Blog Archives

Ask Francis: What is the secret to soft hands?

WOW Sponsored rider, Francis Whittington answers a Facebook fan’s question about keeping hands soft.

Q. Francis is known for having very soft hands (which is always so nice to see). I appreciate there is no simple answer to having such a ‘giving’ style but could you please ask him if it came naturally to him or was it something he spotted as a youngster in his pony days and developed ? Marc Melander

A. I was lucky enough to receive training from some amazing trainers when I was younger. They were tough on me and if I got it wrong they made it clear!

One person who helped me with my style of riding for cross country and show jumping was my show jumping trainer. Most will have heard of him as he is the current boss of the British Show Jumping team, Rob Hoekstra. I had a lot of training from Rob as a kid. Starting when I was 6 or 7 years old. Although I don’t see him that often now as he is so busy, his words and advice still play an important part in my riding and understanding of how I should ride. It was important to use body control rather than fight with the hands. To teach the horses to listen to our body and allow the horse the hand when needed. There are obviously times where it is necessary to take a firmer contact and I’m sure you will see the odd occasion at Badminton next week. For me there are three basic points to remember. Rhythm, Balance, Control. You only ever need two of them to achieve the third!

Francis Whittington riding SIR PERCIVAL III

If you have a question for Francis then get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.

Ask Francis: How to succeed as an event rider?

In the latest instalment of Ask WOW Saddles sponsored rider Francis Whittington, he answers a Facebook fan’s question about making it as an eventer…

Q. I know there is no easy way….but as a teenager starting out eventing what is the quickest and easiest route to take to become a professional (I know it will take many years) is it about right place, talent, dedication, social connections? This is what my daughter would like to do as a career after gcse, what would you advise how to start?

A. You are right, there is no easy or quick route to success in Eventing, it takes hard work, time, dedication, motivation and perseverance! In my opinion it is very important to learn your trade at the lower levels and then build and develop confidence in your own ability while learning and gaining experience from as many people as you can.

In order to succeed it is important to have a plan and structure to your training, the earlier you can get this, the quicker success will come. There are no shortcuts! Learn your management and horse care through the Pony Club, which is a fantastic institution, and basing yourself with a a rider is also advised, just choose the right rider.

Obviously the type of horse you have depends on your finances but if you can get in the habit of producing and selling early in a horse’s career you can set up your horse power from there. There is no harm to having a second string to your bow but if you really want to make a profession in Eventing then you have to commit to it. Good luck!

If you have a question you want to ask Francis, comment on this post or send us a message on Facebook and we will get him to answer in next month’s blog!

Francis Whittington riding SIR PERCIVAL III

Ask Francis….

If you have ever wanted to ask event rider Francis Whittington a question, from how he gets his competition horses fit to what it is like to ride around Badminton, now is your chance!

As a WOW Saddles sponsored rider we have organised for him to share his expertise with us to help you strive for success this season. All you need to do is join our Facebook page and message us with your questions and once a month we will get the man himself to answer them for you!

Whether you want to brush up on your flatwork, hone your show jumping or make the time cross country – Francis’ wealth of experience and knowledge is sure to help give you a push in the right direction for the 2013 season. Click here to ‘like’ our Facebook page and be part of the new, exclusive, WOW Saddles Ask Francis feature!