Daniel Timson burst onto the international dressage scene in Young Rider classes in the 1990s, before training in Germany with Olympic champion Klaus Balkenhol. Now one of the UK's leading dressage riders, he competes a string of upcoming young horses and teaches to the highest levels.

We caught up with Daniel at his West Sussex yard…

My mum was a happy hacker. She couldn't keep me away from the horses – I would jump on them bareback in the field and I pestered her to send me for riding lessons.

My first victory was with a pony called Robin when I was nine, at a small local dressage show.

My personality in a nutshell is ambitious. I set myself goals in all areas of my life, personal and professional.

The key to handling stallions is correct and consistent training. It's important that they know their job, but they're sensitive animals and must be treated with understanding.

I started out at catering college. I quickly realised that I wanted horses to be my life, but taking equestrian qualifications didn't appeal. Instead, I worked for Dane Rawlins before training in Germany with Klaus Balkenhol.

My first big disappointment was when Moskino broke a bone in his hock just before our grand prix debut. He was the first horse I had owned and trained to a high level. I retired him from competition but he still has a job with us, as a field companion to the youngsters.

My secret weapon is a three-year-old colt called Dirty Harry. He is beautiful to look at with a great temperament. There's something very special about him.

I last scored a 10 in my Young Rider days. They're as rare as hen's teeth, unless you're riding Totilas or Mistral Hojris.

My perfect getaway would be a skiing holiday with friends. If I'm lying on a beach I worry about what's happening back at the yard, but when I'm standing at the top of a mountain I'm focussed on how to get down it in one piece.

The biggest misconception about dressage is that it's easy.

I dream of the day I compete each of my young horses on the international dressage circuit.

My part-time sport is marathon running – I've completed the London marathon twice.

I last hit the deck in 2005, when a freshly-backed young stallion I was riding went crazy. I damaged my shoulder quite badly, but if I'd hit my head as hard I would be in a really bad way. My pride suffered, more than anything.

My real-life heroes would be riders such as Klaus, or Edward Gal and Anky van Grunsven – those who've had success on numerous horses. They're more than just one-trick ponies.


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