Borders College

A ‘Stable Life’ is equine career of choice for Natalie

Natalie Crombie (from Tweedbank), began studying level 1 Horse Care at Borders College in 2011, completing her level 3 qualification in 2014. Upon graduating, Natalie spent a year working on a part-time basis at the Ian Stark Equestrian Centre before gaining a full-time position as Yard Person/Riding Instructor with Stable Life.

Stable Life

Stable Life is a charitable organisation established in 2008 which has operated from Dryden Farm since 2013, providing a commercial riding service, livery yard, school hire and competition venue, as well as equine assisted learning to children and young people experiencing personal challenges.

Whilst a student at Borders College, Natalie was awarded Best Horse Care Student Level 1 and 2, Best Turned Out Horse and Handler Level 1, and came 2nd and 3rd respectively in Levels 2 and 3 ridden competitions. She was also one of the lucky few to be nominated for the LANTRA Equine Learner of the Year Award in 2015, finishing as runner-up. 2017 is the fifth consecutive year of Borders College’s students winning this award.

Natalie says: “During my time on the Horse Care course at College I had the opportunity to spend a month working in Ireland through the Erasmus+ placement project. I would recommend this experience to anyone – in Ireland they have a different way of working with horses and it was great for me to experience this as it opened my eyes to other ways of working.”

Horse Care Lecturer at the College, Alison Robertson, said of Natalie: “Whilst at college Natalie was an enthusiastic and cheerful member of the class, always willing to learn. She was an asset when helping with the Riding for the Disabled group, encouraging the less confident riders to enjoy riding, and for this she gained a Saltire volunteering certificate for 100 hours.”

Natalie plays a huge part in the day to day running of the Stable Life yard and is second in command in the absence of the Yard Manager. Her duties include ensuring the health and wellbeing of the ponies (which is paramount), taking hacks, teaching lessons, clipping, worming, input into field management, schooling various horses and ponies on the yard, and general yard duties. Natalie jokes that, “Everyone here thinks I have OCD because I like to keep a tidy muck heap – my College Lecturer Alison always used to say a tidy muck heap was important for giving a good impression and the message has stuck with me!”

Over the past year Natalie has taken over the ride of Rosalin, a young Highland pony who has huge potential and is furthering her education. She is a fantastic all-rounder but has excelled at Dressage over the Winter, winning the restricted Preliminary League as well as Best Highland Pony Performance at the Riding Club Winter series. The plan for this year is to aim for some Novice tests, take part in local shows and focus more on jumping.

Natalie also had the chance to help with training a group of wild ponies during her College course, when Ian Stark took on the challenge of training 7 unhandled Geldings at Dryden (where his riding school was then based). Natalie credits the Horse Care programme for helping her to build important foundations before entering the workplace, something her Yard Manager Sam Anderson wholeheartedly agrees with:

“Natalie is a great ambassador for Borders College and what students can achieve in equine careers – the grounding she obtained at College, such as health and safety, good practice and how to think ahead, make her a fantastic asset to Stable Life. She is extremely hard working, motivated, has fantastic people skills, is highly organised and has a great depth of knowledge in all aspects of Horse Care. All of these attributes contribute to Natalie being able to mentor not only the next generation of Horse Care work placement students, but also young people who have come through the project.”

When asked where she sees her career taking her in the future, Natalie said: “I love my job at Stable Life and it's a really special place with an amazing team and I'm very lucky to be part of it. I plan to further develop my teaching qualifications, build up my own client base for lessons, organise and run Stable Management courses for all ages and continue to improve my own riding skills and experiences.”

Natalie adds that following her positive experience in Ireland, and a subsequent visit to Portugal to visit a former College classmate, she is considering doing a bit more travelling to continue to gain new perspectives and broaden her horizons.

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Horse Care Open Day 2017 - Poster

Published: Wed 29th Mar, 2017