Jo has over 30 years-worth of experience with horses. The majority of her life has revolved around them, first through Pony Club and taking part in The Gosling Cup, Area Team Championships and The Hurstpierpoint College National Schools and Pony Club Jumping Championships at Hickstead, then on to more serious competition in dressage, showjumping, cross country and eventing, as well as county level Working Hunter showing. Jo has always had an ability to connect with her horses and been drawn to the more expressive amongst them throughout her journey.
Jo’s love for classical equitation began as a teenager – the mystical beauty of the horse and human dancing together in balance had her completely transfixed. Her degree in Marketing & Psychology, was the catalyst for her continuing fascination with equine behaviour.
As this passion grew, after her academic studies were finished, she went to study at The Talland School of Equitation founded by Mrs Molly Sivewright, FBHS, FIH, FABRS. Internationally renowned Talland is run by one of Mrs Sivewright’s daughters, international dressage rider and trainer, Pammy Hutton, FBHS. She was also trained by Gerry Sinnott BHSII, Irish Olympic event team member at Montreal he also competed at Gatcombe, Badminton and the World Championships. Jo attained her BHSPI (later to become BHSAI) qualification during this time but ultimately gained so much more than just qualifications. Mrs Sivewright was actively involved in the training of students at Talland and it was she who solidified Jo’s life-long quest towards lightness and balance in a horse and rider without tension or resistance.
Jo says: “Mrs Sivewright was a real inspiration to me. To watch her ride is the treat of a lifetime, let alone to be taught by her. Her balance and body awareness is impeccable, her self-awareness phenomenal. To see her transition from walk to canter, execute a perfect canter pirouette, exit the pirouette and bring her horse to a halt with such imperceptible communication, her reins looped without contact in perfect balance and true self carriage, was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen – a real inspiration.”
In 2011 she was one of the lucky few to be selected by leading Equine Behaviour & Training Consultant Dr Helen Spence (PhD) for her Structured Mentorship programme, one of only two people to have completed the course in 2013. Being mentored by Dr Spence is not only an honour for Jo, but working as one of her recommended trainers has (and will continue to) allowed her so much growth both as a person and an equine trainer. It has increased her skill and knowledge in a multitude of areas immeasurably, not just in training with positive reinforcement and the clicker. To read more from Dr Helen Spence about Jo, click here
She is also a regular student of Alexander Technique, Human Biomechanics, Myofascial Release (MFR), Tai Chi and Meditation and believes that body awareness, suppleness, posture and balance are absolutely key to good horsemanship and riding.
Jo began using reward-based training techniques in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. Impressed by the communication it creates between you and your animal, as well as the changes seen in the animal’s motivation (willingness and enthusiasm), it is now forms a large part of Jo’s training and coaching. She continues to learn and study (and will do forever more) from many animal trainers, not just equine-based ones, and draws on all her learning and experiences across a wide variety of areas.
Below (in no particular order) are just some of the individuals and horsemanship and equitation styles Jo has studied the work of as well as trained directly with: