In the Ring with Sam Walker
Meet Sam Walker, your 2018 Maclay winner and top Canadian jumper. He has traveled the world, worked with top barns like North Run, and finished off his junior years with a third at the Dover Medal finals with his long-time partner, Waldo. He is now working and showing successfully with his incredible jumpers and his team at Sam Walker Inc. Now, let’s take a peek into Sam’s life and get answers to the questions we all want to know like how he handles show nerves, what it’s like to work with so many different horses, and how he prepares for finals!
Once you have a big win under your belt, does it change how you go into the next final? Do you feel more pressure or less pressure? I think that it depends how you look at it. I personally went into my next final with much more confidence because I knew my horse and I had potential to do well! I think that it is extremely important to take everything in perspective as well and remember that just because you won one final does not mean you will win the next! Horses are humbling, and they will humble you fast!
Waldo and Sam after their 2018 Maclay win
Tell me about your partnership with Waldo. Waldo and I first met each other 4 years ago. He did not feel like a super special horse when I first rode him, actually. After a few lessons and working with him over a couple months, he turned into a very competitive horse! I fell in love with him after our first show together which was about 4 years ago now! He will always hold a special place in my heart. He is the horse that every kid that does the equitation would dream to have, and I am so lucky that I got to ride him for all my junior years in the equitation.
Do you get show nerves? If yes, how do you cope with them? I don’t get very nervous when I show. If the stakes are high then maybe a little bit, but I try to control my nerves by telling myself to just remember that I have plenty more classes to do after this one so I just need to try my best and have fun!
You show in all different disciplines, how does your riding change depending on the discipline and horse? I think that I try to keep my riding style generally the same between the hunters, jumpers and equitation. You shouldn’t have to change the rider you are just because you’re in a different ring! I try to mold to the way the different horses go, but at the same time I’m always trying to teach a new horse something, or make them better for their next rider!
What do you think was the biggest factor that took you from regular showing to be able to step up into the bigger shows/finals? Practice. There’s really not much I can say other than hours and hours of practice. I think it’s very important to ride as many horses as you can and just remember that if you’re not working hard, someone else is!
Most memorable moment with horses? I have so many memories with horses I couldn’t recall my favourite. If I had to pick one I would probably say riding for team Canada at the CSIO 5* Nations Cup at the Palm Beach Masters.
In your whole riding career, who has been the most influential horse? I don’t know if I could credit one horse for everything! I think Waldo truly put me on the map in terms of publicity and getting my name out there! At the same time, my mare, Coralissa, has been a serious winner for me and never lets me down. She is a fighter and always tries her best for me!
How do you prepare for finals? What exercises do you specifically work on? Do you drill no stirrup work? I don’t do much for finals. At the end of the day it is just another class, so why would you treat it any differently? I like to go into finals with the same attitude as always, go and have fun!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received and why? The best advice I’ve ever received is that someone is always watching! Whether it’s your next big owner in the stands or someone that looks up to you. You always have to watch your attitude and not be so negative when things go poorly! It is easy to be a good winner, but it is not as easy to be a good loser.
Favorite candy? I think my favourite candy would have to be sour strips.
What’s a movie you stop to watch any time you see it on TV? Forrest Gump
What food have you had that you will never have again? Oysters
Favorite horse show you’ve been to? The CSIO 5* Palm Beach Masters at Deeridge Farm OR CSI 5* Dinard in France.
What show are you binging right now? I don’t really watch TV shows. I like Video Games!
What are 3 products in your show bag? Freejump Spurs, a good boot cleaning kit and my custom whips!
There you have it, Sam Walker’s top tips and advice for anyone in the equestrian world! Huge thank you to Sam for coming on the blog, I truly appreciate it!