Paula Allen

Manager and owner Stainsby Grange Equestrian Centre, Thornaby

Sector: Equestrian

At only 20 years old Paula Allen started her own equestrian centre and has built it into the successful business it is today. Her love for horses and equestrian makes it more than just a business to her and her riders.

Where do you call home?

Stainsby Grange Equestrian Centre, Thornaby.

Tell us about your role? 

I am the founding instructor, manager and proprietor of Stainsby Grange Equestrian Centre in Thornaby. 

The centre comprises of a BHS approved riding school which offers horse riding lessons and equine activities to children and adults. The goal of the riding school is to promote excellence in riding, training and horse care.

On site I also have a BHS approved livery yard – where we offer stabling to clients with their own horses. There is also a British show jumping competition centre, where clients bring their own horses to compete.

We have show jumping competition stables where elite horses and riders train and compete at national and international levels. We have won 15 European championship medals to date. 

Most recently, I am the founding director of a ‘not for profit’ charitable organisation which aims to open up equestrian to all and strives to help local children with aspects of equine therapy by promoting life skills through horses. 

How did you get to where you are today?

When I was nine my parents bought a derelict farmhouse with a small piece of land. I was lucky enough to get a pony, which is where my love for horses began.

Although coming from a supportive family, I was financially independent when it came to starting the business. I worked as a receptionist while training to become a horse-riding instructor and saved to buy my first riding school pony – Promise. 

This was the start to the riding school and how I slowly grew my business, using the money I had made from lessons to buy the next pony. Over time family members, my husband and children have all played a part in growing what is at Stainsby Grange today. I have made hard decisions and bold moves to continue growing the business, and I’m not finished expanding just yet.

What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?

I was only 20 when I started the riding school, older people didn’t take me seriously to start with. Horses are expensive, there was lots of outgoings to start up – tack, insurance, vet bills, farrier bills for example. Sometimes it felt overwhelming when I was younger. It has taken a long time to get to where I am today.

Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?

It’s not really about the financial success, but the feeling when I started to see my first students competing in show jumping competitions. The feeling that it was me who had taught them and got them to that stage still makes me emotional to this day. When you see your hard work paying off it makes all the difficult days seem worthwhile. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring young females?

Listen to every bit of advice that is given to you. Take from it what you need to excel and do it your way. Surround yourself with a good team, lead by example and don’t be afraid of making the tough decisions. Work hard and keep going!

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

Always believe in yourself. Listen and learn from your elders.

What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path? 

Positive, strong, believe. 

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