Brian Walker, a dual Canadian and American citizen, has trained, worked and ridden alongside the best in the world over the last 25 years. As a junior, Brian won the Maclay Medal Equitation Championship in 2001. Brian has made a name for himself by developing quality horses into successful competitors in both the hunter and jumper arenas, earning accolades for himself and his clients. Do you have a question you want Brian to answer? Send questions to email@example.com.
My son just started riding. He enjoys it but keeps complaining that he’s the only boy. Do you have any advice as to what I can say to him to convince him to keep at it?
Ever since I started riding, there has been a stigma against male riders because people think that it’s a female sport. This is not true. As a junior rider, there are more females than males that ride, but that changes at the professional level, as the situation becomes reversed. I think it’s important to encourage young boys to keep riding or even to start riding at all. Therefore, you must make sure it’s fun for them. I think having a male trainer can help keep young boys motivated in order to show them that this isn’t just a female sport. For the most part, boys attending the shows become friends and that also helps their motivation. At some age, boys realize that all these extra girls around are pretty cool and they soon stop worrying about the lack of male riders.
I want to get a young horse from Europe to bring along with my trainer. Where should I start to find a few good horses to try when we make the trip over?
Depending on what level you ride at, buying a horse or horses in Europe can be tricky. Being an American living, riding and selling horses in Europe, I’d say that I have the upper hand when selling to North America because I know the market better than most people here. The best advice is to try to do business with people in Europe you trust. I also advise against clients going out and trying to buy horses on their own without their trainer. It’s imperative that people rely on their trainers to find them the perfect horse. If you don’t think your trainer can find you a good horse, you may need to reconsider the person you train with.
My horse and I took a few months’ riding hiatus because I’d been traveling. I feel completely out of shape. What are some exercises/activities off my horse that you’d recommend to get me back into shape? Additionally, are there exercises that I can do with my horse to get me fit again other than dropping my stirrups?
If you take a few months off from riding, there are some exercises you can do to try to keep or get back in shape. Cardio exercises for at least 20 minutes and leg, back and core exercises are also good to keep you fit for riding. The best training to get back into riding shape is to ride and jump courses. Dropping your stirrups is a good exercise but I don’t find it very productive if you’re not in shape to ride. Jumping courses gets your balance and your timing back, which are the most important for competing.
I keep having a rail down over the last jump in my rounds of the Junior Jumpers. It’s become very frustrating for me. Do you have any suggestions for me to fix this?
There are many factors that can lead to having the last rail down in the class. I’d say for the most part, riders’ nerves get the best of them and they rush the last fence. You must ride the last fence the same way as the first. You must give your horse time to clear the fence; don’t worry about riding the timers for the time allowed until all four legs are back on the ground after the jump. Keep your body back and very still. Most of the time, you can under-ride the last jump as your horse is much more excited at the end of the course. If the time allowed is tight, find some other spots earlier on in the course to make up the time so you can slow down and take your time at the end. I also see a lot of young riders try to help their horse with their hands more and more at the end of course, trying to help the horse go clear. Too much hand will make a horse inverted and have a rail down behind.
I know you were extremely successful in the equitation. I get ribbons at A shows but I’m just out of the ribbons at WEF. What can I do to stand out from a crowd of many accomplished and talented riders
Competing at WEF in the equitation requires very good riding. There are a lot of skilled riders and horses. If you’re just out of the ribbons at WEF but win at smaller shows, you first need to work on your accuracy. Beyond accuracy and better riding, there are some small things that maybe you’re missing. Separate from riding, the turnout of both horse and rider are very important: clean horse, tack and boots along with proper attire. With very good riding and attention to all the details, then you should be able to be competitive in the equitation at WEF.