Eric Smiley - Biography

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.
A passionate and enthusiastic teacher, Eric has conducted clinics around the world from the continent of America to Dubai and South Africa to Denmark. In 1995 he took the Fellowship of the British Horse Society examination. The highest teaching qualification in the world with only 59 so qualified. He brings a unique blend of competition experience and education to an audience of all levels.  In 2014 he was was the recipient of the Pat Smallwood memorial trophy voted by Fellows & Instructors of the British Horse Society to the member who contributes to the Association with their expertise, encouragement and is an ambassador for the sport and Association.

 An FEI International Judge who regularly acts as a Ground Jury member.

Is Director of the International Eventing Forum (IEF)

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

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

He has been Chairman of Eventing Ireland (Northern Region) for a total of 5 years throughout the last 15 years.


His many interests and talents keep him extremely busy but he still manages to find time for them all and regularly competes up to Novice  level and brings on his homebred young horses.

Copyright - Eric Smiley 2013 - Picture Credits