Skye Higgin is one of Great Britain’s young guns, one of an elite group of up and coming younger riders who will lead the way to the medal podiums in years to come. After completing her education, Skye made the brave move into full time showjumping, travelling the globe, producing young horses and learning her trade before setting up her own stable in Normandy. We caught up with Skye just after her return from the Oliva Nova Equestrian Tour in Spain.
How did you get involved with horses?
My Mum is very keen on horses, so I rode before I could walk.
I have two older sisters that used to do eventing, so Mum would put me on my pony and let me go around the show while my sisters competed. She would often find me on my pony at the burger van and the pick’n’mix van!
When did you start showjumping?
I didn’t start showjumping competitively until I was 17 years old. I competed in some Affiliated jumping on my last year of ponies. I evented from a young age. I never thought of showjumping as a career until later on.
Tell us a bit about your business.
My business is based in France, Normandy. I started the business just over a year ago . I rent stables from Madame Lejeune (Elevage du Tillard). As well as helping to run her stables and riding up to 5 horses for her.
Do you have many owners?
I am lucky to have four fantastic owners who I get on really well with, which is obviously so important. They trust me, support me, and know how hard I work for the best results possible with their horses.
Did you base yourself in other stables before your venture?
I was with Sharon and Dave Quigley for 4 years and they taught me so much about the sport and they really opened doors for me.
Then I moved to Florida to work with an amazing trainer and rider Paul O Shea. His dedication and commitment to the sport is inspiring.
How did you end up in France and when did you move there?
I moved to France in 2012 thanks to Enda Carrol (Ashford Farm) and my previous boss Dave Quigley (Q Sport Horses).
I was based in the United States for some time and Dave advised me to come back to Europe to gain more experience in the competition ring.
Enda heard Penelope Leprevost was looking for a rider for a few weeks and i thought it would be a great opportunity for me to base myself with a top class rider until a permanent position came my way. I wasn’t planning on staying, but the 2 weeks ended up being over 2 years as her show rider. Penelope Leprevost taught me so much about horses. Not just riding and training them but understanding them.
What is your daily routine?
When I am at home, I get up at 7am and start riding as soon as possible. I normally ride between 7 and 8 horses per day. I take alot of time with each horse, so i never normally finish before 6pm. I love to ride on the local beach in Deauville. I try to take the horses there as often as possible.
At weekends, most of my time is spent competing at shows. During the week, we take the young horses to local shows.
Tell us a bit about your team of horses
I have 10 horses in total, mostly young horses at the moment.
It’s difficult to have Grand Prix horses when your starting up on your own. So I am slowly producing the youngsters with a view to competing them in Grand Prix in the future.
I have a few very promising 6 year olds. Two horses i am very excited about are:
”Etoile VD Wijnhoeve”, who qualified for the young horse world championships last year as a 5year old.
”Anasazi du Tillard”, a homebred mare by Quaprice bois Margot, with alot of power and respect when jumping.
Madame Lejeune bought a new mare for me at the end of last year. An Irish bred 8 year old mare called ‘Seaview Cruise’. She has huge potential with all the quality to be a top horse. She is green for her age, so I am taking my time with her. We are building her towards the future. I also have ”Quarina de Blondel”for the bigger classes.
How did your tour in Oliva Nova go?
I had a good show. My young horses all improved nicely and are really ready for the season in France.
It was great to move ‘Quarina’ up a level to jump her first ever world ranking classes with success.
The time and dedication in producing the mare has paid off.
When everything pays off and it all goes to plan, it’s a great feeling!
Who have been the main influences in your career to this point.
That’s easy, Sharon and Dave Quigley. Paul O Shea and Penelope Leprevost. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
Who do you look up in the top sport and who do you model you riding style on?
Penelope is a massive role model to me and definitely someone I look up to. My style changed alot during my time training with her.This made it far easier when I rode her horses. It was the same system. The system really works and I am very grateful for all the help and opportunities she gave me.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would like to be jumping at 5* shows with horses I have produced, and id like to represent my country on nation cup teams. I think it is important to set goals and be ambitious and really push yourself to achieve what you dream of.
After 9 years of training and riding for other people, I feel i have laid strong foundations for my future as an international rider for Great Britain.