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Scott Brash on his digital training platform: “You can never stop learning, and the most we can learn from our horses”

Friday, 11 March 2022
Interview

Photo © private collection “I hope that the platform helps riders create a better understanding and partnership with their horses, and that it improves both of their lives,” Brash says to World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Great Britain’s Scott Brash – Olympic team champion, former world number one and the only rider to ever have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping – finally took the time to write down his thoughts on how to possibly help a wider range of riders, which eventually resulted in the digital platform Scott Brash Equestrian Training. “I hope that the platform helps riders create a better understanding and partnership with their horses, and that it improves both of their lives,” Brash says to World of Showjumping.

Scott Brash Equestrian Training

Photo © private collection “You have to try to help riders understand why things went wrong; what they should have done, instead of what they did,” Brash says.

“As I stood teaching a student of mine every night, I kept thinking how great it would be if more people could hear and see us,” Brash recalls about the idea of creating a digital training platform for riders. “I kept thinking how I would love to be able to help riders who can’t afford to base themselves with a professional and get one-to-one tuition. The break we had due to Covid created an opportunity to actually sit down with these thoughts.”

I kept thinking how I would love to be able to help riders who can’t afford to base themselves with a professional and get one-to-one tuition

When developing the platform, Brash’s sister Lea was also an inspiration for him. “She is an accountant and works really hard all week. She has two horses that she takes out to the shows during the weekend as a hobby,” Brash explains. “Talking to her, when she was coming home on a Sunday night sort of upset if the show had not gone right, feeling like she had ridden bad, would upset me. She puts a lot of time and effort into the horses and I just wanted her to be happier driving home, going through the whole process. I started to think how I could help her, and those like her. Quite often she would ring me and tell me what she was struggling with. She didn’t have the time to go and get a lesson from someone, and needed to know what type of exercises she could do at home to help her horse. It made me think that there are loads of people out there like my sister, and that I should try to help them.”

Lack of understanding

Photo © private collection “I kept thinking how I would love to be able to help riders who can’t afford to base themselves with a professional and get one-to-one tuition. The break we had due to Covid created an opportunity to actually sit down with these thoughts," Brash tells.

“Many times, the issues are the same,” Brash says. “I think that 80-90% of the time when things go wrong in the ring, it is down to a lack of understanding – from us riders and the horses. Quite often, it is something simple that could have prevented the mistakes from happening. There is nothing I dislike more than seeing both horse and rider upset when walking out of the ring and, at the same time, I think there is nothing better than seeing someone delighted and happy with their horse, and their horse knowing it has done well. Those two happy faces – there is nothing better than that.”

You have to try to help riders understand why things went wrong; what they should have done, instead of what they did

Brash believes that it all starts with the right education. “You have to try to help riders understand why things went wrong; what they should have done, instead of what they did,” he says. “Hopefully, the platform is helpful in this way; there are exercises that you can watch and set up at home during the week. I have tried to divide it all into categories, so that hopefully, riders can think themselves and discover what went wrong, what they need to practise on and then find the right exercise on the platform. There is a pdf-file on how to set up each exercise, so you can be confident that you have done it properly. That would be the other thing; like my sister, if I tell her to set up a four-stride bending line for example, she would ask how many steps she should step out for the four strides, and worry if her steps are long enough. To have a pdf on the platform, we try to help riders walk the exercises out correctly. I hope it helps them understand and also helps them walk the courses better.”

Never stop learning

Photo © private collection “I think you can never stop learning; you can learn from everyone and anyone,” Brash says.

“I think you can never stop learning; you can learn from everyone and anyone,” Brash continues. “I think a lot of the times where I have had problems in the past, when I was younger, those have been sort of simplistic things in the end. Quite often, we run into problems with horses because we get too complicated with them and they don’t understand what we want from them. I believe riding is about simplifying everything and keeping it easy and straight forward. You can always achieve the end goal in whatever way you do, as long as you keep it simple and consistent. Hopefully all this rings through in what I have done with the platform.”

I believe riding is about simplifying everything and keeping it easy and straight forward

“I think it is very important to stay open; and the most we can learn from our horses,” Brash says. “I love watching the horses – recently, I was long-reining a four-year-old and it was just really nice observing her not knowing something and then starting to understand what it is that I wanted from her. ‘What can I do to make it easier for them to understand?’ – this is how I approach everything with horses. It is about understanding the horse, getting into their brain and how they think. I believe you can learn so much from the horses on a daily basis. You can also learn at a show simply by watching the collecting ring. There are many ways to the end product of having a really rideable, flexible horse that understands what we as riders want from them.”

Season two

Photo © private collection "There are many ways to the end product of having a really rideable, flexible horse that understands what we as riders want from them," Brash explains.

“I still don’t think it is perfect, I think there are more features that could be included,” Brash says about the digital platform. “We got a camera crew and ran with it, did a lot of filming and there was a lot of material that we did not use in the end. Riding and speaking at the same time is much harder than you would think!” he laughs. “It was quite a process, but I am glad we got it finished and that we have released it. It has been nice to hear that is has helped other riders.”

“I am at the stage now where I am thinking about possibly doing a season two,” Brash says about his future plans for the digital platform. “So far, we’ve only had positive feedback; I have not heard a negative comment other than people saying that it would be nice if it was also available in another language and possibly with subtitles. “I have taken that on board and we’re looking into whether it’s possible to have subtitles or perhaps one day multi-language videos. Not everyone speaks English and definitely not everyone understands my accent,” Brash laughs. “It is all about helping riders and I feel like I should nearly open the floor to questions on what they want to know; what do they need help with, and if there is something more I can do, I will – that has been the whole point of doing this.”

 

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