Coral Keen’s eventing blog: Sometimes I wish I was more pushy

  • Autumn is a time of change in most event riders’ yards when horses aren’t on holidays or sold and newcomers join the team. Some might be unbroken horses beginning their eventing careers, others might need a change of scenery or a different approach to their training.

    Finding new horses to ride is also part and parcel of the life of a professional event rider but you have to have a bit of the salesman about you if you are hoping to attract owners. I’m quite shy by nature, so suggesting to potential owners they need to put their horses with me doesn’t come naturally. Luckily consistent results speak for themselves, although there have been times when I’ve wished I had a more pushy character!

    I’m really lucky to have such great facilities here to offer owners so as soon as they drive through the gate they get the ‘wow’ factor. Everything is spotless, from the yard to the paddocks which are poo picked daily. Living in such a beautiful part of the world in the shadow of Salisbury Plain is a real draw and that helps me when I am in that tongue-tied zone of attracting new owners. Glorious hacking out over the downs can be the best antidote for horses that might have become a bit sour for the job.

    Riding Lola at home

    Riding Lola at home

    As a rider, there is nothing more rewarding than taking on a horse that might just need cheering up with a change of scenery or a fresh approach to training and I really hope I get a few horses that I can turn around for next season. Apart from bringing on my homebreds, it is so incredibly rewarding seeing a horse grow in confidence, start enjoy the job again and gain the results it is so capable of. Please do email me coralkeeeneventing@hotmail.co.uk if you think you have a horse — we might just be able to help!

    I remember one horse I had that wouldn’t leave the yard he was so sour. He was really depressed and hated life and he just didn’t want to go anywhere. We channelled his energy and gave him different things to work on as he was a very intelligent horse but had learned to be difficult. When he played up, rather than saying no you can’t do this, I didn’t react but would slowly and gently coax him to go where I wanted. I’d just sit there and take my time, waiting for him to accept what I was asking and gradually he started to change his attitude.

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    We went hacking a lot, as he hadn’t done much of this. It took time but once he learned that when he went out he would have a really great time, he loved it and eventually I rode him around Blenheim three-star and he developed into one of my best horses.

    When he retired from eventing, he became a wonderful dressage horse for an amateur and he is still doing really well. That miserable young horse who wouldn’t go a yard just needed a different approach. It was the making of him, and I am sure there must be many other horses who would benefit.

    Racing is a sport that fascinates me. You often see a horse’s form will be revived when it changes yards. It is an accepted part of the sport for an owner or trainer to suggest a change of scenery. Different gallops, different hacking and different regimes really can perk up a horse — after all they do say a change is as good as a break.


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