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 email@example.com.
I think it’s almost time to sell my horse and buy one that will help me further my riding and achieve my goals of jumping higher. Do you have any suggestions for finding my horse the right new owners? I want him to have a good home; this isn’t about money.
Selling your horse can be like selling a family member: almost impossible! If money isn’t the issue and all you want to do is find your horse a nice home, you should first think about what your horse currently does best. Let your trainer do the job of finding a possible client for your horse with some of your requests. Let the professionals do the business side of selling. You can give your approval of the possible client before they even try your horse. Normally, if the horse is put into a job it’s comfortable doing, it should have a happy life.
The trainer I’ve worked with for the last few years is moving to a different state. She’s the only trainer I’ve known, and was recommended when I first started taking lessons. What should I be looking for in a trainer?
Having a trainer you feel comfortable with is very important as you will end up spending quite a lot of time together. You must first think of your goals and where you want your riding to go. This may actually be a great opportunity to take your next step for your riding. Location and access is definitely something to consider, as more time in the saddle allows you to get better, but just because a certain trainer is close doesn’t mean he or she may be the best for your career. When you’re busy showing, it actually doesn’t matter where your trainer is from because everyone is on the road. If you go to show somewhere in the winter, that’s another four months. With this is mind, your trainer’s home location doesn’t matter as much. Pick someone who you feel will help you get out of your comfort zone and into the next level.
My horse has never traveled by airplane and will be traveling out of the country for the first time this winter. How did you acclimate your horses when you moved to Europe? Did it take them a long time to be competition-ready again? Do you suggest a shorter flight for my horse first, just so he can get used to it?
For the most part, horses travel on a plane or truck quite well. I think horses travel even better on a plane, though some get a little nervous when they put the pallet on the plane or at takeoff. When they’re in the air, it’s smooth and they relax right away. You don’t need to overthink a horse’s travel plan if they’re inexperienced travelers. They’ll learn the drill with experience. When I moved to Europe, my horses had already flown over to the United States once, so I knew they’d be alright flying back to Europe. After a few days of riding once they get there, they will be ready to show.
My horse recently refused a jump during training, skidding into it and falling. Now he is refusing every jump and is visibly upset about even going into the practice ring. I’ve had him checked out by the vet; his feet, legs, teeth and entire body received the all-clear, so it isn’t like he was hurt and refused the jump as a result. When I flat him and do ground poles, he’s perfect. How do you suggest I ease my horse back into jumping without causing him distress?
Lots of things can go wrong when we jump, which can result in our horse crashing into the jump. Most of the time, it’s the fault of the rider. For a less experienced rider or amateur, a horse crashing into the jump can be quite unnerving, which only makes matters worse for the next jump. Horses can feel everything we’re feeling, and confidence is key for both horse and rider. If your horse won’t jump after sliding into the jump, he’s probably scared. It would be a good idea to start small, beginning with poles, then little jumps, to work your way back up to where you were before the fall. If the horse is scared to jump, then maybe you need to have a good riding professional get him going again. This may be a quick fix with one ride, or it may take many training rides. Your horse’s behavior could come from him being scared to crash again, but it can also come from your horse noticing a lack of confidence from the rider.
What’s the best way to break in tall boots for showing? I don’t want to make my boots look sloppy by wearing them for practice, but I also need to be able to move in them with my horse during competition.
Breaking in boots can sometimes be uncomfortable, but high quality boots are really easy to break in. After one or two times riding in them at home, they’re ready for the ring. With the semi-custom ones off the shelf, you can show the first time you wear them. For boots that are stiff, you can actually soak them with a little water once or twice after you put them on and they will break in much quicker.
I’m looking for a helmet that is comfortable, offers great protection and is stylish. What are some of your favorite tips and tricks to finding the right helmet in the top brands?
There are lots of good helmets on the market. I personally ride in Samshield helmets for two reasons: They are stylish and are extremely comfortable. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong helmet; they all meet safety requirements. The rest is just up to your personal tastes, but I would suggest going with the one you think is the most comfortable, because there is nothing worse than wearing a helmet that hurts your head.