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Many of you will have seen Kat in action with The Devil’s Horsemen at Olympia this year, performing with Atkinson’s Action Horses, at HOYS, Your Horse Live and many other events and displays.  Black Heart Equestrian were very lucky to have 5 minutes with Kat.

 

 Photo Credit E.J.Lazenby Photography

Important Note: Kat is a massive advocate for safety and always wears a helmet when training, riding younger horses or out hacking.  However she is usually contracted to not wear one in shows, filming or photoshoots, for which she is fully insured as a professional stunt rider on trained stunt horses.   During trick riding it can be more dangerous to wear a hat as the helmet straps can get caught on the saddle, but every situation is evaluated and risk assessed.   Definitely don’t try this at home! * 

 1.Tell us what exactly is a stunt rider?

Good question. Anything really that involves riding horses in a ‘stunt’ environment. This may include live shows, trick riding, roman riding (standing on two or more horses), work with weapons, jumping/breathing fire, airs above the ground high school, falls, drags, side saddle or doubling/riding on tv and film. I’m very lucky because my job is varied, I take on different contracts with various companies and then move on to the next job. I have been lucky enough to work all over England, in Dubai, America and Europe. I am currently working for the Hasta Luego team at Equila I’m Munich, Germany. For this I am contracted as a trick rider for an equestrian theatre production. It’s a very exciting job and is basically the west end on horseback!  

2.     How old are you and how long have you been a stunt rider?

I’m 25 and I have been working in this industry since I was 21. I didn’t actually know it existed as a career until after university and I have been very lucky since.

 3.     Tell us what a normal week is like for you.

Every job and every week is different however I am lucky to have some form of consistency at the moment so: Monday’s are usually our day off/rest day/paddock day for the horses. We then usually do dressage tues-thurs. if we have something specific to train we will also do this during the week and once a month we have a full show rehearsal. On Fridays we have trick riding rehearsals on stage, this is for the final practices of things for the show, prep for new horses/riders and we usually stick on some music and have a good time too. Usually the public are allowed to come and watch for the last 30 mins of our training also. 

 Photo Credit E.J.Lazenby Photography

4.    What are some of the movies you have worked on?

I have doubled Jenna Coleman on Queen Victoria, and also doubled on The Spanish Princess which is being released later this year. My biggest job to date has been working on a super hero movie but it isn’t out yet and I can’t spill the details sorry! 

5.    Tell us more about the different stunts and which is the most dangerous?!

Within the horse industry you mainly get trick riding and Roman riding, along with jousting, drags, falls and fighting but these are more often than not skills for the boys. There are few jobs for girls but the ones that exist tend to be the first two skills I mentioned. My favourite skill is roman riding, but I also broke my leg last year when I jumped down so perhaps not the safest! We always say in the industry though that we want to make things as safe as possible, we check our own equipment, work with the horses and we always take time to prepare and think about what we are doing. You don’t win points for getting hurt! I guess the most dangerous trick is under the belly or under the neck, this is what most trick riders aspire to! 

6.    Do you have any wise words to live by?

 Have courage and be kind. You don’t get anywhere by doing nothing so go out and do something. Find what you love and put everything into it. But be kind, have no hate or jealousy for others being successful. It’s a cut throat industry but I think it’s important to help each other out, particularly girls!!! Be happy for other people’s success, yours is coming. 

7.    What can’t you live without? 

 I currently cannot live without Greek yoghurt and honey. It’s like pudding but healthy! 

8.    What is it like working on a film set?

Honestly? Most of the time it’s really dull! It’s long hours, usually cold in the middle of nowhere and you drink lots of tea and then suddenly there is a big rush and you rush to set and you.... wait. But it is fun and my favourite job was this year with the Devils Horsemen where we had time to prepare the horses and riders before at the farm and then travelled to Europe to film. It was brilliant to see the whole process and then watch as they pieced it all together! 

 

9.   Have you ever been star struck?

 Haha absolutely! But you have to play it cool! Actually I’m more star struck when I meet my equestrian hero’s! This year I met Lorenzo, Jean Francois and Frederick Pignon, Sylvie Williams and Monty Roberts. Stunts are fun but liberty and training horses is my passion.

10.  You travel so much, are you ever home?

Yes! Sometimes! I am home for a week in May, for a family event! And I have some time in August too. 

11.   What is the silliest thing you have ever done/biggest mistake?

Once In my Second EVER show working for Ben Atkinson. His entire family is right in front of me. I’m riding his big Spanish stallion for the first time (trying to look cool and not terrified) and I had to lay him down. Anyway I leaned too much, hadn’t done up my girth and fell off right in front of everyone in the middle of the show. Never been so embarrassed. Ben played it off by loudly saying over the mic ‘and Kat’s demonstrating a saddle fall everyone’. It bloomin’ hurt but I smiled and blushed my way out of the arena. 

   Photo Credit E.J.Lazenby Photography

12. Mares, geldings or stallions? 

Geldings. Although if it’s a nice stallion then that’s okay too. 

13.    Name ‘that one horse’ you would love to own?

 Totilas. 100%

14.    Have you ever competed in a normal show (without hanging off the side or standing on the horse’s back)?!

Actually yes I competed in national championships in showjumping and eventing as a kid. I was a keen pony clubber and once or twice I was even known for attempting a dressage test or two! 

15.    Do you have time for other hobbies or interests?

I play piano and guitar, I climb, swim and ski. I have to stay fit for my job but I hate the gym so I do loads of different activities!

 

Keep up with Kat and her horses on her Instagram   kat_pickering_