Based in Northallerton, Yorkshire, Paul Barker is the son of the legendary show jumper, David Boston Barker, who was a member of Great Britain’s Nation Cup Team in the 1960s, and represented his country at the 1964 Olympic Games where the team just missed out on a bronze medal. Paul Barker is one of Great Britain’s leading show jumpers and started competing at the age of eight and won major classes on 128cm, 138cm and 148cm ponies including finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 1991 Junior Foxhunter final at the Horse of the Year Show. Here, we invite him to sit down for five minutes with Equiads magazine, and share his views on horses with us.
“I was brought up around horses and was with them for my whole life, whether it was show jumping or hunting. I didn’t start riding until I was eight, however. Watching my parents compete and then my older brothers and sister, I just caught the bug really! I was initially based with John Whitaker as a young rider, and learnt so much from both him and his wife Claire about yard management, daily routines, and how to get the horses feeling and looking well. I use a similar daily routine on my yard now.
If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about show jumping, it would be the cost of competing! Everything has changed in our sport; when my father used to compete, the costs weren’t as high as they are now, which made the job a lot easier for his generation.
I love the equestrian industry and the fact that every day is different; it’s a real hands-on, active job which I much prefer; I could never be in an office all day! The only thing I dislike about riding horses is falling off.
The horse I would have loved to have had the ride on is John Whitaker’s Milton. He was a really athletic horse, who wanted to win just as much as John did.
The things that I believe make a successful sports horse within show jumping are plenty of power and a good engine. He needs to be brave and careful and have a good attitude. A horse that tries and wants to win will always beat one that doesn’t, no matter how much talent it has! I find that a good horse nowadays has to have a lot of blood.
The ethos I like to live my life by is that ‘You can learn something new every day’. Be open to advice and ideas, as it may be useful one day!”
I couldn’t live without…
For me, I couldn’t live without TopSpec feeds. My horses always look fit and well and I know they are getting the very best nutrition available to them. I have been feeding TopSpec for many years and to have support from their nutritionists via my sponsorship is brilliant. We use TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer for all our horses and then add in the TopSpec cubed or flaked blends, and additives, if required. Another favourite product is TopSpec 10:10 Joint Support, for equine mobility. Tel 01845 565030 or visit www.topspec.com