This week’s trainer in the spotlight is Ernest Dillon from Buckinghamshire. Ernest is a Fellow of the British Horse Society, a BE Master Coach, a BS Accredited Coach and a UKCC Level Three Coach. Here we find out a bit more about him:

Hello, I’m Ernest Dillon. I have been a showjumping trainer and coach for most of my working life. I describe myself as a trainer who rides to a reasonable standard, rather than a rider who turned to teaching.

I was lucky enough to train with some of the best trainers at the time, including Robert Hall (dressage), Elaine Straker (eventing), Col Hume -Dudgen (showjumping), Dick Stilwell and Cyril and Dorothy Johnson. These trainers gave me a sound grounding in all three disciplines. I also did a very tough apprenticeship with the international showjumping rider Fred Welch who taught me how to earn a living.

I specialise in showjumping – a sport I am passionate about and which has given me a wonderful life and career. However, I also help a great number of riders on the flat. I have always believed that I left school and have been on holiday ever since.

I do not have any horses now; at the age of 69 I think it’s time to retire from competition, although I still ride regularly and enjoy helping my partner Aileen and my young daughter Eleanor with their training.

Although I am based in Buckinghamshire and have many local clients, I hold clinics all over the UK, including in Scotland and Wales. I have also travelled extensively throughout the world and visit the USA at least twice a year. I have coached in South Africa, Hong Kong, Dubai, Canada and Greece.

I first got into riding at the age of 11 when a chance bike ride took me to The Northern Equitation Centre, when a little Liverpudlian scallywag asked a very posh Cyril Johnson in his best scouse accent “do ya do ridin’ lessons ‘ere mister?” It was then that I stepped onto the yard and into a new life. Cyril Johnson was a trainer way ahead of his time and I was lucky that he took me under his wing. Cyril became a life long friend and mentor until he sadly died.


I have been lucky enough to have showjumped up to international Grand Prix level on some wonderful horses. I am a Fellow of the British Horse Society (FBHS), a BE Master Coach, a BS Accredited Coach and a UKCC Level Three Coach.

My proudest achievement is having coached some fantastic riders at every level, from grassroots through to four star three day eventing and Grand Prix showjumping. Every competition that I won was a proud moment and every competition that my clients win is also a very proud moment. I have also had two books published: ‘The Complete Showjumper’ and ‘Showjumping for Fun or Glory’.

The horse world has been full of fond and funny moments. Becoming an FBHS was a culmination of forty years of hard work and one of my major ambitions from an early age. When the careers officer came to my school in Liverpool and asked me what I wanted to become I innocently answered that I would be an international showjumper and an FBHS… he looked at me like I had grown another head and just shouted “next”. I was only twelve years old!

I’m told that I have a lot of ‘Dillon-isms’. My favourite is “if you do it right, it’s hard to get it wrong!” If there is anything else that you would like to know please visit my website.