We are privileged to have such a specialist team of equine coaches who have achieved a wealth of knowledge and experience in their chosen sectors of the industry.
We caught up with Trainer Coach, Sophie Lai, who discusses her impressive equine career, passion for coaching the next generation of riders and grooms, and how lockdown led her to create an online equine clothing brand!
Sophie says, “I was born in Hong Kong and raised in Ireland. Coming from an Asian family, we didn’t have equine connections, so I didn’t start horse riding until I was 12 years old. I’m the first person in my family to horse ride. I began competing on the national show jumping circuit in Ireland with my horse and competed up to Championships in Ireland.
Between 2015 and 2018 I was honoured to work as an instructor and retraining rider in Hong Kong for The Hong Kong Jockey Club, where the 2008 Beijing Olympics were held. This is where I gained my BHS teaching qualifications and I felt proud to be recognised for my skills and knowledge within the equine industry at this stage in my career.
I have continued my studies and since gained my BHS level 4 units in senior care, management and riding, as well as my Certificate in Education and Training and Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement award.
When I returned to the UK in 2019, I worked as a yard rider for China’s Olympic Event Rider, Alex Hua Tian at Pinfold Stables. I assisted with training their apprentice and it was there that I met their Trainer Coach and found out more about the role. I then began focusing on becoming an apprentice coach as part of my career plan and built my confidence to apply for a position in my area – and here I am!
In 2020 during the lockdown, I also created FENIX Equestrian, an online equine clothing brand, after finding it difficult to buy affordable, quality, comfortable breeches. I tested out the features of all the fabrics I now use with the aim of selling superior products that are accessible to all equestrians. The Way of the Horse, an equine facilitated learning company in Leicestershire, recently approached me for auction sponsorship and it’s fantastic to know that my products can raise money to help support their cause. It’s great to be able to give back to the equine industry wherever possible.
Coaching is my ultimate passion and I love to teach and share the skills, knowledge and experience I have gained in my own career. Inspiring others and helping them achieve their own professional or personal goals is so rewarding. No goal is ever too big or small. Without a detailed plan and well-structured support, it can be difficult to achieve goals successfully; this is a big reason why I became a Trainer Coach.
I support my learners to not only gain their equine qualification but to also progress their career after their apprenticeship. Alongside this I work closely with their employers to ensure my coaching is effective in how their apprentice is progressing within the workplace.
If you love working with horses and love to coach, I encourage you to pursue it! Spend time gaining experience in different sectors in the equine industry because this will be invaluable in helping you to understand the working environments of your learners. Be confident and don’t doubt your abilities!
Thank you so much Sophie, we know how much the next generation appreciate your support and guidance!
Find out more about our equine apprenticeships in England here and in Wales, here. You can also get in touch with our friendly team – just contact us today!
Are you considering a career as an Equine Trainer Coach? You can view all our available roles and apply here.