Four-star eventing rider Beanie Sturgis is among three winners of a course designing scholarship from British Eventing.
Sturgis, two-star rider Helen West, and registered course builder Lloyd Hunt were announced as the winners after a final selection day at Aston Farm in Gloucestershire, the home of selector Captain Mark Phillips.
Sturgis has been involved with running her home Event, Dauntsey, since 2007, although this year was the first time that she tackled designing an intermediate track.
“I’ve been in the sport for a long time, and competing at the top level gives me a clear idea of what I think makes a good course,” she said.
“I’m really looking forward to starting to design at other venues, and seeing courses at the concept stages while being able to ask questions as to why an experienced Designer is doing what they are doing.
“I won’t be competing forever, and course design in a natural progression.”
West has been making a name for herself as a lower level course designer at Bicton for the last two seasons. Her mentor, Eric Winter, encouraged her to apply for the scholarship. “I am so chuffed. I knew that it would be good experience whatever happened, and I learnt a lot on the selection day,” she said.
“Designing at Bicton has been really enjoyable. Next year I hope to be able to design at some other venues, maybe have a go at Bicton’s Intermediate track and perhaps try my hand at a CIC2*, with suitable mentoring.”
A successful competitor herself at two star level, West has also just been longlisted for the British CIC2* squad. “Being an active competitor helps me as a designer, without doubt. You have a feel for how something will ride, and what is a fair question for an ‘average’ horse – not everyone is sat on a superstar!”
Hunt is the least experienced of the three. A BE Registered Course Builder, he was lucky enough to be one of the fence repairers at London 2012. Through his company, LandS, he runs unaffiliated events at Offchurch Bury, and is bidding to get the venue included in the BE calendar in the next couple of years.
“I have not stopped smiling since I heard the news. I honestly thought I had no chance and simply to make it through to the selection day was an achievement,” Hunt said. “I want to continue to improve and progress in this industry, and to have the support of BE behind me, in the form of the scholarship, is invaluable.”
Captain Phillips said the standard of candidates was very high this year. “Helen stood out as having a good eye for the ground and how to use it. Beanie is undoubtedly worthy of some top-level mentoring to help her progress as a designer. Lloyd is the least experienced but showed great potential, which is one of the criteria for these scholarships.
“All three should benefit enormously from the experience they will gain and the mentoring they will receive. It will also raise their profile as course designers, which is key to their future success.”
The Course Designer Scholarship scheme, now in its second year, is open to all levels of course designer, from experienced BE Accredited Designers showing exceptional potential through to those just starting out in the industry. By providing training and mentoring it not only ensures a clear career pathway but also a safer sport through increased knowledge. It is supported by the Bill Thomson Bursary, a charity set up both to help new course designers learn their craft and to fund specific safety developments.