Meet the Team

We believe in providing an exceptional service for our clients, and it’s our team of friendly and dedicated professionals who help us do this.

Every member of our team is talented, knowledgeable and they love what they do. Have a browse and get to know us a little better!

If you are interested in joining our team, have a look at our vacancies page to see what is currently available. We look forward to hearing from you.

Tony Thomson, Tony Thomson

Tony Thomson

Joint Owner of Lavant Equestrian
Equestrian Qualifications
IT and Communications
Tony Thomson, Joint Owner of Lavant Equestrian

Tony Thomson

Joint Owner of Lavant Equestrian
Equestrian Qualifications
IT and Communications
Brief

Married to Lucy Thomson for over 30 years, with children Charlie and Amelia, Tony Thomson has always provided the support-structure any business needs in order to thrive, but especially so an equestrian one! Horses break/destroy just about everything, so constant repairs is definitely on his list, however Tony’s real skills lay in IT and telecommunications.

As a result Lavant Equestrian has an enviable IT and telephone system, certainly beyond the standard to be found in most equestrian centres.

Full-time employed elsewhere, Tony spends his free time keeping the systems updated at Lavant, repairing the latest breakage, adding illumination – and most importantly for the kids at Lavant – is the person responsible for making sure the Club Room vending machine is kept fully supplied with goodies, all of the time!

Amelia (Mills) Ayling, Amelia (Mills) Ayling

Amelia (Mills) Ayling

Business Partner
Equestrian Qualifications
Stage 4 Senior Coach in Complete Horsemanship; British Horse Society Intermediate Instructor; UKCC Level 2 Coach;
Amelia (Mills) Ayling, Business Partner

Amelia (Mills) Ayling

Business Partner
Equestrian Qualifications
Stage 4 Senior Coach in Complete Horsemanship; British Horse Society Intermediate Instructor; UKCC Level 2 Coach;
Brief

Daughter of Lucy, Amelia Thomson has been brought up surrounded by both horses and a family business. A keen and bold rider who loves to event, hunt and jump any large fence, but who also needs to knuckle down to the discipline of dressage if to excel as an event rider, which is what Amelia really wants to do.

Amelia is currently eventing her two young horses Q and Kevin, who are gradually working their way up through the grades, whilst Amelia herself continually moves up the ladder of the British Horse Society and UKCC professional qualifications.  Her next qualification target is the highly respected BHS Instructor qualification.

Tasha Gissing, Tasha Gissing

Tasha Gissing

Yard Manager
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Preliminary Teacher; British Horse Society Stage 2; BTEC National Diploma in Horse Management; BHS Riding and Road Safety; NVQ Level 2 Team Building; NVQ Level 3 Horse Management;
Tasha Gissing, Yard Manager

Tasha Gissing

Yard Manager
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Preliminary Teacher; British Horse Society Stage 2; BTEC National Diploma in Horse Management; BHS Riding and Road Safety; NVQ Level 2 Team Building; NVQ Level 3 Horse Management;
Brief

Tasha Gissing  (Natasha) produces her own horses at home whilst competently carrying out her responsibilities with us in such a manner that she was swiftly promoted to become our Deputy Yard Supervisor.

Now concentrating on building up her British Horse Society professional qualifications, Tasha is also a gifted rider and helps with producing many of our young horses, especially those that need a bit of persuading to go!

Liz Flemington, Liz Flemington

Liz Flemington

Senior Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Intermediate Instructor; British Horse Society Stage 4 Coach in Complete Horsemanship; HND Equine Business Management;
Liz Flemington, Senior Riding Instructor

Liz Flemington

Senior Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Intermediate Instructor; British Horse Society Stage 4 Coach in Complete Horsemanship; HND Equine Business Management;
Brief

Liz is an extremely popular instructor, being knowledgeable, understanding and full of endless enthusiasm. With two young children and her own horses Liz’s role is part-time at the moment, much as we would like to have her a lot more often. Liz teaches here on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and she can easily be heard teaching from half a mile away!

Liz is also attending our advanced staff training sessions with Robert Pickles FBHS in order to work towards her next British Horse Society qualification – the BHSI.

Sarah Holland-Villa, Sarah Holland-Villa

Sarah Holland-Villa

Senior Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
Stage 4 Senior Coach in Complete Horsemanship; British Horse Society Intermediate Instructor; Equine Massage & Bodywork qualified;
Sarah Holland-Villa, Senior Riding Instructor

Sarah Holland-Villa

Senior Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
Stage 4 Senior Coach in Complete Horsemanship; British Horse Society Intermediate Instructor; Equine Massage & Bodywork qualified;
Brief

Sarah Holland-Villas joins us to bring a wealth of knowledge earned over the past thirty years in the many areas of equine.

Have competed at British Show Jumping Foxhunter level, British Eventing to Intermediate level and now concentrating on British Dressage, Sarah currently competes successfully at Prix St Georges level, having qualified several times for the Medium and Advanced Medium Dressage Regional Finals.

Another advocate of the Training of the Teachers of Tomorrow Trust, alongside Lucy Thomson and Sally Spaarkogel, we are privileged to have this enviable level of teacher training now available to our clients.

A passionate equestrian coach, Sarah also brings her extensive competition background to aid in the development of both horse and rider.

Hannah Walters, Hannah Walters

Hannah Walters

Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
BHS Stage 3 Coach in Complete Horsemanship; Intermediate Stable Managers Certificate; BHS Stage 4 Ride (flat & lunge); NVQ L3 Horse Management; HND Equine Management
Hannah Walters, Riding Instructor

Hannah Walters

Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
BHS Stage 3 Coach in Complete Horsemanship; Intermediate Stable Managers Certificate; BHS Stage 4 Ride (flat & lunge); NVQ L3 Horse Management; HND Equine Management
Brief

Hannah qualified as a riding instructor in 2009 and has since taught in the UK, Germany and Spain. She enjoys teaching all ages and abilities – focusing on correct core skills needed for seamless progression, developing a partnership with the horse and ultimately having fun! Hannah has an ex-racehorse and an Iberian of her own whom she drag hunts and events.

Helen Cuninghame, Helen Cuninghame

Helen Cuninghame

Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 3 Coach in Complete Horsemanship; BHS Stage 4 Ride and Care; BSc Equine Sports Performance;
Helen Cuninghame, Riding Instructor

Helen Cuninghame

Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 3 Coach in Complete Horsemanship; BHS Stage 4 Ride and Care; BSc Equine Sports Performance;
Brief

Having learnt to ride at the age of 7, Helen started teaching at the age of 18 and has mostly taught in riding schools similar to our own.  Helen is happy to teach all ages and abilities, aiming to bring out the best in all she teaches, and would be described as a motivating and enthusiastic instructor.

She also has extensive experience as a rider, having produced a wide variety of horses in all three of the key disciplines: show jumping, dressage and eventing.

Sally Spaarkogel, Sally Spaarkogel

Sally Spaarkogel

Senior Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 3 Coach in Complete Horsemanship; UKCC Level 2 Coach;
Sally Spaarkogel, Senior Riding Instructor

Sally Spaarkogel

Senior Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 3 Coach in Complete Horsemanship; UKCC Level 2 Coach;
Brief

Since gaining her BHS teaching qualification with Virginia Peters in Somerset, Sally has acquired considerable experience working with horses in a variety of equine areas including Dressage, Eventing, Carriage Driving, Racing, Breeding, Showing, Breaking/Schooling yards, both in England and in the Netherlands.

As well as over thirty-five years of teaching individual clients within the excellent BHS system Sally also regularly instructs at Pony Club Camps and Rallies, including training and examining up to Pony Club C Test standard.  In addition to this Sally has had several years’ experience as an instructor for the Riding for the Disabled Association and has also coached a young Para-Rider.

Sally loves to teach clients over a wide range of age and abilities, and her aim is always to encourage and nurture positive partnerships that can help riders to work towards their goals and enjoy the wonderful experience of riding.

And for newcomers to the horse world Sally also offers fun, theory based BHS Essential Horse Knowledge Certificate courses that help people become more informed owners of horses and ponies.

 

Jess Callander, Jess Callander

Jess Callander

Riding Instructor & Freelance Groom
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 3 Coach
Jess Callander, Riding Instructor & Freelance Groom

Jess Callander

Riding Instructor & Freelance Groom
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 3 Coach
Brief

Jess rode with us originally as a client and then came back to join us in order to gain her British Horse Society teaching qualifications as a Yard Assistant/Trainee Instructor. Jess trained to become a riding instructor and showed a natural and enthusiastic flare for teaching.

Jess is a fun, emphatic coach who teaches all ages and is particularly good with children.  When Jess is not at Lavant she concentrates on her law degree and also helps out managing the yard throughout the week.

Polly Walters, Polly Walters

Polly Walters

Riding Instructor & Pony Club Centre Manager
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Preliminary Trainer
Polly Walters, Riding Instructor & Pony Club Centre Manager

Polly Walters

Riding Instructor & Pony Club Centre Manager
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Preliminary Trainer
Brief

Polly rode with us for years as a child and then came back to join us in order to gain her British Horse Society teaching qualifications.

Polly is a fun, emphatic coach who teaches all ages and is particularly good with children, so as a consequence also oversees our active and large Pony Club Centre.  When Polly is not at Lavant she concentrates on competing her string of show jumpers with some success at national level.

It is never hard to spot Polly when she is around with her trademark beaming smile and wonderfully vivacious character!

 

 

Rachel Cargill, Rachel Cargill

Rachel Cargill

Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 3 Coach in Complete Horsemanship
Rachel Cargill, Riding Instructor

Rachel Cargill

Riding Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 3 Coach in Complete Horsemanship
Brief

We were hugely chuffed to welcome Rachel back, whom we had taught to ride as a child and who then went on to become an equestrian competitor and professional in our chosen sport – we couldn’t have asked for a better result to now have her back again with us!

With her passion for eventing and Pony Club coaching, Rachel brings a raft of skills and expertise that will particularly appeal to our young, competitive riders.

Lovely to have you back Rachel!

Georgia Swatton, Georgia Swatton

Georgia Swatton

Deputy Yard Supervisor/Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Preliminary Teaching Certificate; British Horse Society Stage 2; Riding & Road Safety Certificate: Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management;
Georgia Swatton, Deputy Yard Supervisor/Instructor

Georgia Swatton

Deputy Yard Supervisor/Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Preliminary Teaching Certificate; British Horse Society Stage 2; Riding & Road Safety Certificate: Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management;
Brief

Georgia Swatton joined us most recently as the third of our current apprentices, however you would have thought she had been here all her life, so smoothly and swiftly did Georgia move into her new role.

Currently producing her own young horse, Georgia gained very good GCSE results before moving onto further education at college.  However like quite a few young people, she quickly discovered that learning such a practical skill as horse management in a classroom environment was not for her, hence transferring to us an apprentice.  This decision is not for the faint hearted as the hours are long and the work hard, but my goodness do the apprenticeships here produce really good team members for the future which all the equestrian employers want.

Vicky Davis, Vicky Davis

Vicky Davis

Office Manager
Equestrian Qualifications
Masters Degree in History; British Horse Society Stage 2 Complete & Stage 3 Ride (Dressage)
Vicky Davis, Office Manager

Vicky Davis

Office Manager
Equestrian Qualifications
Masters Degree in History; British Horse Society Stage 2 Complete & Stage 3 Ride (Dressage)
Brief

Vicky Davis joined our Administrative Team in 2017 to provide additional support to the ever-expanding business, and stepped in to take over managing our office in March 2019.

Vicky’s background is in academic research, and has a Master’s in History. Having spent four years researching for a PhD, she ended her studies in favour of finding a career that combines all her interests, and this job certainly does! Vicky’s a keen photographer and you’ll find her capturing images of all aspects of life at LHS.

Interested in all things equestrian, Vicky continues to ride regularly with us allowing her to experience both sides of the business, and is currently working towards the rest of her Stage 3 exam.

Stephanie Hill, Stephanie Hill

Stephanie Hill

Office Administrator
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 2, Stage 3 care, NVQ Level 3 Equine Management, Stage 1 & 2 Donkey Management.
Stephanie Hill, Office Administrator

Stephanie Hill

Office Administrator
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 2, Stage 3 care, NVQ Level 3 Equine Management, Stage 1 & 2 Donkey Management.
Brief

Steph is a familiar face having previously worked on the yard seven years ago as a Yard Assistant/Trainee Instructor. In the mean time she was a supervisor at the RSPCA Equine Unit, looking after horses, donkeys and mules. Steph loves animals and has a rescue horse of her own called Phoenix and a very cute Shetland rescue for her daughter.

Now she has joined us in the office full time, Steph is a bubbly character who is always happy to help.

Its lovely to have you back Steph!

Laura Davies, Laura Davies

Laura Davies

Trainee instructor/yard assistant
Equestrian Qualifications
Level 3 Horse Management with Distinction BTEC Sport Foundation Diploma
Laura Davies, Trainee instructor/yard assistant

Laura Davies

Trainee instructor/yard assistant
Equestrian Qualifications
Level 3 Horse Management with Distinction BTEC Sport Foundation Diploma
Brief

Laura has joined us after studying at Brinsbury College and is now keen to take her British Horse Society professional qualifications and in particular to become a qualified and dedicated riding coach.

Like many of our successful full-time junior staff, Laura first started with us as a Weekend Assistant which provides both parties with an invaluable opportunity to assess each other, particularly with regard to suitability.

Laura is known for her remarkable sprinting skills (not denying determination) when pony Tyler did one his usual head butting runs out of the stable yard.  Whilst the rest of us have learnt to leave him to it (not even a tank would stop him), Laura was not to be deterred and ran flat out holding onto the surprised Tyler’s head collar until he eventually won when they got to the fields.  We now refer to Laura as “Usain Bolt”, and we reckon she could give him, as well as Tyler, a run for their money!  🙂

Jasmine Tutt, Jasmine Tutt

Jasmine Tutt

Yard Assistant/Trainee Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
Level 3 Diploma Equine Studies

Jasmine Tutt

Yard Assistant/Trainee Instructor
Equestrian Qualifications
Level 3 Diploma Equine Studies
Brief

Jasmine studied at Sparsholt College before joining us and is now keen to take her British Horse Society professional qualifications and in particular to become a qualified and dedicated riding coach.

Jasmine first started with us as a client and then decided she want to join our fantastic team. She has settled into the team really well with her friendly and bubbly attitude.

Anna-Louise Chantler, Anna-Louise Chantler

Anna-Louise Chantler

Loan & Livery Consultant/Introductory Riding Advisor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Preliminary Teaching Certificate; British Horse Society Stage 2 (distinction); British Horse Society Riding & Road Safety;
Anna-Louise Chantler, Loan & Livery Consultant/Introductory Riding Advisor

Anna-Louise Chantler

Loan & Livery Consultant/Introductory Riding Advisor
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Preliminary Teaching Certificate; British Horse Society Stage 2 (distinction); British Horse Society Riding & Road Safety;
Brief

Anna-Louise Chantler joined us initially as an apprentice, with a solid background in horsemanship from a young age.  With good GCSE results, a proven work ethic, a passion for all animals coupled with her sunny, bubbly personality, Anna is very much a valued addition to our team.

Anna has worked hard to improve her knowledge and skills with horses, her riding has come on tremendously thanks to her natural empathy and desire to learn, she now rides the young horses to help bring them on for the school. Anna has also proved to be a hit with the young children so consequently she oversees all of our Activity and Pony Owning Days.  Anna is now a passionate and encouraging riding coach, proving popular with all ages and standards of riders.

2017 Anna became our Deputy Yard Supervisor and 2019 she moved up another gear to concentrate on specific areas of the business, which are carrying out the Introductory Sessions for all new clients and as the new role of Livery Consultant – being the go-to person to ask about anything to do with keeping a horse with us, whether this is loan, buy or seeking livery for your own horse.

For unbiased, straightforward advice, a thorough knowledge of this business and her subject, Anna can answer all of your questions regarding possibly having your own horse with us and without any concern of commitment, as the choice will always be yours.

 

Holly Player, Holly Player

Holly Player

Freelance Groom
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 2
Holly Player, Freelance Groom

Holly Player

Freelance Groom
Equestrian Qualifications
British Horse Society Stage 2
Brief

Holly joined the team as a teenager as a Weekend Assistant then joined the team full time as a Yard Assitant/Trainee Instructor and achieved her BHS exams. Holly has since returned to Lavant as a Freelance Groom, Holly is a hard working bubbly character who you’ll see her on the weekends and in the evenings.

Lovely to have you back Holly!

Rachel Stock, Freelance Groom

Rachel Stock

Freelance Groom
Brief
Helen Morris, Dropping Collector

Helen Morris

Dropping Collector
Brief

The ever cheerful, hard-working Helen is respected and well-liked by all of us here.  Carrying out probably the most important task of all (and this is NOT said tongue-in-cheek), Helen oversees the field dropping collection on every weekday.

With the clearance of approximately 1,000 horse droppings every day, spread around all the fields, this is not a role for the faint of heart.  However it is Helen’s commitment that keeps our fields clean and healthy looking as they are – which in turn means all of our horses reflect her care.

With far too many horses of her own, Helen has a background in show jumping and how she manages this role with so many horses and children of her own to also look after is beyond us, but we sure are thankful!

Jacky McPherson, Jacky McPherson

Jacky McPherson

Coaching Advisor & Activities Assistant
Equestrian Qualifications
BHS Horse Owner’s Certificate Level 1 BHS Stage 1 Riding and Stable Management BHS Stage 2 Stable Management BHS Riding and Road Safety Certificate of Education – (Lancs.) Master of Arts - Education – (Ply.)
Jacky McPherson, Coaching Advisor & Activities Assistant

Jacky McPherson

Coaching Advisor & Activities Assistant
Equestrian Qualifications
BHS Horse Owner’s Certificate Level 1 BHS Stage 1 Riding and Stable Management BHS Stage 2 Stable Management BHS Riding and Road Safety Certificate of Education – (Lancs.) Master of Arts - Education – (Ply.)
Brief

Jacky McPherson has been at Lavant longer than anyone else, other than Lucy Thomson – joining us as a riding school client in 2000.

Over the years we have learned to truly value Jacky’s expertise and passion as a full-time teacher in state education. Jacky has helped us immeasurably with improving the quality of the instruction we supply – particularly with regard to children. Teaching children is more complex than adults as each age group requires a slightly different approach and with very little guidance within the equestrian industry itself when it comes to teaching children, it is understandable just how high a value Jacky’s input is, particularly when linking us into the structure of the educational system.

Sophie Anelay, Weekend Assistant

Sophie Anelay

Weekend Assistant
Brief
Lottie Hubbard, Weekend Assistant

Lottie Hubbard

Weekend Assistant
Brief
Hollie Bullen, Weekend Assistant

Hollie Bullen

Weekend Assistant
Brief
Charlie Thomson, Charlie Thomson

Charlie Thomson

Handyman
Equestrian Qualifications
NVQ Level 1 Agriculture & Horticulture
Charlie Thomson, Handyman

Charlie Thomson

Handyman
Equestrian Qualifications
NVQ Level 1 Agriculture & Horticulture
Brief

Charlie is Lucy’s son and on completing two years of further education at Hartpury College learning relevant agricultural skills he came and joined us under the title of “Handyman”. This really means Charlie does just about anything and everything we need him to do within his range of skills!

The most important by far to Charlie, his Kubota tractor, trailer and Kubota ATV he uses to oversee the collection of 1,100 droppings our horses produce every day – this is a lot of poo!

Charlie also strims, mows the grass, cleans and maintains the vehicles, and gets on with pretty much any task the rest of us ask him to do. He also, without fail, makes a cake every weekend for the team to eat over the following week. Like us all, Charlie rides regularly having had ponies at home from a young age and has a riding lesson each week at Lavant.

It is impossible not to warm to Charlie with his gentle kindness, lovely manners, natural empathy with the animals and rather silly sense of humour!

In honour of our Charlie, the chosen charity of Lavant Equestrian, which we have supported since 2001, is the registered charity “Charlie’s Challenge”, which has done an amazing job over the years raising both awareness and serious funds for research into children’s brain tumours.

Josh Puglia, Josh Puglia

Josh Puglia

Weekend Volunteer
Equestrian Qualifications
Btec Level 2 Horse Care Btec Level 2 Animal Care
Josh Puglia, Weekend Volunteer

Josh Puglia

Weekend Volunteer
Equestrian Qualifications
Btec Level 2 Horse Care Btec Level 2 Animal Care
Brief

Josh Puglia joins us every Saturday as a valued volunteer who helps out predominantly on the yard and around the fields, ensuring the horses and ponies are well cared for, produced for their lessons on time and assists the rest of the team in keeping the facilities ship-shape throughout the day.

During 2016 Josh also joins us for a year with a supported internship in conjunction with Chichester College.

Along with horse riding Josh enjoys attending the theatre and cinema.

Bella, Adi & Pearl, Bella, Adi & Pearl

Bella, Adi & Pearl

Equestrian Qualifications
Bunch of Naughty Doggies
Bella, Adi & Pearl,

Bella, Adi & Pearl

Equestrian Qualifications
Bunch of Naughty Doggies
Brief

Pearl (the black Patterdale/Terrier cross) is mum of Bella (white) and Adolf (fluffy black and white dog), whilst the dad is Calvin, the white fluffy American Eskimo dog that belongs to our (horse) vet Pauline Williams.  Calvin we actually bought off gypsies at the Ballinsloe Horse Fair in Ireland.  Tied up amongst all the horses, Calvin couldn’t take his eyes off us and we couldn’t take our eyes off him until I sidled up to one the men standing by him and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.  Not quite what we expected to come back with on one of our many horse-hunting trips!

Pearl managed to have 7 puppies in her one and only litter, Bella was the first and Adi the last, with all five pups in between coming in all shapes, sizes, colours and coat lengths – it was like a chocolate box selection!  Every single one of the pups went to Lavant Equestrian clients, which was a particularly lovely outcome.

Bella is lovely with all humans but not so sociable with her own species, Adi is THE dog every other dog wants to be with (he often reappears with other people’s dogs), but is not so keen on some humans, whereas Pearl is the one you will see us chasing around the car park trying to get her into the car – humiliatingly often quite late into the night.  No-one can catch this dog once she sets her mind to it.

In November 2017 Bella gave birth to two puppies from a Pomeranian dad, and dear little Piggy joined the gang.  Her brother Casper joined his grandad Calvin with Pauline, although Calvin was definitely not impressed with this addition!

 

 

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