About Dan

Dan has lived in the remote Cornish Moorland area of Bolventor all his life, and grew up on his parent's property - Outer Priddacombe Farm (an extremely remote place which still to this day has no mains water and generates its own electricity!). He comes from a long line of horse trainers (third generation) and has lived and worked in a remarkable environment surrounded by wild and dangerous cattle and horses his whole life. His father farms  Galloway  cattle and sheep and Moorland horses, while his mother breeds Appaloosa horses (she had the first registered Appaloosa stallion i t he southwest, Phoenix Saracen in November 1981).


Dan has been riding since before he could walk and owned his first pony, Curley Wurley at the age of 5. Curley was the foal of his sister's pony at the time and Dan told his parents that it was 'going to be brown and going to be his'. Curly is retired now but still lives with Dan as part of the family.


One of the many important factors that have shaped Dan into being the horseman he is today, is the way in which he learnt to ride, working cattle on the moor in real life situations, making life or death decisions (for the animals) and learning the true meaning of responsibility at a very early age. Dan started to work cattle from horseback with his father whilst being led at a very young age. His father has a great sense of humour and was always having fun with Dan's riding, like testing him by cantering away from him and Curley down over steep moorland tors, whilst looking over his shoulder with a grin on his face (and shouting “stay here then” in reply to Dan's whimperings of "I don’t want to go down over there, it's too steep!!").


His mum bought him his 1st  western saddle when he was around 8 years old. From that day on, Dan decided that he couldn't stand riding in an English saddle, preferring to ride bare back with a sheep skin or saddle pad, in the absence of a western saddle. He went on to traditionally break his first horse in for a customer when he was just 12.


Dan left school at 16 and attended  Cambourne   College   for three years, leaving there as a qualified Agricultural Engineer (City and Guilds: Parts one, two and three). He went on to work as an Ag. Eng. at M.S.T. Liskeard until 1983, worked for a short time as a Fencer's Mate with Stenoaks and in 1984 finally fulfilled his ambition to travel to  Australia   and climb Ayres Rock. Unfortunately, the first thing he did in  Australia  was to test out the hospital in Dandinong, as he contracted serious listearia salmonella food poisoning on the plane from England. Three weeks later and 3 and a half stone lighter, Dan started his working holiday of  Australia. He worked as an apple picker, a mechanic, a ranch hand , an egg packer at a chicken farm, a stable lad,  a trainee jockey at race yard, a stock fencer, a caretaker and a teaching assistant at a school for autistic children just to mention but a few.


In 1988, Dan made it to the semi-finals of the Australian Bicentenary Driving Competition (he was one of 30 contestants picked from over 2000 hopefuls from  Great Britain  taking part). The competition was to take part in a cattle drive of two hundred head of cattle from  Darwin   to Tenants Creek. Although he didn't make it to the final 8, he was later told by the organisers that not taking him due to his size and lack of B.H.S. knowledge was a mistake, as a number of the finalists had accidents during the trip whilst carrying out tasks that he had been carrying out on an almost daily basis.


On returning to the country, Dan worked on his father’s farm and went back to fencing work once more. This time doing more agricultural stock fencing before also branching off into garden and security fencing. It was around this time he started hearing people talk about Monty Roberts and he decided to go along to a demonstration of his techniques and horsemanship at  Duchy   College. Dan was bought up with "traditional horsemanship" but he went along with an open mind, and soon realized that there was something in Mr Roberts' work. The horses being worked with were exactly as Monty had described previous to them entering the round-pen, and the difference in the horse's behaviour on leaving the pen was plain to see (unfortunately there were some members of the audience that night who were less than positive). Dan managed to shut out the negativity almost totally surrounding him and made up his own mind that night - he bought the Join-Up video and the Join-Up book (very strange to anyone who knows Dan, he is dyslexic an hadn't read a book since his first year at school).

He was the last audience member standing there at the end of the night, listening to Monty answering questions. He even hung around long enough to hear the thank you speech he gave his team members at the end of the night. It was during this moment that Dan decided that somehow, somewhere, he would one day ride in front of Monty.


On arriving home that night he led a horse he had in for breaking out of the stable, and did the first join up of his life in the dark yard. Dan wanted to test for himself, beyond any doubt, that there definitely was something to the techniques. If he could make it work after listening to this man for a couple hours and picking up a tiny amount of information, then he just had to learn as much as he possibly could. The techniques did work and Dan found himself trying to find the courses to learn the techniques. He found they were being held in Witney, Oxfordshire and thanks to the Princes Youth Business Trust, he was able to book himself a place (Dan is very grateful to the PYBT, without them none of this would have been possible).

After doing the first "Starting the Young Horse" course, it was well over 12 months before he was able to fund the next lessons. Luckily for Dan he had some great friends and family who believed in him and backed him all the way. Between them they worked a deal with Kelly Marks and Ian Vandenberghe, where he worked for them both in return for them putting him through the courses. His hard work and perseverance paid off in 2004, when he was named as an Intelligent Horsemanship Recommended Associate.


During this time, Dan started to work for Kelly on her demonstrations, driving vehicles and generally helping with the logistics.


One day he ended up riding for Kelly during a demo and this went so well that he became the back-up rider for the tours. His ambition to ride for Monty Roberts was fulfilled at Merrist Wood, a demo that he will never forget for two reasons. Obviously the first reason being that he was finally going to ride for Monty, but the second being that 10 minutes before the demo was due to start, Monty received a call from the Queen to let him know that the Queen Mother had passed away. Monty was understandably very upset, which made Dan anxious as to whether his mind would be on the job and that he had better be ready to look after himself, but he didn't have worried as Monty showed his true professionalism and gave probably the best show of his life. A show of which Dan is very proud to have been part of. Subsequently he was asked to ride across Europe with Monty Roberts and has now worked with him in many countries. On some tours, Dan has even his own 'spot' in demonstrations, working with horses in front of over a thousand people. In 2008, Dan left  IH to concentrate on Practical Horsemanship and when not on tour, Dan is now found on his farm just outside of Liskeard, where he takes in horses of all ages and with all kinds of behavioural issues to train. Starting young horses is his speciality.