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Training is vital, says Nick Skelton

Top show jumper Nick Skelton has delivered a broadside to today’s hopefuls on the need to take training seriously.Nick, talking exclusively to Graham Fletcher in this week’s Horse & Hound (7 December), reflected on the 12 years he spent as apprentice to Ted and Liz Edgar and how his success has been based on the “Total trust and belief” he put in the people training him.

Nick, aiming to get back in the saddle in February after breaking his neck during the summer, said: ” For the first threeyears, before I was any good, whatever they told me to do, I did.

” The problem nowadays is that young riders have a lot of money spent on horses for them to ride, but they never have professional training. It¨s not just training them to ride, it’straining them to decide which shows to go to, which competitions to try to win. Ted was a good man for placing horses, getting them ready to win. It¨s all down to management.

“Young riders need to learn a competitive system from working the horses, feeding them, to what time of day to ride them. Riding them at 3 o’clock in the afternoon’s no good. They ought to be getting up and getting on in the morning – the early bird catches the worm!

“Some of these young riders are applauded for winning International Trials at, say, 21. I won the Geneva grand prix when I was 21. Michael Whitaker won the Derby when he was 18. They need to get stuck in, and go to shows believing they can win, not thinking they can’t win.”

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