Horse & Hound
Showman Edward Young
The leading showman on the hobby that keeps him sane, his dislike for gadgets and life as a young producer in the golden age of equestrian sport
“If things keep going wrong, the first place to look is in the mirror”
MY mother always told me that hands were made before gadgets, so in training I keep things simple. Gadgets and the like are just short cuts and don’t work in the long run. There is no substitute for hard work and patience. The other day I needed a pair of draw-reins and it took me an hour to find them, as I hadn’t used them in so long.
I’ve been lucky enough to have spent time with some incredible horse people over the years. One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was from the late Davina Whiteman, who told me off for not delegating enough.
I would try to do everything myself but this means you miss things. I now have the best staff and I’m rapidly becoming the least valuable member of the team; thankfully, I do the hiring and firing so my job is safe, for now.
My non-horsey hobby – to keep me sane – is pigeon racing. Albert Woodroffe, one of the best fanciers in the game, once told me that if things keep going wrong, the first place to look is in the mirror.
A WINNING MENTALITY
ON competition day, I never do anything specific apart from drink my usual cup of tea, with one heaped teaspoon of sugar. If something needs doing that day, it’s probably too late.
When I’m about to enter the ring, I focus on the task at hand; to win the class. There are 100 things we could keep an eye out for, such as places to avoid if it’s a spooky arena and if a horse has tried to ditch its rider in the collecting ring, so I know to avoid it. But ultimately I have one goal and I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve this.
My mother said that competitions are won at home and not in the ring. It’s those cold, wet mornings on the yard that make the difference.
My father was a vet and he told me I wasn’t allowed to set foot inside the house until my horse had been cleaned, fed and worked.
My riding icon is Harvey Smith. As a boy, I was obsessed with him. When I was 10 years of age, I remember attending the Great Yorkshire Show. I was dressed in a shirt, tie and jacket and waited outside the collecting ring for an hour and a half to get his autograph.
At Wembley, I would always run round to where his horses were stabled to catch a glimpse of him.
He’s a rider who started with nothing and then did masses for the sport. He could have been good at anything he did – I’m just glad he didn’t pick up showing, because I would have been terrified to compete against him.
John Whitaker would be a close second; he’s still going out as driven as ever and is still the one to beat. He’s utterly remarkable.
WHEN I was 16, I wish I’d known I was going to live through the golden age of equestrianism. We had some incredible shows, such as the Royal and East of England. Our showjumpers were the best in the world. There would be show pony classes with 40 or 50 animals in each.
My family’s first big victory as producers was the novice show ponies at the British Show Pony Society summer championships with my brother riding a 138cm, one of the hardest classes to win. But while I was lucky to grow up watching some legends, I wish I’d paid more attention and asked more questions.
I would have riding horse Legal Eagle back. He was the best horse I’ve ever had. He was tricky and I could have got more out of him now, though there is barely anything he didn’t win.