Holly grew up in Derby in the U.K. and has been riding from the age of five, training with Caroline Moore as a child. She moved to the UAE when she was 10, where she continued to ride, train and compete in showjumping nationally at several different clubs.
In 2009 Holly won the Karen Dixon equestrian scholarship to study at Queen Ethelburga’s College in York, where she trained with Olympic Eventer Karen Dixon while completing her A Levels and BHS exams up to stage 3 and PTT.
In 2011 she returned to the UAE where she trained with Grand Prix showjumpers’ Abdullah Al Marri and Alice Debany Clero and worked as a coach at the prestigious Emirates Equestrian Centre. However before long she knew she wanted to continue her studies and moved back to the U.K. to complete an Equine Sports Science degree at Hartpury College. While there she was selected for their sought after Showjumping Academy where she trained with Corrine Bracken and Nick Burton, and later international course designer Paul Connor. By this time Holly was competing her horse Connor at BSJA up to 1.25m successfully.
Having returned once again to the UAE in 2015 Holly now operates as a freelance rider and trainer based out of Al Ruwayyah Stables in Dubai.
Holly is considered the leading expert in bitless and barefoot riding and competition in the UAE and regularly gives talks, workshops and demonstrations. As well as coaching over 20 clients, she also takes on and re-trains horses including problem horses and young horses. Holly rides and teaches bitless, using a horse friendly and more ‘natural’ approach to training, applying the principles of learning theory, equitation science and LIMA principles to achieve the least aversive and minimally invasive training style. Holly does not use force or excessive pressure to train horses to work in collection and to compete successfully, she focuses on building a positive relationship with her horse first and foremost and then trains her horses to respond to subtle seat and voice cues to avoid a reliance on rein pressure. These principles are passed on to her students, with harmony, mutual respect and trust between horse and rider being the primary goal for every lesson or riding session.
Holly has ridden in, won and been placed in countless competitions both in the UK – including the Hartpury showjumping spectacular 2013 (8th place in the ‘A’ Tour Grand Prix), 2nd place in the 1.20m ‘Blue Riband’ Scope Festival qualifier 2014, 7th place at the Blue Chip Championships 2014 in the Winter Classic Final and finishing 13th overall in the South West of England Silver League 2013/14 – and the UAE including riding for GBR in Abu Dhabi at 2* Medium tour level for Sheikha Hessa Bint Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2016, winning the Open class of the Spinneys Cup (the UAE eventing championships) in both 2017 and 2018 and winning the silver medal in the FBMA Ladies Showjumping Cup 2018.
She is currently competing bitless and barefoot this season (2018-19) in eventing in the Open class and in the Emirates Longines National Showjumping league in the Small Tour (division 2) 1.20-1.30cm classes where she and her top horse Connor are currently ranked 2nd in the league; in addition to many unaffiliated dressage, hunter trials and showjumping competitions with novice horses.
Holly currently owns three horses (although she rides and competes many more) – Connor, an 11 year old 17hh German warmblood, Prince (racing name Tagseed), a 13yr old 16.1hh Irish flat racing thoroughbred who she regularly rides completely tackless in both flatwork and jumping and a new project horse Cayenne Z, a 12yr old Zangersheide mare, three rescue dogs, one cat and a tortoise! She is married to husband Phil.