One of the most successful riders on the international eventing circuit, Oliver Townend has an experienced ‘eye for a horse’ and knows what he likes in his ideal event horse. Here he explains the five most important of those priorities and talks about the importance of good management.
“A bit self explanatory, but it a horse doesn’t have A BRAIN, you don’t really want to ride it, handle it and never loan or own it! A good brain makes it easier for you to train and perform at every level.
“Then it’s about JUMP. Obviously, as two phases out of the three are jumping, an event horses has to be able to jump and needs to have not just scope, but also a good technique, as the cross country fences don’t fall down.
“When it comes to BREEDING, everyone is drawn to a specific type of horse, which normally results in selecting a certain breed. I like a good percentage of ‘blood’, which comes from the thoroughbred, as at the top level an eventer needs a lot of stamina and a good gallop.
“Just as important is MOVEMENT, because the better the horse moves, the easier it is for the rider, especially at the lower levels. A naturally good canter is extremely important because that’s what makes the jump easier, but a nice flashy trot is a bonus, although the trot can be improved by correct training.
“The one thing I never forget is ATHLETICISM, because an event horse really does have to be an athlete. Cross country is often all about instincts, so if a horse is naturally athletic, it makes it easier on everyone.
“Then it’s down to management, and I always choose the TRM range of nutritional supplements for the horses in my yard. Joints are fundamental to performance at any level and Stride HA has made such a difference to the feel of Arctic Mouse; he feels happier and more comfortable through his whole body.
“Neo Du Breuil was previously a bad doer, who struggled to keep weight on and GNF has made a huge different to his wellbeing. He now looks very well and is on fantastic form.”
“Generally though, we all need to remember that the perfect horse hasn’t been foaled yet, so when you look at a horse, you have to be very honest with yourself, weigh up the pro’s and con’s and work out whether, with correct training and good management, you can iron out any kinks and end up with as near perfect a horse as you would want in order to achieve your personal ambitions. It’s worth remembering too that just because someone else doesn’t get along with a certain horse doesn’t mean it’s not right for you; sometimes you just connect and that’s it.”