Eric Smiley FBHS

About Eric


Born and educated in Ireland, the son of a Thoracic surgeon and a General Practitioner. With two brothers doctors and uncles and aunts in the medical profession, Eric decided that he would take a different route.

Having spent nearly ten years in a Cavalry Regiment he decided, at the age of 28, to take up a professional career with horses. Whilst in the Army he trained with Ben Jones, who was Equitation Officer at Melton Mowbray. Ben Jones represented G.B. in the Tokyo Olympics and won team gold medal at the Mexico Olympics. Of Eric, Ben was to comment,

"He has a great natural flair for equitation. When jumping he has that gift of rhythm and timing on any type of horse".

He trained at the world famous Talland School of Equitation achieving his British Horse Society Instructor qualification before being asked to return to Ireland to start up an equestrian establishment specialising in bringing on and competing event horses.

Shortly afterwards he and Sue decided to 'go it alone' and they set up an establishment at Fir Tree Farm, Ballynahinch, Northern Ireland where they stayed for 32 years. They moved to their present home in Dorset in 2013 where Eric teaches in the UK and around the globe, especially in the United States and Denmark.

In 1982 Eric became Irish Field Event Rider of the Year. For the next few years he built up a string of horses and gained his first team selection in 1985 for the European Championships at Burghley. Since then, he has represented Ireland at two European Championships, gaining team bronze medal on each occasion. Three World Equestrian Games and been on four Olympic Teams competing at Barcelona and Atlanta. A consistent and regular participant at Burghley and Badminton, he has also represented Ireland at all levels of International competitions throughout Europe.

Eric Smiley FBHS

Eric also ...

is a British Eventing Master Coach

is a registered Fellow of the British Horse Society

was an FEI International Judge who was regularly on the Ground Jury including at Badminton & Burghley Horse Trials.

was Director of the International Eventing Forum (IEF) which was held annually at Hartpury Equine.

was Team Coach to the Belgian eventing team for the London Olympics 2012 and the European Championships 2011.

was Director of the Golden Saddle Scheme for 18 years, identifying talented children in all equestrian disciplines and coordinating their training bursaries.

was Chairman of Eventing Ireland (Northern Region) for a total of 5 years.

A portrait by artist Carrie Greer
Eric Smiley riding Enterprise