Borders equine trainee Cherise Halliburton has come a long way in three years. Not only did she win the equine category at Lantra Scotland’s learner of the year awards, but she also helped look after the horses of eventing Olympian Ian Stark OBE, at his equestrian training centre near Selkirk.
Cherise worked there alongside her fellow students while doing a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Horse Care through Borders College. She says: “It was an honour to learn from Ian and his team during my Horse Care Apprenticeship and amazing to see the way he works. He has a unique ability to put rider and horse at ease, a skill I’d like to develop myself.”
What Cherise didn’t know is that this was just the beginning of her journey to success. In 2017 she won the equine category at Lantra Scotland’s prestigious Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards. For someone who struggles with confidence, this was a huge boost and has put her in good stead for the future.
She said: “Even being nominated for a Lantra Scotland award was a huge honour, but to actually win was beyond my expectations. It really puts you on the map and I have already been fortunate enough to gain some recognition in the industry. People still come up and congratulate me, which is great for my confidence. I think more employers should nominate their trainees for an award, as it is such a positive thing for young people starting out.”
For as long as Cherise can remember, horses have been at the forefront of her mind, but it was only when her family moved to the Scottish Borders that her dream of working with horses became a reality.
“It seemed like every man and his dog in the Borders owned a horse, which really kicked things off for me. Loads of my school friends either had horses or knew people who rode, so I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I used to take day jobs at liveries and rode whenever I could. It was a dream come true for me and I have never really looked back.”
When Cherise was 17, she was accepted onto an SVQ in Horse Care, which combined hands-on experience at SJR Eventing, owned by Steven Renton, with other learning through Borders College.
The SVQ opened Cherise’s eyes to the working world of equestrian sport and the challenge of looking after horses for a living.
She said: “My training has been a great way to prepare for the working environment. Not only have I developed skills in horse management and care, I now have the hands-on experience that equestrian employers are looking for, and the qualifications that show I can get my head down and work hard.”
Looking to the future, Cherise has a burning desire to start her own horse management business, as well as to compete at eventing and cross-country on her favorite horse, Knight.
“I’ve always wanted to start my own business, but I need to build up my experience first. I’m currently looking to work towards managerial positions so I can get to grips with how a horse care business works. Then it’s a case of taking all the best ideas and the skills and experience I’ve learnt and applying them to my own enterprise. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to get started!”.