• 30 May 2023, 13:00
In part 5 of the HSI Active Accredited Coaches Blog Series, we spoke to Simone Hession. Simone is a dressage rider, producer and coach. She spoke about her journey in the sport to date, what makes her smile and her very practical love of coats!

Name: Simone Hession

Location: Beezies Stud, Co Sligo

Coach Level: HSI Level 2

Simone Hession is a HSI Level 2 Coach and dressage rider based at her family run yard Beezies Stud in Co Sligo. From here she combines coaching alongside breeding and producing Irish horses.

Simone is best known for competing in dressage with a number of her homebred horses from Preliminary to Grand Prix, in particular her full-bred Irish Draughts. On occasion, Simone swaps the white boards and dressage saddle for coloured poles, as she includes show jumping in the routine for her younger horses.

Since closing her riding school, Simone has focused primarily on freelance coaching, helping riders involved in different disciplines and levels with the same goal; to improve their flatwork and to develop their chosen discipline through correct training.


Simone Hession

Where did your interest in equestrian coaching and the HSI Coaching Programme come from?

My interest in coaching stems from a keen interest in my own training that I enjoy equally as much as competing. I have been coaching for over 25 years now, I started by passing my BHSAI and then I wanted to progress and develop my own qualifications.

That’s why I started on the HSI programme. I felt it was more geared to a competition rider who wished to pursue coaching career. The programme fit with my future plans as I developed my client base.


Who do you admire in the sport and why?

I admire anyone in the industry with the commitment to further their own riding or develop their knowledge in the equine industry. Anyone who is willing to work hard and wants the best for themselves and their horses to reach their full potential.

Obviously, I admire riders Judy Reynolds and Heike Holstein for all they have achieved. They are a massive support in my own competition career and an inspiration to me in their commitment to coaching.


What is your greatest strength as a coach and why is it important to you?

I feel I am very conscientious towards both my riders and their horses. As a coach you must consider your rider’s goals and their dreams, to take care of their emotions and physical well-being. I’m conscious to maintain and update my knowledge and experience so that I can provide the best experience and training to all my clients and deliver it in a positive way.


What are some of the most satisfying and most frustrating parts of coaching?

The most satisfying parts are watching a client achieving their aims, whether that’s producing a young horse, improving the basics, or qualifying for national or international competitions. I love watching riders and horses compete, improve, and form a true partnership.

The most frustrating part is not having enough time in the day and days in the weeks! Especially at busy times, as it frustrates me if I can’t fit riders into the schedule!


What has your career with this sport taught you about life?

Equestrian sport is an absolute reflection of life, the ups and downs, blood, sweat and tears quite literally. I think it fosters a great work ethic because becoming successful doesn’t come easily, but as with life the highs make it all worth it.

I also believe that the sport improves discipline, understanding and confidence. For me personally it has also got me through the tough times – you get up, get to work with horses and fantastic people. The horses and riders always lift you especially when you get to share the good times with them.

As I say, you turn every negative into a positive to enable you to keep moving forward whether that involves a horse or not.


Simone and Beezies Double Diamond competing in the Wild Atlantic Dressage Festival this year.
Photo: Louise O’Brien Photography

Tell us about the horse/pony that taught you the most?

I have two!

Firstly, my pony Iris Fiobhia (Bobby). Both of us had zero experience jumping and we had to learn how together. I was 12 years old in my first year jumping a 5-year-old 145cm pony in the 148 classes. This was a very steep learning curve, and it certainly was not easy but after that we found our jump and went up through the grades to compete in Grade A classes.

Following Bobby I had my first real dressage horse, a home bred Irish Draught mare by Sea Crest called Beezies Sue (Susie). She was the first horse that I produced up through the levels. We went from Preliminary to Small Tour learning together. All my horses since owe it to her, as do I. I’m in a better position to help them because of her. Bobby made me a jumper, but Susie made me a dressage rider.

It’s probably considered the hard way of doing it, I never had a schoolmaster. But if I was to go back, I wouldn’t do it any other way. These horses gave me invaluable experience that certainly helps in my coaching as having been there myself; I developed a better understanding as a result of my own experiences of how to train horses and riders to develop and reach their full potential.


Do you believe attitude or motivation are the key factors for longevity in the sport and why?

The correct attitude towards both people and horses you meet will make the path through the sport that little bit easier and lead to longevity in the sport.

Having a positive outlook impact on yourself and everyone around you, it certainly makes it a more enjoyable environment to nurture progress.


Simone competing in Spruce Lodge.
Photo: Equestrian Antics

What has been the highlight of your coaching career to date?

Highlights come whenever a rider achieves their goal and is successful. It always makes me smile when a rider I’ve coached has a personal win or is selected for a team. It’s special because I’ve seen the hard work they have put in and I’ve just been lucky enough to be part of their team.

A particular highlight though was when Conor Maguire was selected for the European Junior Eventing team – especially as a year later Conor was my demo rider for the cross-country phrase of my HSI Level 2 assessment, riding one of my own horses.


What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who would like to begin their career as a professional equestrian coach?

Get a good coach to train and mentor you through the process and remember every day is a school day, there’s always more to learn!


Just for fun – tell us an unusual fact about yourself!

My weakness in life is jackets/coats, literally couldn’t tell you how many I have! However, being a coach in Ireland they are always well used, plus there’s always chocolate in a nearby pocket.


HSI Level 2 Coach Simone Hession is listed on the Active Accredited Coaches (AAC) list. Coaches on the HSI AAC List are those who regularly engage with the HSI Coaching Continuous Professional Development programme and have met the minimum requirement of 5 annual CPD points. They also have valid and in date Garda Vetting and / or Access NI completed through HSI as well as valid First Aid and Child Safeguarding 1 certification.

To find a HSI Active Accredited Coach near you, please see our Active Accredited Coaches list.