The biggest mistake I have ever learnt from…

  • From learning to respect every fence to realising that you can't listen to everyone's advice, top riders share those pearls of wisdom that they won't forget in a hurry

    Joe Clee, showjumper (pictured, above)

    Listening to too many people — you should just listen to people that you trust.

    Michael Eilberg, dressage rider

    It is not to teach your horse to stop to do droppings — we always used to do that at home because it’s easier to pick up the droppings. But it wasn’t so good when Half Moon Dynasty stopped in the middle of a line of changes at the Nationals at Stoneleigh!

    Simon Reynolds, showing producer

    In 1984 my trainer, Raymond Lucas, said to me after I won a JA jumping class: “You’ve won today, lad, but you’ll pay next week!” He was right. My pony kicked two fences out at the next show because I’d over-cooked it the week before.

    Louisa Milne Home, eventer

    Many years ago Melody River went so well in his first season of novice that I campaigned him at intermediate the following year. He was a bit gobsmacked, so I now take into account that a horse may not come out the same as he was the year before and I often take them down a level for a couple of runs just to check.

    Nigel Hollings, showing judge

    From my first official judging appointment I learned that it is important to follow your heart when decision-making and never be influenced by form — after I took the easy option when two working hunter ponies finished on equal marks.

    Ben Hobday, eventer

    Falling at the last fence during my first advanced at Witton Castle. I came in at a flat out gallop, the horse fell through it and I did a triple somersault. It was game over. I learned to respect every fence, from the first to the last, after that.

    Nicola McGivern, dressage rider

    Riding differently at a show. When you ride your horse one way at home, is it any wonder that your horse gets confused when you try something different in the ring? Stick to what you know and use your training time at home to sample new moves.

    Cian O’Connor, showjumper

    I have learned not to get too upset when things go wrong as it will happen to everyone.

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    Hannah Biggs, dressage rider

    I was in Rotterdam CDIO on the Nations Cup team and decided not to look at the start list in case it made me nervous seeing all the top names. It backfired when the organisers altered the times and I only had 10 minutes to warm up! I now triple check my times.

    Alex Hua Tian, eventer

    Falling off at the Beijing Olympics. I was young and inexperienced. I was also too set in my ways and too keen to go out and ride the ‘perfect’ round. It didn’t work and that mistake hurt for a long time but it taught me the importance of adapting to the situation and horse I’m riding.

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