Olympic treat for Western Isles equestrians

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Riders on Lewis were treated to some star-soaked tuition this week when former Olympian, and current Olympic trainer, Eric Smiley saddled up at the Lochside Arena, Lewis.

Mr Smiley was brought to the island by the British Horse Society for a coaching session for both senior and junior riders – in what was a real coup for Hebridean horse riding.

With four Olympic Games under his belt as a competitor, a former F.E.I judge and coach of the Belgian Olympic team – his calibre is of the absolute highest standard.

And he was thrilled to be visiting the Western Isles.

“It is great to be here,” he began, “and the message is the same whether you are teaching beginners or Olympians.

“It is the same message but simply at different levels. The higher up you go the more refined the message is but is the same principles.

“In Lewis, part of what we were working on was to stimulate riders’ minds, their thought processes about some of the things they have been taught and their misconceptions of riding.

“There are often so many confusions, partly because of bad teaching, and I work hard to try and simplify the thought process.

“Communication is vitally important in riding as you would expect when you have to communicate with another being. It requires understanding how to communicate and awareness to encourage the horse to do what you want.”

Mr Smiley continued: “The Lochside Arena is one of the nicest centres I have seen for a very long time. Riders on the island are very lucky to be well supported with such a wonderful facility.”