“My horses are all my friends and I love them to bits – but I won’t stand for any nonsense,” Pippa Funnell told a group of Event Horse Owners Association (EHOA) members after they had spent a challenging day with the Athens-bound three-day eventer at her West Sussex yard.
The training session, sponsored by Biotal Equine Gold, began bright and early with 16 riders, split into morning and afternoon groups, receiving tuition and advice on flat work and jumping.
Pippa spoke of the importance of self-discipine and preparation, advising them to make sure that they were familiar with a dressage test so that they could fully prepare their horses beforehand.
“Look up, ride tall, stop your body collapsing,” urged Pippa. “Be aware of what is going on underneath you. Feel what is happening with every stride.”
She also emphasised the need to remain calm when dealing with horses that misbehave during competition. “If a horse spooks, some people kick off,” she said, “whereas I think it is perfect if mine spook, as it gives me a reason to ask for more from them and I believe that is why I do so well at dressage.”
As the riders practised their jumping techniques, Pippa warned them to keep it simple. “Remember that it’s all about experimenting and playing around,” she said. “We make things far more complicated than they need be.
“Try not to be paranoid about putting in a stride and concentrate on rhythm and balance – that’s what cross-country is about, not speed.”
During a brief break for lunch, riders were given pots of the microbial additive Biotal Equine Gold.