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.

Another reason to love Badminton Horse Trials!

This is a great video showing all the best bits from the 2011 Badminton Horse Trials. The video includes Oliver Townend, Caroline Powell, Mary King, Paul Tapner, Emily Baldwin, Piggy French, Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch, Ruth Edge and many more!

Feel free to add your favourite videos.

Why we love Badminton Horse Trials

This is a great bit of footage from the 2011 Badminton Horse Trials. Paul Tapner talks you through his ride around the Mitsubishi Motors cross country course via full helmet cam footage used to compliment the TV coverage. Paul talks us through every fence, his strategy for riding the course, and his thoughts on his way round.

Vouchers for Badminton

We were so disappointed to hear that Badminton Horse Trials has been cancelled this year primarily for all our sponsored riders who have worked so hard to be there.  We realise that for a lot of people Badminton is a social and shopping highlight of the year.

For WOW saddles, Badminton is an important start to the season where we can showcase our new designs, which this year we had so many to show!

I am disappointed for my staff who have put so much effort into being ready for the show for it to come to naught.  We took the opportunity of offering a discount on our WOW saddles to all those coming to Badminton and we know that clients were coming specifically to take advantage of this offer.  For all those disappointed people we would like to honour the voucher in Horse and Hound.  So if you keep the voucher and present it to your retailer we shall honour the discount for all Horse & Hound readers.

David Kempsell

Managing Director


What helped diminish unsightly and uncomfortable skin lumps on Francis Whittington’s ride Sir Percival?

This video shows WOW’s sponsored event rider Francis Whittington at Burghley 2011.

“The horses are now all much freer through their shoulders both on the flat and when jumping. I love the ease of adaptability to fit different horses, being able to fine tune them and make subtle changes to the balance while on board which would be impossible in a traditionally flocked saddle. Sir Percival had lumps on his back before I started using the WOW on him, and they are now diminishing. Not only do they sit well on the horses but I can now ride in comfort too,” he says.

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