OPEN TO ALL LEVELS. 1 DAY $150 | 2 DAYS $270

Strafford Saddlery, in cooperation with Hitching Post Farm, is proud to present this clinic with the incredible Eric Smiley! Eric is a world-class trainer, FEI official and coach of the 2012 Belgium Olympic event team. He is knowledgeable, approachable, funny, and we've never known anyone who didn't come away from his clinics with something new. Free to audit, private lessons available, please sign up by Oct. 1!


Please contact Taylor Faccio with questions:

Eric Smiley:


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.

Robert Costello:


Robert was born in Hamilton, Massachusetts and grew up fox hunting with the Myopia Hounds and showing on the local circuit. After seeing his first Ledyard International Three-Day Event in the mid 1970’s his attention was quickly drawn to the ultimate equestrian sport of Eventing. Throughout the 70’s and 80’s Hamilton was headquarters for Jack LeGoff’s USET Three-Day Event squad. This had an early and profound influence on Robert, as he knew from a young age that representing his country internationally would be his goal.

After graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Mass Communications and a minor in Music Piano Performance, Robert turned an allotted six-month “trial-run” in the horse world to a successful business and competitive career that has now spanned three decades.

Major competitive accomplishments of Robert’s include an 8th place individual performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics Games aboard his career-making mount Chevalier. This pair also earned top 3 and 4-star placings at Rolex Kentucky, Fair Hill International and the Burghley Horse Trials in the UK.

In 2003 Robert again represented the USA, this time winning team gold at the Pan American Games on the handsome grey Dalliance. The duo went on to future successes at Fair Hill International and Rolex Kentucky, in addition to being the top American finishers at Burghley.

Robert was joint partner with Leila Clay of C&C Sporthorse, Inc. from 1989 until the end of 2012. They ran the very successful business out of Leila’s Tanglewood Farm in Southern Pines, NC until it’s sale.

Since the sale of his last international horses, Robert has turned his full attention to building ROC Equestrian-- his multifaceted coaching, training and sales/sourcing business. As a USEA Instructors Certification Program (ICP) Level IV member (highest), Robert is among the most respected trainers/coaches in the U.S.

Over the last several years Robert has also held virtually every volunteer leadership position in the sport. He has sat on the boards of the USET, USEA and USEF, chaired both the USEF Active Athletes (2001-2008) and USEF Eventing High Performance (2009-2012) Committees, and currently serves as Chairman of the USEF Eventing Selection Committee for Olympic, World and Pan American Games. In 2014, Robert was honored by the USEA for a lifetime of service in being awarded the prestigious Wofford Cup.

In his free time, Robert enjoys reading, playing his grand piano, tennis, skiing and traveling.