Robert Walker: ‘Don’t buy a horse in half-light’ *H&H Plus*


  • Robert Walker discusses how he finds the next generation of champions: “Everyone should exercise caution if they do buy unseen and there are cases of people being scammed out of money for animals that do not exist”

    Now Cheshire has been put into tier two we’ve been able to return to some form of normality. We’ve been back out hunting the past couple of weeks and it’s been refreshing to do something other than the daily routine. I’m not ashamed to say that hunting is my rehab after a summer of showing.

    This year, it’s been easy to lull yourself into a morbid way of thinking but I’ve tried to keep positive. We’re lucky to work outside in our industry and I’ve enjoyed spending more time at home with less of the intensity of chasing qualifiers.

    Usually, we see very little of our home as we’re often back late from a show and out again early. This year has been about the enjoyment of our horses.
    Some will say that these changes have been for the better, though as a competitive person myself I know that we will fall back into the normal routine once we get going again; it’s just how we are.

    Taking chances

    I’m lucky to have owners who are always looking to the future. I abide by the theory that if you stand still for too long you can be left behind, and the same can be applied to finding the next stars of the sport.

    We have some good young horses in but there is always room for another one at any time of the year. You never know when one is going to pop up.

    At least 90% of my yard have come over from Ireland so this year has been different as we haven’t been able to go across and delve into that market as much. I’ve had to put trust into certain breeders with whom I have good relationships. I’ve taken chances; horses have been put on to the boat and I’ve hoped for the best.

    When I was growing up my dad taught me some basic principles to stick to when buying. Two of these were “don’t buy a horse in half-light” and “don’t buy just off a video”.

    Everyone should exercise caution if they do buy unseen and there are cases of people being scammed out of money for animals that do not exist.

    Aside from scams, when you’re purchasing a horse you’re always going to learn the cost of their faults by your own pocket; you could make a misjudgment with regards to conformation and sometimes you’ll only know about it once you come to sell it again and can’t get your money back. Keep your standards high.

    On the other hand, while we all want perfection, a show animal must also have charisma. We must individually weigh up the possible costs of sacrificing seemingly small faults for that all important charm and sparkle.

    I would not be averse to buying a horse with a proven record for a client but I would always choose a fresh face for myself. Dad taught me that showing is a young horse’s game and this is how I generally run my yard.

    Genetic paths

    Because we buy a lot of youngsters, we work with many different bloodlines. While I believe you never know where the next one is going to come from, certain traits of specific sires and dams can rub off on youngsters, such as attitudes and workable brains. Following certain families has given me a lot of pleasure over the years.

    Most recently, we had Horse of the Year Show champions Vantage Point and View Point who are out of the same dam, Quality Dame, and we have a small hunter out of View Point’s sister to bring out next year.

    Keeping bloodlines in the spotlight is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 17 December 2020

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