Wednesday June 29, 2022
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Our Instructors


We are hugely lucky to have some top class instructors, all of whom make learning and progressing with our ponies great fun!

Nicki Bates


My parents bought me my first pony when I was 9yrs old and I joined pony club straight away and enjoyed rallys and pony camp every year, I made life long friends in pony club and have very fond memories of my time with cowdray. I started competing professionally at the age of 14, and now compete in British Showjumping up to international CSI 2* level and nationally from British novice up to Grand Prix.

All my spare time is spent coaching which I’m really passionate about. My aim in every session is to have taught each individual something new, I like to spread positivity & encouragement and to see pupils achieve beyond their expectations and for them to be so focussed that they achieve it without even realising! But my main priority is that they have fun while they are learning & progressing, big smiles mean I’m doing my job right!


Rachel Cargill

Riding has always been a huge part of my life as I first learnt to ride in a local riding school before joining Goodwood Pony Club at 7 years old with my first pony. 

Once I finished school, I worked as an apprentice at Wellington Riding whilst completing my BHS exams. When I was 18 and finally old enough to complete my PTT, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the coaches who inspired me and become a coach myself. I worked hard to fill in my portfolio whilst shadowing PC coaches which all helped towards passing my exam with Distinction. Since then I am always looking for ways to develop my coaching further by maintaining lots of CPD training and most recently, training to become a PC examiner for D+ level & C test.

In August 2020 I was awarded the Jeffress Trust Scholarship which is given to those who are dedicated coaches, working in the equine industry with an existing client base. The bursary was for training to improve existing coaching prowess! I had the opportunity to have 1-1 training with Robert Pickles FBHS and David Sheerin at Wellington BHSI who trained me as a Working Pupil at Wellington. It was lovely to go back to Wellington to develop my coaching further and coach top level riders! 

I am really passionate about my coaching – I have an enthusiastic, bubbly, positive and encouraging approach. My aims are to see the rider achieve their goals, whatever they might be – whilst having fun and learning something new. Building confidence is something I love to work on with riders, as we’ve all been there and lost confidence whilst battling nerves at some point! 

I love coaching rallies, camps, badges, stable management and test training for all levels of PC riders. 

There’s nothing better than seeing a lead rein/mushroom rider go up the levels and become a senior rider! So I love coaching both lead rein abilities, all the way to open competition level. 

I now regularly coach for Pony Clubs for both Area 13 and 11! My summer is camps, camps, camps – which I absolutely love! Feels like reliving my childhood! 

In my spare time you’ll find me with my own horse and my cheeky little sausage dog!

Melanie Claxton

Melanie Claxton BHSII  BHSSM

I started riding at the age of 4, my mum would take me for a 30 minute hack at a local riding stables each school holiday. I was lucky enough to be given a pony for my 8th birthday, he was extremely naughty but taught me so much. I joined Cowdray Pony Club and attended rallies that I was able to hack to, unless it was a special one in which case I saved up my money and we would hire a trailer.

I have been coaching for 35 years and have run this along side my careers of veterinary nursing and lecturing at universities and colleges in animal science and equine science.
My main passion was affiliated eventing in which we were successful at intermediate level but also enjoyed endurance, dressage and showing having wins at Royal Windsor and Richmond.

I love teaching and always get a huge sense of achievement in supporting my clients whether it be learning rising trot, competing at affiliated competitions or aspiring to be an instructor themselves.
Pony Club is a fantastic way to learn, make friends and enjoy your horses and I am very happy to be involved with such a brilliant branch!


Clare Hanson

Hi, my name is Clare Hanson. I have been lucky to have ridden from a very young age and grew up in the Goodwood pony club which I loved. At first I had various different loan ponies, all of which were not very well behaved! I stayed very keen so mum got me my own pony when I was 10, a palomino called Honey. I was really proud to achieve my Pony Club A test when I was 18, alongside going to college to study Equine Management. I knew riding and working with horses was all I wanted to do. I achieved my BHS stages and PTT which has enabled me to develop and really enjoy my teaching of all ages and abilities. After college I went to work in a few really great competition yards focused around youngsters, hunters, racehorses and eventers. 
My passion lies with eventing and educating horses to be the ultimate all rounder. A strong partnership and trust between horse and rider can achieve great things. I have had my own small yard based in Pulborough for 12 years with some lovely competition / hunting / young horse liveries. Alongside doing some freelance riding and teaching I look forward to a fun year ahead 😁
My equestrian Idols include Pippa Funnell, Tina Cook and Lucinda Green!

Nicola Purdy

BHSAI Int.SM, UKCC level 2, ABRS Dip. 1&2

 I have been coaching horses and riders for almost 30 years.

From learning to ride age 6 in Derbyshire, backing and schooling ponies owned by Royalty in the Outer Hebrides to riding the Lloyds bank black horse at county shows, my experience is broad!

I love working with all ages and abilities. My current clients include small children learning to balance, right up to affiliated Eventers. I have helped many clients with confidence issues, this is an area I find particularly satisfying.

I’ve always had a very keen interest in biomechanics, this led to an additional career in saddle fitting. I have been a Wow saddle fitter for 8 years and am currently training with the Society of Master Saddlers.

I regularly attend international conferences to ensure I am at the forefront of current research, from a welfare and performance perspective for both horse and rider. (For me it was never enough to just be told what to do, I always wanted to know why!)

I love helping people to learn, to progress their horses’ training,  be happy and confident and to achieve their goals-whatever they may be! 

Ailsa Wates

Ailsa spent her childhood riding in West Sussex, before spending three years working for and training with double Olympic gold medallist Michael Jung in Germany; she then spent a further year and a half working for Show Jumper Shane Breen. At 17 Ailsa was part of the British Junior European team, and was first reserve for the Gold medal winning young rider team a few years later. Following on from this Ailsa completed her 5* debut in Pau last year. 

I love teaching pony club because it’s great to help young people who want to learn about riding and how to understand their horses/ponies better. I really enjoy the children learning the basics; which stay the same all the way from pony club up through the levels.