HSI Active Accredited Coaches Blog Series – Abby Clancy

  • 22 April 2023, 11:22
In part 4 of the HSI Active Accredited Coaches Blog Series, we spoke to Abby Clancy about her move to Kildare, growing her business, her journey to becoming a HSI Accredited Coach and why she chose the HSI Coaching Programme. 

Name: Abby Clancy

Location: Ballyteague Stables, Naas, Co Kildare

Coach Level: Level 1 National Performance Coach

Originally from Co. Galway, Abby Clancy is a HSI Level 1 National Performance Coach, having completed the course in 2022.

With roots in showing Connemara ponies and hunting, Abby went on to study at CAFRE Enniskillen and has been heavily involved in the production of horses and ponies for show jumping.

Now based in Co. Kildare, Abby and her fiancée Conor have been producing and schooling horses from their base at Ballyteague Stables since 2021. Moving to Ballyteague has allowed them to expand their services and grow their breeding operation with some exciting young horses currently out competing.

There is no doubt that Abby is kept busy. Alongside her budding coaching career she has a busy season ahead between young horses, competing, schooling, and hosting Derby competitions.


Abby Clancy during her Level 1 Coach course

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

I have always wanted to be a coach, and jumped at the opportunity to complete the HSI programme as I feel it is the most current coaching qualification out there. It allows for a rider to make a plan B and recognises that horses are intelligent, thinking animals.

It focuses on a coaches own personal development brilliantly, allowing us to be human and to also learn from our riders and horses, making the whole experience humbling.

There was never a time in my life I wasn’t coaching in some way. Even as a child when my sisters and I would go over ‘trotting poles’ on foot or bikes before we had ponies, somehow I used to find a way to critique how we did it!


Who has been an inspiration to you and why?

Someone who has been an influence on me is a good friend of ours and international event rider James O’Haire. I met James through my fiancée Conor and rode out for him in my spare time (when I used to have some!).

He has been a huge help to me as a rider and as a coach. He is an excellent horseman; I have learned a lot from working and chatting with him. As well as his own high performance achievements, James rides such a range of horses on a day-to-day basis, from young racehorses to top level eventers. He consistently shows a way of understanding horses that I don’t think many people possess nowadays. His work ethic is unbelievable, that can’t be taught it’s either in a person or it’s not.

I must also mention Heike Holstein, she has been a massive help for me as a rider. I have such respect and admiration for her achievements and dedication to the sport. I learned so much about coaching through how she has coached me. I always find another inner layer in my own brain after a session with her!

Finally, it wouldn’t feel right if I did not include Maria Bennett (also known as Cullen) who basically adopted me when I moved to Kildare. She was a hugely successful professional jockey herself and I have to mention her because she’s the kindest, toughest, most hardworking person I know and a role model for any young girls coming into the racing industry. They don’t make them like her anymore.


What do you love most about being a professional coach?

The thing I love most about being a professional coach is seeing the progress in my riders and watching them achieve their goals. That lightbulb moment in a session where the penny drops for both horse and rider always brings a smile to my face. I love watching them take that and run with it and knowing I had a small part to play in their sense of accomplishment.


Abby Clancy competing one of her young horses

What are the biggest challenges in your role as a coach?

Personally, my biggest challenge as a coach is seeing someone come back having not done the ‘homework’ they were given and trying to explain that the session itself is a piece in a jigsaw puzzle.

It’s very challenging when riders come to me expecting a quick fix. I always try to put an emphasis on the importance of fitness, stamina, and practice both for riders and horses.


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

To date, my coaching career has taught me that whatever you put in in life is what you get out of it. I knew this from riding myself and see it when I’m coaching. Those who really put the consistent work in are the ones who get the results.


If you could ride any horse in the world, who would it be and why?

If I could ride any one horse in the world it would have to Cornet Oblensky. As a teenager he was the horse I’d watch, and he would just take my breath away. Plus, nothing catches your eye like a grey.


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

Attitude and motivation are hugely important in longevity in the sport, results are not achieved overnight. I think being able to have a positive mindset is so important.

In a sport like this where there can be so many unpredictable setbacks like injuries (horse and/or rider) and outside contributing factors (weather/pandemic!) it’s always important to see the bigger picture and not get bogged down in the tougher times.


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

I don’t have one particular highlight of my career as I genuinely enjoy it so much.

I celebrate every achievement with my riders as if I’ve ridden it myself. I could burst with pride when I watch them ride a really good dressage test or jump a clear round because I know the work that has gone in and what they have overcome to make it happen.


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

A piece of advice I would have for someone starting out as a professional coach is soak up as much knowledge as you can. Train with different people, and watch as many good riders as you can. Encourage your riders to think for themselves, don’t spoon feed them solutions.

You will develop a better educated, more sympathetic rider having an open-ended discussion rather than just giving them the answers.


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

An unusual fact about me is I have a soft spot for thoroughbreds and almost always have a few in for retraining, I think they are so kind and intelligent.


HSI Level 1 National Performance Coach Abby Clancy 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.