Helen White BHSAI probably rides for Charles de Kunffy more than any other rider in the UK; she also comes second to Charlotte Dujardin fairly often, which, let’s face it, is the same as winning. She is one of the most switched on and empathetic people that I know, and both of these qualities come out in her riding and teaching. She talks to us about acquiring horses, getting bucked off, and how she’d like another shot at the Nationals.
Tell us about yourself. What’s the set up, who are the horses?
My name is Helen White, I’m an AI. I have a yard based in Worcestershire, and I also train on a freelance basis in the surrounding area. I have 5 horses; two are retired, one is a project horse; then there is one, Reg, working at Medium and my main horse, Spider, who is advanced. I do most of my competing on him, as well as the lecture demos.
How did you get into horses?
When I was 6 a leaflet came through the door for a local riding school. I spent pretty much every weekend and every school holiday there, until I got my own horse when I was 17. I bred Spider, my main horse, but all the others I ‘acquired’, so progress tends to be slower as they generally come with issues. Tiger, one of my retired horses, came to me because the owner couldn’t pay the livery bill and no one would ride him because he was so wild. I literally fell off every day for about three months; nearly every time I took him cantering for fitness work he would drop me at the furthest point and gallop home – I used to have to ring my dad and tell him the horse was coming home without me!! But I persevered and in 2004 we were third in the Elementary at the Nationals at Stoneleigh. My poor long suffering Dad has driven me around the country for competitions, lessons and lecture demos from the beginning, and is an expert in his own right because he has seen so much – or at least he thinks he is!!
How did you hear about Andrew? What made you go for that first lesson?
In all honesty I just fell upon Andrew. (Not like that – ed) I had been searching for something in my training, but I wasn’t sure what. I just knew the training that I’d previously had wasn’t how I wanted to do things. There was a clinic at the Unicorn Trust that a friend of mine suggested I go on. That was when I had my first lesson with Andrew, and I knew within thirty seconds that I had found the trainer and training methods that I had been desperate for.
What different has it made to you and your horse?
Every difference!! The training makes complete sense, not only to the rider but to the horse as well. My horses are light, supple, and a pleasure to ride, but most importantly to me, they are willing, happy athletes.
What came first, the half halt or the yield?
What would you have done if it hadn’t been horses?
To be honest I never really thought about doing anything else. I have always loved art and creating so maybe something along those lines.