HSI Active Accredited Coaches Blog Series – Anne Marie Dunphy

  • 25 July 2023, 14:34
HSI Level 3 Dressage Coach and HSI High Performance Director of Dressage Anne Marie Dunphy features in part 7 of the HSI Active Accredited Coach Blog Series. 

Name: Anne Marie Dunphy

Location: Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny

Coach Level:  HSI Level 3 Dressage

Anne Marie Dunphy is not just a familiar face on the Irish dressage circuit but across many equestrian disciplines. Anne Marie progressed through the HSI Coaching Programme and is now a HSI Level 3 Dressage Coach, a Sport Ireland Coach Developer, and HSI High Performance Director of Dressage. She is also a Grand Prix rider and strongly believes that her riding experience has benefited her in her coaching career.


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

I initially started coaching after I completed training at Grennan College under the guidance of Faith Ponsonby. Once I started competing in dressage more seriously, travelling to clinics and shows at home and abroad I got a lot of inspiration to further my knowledge and qualifications.

I found the HSI Coaching Programme really supports coaches from the base up through the competition levels and you can choose how far you want to progress on that pathway. Coaching High Performance is of course the pinnacle, but every level along the way is equally important for the overall education of the coach and ultimately the athletes you work with.


Who has been an inspiration to you and why?

I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with some of the very best coaches over the years, I’m grateful to them all. The late Joan Keogh was a great mentor for me. Her passion for all things dressage, coaching and training was phenomenal, she was always encouraging and forward thinking. Joan was responsible for bringing Conrad Schumacher to Ireland and he has been a huge influence on both my riding and coaching.

His philosophy is simple – good coaches make good riders, good riders make good horses. I trained with him for years both at his yard in Germany and on his visits to Ireland. I was also involved as a demo rider for many years on his Training the Trainers clinics organised by Joan at the wonderful Spruce Lodge. We had great fun and a lot of learning on those clinics, they had quite a following of enthusiastic coaches and riders!

This also inspired me to become involved as a Sport Ireland/HSI Coach Developer, training with Liam Moggan in Limerick University. I love to help up and coming coaches develop their knowledge and coaching style.


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

Having trained and competed a little in eventing and show jumping before specialising in dressage gave me a broad base of knowledge which I think helps me when I coach athletes in dressage/flatwork now from all the disciplines.

Also, my career as a rider gives me a good understanding of the challenges athletes face in today’s sport. In short, empathy never goes astray, and experience is always valuable.


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

Managing expectations – everyone is ambitious, which of course is a good thing, but the coach has to be responsible for keeping the ball on the ground, maintaining a balanced perspective.


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

You are lucky in life if you work in something you are passionate about.


Anne Marie Dunphy and Urbanus

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

I think Urbanus (Romeo to his friends). He had big problems with the flying changes, and it took him two years to get even one correct. I nearly gave up so many times but in the end he got them.

This meant he could progress beyond medium level, he went on to Grand Prix, competed international and was Irish National Champion two years in a row winning both the Inter 11 and Grand Prix both years – with flying changes as his highlight! He certainly taught me to be patient, search for the solution, every horse is different and that’s what makes it interesting.


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

Without a doubt. There are many ups and downs in the sport. It can be easy to lose focus and motivation when you have disappointments, but if you have a solid, realistic plan and build a good support team around you to help you overcome the difficult days you can stay on your pathway.


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

Coaching the HSI Youth Dressage High Performance squads for the last 10 years!

The development of the programme and being responsible for its trajectory over this time has been hugely rewarding. We have very talented young athletes and I have no doubt that the education and experience in the youth divisions will ensure many of them will transition successfully to the senior ranks.


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

Becoming a coach is just the first step! After that keep up skilling, engage with Continuous Professional Development (CPD) opportunities, shadow the best coaches and riders you can find.

The HSI Coaching Programme is fully committed to supporting coaches on a progressive pathway. Our sport is evolving all the time, you never stop learning.


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

I love gardening but I never have enough time, hence my garden has, well, you could say a wild garden style!! As I write this blog I’m in Gestut Schafhof in Kronberg at the Youth European Championships and the gardens here are truly beautiful. One day …..!!


HSI Level 3 Dressage Coach Anne Marie Dunphy 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.