THE TEAM

DANIEL WATSON

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 MESSENGER

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. 

After returning from Australia, Craig set up his own yard in Cranbrook, Kent.  A small yard of fifteen horses dealing with problem horses and young ones.  Craig soon gained a respectable and trustworthy reputation for himself.  His kind and gentle approach began to work on a lot of horses and soon clients came flooding in.  

In 2017 Craig met Daniel. Their relationship began in February 2017. Soon after, they decided to work together. Combining Daniels and his skills together was a unique opportunity for them both.  Craig and Daniel are still working closely with one another today. Their relationship has become even stronger which shows from their continued success.  

Craig enjoys all disciplines of the Equestrian Sport.  He enjoys training the young horses and seeing them develop, but also has a real passion for breeding.  

He has been very successful at Dressage, riding homebred Aster Berlin and representing his Region at the Home International, with his team finishing second overall. He has also competed Aster Disney WS for his region last year 2019.  

Craig will continue to do what he loves and train horses.  He is willing to work with anyone of any discipline and likes to see clients succeed. Craig created teams for team quest in 2018 and his base team were very successful in a top ten placing at the Nationals which he is very proud of.  

" I enjoy what I do on a daily basis and couldn't see myself doing anything else. I love my horses and with the right training and care they will always try to please us the best they can. I couldn't do what we do on a daily basis without my team. Although people see Daniel and I as the face of the business, the team are always the stars in my eyes.

JULIA RANSOM

Julia is a valuable member of the team. An experienced rider who has based herself with us for over two years. Julia enjoys the basic care of looking after the horses wellbeing on a daily basis, but also helping Craig with the young horses.  Julia also enjoys eventing her horse Alfie. She has a passion for eventing and hopes to travel up the levels in this discipline. Julia has a NVQ level 3 qualification, which she has done whilst working for Craig and Daniel.  

Julia's skills and confidence are valuable when breaking the horses in, she has broken in many young horses with the help of Craig and seen many horses she has started, now being success at competitions.

Julia states " I thoroughly enjoy my Job and couldn't see myself doing anything else. The boys are like family to me and really look after me."

SOPHIE SHAVE

Sophie is a very talented groom, she has been with us for nearly a year and enjoys working with the horses.  She is not only a talented groom but also enjoys to ride her own horse on a daily basis which she kept at home in Stockbury, Kent.  Sophie enjoys looking after the daily day to day care of the horses.  She is a quiet character who is devoted to the horses.  She enjoys keeping the horses looking clean and tidy and commits to her role entirely.  Sophie enjoys competing her own mare in Dressage and has lessons with Craig to help her with this.  

ANNE ZAFAR

Anne is based here at Fiddlers Green and is in charge of the day to day running of the office.  Anne insures the smooth running of the business as the office manager, covering all administration from enquiries to payroll and invoices.  If you wish to contact her for any reason please feel to drop us an email info@asterhorses.co.uk 

APPLE INGLETON 

Apple is a key member of the team as Competition Groom.  She takes pride in looking after the horses at all the shows. Daniel & Craig trust her immensely.  Apple is often seen anywhere our horses compete and turns the horses out amazingly.  She is also seen organising Daniel & Craig on a daily basis.  Apple highlights are representing GBR at Keysoe CDI with homebred  Aster Butterfly IV.  

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