Brian Walker, a dual Canadian and American citizen, has trained, worked and ridden alongside the best in the world over the last 25 years. As a junior, Brian won the Maclay Medal Equitation Championship in 2001. Brian has made a name for himself by developing quality horses into successful competitors in both the hunter and jumper arenas, earning accolades for himself and his clients. Do you have a question you want Brian to answer? Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the major lessons you have learned through working with horses?
Over the years, horses have taken me to many interesting places and exposed me to many different people. With all these different life experiences, I have learned a great deal. The horses themselves have taught me the best lessons in life. As a young child, I took care of my own horses and it taught me responsibility. The horses needed to be cared for and there was no way to avoid the tasks. Even when I had a groom as a junior, I worked on Mondays to give my groom the day off. Working with the horses also helped me develop skills for animal care, people management and organizational skills that I don’t think I would have developed so early in life without the responsibility of the horses.
When you took on clients, what qualities did you look for?
Clients are a big part of our business and we end up spending a lot of time with them. Having the right people in the barn is very important for everyone to have a good experience. You must find the clients that best suit your business endeavors. For me, there are two qualities that are a must when I take a client: their show schedule is the same as mine and they must be willing to listen. I have plans for my riding career, so the clients also need to go to the same shows or at least there needs to be some sort of compromise of schedules if a client can’t go to the same shows that I attend. Clients also must be willing to listen. They pay me for my knowledge, training and guidance. If they’re not willing to listen to my advice then it’s probably not a good fit.
Are there any important lessons/advice that you learned from your trainers that you pass on to your clients?
Over the years I have developed my own ideas and thoughts that have been influenced by many individuals, including Missy Clark and Kent Farrington, that I pass along to clients. However, the most important thing I’ll say from my previous mentor Jan Tops is, “If you can’t afford the best horses you must pull and kick a little harder” to be able to compete. People who don’t have unlimited financial resources supporting them can easily become frustrated when they hear someone buys an expensive horse and then that horse and rider beats them. This sport is very expensive and money can really divide the riders. As a rider with less funding, you must find a horse to work with, train hard and push your own skills to succeed.
What are five things that you cannot leave your house without and always take with you on the road?
We travel a lot in our industry and I’m the first to acknowledge that most of the time I overpack. Traveling to shows in Europe, I tend to not overpack quite as much because we normally go to the show on Thursday and come home Sunday. The first things I pack are my show clothes. I figure if I have my show clothes then the rest is only extra. The second thing I make sure to have is my phone. We all know what it’s like to not have your smartphone. You feel you can’t survive an hour without it, let alone survive for a few days. The third thing I can’t leave without is my toothbrush and toothpaste. I have an obsession with brushing my teeth. The fourth item is shoes — and I always pack too many. I think shoes really make your outfit. Most of the time, I don’t have time to go out after the show and only wear sneakers. The last, most important thing I bring to shows is my iPad. This is especially important in Europe because you never know what TV stations you will get. Most of the time English is only on BBC or CNN, so Netflix is a must when traveling on the road.