This week’s H&H guest editor answers your questions, including revealing what his horses eat and how he knows which ones will make it to the top
Q. Who are your heroes?
A. I’ve had a few over the years. We used to get videos of Badminton and Burghley when I was a kid in Australia and I remember watching Ginny Elliot (pictured) and admiring how technically correct she was. I also always looked up to guys like Mark Todd and Andrew Nicholson when I was younger.
Q. What do you feed your horses? Do you stick with one brand or mix and match? Do they have hay or haylage?
A. I use Saracen horse feeds — they sponsor me now as I approached them because I knew they were one of the best feed companies and I was using their products already. They are very good at helping me devise a programme for the horses.
On top of that I just feed hay — usually dry, but I do have some horses who have wet hay as they are a bit less good in their breathing.
Q. What is your greatest ambition?
A. To win an Olympic medal.
Q. If you weren’t an event rider, what would you be doing?
A. I’ve always loved doing sports and I’d have loved to have trained racehorses — I think I would have really enjoyed that, although it’s along similar lines to what I do now so perhaps that’s a cheat answer.
I always fancied doing a law degree, but I was never quite smart enough to get the top grades. It was an area I considered getting into it after my geography degree, but I rode my horses too much and didn’t study enough, so I got all right grades, but not good enough to get into the law degree.
Q. What’s the greatest moment of your career?
A. It would have to be winning Badminton — we all aspire to that, it was an amazing thrill and something I’d love to do again. It felt surreal at the time — it’s an incredible experience to fulfil an ambition like that.
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Q. What do you look for in your horses and what is your favourite horse like?
A. To be a top performer, horses need lots of different attributes. I love horses who are light on the ground — by that I mean that if they are trotting or cantering, I can hardly hear them. When that happens, it means they are really athletic.
Of course, good ones also need a really good brain, to be sensible and trainable.
I’ve been lucky — I’ve had lots of really good horses through my career. Different attributes come through more strongly in different horses and my current top rides show that. Happy Times is one you can never hear moving over the ground, but he is tricky in his mind. Paulank Brockagh has a really good brain and that’s what brings her to the fore.
Sam Griffiths is the guest editor of H&H’s eventing special, on sale now (issue dated 3 March).