John Hall – An Appreciation
- 22 December 2013, 14:16
JOHN HALL FBHS 1941-2013
THE recent death of John Hall after a long illness has removed one of the great characters from the equestrian world. For the last 20 years his RDS show jumping commentary, in partnership with Robert Hall, has brought his special brand of laconic analysis interwoven with a quick wit to a wider audience. This talent was developed over many years of coaching riders, when he realized that it was necessary to find fresh and memorable ways of communication to give added value to his lessons.
John was a great student of equestrianism and studied his subject in great depth. His first exposure to equestrian education was in the Household Cavalry as a colleague of Jock Ferrie, who was to become Team Coach for the Irish Eventing team; Geoffrey Hatton, who went on to run the famous Wirral equestrian centre in Cheshire and be Chief BHS examiner for Ireland; and his great friend Tony Cox, who became Chief Instructor at Rockmount Equestrian Centre in Galway, and later on inspector of riding schools for AIRE. It was therefore not surprising that John also chose Ireland as his home when taking up a coaching position with Bord na gCapall, following periods at Suzanne’s Riding School in London and at Waterstock in Oxfordshire with Swedish coaching guru Lars Sederholm.
John left Bord na gCapall after marrying Irish show jumping legend Iris Kellett, with Tony Cox as their best man. He and Iris complemented each other and under their joint direction Kill Equestrian Centre enjoyed a golden period for training riders from all disciplines, many of whom were from overseas.
In addition, for the first time in his life it gave John a wonderful opportunity to ride several high quality young horses. He relished taking them to an advanced level and became a regular on both the dressage and show jumping circuits. For sixteen years he also toured the country with Alain Storme and William Micklem for the assessment days of the hugely successful Spillers Golden Saddle Scheme for young elite competition riders. His broad knowledge and experience giving these days a special credibility.
After this time he left for a new life, first in Zimbabwe, where he met his new partner Jane, and then after a brief return to Ireland to Greece. He continued to work as a coach, becoming one of the first Tutors for the new Horse Sport Ireland coach training structure, where his influence was described by coaching chairman John Ledingham as “a breath of fresh air.” But John was increasingly attracted by the peace and sun offered by the golf course and in recent years he and Jane retired to Spain to ensure this was possible every day.
His great friend Gill Watson, the long serving British Junior and Young Rider Eventing trainer, said that “John Hall had a life full of ambition and drive” and this led him to a huge list of varied accomplishments including becoming a Fellow of the British Horse Society, jumping the Hickstead Derby course on his Sky Boy mare Skylight, winning the Irish Dressage Championships on his Teaspoon mare Teatime, and being a regular on our television screens with his work for RTE Sport.
But at the end of the day it was his facility with words and his ability to communicate as a coach that was probably his greatest strength….always laced with a great sense of humour and perspective.