Is there such a thing as the perfect event horse? Mark Todd believes it’s all about capitalising on the horse’s strengths and improving the weaknesses

For me, the biggest single “must” is that a horse has to want to do the job – if it doesn’t enjoy it, you can’t force it. When I look at a horse, temperament is probably the single most important issue.

Regardless of temperament, I like all my horses to go in that they aretrained, but you also have to let them have their own personalities and make allowances for conformation or character.

In the 1980s, when I was riding the likes of Charisma, Michaelmas Day and Welton Greylag, my horses seemed very strong. I am sure it was down to something I was doing wrong, but I still don’t know what it was.

In the latter part of my career, perhaps because I had become more relaxed, I never found any horses so strong. I started to prepare them for specific competitions, did less with them and didn’t hurry my novices.

Success is a confidence thing. When you ride so many horses, you become confident in their ability and they become more confident. But if you ride too many bad horses, you start to ride defensively on the good ones as well.

I have ridden a huge number of horses which were quite different in shape, size and ability. None of my horses had any major conformation defects and each one, as a type, you would describe as a nice horse. It was just a matter of living with and trying to improve their weaknesses while taking advantage of the strong points.

A horse either jumps or it doesn’t and it can’t be over-emphasised that any real success comes through training on the flat. All my horses were pretty athletic jumpers, but through flatwork their potential was maximised.

See the current issue of Horse & Hound (15 November 2001) to read Mark’s views on eight of his top horses, including Charisma and Eye Spy II.

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See this Thursday’s (22 November 2001) issue of Horse & Hound for Mark Todd’s advice on flatwork.