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.
It’s been said that each horse feels different to ride. Are some more responsive than others? And if so, does this difference affect a rider’s performance in the ring?
I wouldn’t say that every single horse feels different, but there are definitely certain horses that are more responsive than others. There are horses that ride better at a slower pace, and horses that respond better when they’re going full speed. Some are stiff, some have good balance, some are narrow, and others are really wide. The list goes on and on. Consequently, I think it’s wise to buy horses that you’re most competitive on, and that complement your own riding style. Your horse should help you ride to the best of your ability, and should maximize your performance in the ring.
Is there a Grand Prix horse that catches your eye, that’s your favorite to watch?
My favorite Grand Prix horse to watch is Big Star. His type, blood and scope are what I look for in all of my own horses. In addition, I’ve always admired the way Nick Skelton rides, ever since I was a kid. I think his experienced riding style allows for Big Star to really show off his canter and flexibility. Separately, they’re both great, but together they’re exceptional.
Some horses tend to kick out or whinny to announce that they’ve entered the ring. Do you have a particular horse that tends to act out during competition?
None of my horses have that kind of attitude, but I’m familiar with some riders whose horses do this. I think it can be unsettling for amateurs to compete on horses that act out because they don’t have the experience that a professional does. Although I wouldn’t say acting out is bad, I do think that if you own a horse that has these tendencies when you go in the ring, you should figure out a routine where you can prevent it. Most of these habits can be avoided if they’re caught early.
Have you ever had to change the way you ride to be more “in tune” with one of your horses?
I’ve had horses that needed me to adjust the way I think, train and ride to help them perform better in the ring. Being in tune with your horse can require these adjustments if he or she isn’t a real fit with your training or riding style. Ultimately, the match between horse and rider isn’t always perfect. That’s part of the business.
You recently welcomed a new horse into your barn. What are your goals for her?
My goals for her are to start jumping 1.45 and 1.50 classes within the next couple of weeks and then possibly put her in some classes with larger jumps if I feel like she has a good chance of doing well. As an 11-year-old, she has plenty of experience; however, she’s very stubborn and strong, which makes her a little tricky to ride. I’ll need to know when to push the right buttons at the right time for her to perform at her best. I’m hoping to sell her eventually to someone who fits well with her strength and competitive spirit. However, if that doesn’t work out, her impressive qualities and results will make her an exceptional broodmare at the end of her career.