Susy Butler grew up in Monmouthshire, South Wales, and began learning to ride at the age of six at a local riding stables. After a series of loan ponies she had her own horse at the age of fourteen. Matt was a scrawny, two year old, 14.2hh black Welsh Section D gelding, whom Susy backed and trained herself. Once he was four she started competing at local shows, whilst still helping at the riding school. Susy was very involved in the day to day running of the yard and helping with lessons and the younger children with their ponies.
At the age of seventeen she bought another young horse; Otis, a bay 16hh Welsh Section D, so that she could expand and develop her schooling and training methods, and experience. Two years later, in 2009, Susy enrolled at Usk Equine College on an Equine Business Management Course, which incorporated the BHS exams. At the end of the academic year, armed with her BHS Stage I and II, Susy and Otis relocated to Berkshire to gain work experience at a busy riding stables. After a month she was offered an advanced apprenticeship.
Twelve months later Susy had passed her NVQ level three in Horse Management, BHS Stage III, PTT, Stage IV, and completed her AI portfolio, to become a responsible member of staff. Susy continued to build her experience and knowledge, whilst also competing successfully in dressage with Otis.
In 2012 she left this busy riding school to become Yard Manager at another Berkshire riding stables. Here Susy developed her teaching skills and increased her knowledge about the business aspect of running a riding stables, by completing the NVQ level three in Equine Business Management. During her time at this yard, she realised that teaching people to ride is her true passion.
In June 2014 Susy took the big step and became a freelance instructor, setting up her own business, Stark`s Equitation. Susy currently divides her time between teaching individual clients on their own horses, exercising and schooling horses, as well as offering her clipping services. Susy also teaches at rallies and camps for The Vale of Aylesbury Hunt Pony Club.
In the autumn of 2016 Susy took back the ride on Matt while her Mum recovered from an operation. In October, Susy took Matt to the British Riding Club Area 6 Novice Dressage Qualifiers - his first dressage competition in seven years, and only his third test in his life. They won the prelim class, thus qualifying for the championships in April. Matt returned to Susy for four weeks preparation in March, and in April 2017 they contended the Novice Championships. To her surprise, she and Matt were crowned the overall individual winners.
After spending the latter half of 2016, and the first half of 2017 studying hard, Susy successfully passed her Intermediate Teaching Test in June 2017, giving her the title of BHS II.
After Otis`s retirement in 2017, Susy started her search for her next horse. Well, she contemplated the idea and drew up her ideal criteria. And then came across Phoenix. A lightly backed, 6 year old Welsh Section D chestnut mare, half sister to Otis, soon joined the family. Susy has produced Phoenix steadily, interrupted by motherhood and the Covid-19 pandemic; taking her time to form a relationship with this feisty mare. Phoenix is very athletic, so has a varied workload of hacking, showjumping and cross country schooling, and competing in affiliated dressage. Recently she has stepped up to competing at Elementary level, and Susy has hopes of moving up to Medium at the end of 2021.
In addition to her teaching, Susy is also a judge for Demi Dressage which her friend, Chesca, founded. Susy has always believed that flatwork should be fun and accessible to children, so when Chesca, came up with the idea of online dressage tests written just for children, Susy immediately jumped on board as the judge. Demi Dressage has monthly, themed dressage tests, which take children from walk only, on or off the lead rein, to simple prelim level tests. It`s a fantastic way of helping children learn school movements and firmly establish their foundations before moving up a level. Susy judges the tests each month, giving feedback and advice to both ponies and riders, explaining how to improve and what exercises would be useful for them to practise at home. She gets great satisfaction watching the regulars move up the levels, producing consistent and accurate tests.
Susy is also the Chief Instructor for the Vale of Aylesbury Hunt. This was the first camp that Susy taught at when she first went self employed. She loved the nostalgic, Pullein-Thompson novel-esque camp, and returned to teach for them annually. At the end of 2019, it was then that she was asked to become Chief Instructor. Susy enjoys organising and planning a variety of rallies and training for all ages and abilities, as well as the challenge of teaching that comes with it. Most recently, Susy has trained the younger members for their D and D+ efficiency tests with a 100% pass rate and shadowed the test days up to B standard. When planning her future professional development, Susy would like to train to coach the higher efficiency tests, and to become an assessor.
In her spare time Susy also writes a regular blog; The Rubber Curry Comb, and has published the first five books in the children`s series The Awelon Tyn Stories. Susy has collaborated with Rose Lewis and Georgie Hibberd, who illustrate the books in the Awelon Tyn series.