Eventing superstars Sir Mark Todd and Pippa Funnell share some tips on preparing horses for a return to riding and competition in their Preparing Your Horse for Competition webinar, the latest in the “Welfare Wednesday” series from World Horse Welfare.
It is well-timed as many riders in the Northern Hemisphere are starting to think about bringing their horses back into work in preparation for the spring, hopeful that coronavirus restrictions will begin to ease.
Many people’s horses will have taken the past year quietly, or even been turned out for some or all of the time. However, as hope rises that restrictions will start to lift and life will begin to return to normal, many owners are now bringing their horses back into work with a view to enjoying riding and competing as soon as they are able.
Todd and Funnell discuss several points to bear in mind when bringing a horse back into work, increasing its fitness and aiming for competition. Not only do they consider how to get a horse fit to compete and talk through a training programme, they also point out common mistakes and how to avoid them. They look at when a combination is ready to move up a level, interval training, and how to help horses stay sound and fit over the long term. Todd and Funnell also share their views on what good equine welfare looks like, their opinions on the FEI’s blood rules, the upcoming ban on trimming whiskers, and new recommendations on noseband tightness.
Pippa Funnell MBE became the first person to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing in 2003 and is a three-time Olympic medallist, winning two team silvers and an individual bronze. She has also won Badminton Horse Trials three times and Burghley Horse Trials twice, along with several European titles. Funnell has also had a successful showjumping career and, alongside her husband, showjumper William Funnell, she is heavily involved with the breeding and producing of British-bred horses at The Billy Stud in Surrey.
Sir Mark Todd KNZM CBE is one of the world’s most celebrated equestrians, with two Olympic gold medals and numerous other honours. Todd was a pioneer of three-day eventing in New Zealand and in 1980 won the Badminton Horse Trials on his debut appearance. It was his first major victory in what was to become a glittering 20-year career at the top – to this day Todd remains one of only two riders to win back-to-back individual Olympic titles since World War II. He was voted FEI Event Rider of the 20 Century in 2000. He retired in the same year, but returned in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics and continued to be at the forefront of his sport until he retired for a second time in 2019. Mark has ridden since childhood, thanks to his grandfather borrowing a neighbour’s pony for him to ride.