Ashen Equestrian Centre
- Ashen, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 8JU
- Near the historic market town of Clare on the edge of the beautiful Stour Valley
- 45 mins from Stansted Airport and Cambridge
- Easy access from M11, A14 & A 12.
For directions/more details email: email@example.com Tel: 07900 436110
Bio-mechanics Coach, Classical Riding Instructor, A.B.R.S.T.C, B.H.S.Int’T, N.L.P Master Practitioner, Instructor of Myofascial Release, Cupping Massage Therapist, Adv’ Sports Psych’ Dip.
Read Becky’s Blog here
Hear Becky’s “Around Suffolk” interview here
Becky conceived, co-designed and is the sole riding coach at Ethical Equine Performance at Ashen E.C. which opened in March 2005.
Born pony-mad Becky hassled her non-horsey parents sufficiently to start riding lessons when she was 6 years old.
Becky wonders how differently her life might have turned out had her Mum told her that after her first few lessons the riding instructor advised her that she was wasting her money sending Becky for lessons!
This statement sums-up one of the main problems Becky feels is endemic within the horse industry – that you (and your horse) either have talent and are therefore worthwhile, or you do not and should give up – and this is an attitude she fights to this day.
Becky admits though that she would have been seemingly unteachable. So excited to be around ponies that she couldn’t follow the instructions, her dyslexic tendencies meant that she would have neither recognised nor remembered where the arena markers were and her struggles with left and right meant she would never get to be lead-file!
When was 8 years old Becky met Sarah Green (now Burton) who was going to Stoneleigh to train for her BHSAI and she allowed her, under the ever-watchful eyes of her parents David and Mary to loan Swift.
Swift was well in to his 30’s and the most generous soul. They hacked to every local show that pocket money allowed and won the local riding club’s award, not for being the most successful partnership, but for Trying Hardest and being The Most Enthusiastic…
Becky was 10 when Sarah decided that she needed Swift for her new riding school and although she was still happy for Becky to ride him she no longer needed her to take care of his day-to-day needs which broke Becky’s heart.
By now Becky’s parents realised that Swift’s loan proved this pony-thing was more than just a fad, saw an advert for a 14.1hh part-bred Arab mare and because her Mum liked her name they bought Amber!!!
Amber taught Becky things that Swift had not including –
- 1. There are only three paces – halt, jog and gallop.
- 2. The aids for jog are that you mount.
- 3. The aids for gallop are your feet touch grass / stubble.
- 4. The aids for halt are you dismount.
- 5. Jumping is optional.
Amber and Becky shared a lot of experiences, including two years together at a boarding school under the instruction of Colonel Wesley (who would be instrumental in her being awarded the Jeffress Trust Training Scholarship many years later) before a growth spurt meant she outgrew her.
By now Katie (one of Becky’s sisters and now a Master Saddler and Qualified Saddle Fitter) was riding so rather than face selling Amber and moving on to horses Katie took over Amber’s reins and Becky thought she had given up ponies – for good…
But horses are an addiction and although she had a good income and a mortgage when she was 18 Becky announced that she was going to get back in to horses.
Becky worked and trained at numerous riding schools, livery and competition yards and earned her BHSAI and, full of her own self-importance, having passed all of her BHS examinations first-time, she opened a livery yard.
Becky says she never actually wanted to teach riding, in spite of the livery yard being full she had to teach to subsidise her income though – and says she was rubbish at it! She taught everyone all of the things that she had been told to teach without really knowing why (since those things had never worked for her). Realising that she knew half of nothing she continued to run the yard, “teach” and gained more BHS examinations in the hope that would provide the answers. Instead it raised more questions…
During this time Becky bought her first horse, Henry Horse a 4 year old 16.3hh Dutch Warmblood who she BSJA’d. Henry was a capable jumper but lazy and Becky became disillusioned at repeated instructions to beat him harder by her trainers and believing that she could do no more to improve him and convinced that she needed to event to be taken seriously as a rider and as an instructor she sold Henry when he was 6 years old with £800 on his BSJA card.
A client who disliked the mare sold Becky her horse Emily and her dream to event became a reality. This, combined with regular invitations to teach at Pony Club meant Becky’s freelance teaching was getting busier. But the busier and more “successful” she became the more she learned how little she knew.
Every rider she taught and every horse she took for schooling plateaued at the same level. This knocked her self-belief and combined with the decision to start a family with husband Chris meant that she came really close to giving up horses – again.
Ignorant as to how close she was to giving horses up and in an attempt to keep Becky out of the saddle for as long as possible after the birth of baby Noni Becky’s Mum gave her a book entitled “Ride with you Mind”(RWYM). Never usually one to judge a book by the cover she assumed, thanks to the title, that the book was for non-riders! Of course it had the opposite effect – Becky devoured it and decided she needed to train with its author Mary Wanless and over the next 15 years Becky became one of only 4 Senior RWYM in the world. She was rushed off her feet coaching freelance (and loving it!) and writing regularly for various equestrian publications.
Becky’s coaching has moved on and she chooses to no longer be a RWYM Coach but says she owes Mary and her work a huge amount and will always be grateful to her.
Indirectly through Mary’s work Becky learned how to learn, how to coach, and that she has a talent for both.
Becky claims she must have lost the plot to have sold Emily but things had gone so well with her that she decided she could have the same relationship and get the same results with any horse. Becky says Emily was the horse of a lifetime, she just realised it too late and she misses Emily everyday.
Becky had clients’ horses to ride and compete was busy coaching so decided that she wanted to buy an unbacked youngster, start it, turn it away, breed from it, bring it back in to work and by the time it was at its peak and ready to sell I could do the same this the next one and so on.
But Gazelle had other ideas.
Becky knew Gazelle was a challenge when she bought her that was, of course, part of the attraction (and the reason she was cheap).
Gazelle was chronically head-shy and would rear-up and throw herself over backwards with little warning. Becky worked hard to gain her trust, explored lots of natural horsemanship techniques, some of which helped and Gazelle became more manageable. Following two failed attempts at A.I. (thankfully with hindsight) Becky gave up on the idea of breeding from her.
Not content with breaking Becky’s left leg badly twice (The first time necessitating a full-leg cast and no riding or driving for 8 months, then just 6 months out of cast she broke it again, this time necessitating major surgery and almost a year out of the saddle.) Gazelle also kicked Amber (Becky’s first pony) and broke her leg too.
In spite of, or perhaps because of these challenges Becky and Gazelle were relatively successful at dressage (a client suggested that it was only because Gazelle was so difficult in the work-in arena that no-one else had the chance to warm-up!) Gazelle had been intermittently lame since Becky bought her and after a lot of investigation it turned out that she had chronic congenital DJD.
All of her combined issues led Becky to the decision to have her put down when she was only 8 years old.
Something about Gazelle’s unresolved issues and the apparent gaps in Becky’s learning evolved from being overwhelming and dis-empowering in to something which drove her desire for learning still more.
Gazelle confirmed Becky’s suspicion that horses do not behave “badly” without good reason. She also realised that if she could fight her way back to riding fitness and still have a business to return to after all she had been through then maybe Becky was in the right job after all.
So Guy became Becky’s next project. Very talented, but very spooky and challenging, (once again why she bought and could afford him) Becky spent more time on the surface of the arena than in the saddle for the first year that she owned him!
He also had soundness issues and thanks to Guy Becky discovered the life-changing effects of clicker training, became an advocate of riding barefoot and treeless.
By now Becky had a thriving freelance business that she loved but increasingly did not have the time to get to clients who lived further a-field. A group of them attend a couple of courses throughout the year at Ashen Hall, combing ridden and dismounted sessions and video feedback. Over the next 18 months or so it became apparent that these clients were making more rapid, far-reaching and long-lasting changes than those that were having more regular lessons – and it was costing them less money too!
This, along with the frustrations that her clients faced on their yards led-to the conception of Ashen E. C. so the business loan and planning permission were applied for…
About a year later Becky’s dream of a non-discipline specific, non-judgemental, non-punitive yard became a reality.
A haven, where owners whose top-priority was the long-term soundness and relationship with their horse had been born.
By the time Mac came in to Becky’s life son Max had been born Ashen E.C had been built.
Guy was now sound of both mind and limb, schooled to Advanced and winning at Advanced Medium letting him go in order that she could afford both the time and money to buy Mac was a heart-wrenching but relatively easy decision.
As a gangly 3 year old he was already 17.2hh and having been such a large foal his mother died shortly after he was born. Hand reared for 3 months and rejected by the first 3 foster-dams he did not have the best start in life. It would be fair to say that Mac was the love of Becky’s life.
In hind-sight he was never going to make old bones but with Becky’s training and love he matured to 18.2hh, was a great friend to Becky and had an incredible showing career.
His traumatic start caught up with him though and he died suddenly of peritonitis aged only 8 years old – not yet in his prime.
Mac is still missed by Becky and his fans who supported then both.
Read more about Becky and Mac’s journey here.
So Filly, who belongs to Becky’s daughter Noni, became the horse Becky rode when she was within the first group of 9 UK instructors selected to train with French Classical Master Philippe Karl.
This training has become fundamental to Becky and her clients, a training system which is logical and progressive and has respect of the horse and long-term soundness as its top priorities.
Having gained all she wanted from the training Becky chose to leave The School of Legerete after 5 years of training with M.Karl.
Bred to show jump Lola was rushed on a professional jumping yard the breeders moved her to a dressage yard. The high pressure training here was also unsuccessful and in April 2014 Lola was given to Becky.
Lola is now happily placed on a yard as an embryo transfer recipient mare.
In May of 2019 Pink Champers “Rosie” arrived at Ashen E.C for re-habing and schooling. (As a 4 year old Rosie broke her pelvis in a racing accident.) In June she was given to Becky and has inspired Becky’s return to the show ring for the first time since the tragic loss of Mac.
Becky is an inspiring coach and coaches riders from nervous / novice to international level.
She is often invited to lecture at colleges and exhibitions around the UK.
She enjoys working with horses and riders of all ages, types and standards and from all equestrian disciplines.
Ashen E.C is positive learning environment, all the horses who come for training are assisted in their settling and training with clicker work adding to the uniqueness of the setting.
Becky has been nominated for “The Field and Lycettes Rural Entrepreneur”, and for UK Coaching Awards, has been twice awarded a Jeffress Training Scholarship and was voted Enterprising Women’s “Woman of the Week”.
In 2015 Becky became a Human Foundations Instructor of Functional Patterns, to assist her clients in addressing postural and performance issues using effective myofascial release and core awareness / strengthening exercises. (Click here to find out more.)
In 2016 Becky also became a Cupping Massage Therapist and is committed to helping her clients have a pain-free future.
- To offer a unique & personal service to riders of all standards.
- To bring joy to (or back to) your riding.
- To make learning possible & pleasurable.
- To continue to develop my skills in coaching & riding.
- To continue my training and learning.
- To remain open-minded & mindful of & learn from others.
Ashen E.C is a family business, Becky’s husband Chris designed by Becky and built Ashen E.C.
Chris also keeps up the high standards of yard maintenance, runs Ashen E.C’s office.
Ashen E.C. from conception to today.
In 1997 Becky and husband Chris bought a derelict farm cottage adjacent to the land they later purchased to build Ashen E.C.
Mac Shack to the left of the photo, stables directly in front.