John Whitaker has inspired generations of riders, not least William Funnell. The pair sit down to discuss horsemanship, riding Milton, keeping motivated and years of friendship...
William: I have admired your quiet consistency with horses since I was a kid, so it made a big impact years later when you sent your horse Barry Bug for me to ride.
To go on to win the leading showjumper at Horse of the Year Show on a horse owned by you was a big thrill; I was in my twenties, I’d not done many internationals and had Comex as my top horse but nothing else, so I really felt like I’d made it. Was there a moment you thought, “Yes, I’ve made it”?
John: That night was a great experience for me, too, because I’ve never been on that side of the game – usually I’m on the horses’ backs. But, yes, aged about 18 when Ryan’s Son was seven and I had another seven-year-old called Singing Wind we went to Yorkshire Show. The first day was a big step up from what I’d been doing at the small county shows and it was a complete disaster.