Happy Days and Winning Ways: Training for the top by the International Junior and Young Rider Team coach

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  • Happy Days and Winning Ways: Training for the top by the International Junior and Young Rider Team coach



    Price as reviewed:

    £9.99 for paperback

    Author: Gill Watson
    Published: 2022
    Available as paperback and on kindle

    View now at amazon.co.uk

    About Happy Days and Winning Ways: Training for the top by the International Junior and Young Rider Team coach

    During the first Covid-19 lockdown, the renowned under-21 eventing coach Gill Watson “became tired of baking cakes and spring cleaning the house” and set up a WhatsApp group for some of the juniors and young riders she had worked with over her 30 years as British team trainer to those age groups. The group grew and spiralled, with rides sharing “tales of antics during team training, team selection and their experiences travelling around Europe”.

    With the help of journalist Ellie Hughes, Gill has now brought those memories together into a book.

    After a foreword by Pippa Funnell, the book starts with a brief autobiography tracking Gill’s life from childhood through her own competition career, including a Burghley Horse Trials win in 1969, and an insight into her training philosophy.

    The book then details each year of her career as team trainer with the juniors and young riders, blending Gill’s own reminiscences with short “notes” from the riders themselves, parents and even the families who hosted youngsters during their training courses with Gill.

    The final chapters are given over into insight on and from the grooms at the championships, Gill’s home team and the other team officials such as vets, selectors and chefs d’equipe.


    This is a wonderful book which everyone with any interest in eventing – or coaching, team tactics and management of people – should read and will enjoy.

    The format has been skilfully brought together so that Gill’s voices and others are carefully ordered and blended to tell the story of each year with very little repetition. Every championship has so many untold stories, from travel disasters to veterinary or medical issues which were overcome to allow teams to triumph, and it is fascinating to go behind the scenes and read 30 years of these tales.

    Some of the riders who have contributed to the book have gone on to become household names in the sport, adding a nice celebrity factor; others disappeared from view after success in the “under” teams and it’s fun to be reminded of them and their success. I liked the way each note ends with a sentence of two saying what that person went on to do inside or outside the sport.

    The different venues hosting the championships around Europe come to life and it’s interesting to see how things have changed through the years, from the days of travelling behind the Iron Curtain in the early years of Gill’s tenure.

    The book is a huge testament to Gill’s skill as a horsewoman and technical coach, plus her ability to bring out the best in people – the medals speak for themselves, plus rider after rider pays tribute to what she did for them and their career in the book.


    Happy Days and Winning Ways is a very easy book to read and I wanted to start again at the beginning as soon as I finished it.

    View now at amazon.co.uk

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