With a European eventing champion as a mother and an Olympic eventing gold medallist as a father, Zara Phillips is never going to be short of good advice. H&H caught up with the World Equestrian Games silver medallist to get her take on course-walking, hard graft and learning from your mistakes.
Zara Phillips on…
“My parents [Captain Mark Phillips and Princess Anne] were always very much about working hard,” says Zara. “When I started we only had one or two horses anyway, so it was always about making sure you do one horse or a few horses very well, rather than having a lot and doing them averagely.”
“I always walk the course with my Dad,” Zara tells H&H. “He’s very good at walking a great line, but also making sure that you have a plan B just in case something happens.”
… eventing legends
“[It was hard to be in awe of the older generation of eventers as a child] because I grew with my parents riding and I just went around the circuit [with them],” she says.
“But it’s funny to now be riding with Toddy after he’s come back to the sport. And when I started Pippa [Funnell] was at the top of the sport winning everything and no one could get past her. So it’s great to be riding with those guys now.”
…what makes a great rider
“Everyone is different,” Zara says. “If you went and looked in the top five riders’ yards now you’d see how everyone does everything so differently.
“It’s about getting the best out of your horse on the day and all of that is due to day-in-day-out training, learning about your horse and getting the best partnership you can.”
…getting expert advice
“If you look at the top football or rugby teams and the amount of people they have around them — they’ve got physios, doctors and nutritionists for example — it’s so professional.
“And we’re working with expensive animals as well, so you kind of have to go that way.
“You’re always trying to get ahead and get that last little bit of perfection or ability out of a horse.
“You want to try to make sure you get the most you can out of them.”
“You see mistakes that younger riders are making when you’re on the circuit, but I think they’re all mistakes that you’ve made yourself,” says Zara. “Unfortunately the best way to learn is through mistakes.”
Zara Phillips is the in-game mentor and guide for the internationally successful equine game Howrse which is available as a free-to-play browser game for PC, Mac, iOS and Android mobile devices. Find out more at www.howrse.co.uk