We managed to snag a few minutes with TSB author Doug Payne between his fabulous dressage performance aboard Crown Talisman (“Tali”) at Rolex Kentucky Three-Day (April 23-26, 2014) and the pair’s first place finish at the Jersey Fresh CIC*** (May 7-11) to talk about the release of his new book THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL and just a few of his (other!) favorite things as he prepares to cross the ocean to ride in Saumur International Three-Day Event, May 22-25.
TSB: In your new book THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL, you explain that part of the reason you have gained recognition for your ability to find a way forward with “problem horses” is the sheer number of different kinds of horses you had the opportunity to ride during your childhood, as well as when you first began your training/retraining business. Can you tell us about one horse you remember who taught you a very important lesson from which you still benefit today?
DP: I rode a horse named “Just a Star” who was the first horse I rode at the Advanced Level. He was an incredible jumper, but his flatwork left some to be desired. After some time our partnership developed and our scores improved. The improvement in scores came only after a patient progression. Every time I tried to increase the pressure we went backward—literally and figuratively! Ever since, I have been very mindful to make sure that my horses progress at their own pace, and when in doubt I give them more time.
TSB: In THE RIDING HORSE REPAIR MANUAL, you say that horse “problems” can arise from a physical issue, a “foundation flaw” (a missing component of training), or sometimes an attitude problem. It is common to hear a rider say her horse “has an attitude” or is “cranky” or “witchy” or “stubborn.” In your opinion, is an “attitude problem” usually the case the majority of the time as so many riders might have us think? Have you ever had a horse whose “attitude problem” prevented his ever reaching his potential in terms of performance?
DP: Seldom does it happen, but there have been a few who, for whatever reason, just don’t want to participate. I’d like to think that every horse has his job in which he will be happy. I generally try to steer them in that direction. I’ve only had one who would hurt herself in order to avoid doing work of any kind. This is the only one I “gave up” on—it’s not worth my health and life for a horse who has no sense of self-preservation.
TSB: What is the most important thing for the amateur rider to consider when dealing with a “problem horse”?
DP: You’re not alone, and your horse’s problems are not “unique” just to him or her. Look for help if you’re not progressing!
TSB: You once stated it was your goal to ride at the highest levels of dressage, show jumping, and eventing. With your recent successes in eventing, do you see yourself concentrating on your career in that discipline for good?
DP: Not at all! Riding in the strict disciplines is such a tremendous challenge and only helps my eventers in the barn. At the moment I have a horse named Royal Tribute (owned by myself, Kristin Burgers, and Larry and Amelia Ross) who will be showing at Fourth Level dressage this spring/summer and a horse by the name of Eli (owned by Mike Rubin) who I am currently showing Grand Prix in show jumping.
TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.
DP: I’m lucky enough to say I don’t! I grew up on a farm in New Jersey as a member of a very active horse family.
TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.
DP: Ditto the question above.
TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?
DP: Hopefully a cross would be acceptable: My favorite mix is a Holsteiner-Thoroughbred cross, which is the breeding of Crown Talisman, as well as 5 others on our farm. I’m not sure that I could narrow it down to just one book. My current favorite is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
TSB: If you had an iPad and WiFi on your island, what movie would you stream?
DP: I’d love to have access to the Internet! I have an obsessive personality and love to research just about anything. I would guess Wikipedia and Fox News would be top of my most visited list.
TSB: You are a pretty tech-savvy guy. What’s your favorite social media app and why?
DP: Twitter: It’s the most immediate and efficient way to find out what’s happening anywhere in the world.
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?
TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback or with a horse that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?
DP: At this point I’ve competed at the four-star (****) level of eventing, Grand Prix show jumping ,and Intermediaire I dressage. Grand Prix dressage is next to check off that list!
TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?
DP: I love food, so the type is not important. The perfect meal is a function of the company, so comfortably at home with Jess (my wife) and other great friends.
TSB: You recently got married. Where did you go on your honeymoon?
DP: We haven’t yet!
TSB: What is your motto?
DP: I actually have two:
What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.
Keep it simple, stupid.
Have you always wanted to ride the perfect cross-country round on a fabulous horse? Check out this great helmet-cam video: Ride along with Doug as he and Tali nail it this past weekend: