You can probably name a handful of elite equestrians who’ve passed their love of sport down to their children. But while Rio Olympic Individual gold medalist Nick Skelton’s sons Harry and Daniel could have easily followed their father into the show jumping business, the two are embracing their family’s love of the horse while also charting their own course.
Working just down the road from Nick’s home in Warwickshire, U.K., national hunt racing trainer Dan Skelton, 31, started his own Lodge Hill Stables three years ago and hired his brother Harry, 27, as jockey. Since that time, the brothers have earned plenty of successes, including their win in the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last year with Superb Story, with Harry in the irons.
To date, Harry Skelton has ridden more than 200 winners. In 2009, he became the youngest jockey to ever win the Irish Grand National aboard the now-retired Niche Market. And although he and Dan continue to work each day at growing their racing business and the Skeleton legacy, they still find time to have a little fun on the farm (see the video at the end of this post)—occasionally taking Big Star for a hack and spending time with Nick, who often joins them on the gallops when he’s in town.
This month, we caught up with Harry to learn 10 things he’s learned from his father, Nick Skelton.
1. Work hard.
There’s only one person that makes money in a bed. Make things happen and make your own luck.
2. Look after what you have.
Keep your equipment and tack clean and tidy so you can make it last.
3. Be humble in defeat.
We all want to win, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. Address why it didn’t happen, and then make plans to correct it the next time around.
4. Be patient.
Take your time with a young horse if it’s not ready. Don’t blow its brains too soon or you might ruin it in the long run.
5. Keep hold of their heads!
When you’re racing down to the last jump, keep them between your hand and leg. Don’t leave the decision up to them!
6. Dress smart.
You never know who you might meet—or when. Present yourself well.
7. Be well-mannered.
Good manners cost nothing, after all.
8. Invest wisely.
Keep things moving forward in your professional life.
9. Make a plan
Think about what you’re going to do before you go into the ring, a race, or other competition. A solid plan is never a bad idea.
10. Never give up.
Believe that it can happen and it will.
-Image courtesy of Harry Skelton.
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Written by Douglas Crowe
Nina Fedrizzi spends her days writing about horse sport, food, and travel. She began her career at Travel + Leisure and is a former editor at NF Style. When she's not tapping away on her MacBook, Nina can usually be found on a horse, sleuthing out the local pho, or refusing to unpack her carry-on. Watch her do all three on Instagram @ninafedrizzi.