre - Joan Sutton F.I.H.
Managed Stocklands Equitation Centre:
1970 - 1972
Northern Equitation Centre - Cyril and Dorothy Johnson F.B.H.S.
Senior instructor teaching to B.H.S.I. standard:
1968 - 1970
Ireland - John Costello. Working for a dealer breaking and schooling young horses and teaching:
1966 - 1968
Fulmer School Of Equitation - Robert Hall (Trainer of the British Olympic Dressage team) and Pat Manning F.B.H.S. (International trainer). Joined as a junior staff member progressing to manager of one of the four yards in a very busy teaching and training centre:
1965 - 1966
Mrs Elaine Straker (Mother and trainer of Karen Dixon, member of the British Olympic Three Day Event squad) Groom responsible for event horses:
1965 - 1965
John Shedden (First winner of Badminton Three Day Event 1948)
Short period as a nagsman (horse breaker):
1964 - 1965
Burton Hall – Col. Dudgeon (Trainer to the Irish Three Day Event and Show Jumping Olympic teams)
Worked as a working pupil studying for BHSAI:
1963 - 1964
Northern Equitation Centre - Cyril and Dorothy Johnson F.B.H.S. Began full time equestrian career as a working pupil.