We asked awesome eventer Pippa Funnell about her life with horses.
Can you tell us a bit about your first pony?
Pepsi Cola – he was a little black, hairy pony who did a bit of everything.
When did you first ride for Team GB? How did it feel to wear the Union Jack?
I first wore it while I was in juniors and it was a very proud moment. I think it was most special when I first wore the senior flag, which was with Bits and Pieces in 1997. I’d waited a long time after young riders to get my senior call up, so that felt really good.
What is your most memorable horsey moment?
Winning the Rolex Grand Slam of eventing!
What’s the best piece of horsey advice you’ve ever received?
“95% of a horse’s problem is what the rider is doing on top.” It makes you aware of your own role in the way your horse goes and makes you look at yourself. By riding better we help our horses.
What phase at a three-day event do you find the hardest, or like the least?
My least favourite part is the Saturday morning – the hours before I go cross country. The nerves, feeling sick and questioning why we do this! But when you have a good ride, you know exactly why.
How do you prepare mentally before riding a tough cross-country track?
I try to be very strict with myself and ride through the whole course in my head in a positive way, fence by fence. I make sure I know all the options, should things go wrong. Once I’m convinced I know all the options, and that I’m mentally set to ride positively, what’s the point of worrying? I then ride what I feel when out on the course and deal with issues when they arise, rather than trying to predict things that might not happen.
What makes a good eventer?
To me, the most important thing to look for is an intelligent, trainable brain. It’s an added bonus if they are good movers! They obviously have to be able to jump, but you still need Thoroughbred blood in the line and quality. It’s most important that they have a brain that wants to work with you. And that’s not so easy to find in one that has ability!