Olivia Edkins AASE

The Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) programme is designed for talented equestrian athletes looking to excel in their sport. It’s an apprenticeship focused on helping gain life skills needed for the industry, with coursework targeted on key areas for success as an equestrian. The AASE programme also includes specialist camps that run at intervals during the year. The camps allow our AASE learners the opportunity to train with some of the best in the showjumping, dressage and eventing disciplines, as well as time to focus on specific modules of coursework with industry experts.

Following on from the success of our most recent camp, we caught up with showjumper Olivia Edkins who is part of our 2019 group of AASE learners, to find out more about AASE and what it involves from a learner’s perspective.

“My name is Olivia and I am a 21 year old ambitious and dedicated showjumper from Warwickshire. I have been living and breathing horses since I could walk, doing anything from hunting to pony racing and everything in between. I came into affiliated showjumping late however, and went straight onto horses as a 14 year old. I have greatly enjoyed having young ponies and horses over the years, breaking my first pony by myself at the age of 10, and producing them on in a range of disciplines. I have been very fortunate to have had a wide range of rides, however once I decided showjumping was going to be my sole focus, I cut down to just the one horse and bought Chica (who I still have now) as a rising 6 year old, jumping age classes and finals with great success. I then went on to have a very consistent clean record up to 1.30m with multiple placings on her. In these younger years I spent many a weekend riding for a top local showjumper and enjoyed the challenges and experiences I gained along the way.

I decided to apply for AASE because I was keen to get a qualification and thought it would be a great way to not only gain access to some incredible coaches and training, but also to enable me to learn more about my sport, and further develop my skills as an athlete. I wanted a route that would enable me to progress up the levels and I wanted to develop contacts and establish connections with likeminded people.

The May AASE camp couldn’t have come at a better time for me in my horses training. The camp was not only a great first time staying away since the most recent COVID lockdown, but it was a fantastic way to gather information and advice both in the ridden aspect and the written learning. It was also a great way to make new contacts, with a lot of new faces from the last camp.

I gained a lot from my time with Andrew Saywell, who conducted some fantastic jumping lessons and offered me a wide range of knowledge and advice on areas that I was struggling with. He was incredibly helpful in assisting me with bitting advice, which I’m looking forward to implementing moving forwards; as well as helping me with my older horse, giving me valuable resources to work with whilst riding her in the ring, as she can be a very tricky ride. Group lessons were also a great learning tool for me, as watching others ride and listening to Andrew’s advice to them was very interesting too.

During this camp, we had the opportunity to work with the producers of ‘Equimi’, an extremely user friendly website platform, which helps the user enormously by enabling you to be found through search engines on a global scale. I found this very informative, giving me the resources to create my own website, which is not something I currently have in play, and I am looking forward to utilising this in my day-to-day work life moving forward.

We also focused on our Nutrition module and our primary topic of study was Clean Sport; looking at drugs and doping within the sport. I learned about the precautionary measures that can be used to prevent any accidents from happening, as well as what responses were caused by which drugs and whether the drugs were banned, or controlled substances, all of which was new information to me and incredibly instructive. Moving forward with my competition career, this is definitely something I will be taking into consideration a lot more, adding extra precautionary measures as advised, such as keeping batch numbers on feeds, etc.

This camp gave us time with Matt Goosey, as well. He is a strength and conditioning coach who analysed our fitness and movement so that we could target areas for development, and I was recommended a strength based training plan to optimise my abilities when riding.

Away from the camps the learning and coursework needed to complete the AASE programme has been easy to keep up with alongside working full time as an apprentice, and the Trainer Coaches are all very helpful and responsive, if and when you are in need of assistance. I have found that studying something you have a genuine interest in, makes it so much easier to stay motivated for.

I have also enjoyed having the network of people to bounce ideas off, during those days I’ve felt less motivated during lockdown. I have made contacts through AASE which I will definitely stay in touch with in the future.

After finishing AASE I am really looking forward to starting with the UKCC Level 2 qualification days and focusing on my own competition career, as well as supporting people I coach with their training and their competition schedules. I am also looking forward to getting the horses back out competing after their prolonged gap in competition due to the pandemic. My long term goals within the equine industry definitely include gaining my teaching qualifications and eventually becoming a highly valued coach. I would love to continue progressing slowly up the levels with my showjumping, as and when I have the horsepower to do so!”


We would like to thank our AASE learner, Olivia, for taking the time to share her insights into AASE. For more on Olivia’s journey please follow her IG page olivia_edkins_showjumping.

To find out more about our AASE programme, click here.