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.
Do you feel social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.) are beneficial platforms to showcase your skills and expertise along with your horse?
Social media is used by almost everyone in the equestrian community. I think when used properly it can be very helpful to promote the results of you, your horses and your business. I feel that it’s a great way to promote results across the board. However, I think it’s more helpful to promote the horses than riders because a rider’s ability to ride and train can’t truly be shown through social media as opposed to a horse’s. On the flip side, I think social media can mislead people to believe some people/horses are better than they really are through editing and manipulating photos and videos.
We all have bad days and sometimes feel like sitting on our couches and relaxing. What motivates you to get on your horse if you’re having one of those days?
You can deal with failure in one of two ways:
1) Run away
2) Stare it in the face and work harder
I’m not one to run away, so if things aren’t going the way I hoped, I know I need to work harder to improve. We all look for excuses, but most of the time the answer is to do additional work and push yourself in order to test your limits. This is something a lot of people aren’t willing to do. Training harder is the answer most of the time. It’s a game for me, much like a game of chess where every move you make has a consequence. That’s what keeps me from lying on the couch and accepting failure.
When you purchase a young horse, how do you determine what the best training program is for him/her?
Young horses are changing every day, so you shouldn’t have a strict training program as your horse needs to adjust and adapt to its new surroundings. While young horses are in the process of growing, some days they’ll be more tired than others and therefore, you need to cut them a little slack and take it easy on them. Overworking your horse is the best way to ruin young horses and I believe it’s better to make the mistake of underworking them and keeping them healthy and eligible to compete. For me, my program is simple for young horses (ages 3–5). They should be trotting forward, simple circles to make sure they turn left and right, and cantering forward with simple shortening. They need to learn to pull at a young age. I don’t like sitting the trot for young horses because their back muscles aren’t developed enough, but I like to jump and lunge them every so often. Mix up the workout schedule and keep it under 20 minutes so the horse can acclimate.
Do you feel your years of equitation have helped you become the rider you are today? If so, how did it aid you in becoming a successful professional?
Equitation helped put me on the map but it didn’t define my professional career. I attribute my success to the people who have trained me along the way and the love and support of the people I’ve surrounded myself with over the years who have paved the path of my professional career. Equitation gave me a solid foundation and fundamentals for riding, but I think I could have gotten to where I am without the doing equitation. For junior riders in North America, it’s a great learning tool for the proper basics of riding sophisticated courses. However, the equitation has changed over the years, and now the emphasis on horsemanship isn’t there. It should be a tool to further one’s riding and develop respectable horsemanship.