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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
How are horse shows in Europe different from horse shows in the U.S.?
Horse shows in Europe versus those in the United States can be very different. In Europe there’s usually one ring, so there are fewer horses that end up showing. Horse shows in European countries are geared toward the riders and their horses. The shows are spectator-friendly and often get respectable crowds because horses are a part of their heritage. Different parts of Europe are known for their diverse styles of horse shows, but in each country the same level show tends to be the same. Having the opportunity to live in Europe 10 years ago helped my transition in competing in European shows during the summer. At the end of the day, show jumping is show jumping no matter where the show takes you.
What qualities do you look for in a competitive Grand Prix horse?
A horse becomes a Grand Prix horse once they jump in a Grand Prix. The qualities I tend to look for in a horse are bravery and athleticism. If any rider or trainer knew the secret to what makes a horse a Grand Prix horse, it would be too easy. Horses prove us wrong every day. Some horses that appear small and look like they can’t jump 1.30 end up jumping large classes. This case can be reversed as well, when a horse can jump large jumps when they’re younger but never figure out how to do it when they are older at a high level.
What part of riding comes easiest to you?
The part that everyone forgets the most about: Horsemanship. I believe that my horsemanship comes most naturally. Even though riding is easy for me, it’s still a skill I work on every day.
What do you think are the main problems facing the sport of show jumping?
Show jumping’s biggest issue in the United States is the cost associated with the horses. It can be very difficult for equestrian professionals to compete without clients and/or sponsors behind them.
It must be difficult to find horses that are able to jump at the Grand Prix level. What’s it like competing with other trainers and competitors to find these special high-level jumpers first?
To find the right horse, you need be at the right place at the right time. Finding a good horse requires a respectable network of people and a lot of time and effort searching for new horses. I believe that I have a good eye at spotting quality horses, so it perhaps gives me an advantage over other people. Nonetheless, it’s still very hard to find superior horses. With more individuals from all over the world getting involved in the sport and spending more money, there’s more prize money than ever and horses’ prices are through the roof.