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Listen to the latest episode of the Equestrian Hub Podcast

Charlie Brister

Charlie is an all-round horseman who brings with him a wealth of experience. In his many years as an equestrian, he has made his fair share of mistakes and now enjoys passing on what he’s learned to other riders.

Growing up in a horsey family (Mum is a horse trainer and Dad a horse vet) meant Charlie was in the saddle early, he thinks when he was around three. But the love affair with horses didn’t really begin until, as a 12-year-old, he went on a Man from Snowy River ride in the Victorian high country. While in some respects quite a frightening experience, it ignited his passion for horses in a big way.

Pony Club and Charlie proved not to be an ideal match, “they didn’t go fast enough”, but when he was in his early ‘teens, his mother entered him in his first event. Having never previously ridden a dressage test, a cross country course, or a show jumping round, the outcome was predictably less than place-getting, but he had a lot of fun.

With that experience and his high country ride behind him, Charlie began to train in earnest. In high school he was helped by eventing riders Fiona Hughes and Sharmayne Spencer and it was game on.

After a stint in the US competing in both eventing and show jumping, Charlie now competes mainly in jumping and is concentrating on developing young horses (five of his own as well as his clients’ horses), which he finds very satisfying: “Competing horses that you’ve had since they were babies and taking them up the FEI levels, or when you’ve got a particularly tricky horse that you’ve been able to get a better understanding of, that’s very rewarding. There’re plenty of competitions that I’ve won or done well in, but any time I’ve made an improvement in my horses, I’m more than happy.”

Having made mistakes of his own as a young horseman, Charlie is always keen to share what he’s learned with other riders, and looks forward to passing on the knowledge he’s gained.

Q: What was your dream or what were your goals when you first set your sights on top level equestrian sport?

In Year 12 I started to envision riding at the top level of eventing, seeing myself riding at the Olympics and in 5* eventing competitions. Since then my goals have developed more towards improving my horsemanship and my understanding of horses at a fundamental level.

Q: We believe in the great value of mentors, did you or do you have a mentor that has made a significant impact in your life or career?

I have had several mentors and many coaches along the way. It’s been important to stay open to learning new information. Reading books, watching YouTube clips and training DVDs has also provided so much good information. Watching people at the top of their game always inspires me to keep improving.

Q: What is the best advice you were ever given?

Wet saddle cloths make good horses. My step father is an Irish horse trainer and instilled that idea into me growing up. If you want to improve you have to put in the hard work and a bit of sweat along the way.

Q: What roadblock or roadblocks have you overcome to be where you are today professionally?

Injuries to myself and my horses would be at the top of the list. Then there’s wanderlust, I have spent a lot of time travelling different parts of the world, and while that wasn’t always horse related I don’t regret any of it. Another would be lack of planning in relation to achieving goals, and of course, not having super rich parents. I’m joking with that last one! My parents were as supportive as they could be – and while money’s useful, it won’t help much if you don’t put in the hard yards yourself.