At the end of 2018, Tim Cheffings took up the role of Under 18 Coach for the South West region, joining current coaches Sorrel Warwick and Emily Lee.Based in Devon, Tim achieved his BHSI status in May 2018 and holds his UKCC Level 2, regularly hosting British Eventing training courses across the South West for all levels of riders. Alongside a busy coaching schedule Tim produces and competes horses from BE90 up to CCI4* and was the winner of the prestigious BE Mark Todd Bridging the Gap Scholarship in 2015.
Eventing Worldwide caught up with Tim to talk about his new role and what he has planned for 2019…..
Congratulations on your appointment to the South West Under 18 Coaching Programme, what are you looking forward to most about the role? I’m very used to working with individuals and Pony Clubs and this is my first official role within British Eventing, so I’m very much looking forward to being part of the BE team and helping the U18s work towards achieving their goals.
Are there any areas you will be particularly focusing on with team members? I like to ensure all the basics are in place, working on varying pace and lines, using poles, show-jumps and simulated cross country to set up questions that the competitors are likely to meet on a course. A lot of the work I do though will depend on the particular strengths and weaknesses of the individual combinations.
How important are these youth training programmes? Youth training is very important. It gives young riders access to highly qualified coaches, who are or have been competing at a high level themselves. It also gives the team members opportunity to showcase their potential, and easy access to advice. I think honing your skills as a young rider is imperative to set you up for the future, as a rider and just as a good horseman or woman.
What knowledge and experience do you hope to be able to pass on to those participating? As someone who is riding and competing alongside my coaching role, I hope to lead by example firstly. I take great pride in having my horses working happily and to the best of their ability, so I hope to pass on the importance of building a relationship with your horse and working with them as individuals – there isn’t a one size fits all when working with horses. I started out riding horses we had bred at home, and have always predominantly ridden horses that I’ve produced myself, which is hard work but ultimately highly rewarding when success does come your way. I was a member of Junior teams when I was young, as well as being on Pony Club teams, so I’ve been in the position that these riders are in and can hopefully fully relate to them.
What are your top tips for winter training? The first thing I do is to look back through your past season and see if there’s a pattern where some work is needed. If dressage is the nemesis for a particular horse, then I would prioritise training on the flat and how that can be improved, for example. The other important thing though is variety, it’s a long winter and so it’s important to mix up the training and fitness work as much as possible – keep the horses interested in their job and enjoying it.
Looking back on 2018, how would you sum up your own season? It was a mixed season last year. Unfortunately I had a few good horses side-lined through injury. However, I had some good results on some of the younger horses. I had a new ride on a lovely eight-year-old, who went from Novice to 3* in that season and is looking hugely promising for the future. I had five horses in International classes at Hartpury and came away with all five having jumped double clears – so I feel that with such a mixed variety of horses, in terms of type and experience, that was quite a feat.
Looking at your own plans for 2019, what aims do you have with your horses? I’m really excited about 2019, with some of my previously side-lined top horses being back in full work now.
I have two exciting up and coming horses – Gaston and Legacy – both ready to embark on (the newly rated) 4* level competition and two others – Landslide and Alinero Van Het Scharenberg – who – if their prior injuries don’t re-emerge – will be ready to compete at 5* level. Donateur was one of the horses side-lined last year, but having previously been the winner of two 2* competitions, I’m really excited to have him back and aiming him at 4* level towards the middle/end of this season. I’m also very lucky to have some super young horses to ride and am looking forward to them seeing them progressing their hopefully very promising future careers.