World number one event rider Pippa Funnell and her husband, international show jumper William Funnell passed on their top tips for successful riding and competing at Addington Manor EC yesterday, with help from some of their famous rides.

The subject of “fun” was at the forefront of the event, with Pippa keen to remind everyone that “it must be fun for the horse, as well as the rider.” Pippa’s horses certainly looked to be enjoying themselves during the evening and last year’s Kentucky and Burghley winner, Primmore’s Pride, took great delight in spooking extravagantly at every opportunity.

Pippa started off on Robert and Jo Tomkinson’s six-year-old bay gelding, Laspen Rock Star, demonstrating the quiet, firm and effective riding that has become her trademark. She reassured the fit young horse, who was understandably over-awed by the crowds, and worked him on the flat, reminding spectators that “the rider must stay relaxed, however tight and tense the horse feels underneath you.”

Meanwhile, William introduced his approved grey warmblood breeding stallion, the lovely but somewhat unfortunately named “Kevin” to the crowds, before Pippa took centre stage with Primmore’s Pride, who was obviously feeling fit and ready for his first run. She emphasised how important it is for the rider to work on their own skills, as well as their horse’s way of going, and talked through some of the constant checks she makes on her own body to prevent bad habits from creeping in.

William returned in top hat and tails to show Pippa how dressage was really done, with help from Dane Rawling’s dressage horse Chester, who passaged his way around the arena at will and quite literally cantered rings, or rather pirouettes, around Pippa, before the break.

The crowds returned to find a course of cross-country type fences had sprung up during the interval and William appeared on one of Pippa’s newest rides, the eight-year-old bay gelding Chamrock.

Completely undaunted by the atmosphere, Chamrock proved an able partner for William, allowing his rider to reduce the public into hysterics at his “eventer” impersonations.

Finally, it was Pippa’s turn to get her own back on her husband, as she had been the butt of many of his jokes during the evening, when Kevin returned to the arena for some show jumping practice over some suitably substantial fences.

Although Kevin is a completely different type from her eventers, Pippa quickly had the stallion on her wavelength and jumping the fences confidently and she joked about how happy the horse was “with someone lighter in the saddle”.

By the end of the evening there was no doubt that, while Pippa and William’s training methods require a lot of hard work and discipline, they have plenty of fun along the way.

  • A commemorative video of the sell-out tour will be available from the end of the March from Equestrian Vision. For more information visit: www.equestrianvision.com