Horse Stunt Rider Ben Atkinson: ‘It Was Great to be Back at Bishop Burton’
Ben Atkinson headlined the opening ceremony at the FEI European Championships for Ponies 2018, which are being held at the college this week.
His career highlights include working on shows such as Poldark and Peaky Blinders but Ben, who is originally from a dairy farm in East Yorkshire, said it was a real thrill to be able to put on a visual spectacle back at the college where it all began.
He said: “For me, as a lad growing up mad about horses, I was always a bit of an island; on the edge.
“But when I arrived at Bishop it was fantastic to be surrounded by like-minded people.
“For the first time in my life I was with other people who knew what I was talking about and were interested in the same things. I had a brilliant time and am very fond of Bishop Burton College.”
Ben, 24, studied Level 3 in Equine Management and in spite of traveling around world - he has recently returned from Dubai - with his family’s Atkinson Action Horses, he still got a huge thrill performing back at the college campus near Beverley.
He was also joined in the spectacular performance by another former student, James Stansfield who rode a dun-coloured horse in the battle scenes.
“James and I met while we were here at Bishop Burton,” said Ben, who revealed that when he has a big performance coming up he tries to fit in a training session in the indoor equine arena at the college.
“I love it when it’s term time, with the students wandering around and there’s a lot going on. It’s a fabulous place to bring young horses and get them used to performing. We crank up the music and see how they are going to behave.”
The Atkinson family has supplied stunt horses for the likes of Poldark, Peaky Blinders, Victoria and the film adaptation of War Horse, among others.
“In spite of all we’ve done in film, television and displays my granddad always used talk about me getting a proper job like a showjumper or a farmer,” said Ben. “It was only when we were the main attraction at last year’s Great Yorkshire Show that he seemed satisfied!”
Bishop Burton College is holding the championships – which are free for the public to attend – throughout this week. It is the only equine competition of its kind to include all three Olympic disciplines of eventing, dressage and showjumping.
Competitors aged between 12 and 16 are taking part in individual and team events. The competition will conclude with a weekend of cross country action at the college.
The opening ceremony on Tuesday evening also featured the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and the East Riding of Yorkshire Band.