Daniel Watson is a well respected rider and trainer who has represented Great Britain on numerous occasions, both here and abroad. He trains and competes a wide variety of horses from youngsters right through to those competing at Grand Prix level. Daniel also has an interest in breeding. He is based at Fiddlers Green Stud in Kent where he runs a dressage, training and breeding yard with Craig Messenger.
When he was sixteen he did an equine business diploma at Hartpury College. His course tutor at the time sat him on his dressage horse - "I was instantly hooked!" This was followed by working pupil placements at two top British yards, and also one in Germany.
Daniel has had many career highlights so far, such as winning Best international Rider award at the Sydney CDI 2009, Winning the Nations Cup on Fideramber in 2013 and on Amadeus in 2017. Aster Butterfly is currently at Grand prix and Aster Berlin is a talented up and coming eight year old.
Daniel has been lucky enough to have many memorable moments, his horses make him proud every day. Daniel thinks it is very difficult to give yourself particular goals in this sport. "This depends on the level of training at any particular time for that horse. If a horse is ready to compete, then he will go to that show; if he isn’t, then he does not!" He loves all aspects of the sport from the young horses to riding in Grand Prix.
Daniel normally has two or three outside horses coming in on a daily basis for lessons or training, and in between them, he rides his horses, teaches the students and helps his partner, Craig . That usually takes up the whole day.
Most people know Daniel for his successful competition career, but he also breeds Aster Horses at Fiddlers Green Stud.
He enjoys being successful but also really enjoys seeing Craig and all his clients being successful too. Daniel has recently passed his first two sections of the List two judging programme and has one stage to go before being a List two judge.
Daniel has bred some very talented horses over the years. Daniel and Craig never breed more than five in a year and sometimes take a year or two off from it.
Daniel has taken a wide variety of horses through the levels and has great experience of training dressage horses.
"The hind leg is very important. They must be active and under the body. Three good paces and a trainable mind. Suppleness in the back and the ability to sit on the hindleg. I don’t go for a big trot. You can make that. Clear and regular walk and canter are far more important."
Daniel has worked with so many different lines. Every horse is an individual. Daniel states "As a rider, you need the ability to see potential and change your ways to suit each horse. I like energy and horses that are forward thinking."
As a leading rider who advises owners on selecting young horses, Daniel supports the BEF Futurity series and believes the British Breeding is the best it has been in years.
There are many people working tirelessly to improve British Breeding. He would like to see horses’ breeding details in all national class schedules and commentary. Breeding prizes are important at the big shows and more publicity in general is needed in the national and international media. Breeders have to realise that it is not just the stallion that counts – you must also have a good mare. Mares should also have the opportunity to be competition horses: this is the only way you find out if that horse is worth breeding a foal from!
Daniel looks forward to the future of training more horses to their full potential.
Craig, who is Daniels partner, has been riding horses since the age of eight years old. He qualified as a professional jockey at the age of seventeen. Craig followed his dream and raced professionally for ten years but had to retire due to a shattered left leg at the age of twenty six. Craig then travelled to Australia after recovering and worked for the famous Gai Waterhouse in Sydney. Gaining valuable experience as a horseman and riding some of the best race horses in the world. Whilst in Australia Craig also worked on a ranch, breaking in over 100 horses over a three month period and then producing the horses for the polo market. An experience Craig will never forget and he still uses these methods today.