10 training tips that top riders swear by

  • Even leading names like Laura Tomlinson (pictured above), Francis Whittington and Katie Jerram look up to people, and key pieces of training advice have helped them win medals and national titles. Here are the tips that 10 top riders credit with putting them on the road to success.

    1. Laura Tomlinson, dressage rider

    “The best piece of advice I’ve had is never to say, ‘I can’t’ or ‘The horse won’t’. If you have this in mind it forces you to look around and through a problem, rather than accept it’s not solvable. This is an adaptation of what I’m used to hearing from [German Olympian turned trainer] Klaus Balkenhol — he won’t ever accept you saying you can’t.”

    2. Trevor Breen,  showjumper

    “If at first you don’t succeed — work harder! The more effort you put in, the more you get out. If you take shortcuts in training during the week, it’ll show when you’re competing at the weekend.”

    3. Katie Jerram,  showing producer

    “Never use a gadget as a quick fix. I learnt this from [renowned trainer] Ruth McMullen — I never saw a gadget at her yard. I use a martingale on horses I’m breaking for a little extra security, and I may hack the babies in a Market Harborough, which is kind on the mouth.”

    4. Francis Whittington, eventer

    “Just keep it simple in every way. If it’s complicated, it’s probably not right. [Former British World Class Performance showjumping manager] Rob Hoekstra told me this and I keep it in mind all the time.”

    5. Gemma Tattersall, eventer

    “My mum used to make me ride come rain or shine. She said that consistency is the key to good training and it is something I have always carried with me. Horses need to have regular training and you need to be consistent in what you are asking them to do.”

    6. Anna Ross, dressage rider

    “[German Olympic team gold medallist] Ulla Salzgeber once told me that if you keep your hands still, you’ll start using your legs. A wise man at Goresbridge Sales also once advised me, ‘Never get back on for a third time’.”

    7. Geoff Billington, showjumper

    “[Multi-medalled British showjumper] David Broome told me years ago that you can’t put pressure on top of tension. So you must have a relaxed horse before you can ask any questions of it.”

    8. Dan Jocelyn,  eventer

    “When I first came to the UK in 1995, I stayed with Andrew Nicholson. Walking courses with him was invaluable. He said: ‘Dan, across country you just go between the flags’ and when showjumping, ‘Just leave the poles up’. This was the best advice ever, especially when others were trying to overcomplicate things. I still enjoy walking courses with him.”

    9. Andrew Gould, dressage rider

    “Don’t let your personal issues or emotions get in the way. This is something I picked up from [renowned trainer] David Hunt and I realise its importance even more now that I train lots of people. It’s hard if you’ve had a busy, stressful day at work — you want to ride to relax, but sometimes it is easier said than done.”

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    10. Jessica Mendoza, showjumper

    “Don’t try to win every class. My father, Paul, told me this and there are two lessons I have learnt from it. First, if I’m jumping at a three-day show, I need to save the horse for the class that really matters. Second, if you try to win a class by three seconds, you will often have a fence down and lose. So be cool and just do enough.”

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