Contessa Riding & Training Centre

Contessa is a leading Dressage Centre in Hertfordshire, providing Advanced Dressage lessons Lusitano stallions and warmbloods as well as riding for all levels

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We offer a full schedule of clinics covering dressage, jumping, western and more. Please check our events calendar for upcoming clinics or contact us by email for further information.


Tina Layton-Elliott
BHSI, Reg. UKCC III Coach Educator, NVQ A1 Assessor

Owner, Instructor and Trainer.

Tina and her parents started Contessa Riding and Training Centre in 1977 and it has continued to blossom and grow ever since. Tina competed up to Grand Prix level with her mare Pik Dame, who she trained right through the levels from a three year old. The highlight of her competition career was with Pik Dame representing Great Britain in 2000. At present she is training Queijada for GP work, a Lusitano mare previously owned by the daughter of Sylvia Loch of the Classical Riding Club, who wanted her horse to be trained by a classical rider who would be able to take her to her full potential. Since Q arrived at Contessa it has been the start of her affair with the Lusitano’s, as they require sensitivity, loving and harmony to produce the best from them and she is happy to give them all that!

Other important horses in Tina’s Dressage career have been:

  • Borrowdale (Buster to his friends) – who introduced Tina to Grand Prix competition, having trained him to that level. 
  • Karleton Quartz – an inexpensive Anglo-Arab bought to save from the meat man at a sale with the intention to bring on and sell, who ended up competing to Prix St. Georges with Tina, then training a great many students in the advanced movements
  • Lanzo – also bought to sell, but ended up staying! With whom Tina competed to advanced /PSG level nationally, and who has introduced a few lucky members of staff to advanced competition.
  • Other very special competition horses that have been with Tina inc Deskant, Marcus, Some Friend and many school horses have been taken under her wing for some competition experience.

As a BHS Instructor and trainer, Tina has coached a very large number of riders, encouraging them all to work with their horse to achieve both harmony, understanding  and correct way of going in the classical method. She has trained a great many students through their riding and teaching exams to the highest levels, including to the dressage section of the BHS Fellowship. She was previously a BHS examiner, and currently examines for the ABRS to their ATD Exam – the top exam that they offer. Tina is also a UKCC level 3 Tutor in Sport, NVQ A1 assessor and was a BHS Riding and Road Safety trainer and examiner.

Tina has been training with Arthur Kottas (photo with Tina above), former First Chief Rider of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, for over 20 Years. Tina goes to the TTT in Guildford several times a year to train with Arthur and has regularly been asked to perform in their lecture/demonstrations.

She has also ridden in demos and received training from many great horseman, such as Reiner Klimke, Nuno Oliveira, John Lassetter, Danny Pevsner, Stephen Clarke, to mention just a few!

Tina has also been working with John Bowen since 1993. This benefits all the students who then want to join in his clinics at Contessa which are held every two months, as the  classical ethos of both their training is continued which she thinks is so very important.

Tina feels she owes tremendous amount to her Mother and late Father who have helped her build Contessa Riding Centre into the international dressage yard that it is today. Without their support, advise and encouragement it may not be as it is now!

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John Bowen, Dressage
BE and BD accredited international trainer

John has been training riders at Contessa on and off for 20 years in dressage and show jumping. He has gives lectures and demonstrations at the Centre. He trains riders in all disciplines from grass roots to international level. John has helped Tina with her horses on different occasions.

John has trained Jeanette Brakewell for the last 11 years, the rider of Over to You and one of Team GB – our Olympic team. He is also Irish National Eventing Team Coach for Young Riders and Juniors – training individual gold and silver medallists.

He has competed to Grand Prix in dressage and evented internationally. John takes clinics at Contessa every two months where riders can enjoy his charm and wit while working hard on correct methods of training. A word of warning to all riders: just don’t click to your horse.

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John Adams, Show Jumping

John started his training with Brian Young before going to Germany to work and ride. He later returned to the UK and produced a great many horses from Novice to Grade A. He now trains riders of all calibres.

John holds monthly show jumping clinics at Contessa and is a wonderfully encouraging instructor, who coaxes the best out of horse and rider and gives great confidence to his pupils.

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Bring your own horse

You are welcome to bring your own horse to any of our clinics.

We have ample parking available and can offer stabling if needed. Please call the office for details.

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Tina Layton
Buy 10 vouchers and get the 11th free
Lesson type Single lesson 11 vouchers
Private three quarter hour: N/A N/A
Private three quarter hour (O/H): N/A N/A
Semi-Private one hour: N/A N/A
Group one hour: N/A N/A