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My life with horses: A PHD student handling work, study and riding both his own horse and his trainer’s horses

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Brian Leung and Walter - My Life with Horses

Live a week in Brian’s shoes as we hear how he manages work, studying for his PHD and keeping his horse, Walter, competition fit


While my alarm rings at 6:30am this morning, Walter gets to enjoy his regular Monday off, so he gets a break from me today! I keep him on what’s effectively a full livery arrangement, which suits me down to the ground because I’m in the lab before 8am most days.


My riding routine is pretty variable depending on my work commitments. Today, I ride before 8am and then dash back into central London – but otherwise Walter would enjoy a hack with one of the girls at the yard. Tuesdays are always my busiest day, and this week it’s no different. Once I finish work I spend the evening with the Army Reserve for our weekly drill night. After that I’m exhausted so head to bed after a quick dinner.


An early start this morning – I have to be in the lab by 7am so I can finish a bit earlier to fit in a ride – today’s a schooling day for Walter. During the competition season I often enlist my coach, Lisa, to give him a tune-up for me but because the season’s not yet begun Walter and I have a session in the school working on his suppleness and lateral movements.


Another day, another leisurely hack for Walter. I like to make sure he’s out and about as much as possible to keep him fit and interested in his work, particularly during the winter. A bit like Tuesdays, Thursdays are another busy one at work, but at least there’s no army training today. I try to allocate Thursday evenings to stretches, core exercises and pilates to stay fit and strong for eventing and, feeling surprisingly energetic afterwards, I  finish up with a 6km run.


Due to Covid-19 I try to save my computer-based lab work for the end of the week, which means I can enjoy a day working from home. So, today I get my only lie-in of the week before heading up to the yard for our usual Friday jump session. We try some gridwork and gymnastic exercises to work on his shape and athleticism over fences. I keep an exercise diary on hand to help me focus on areas we need to improve and figure out what works well to take forward to future sessions.


A day off? Sadly not! I spend my weekends working on my coach’s yard doing yard duties and helping to ride her horses. If I get enough time over lunch I take Walter for a speedy hack, which saves having to get up super-early on a weekend. During the competition season Saturdays are our prep day for getting horses ready and packing the lorry, but I’m making the most of the current situation and I’m in bed and ready for a good snooze by 10pm.


Back at the yard again today, but Sundays at this time of the year are much quieter than during the summer. We use the time to squeeze in some odd jobs and anything we didn’t have time for during the week, and today I’m washing the lorry and tidying the hay barn. I aim to give Walter five days’ work a week so Sundays are a day off. This sometimes changes depending on what the week throws us, and when we’re back out eventing this’ll all go out the window as we find a new routine. Still, I’m very much looking forward to the season restarting. Only an eventer could say they’re looking forward to 4am starts again!

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