Windrush Education Session | An Eventful Life

Windrush Education Session

    Swearing allegiance to Windrush? No, deep breathing lessons!


The new intake of riders for the Windrush Equestrian Foundation’s Young Eventers Programme got their feet well and truly under the table earlier this month at the first of two education sessions during the UK off season.

Emma Thomas, Kristina Hall-Jackson and Harry Mutch were joined by outgoing riders (Will Furlong, Alicia Hawker, Connie Copestake, Yasmin Ingham and India Wishart) as well as some of the shortlisted riders, and mentor Pippa Funnell, for three days of educational sessions in Surrey at the start of November.


   Emma Thomas and Kristina Hall-Jackson hard at work during the first education session


Emma Thomas recounts her experience of the sessions.


“On the 8th of November I was lucky enough to attend my first education session as part of the newest Windrush Young Eventer’s Programme cohort. I was excited to get together with Windrush riders new and old. After some welcome pastries (very important) we had a great media lecture from Alice Fox-Pitt. As I have no experience with the media, I found her advice extremely valuable, and they will be words to live by in the future.

Next, we had a social media session with Sarah Skillin who instilled in us the rules across different social media platforms, which are easy to get caught out by! She also taught us to plan for each week, allowing us to save time and create better content. Sarah also spoke to us about acquiring and maintaining sponsors.

After lunch came our breathing workshop with Matt from Collings Performance. His ideas were incredibly interesting, centering around ‘4D breathing’. Having seen his examples of improvements made in other sports, I’m excited to implement it within my riding.

Our final class of the day was with Poppy Blandford on mental coaching. I was especially looking forward to her talk as this aspect of the programme was a reason, I was keen to apply. The main detail I took away was the importance of positive self-dialogue, and I really look forward to working with Poppy to improve this.

Day two kicked off with an eye-opening lecture from Joanne Saye on equestrian law. Jo made a lot of potentially lifesaving points, and I feel very grateful to be able to contact her if needed.

Following another great lunch, we embarked on a Pilates workshop with Julie Driver. Julie engaged our bodies from head to toe and sorted a few individual niggles out. Eventing takes a physical toll, so the weekly sessions we have with Julie throughout the programme will be invaluable.

To finish was a nutrition talk with Emma Chesworth and Emma Croxford. As I struggle to maintain a good sleeping pattern, they gave me a few useful dietary and lifestyle tips to get me on track. Their competition nutrition plan will also be handy for stressful event days.

On day three we headed to Pippa’s yard to meet her and Eric Winter for a workshop on cross-country design. They talked to us about what makes 5* and Championship horses along with the future of the sport. Eric then had us design some cross-country lines before dissecting them with us.           

That afternoon we were lucky enough to sit on Pippa’s horses. She put me on a lovely mare called Grace who was incredibly enthusiastic and a lot of fun to ride. She and Eric focused on us letting the horses read the question in front of them with minimal interference whilst remaining effective.

All in all, it was a fantastic few days. It was great to get to know everyone on the programme better and come away with so many ideas in all areas of the sport”

In December the young riders head to Geneva, Switzerland, to join with the Young Riders Academy for further education sessions and workshops centring around the CHI Geneva event. We’re looking forward to their next update!


   Next stop Geneva!