An important aspect of being part of the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Programme is to inspire the next generation of equestrian athletes. We have a great report on Eventing Podium Potential squad member Wills Oakden after his recent visit to his local Pony Club.

Fife Hunt Pony Club Junior Camp recently welcomed Wills Oakden, Event Rider, to give a demonstration and take questions from budding equestrians of the future. This was one of Wills’ Athlete Appearance Days aimed at inspiring the next generation, supported by UK Sport and the National Lottery thanks to Wills’ inclusion on the World Class Programme.

Wills says: “I was very keen to try to get to my local junior camp; although they are only young, this is where it all began for me and I have a lot to thank my Pony Club for when I was that age.”

Wills took two horses, Call me Bon Jovi (Bonjo) a 5yr old competing at BE100 and All of a Spin (Oliver), a 10 yr old Advanced horse. Wills spent time explaining and demonstrating training at home for cross country riding.

With Bonjo he was able to demonstrate the importance of building a horse’s confidence when they are young and making any exercises inviting. And Oliver had some fun with some tricky lines and how you build up to these types of questions in an encouraging manner. Wills stressed that at every level it is key that we teach the horse to understand the types of questions you’d find on the cross country course.

Sue Young from Fife Hunt PC said, “I thought the demo was fantastic - Wills explained very clearly what he was doing whilst schooling the horses and really had the children's attention. He had a very nice manner with them when answering questions and as a consequence they asked lots of good questions.”