Welcome to Equo’s new trainer in the spotlight feature. This feature aims to uncover well-loved and talented trainers from across the UK and give them the recognition that they deserve. Kicking off the series is 34-year-old eventer Barry Meningen from Cambridgeshire. My name is Barry Meningen and my twitter profile describes me as ‘event rider, BE accredited coach, mucker outer’. That’s pretty much me in a nutshell.
I’m 34-years-old and run a livery and training yard in Earith, Cambridgeshire with my wife Jo. The yard offers our clients a haven from the stress and chaos of modern day life and we strive to offer a bespoke service with the happiness and welfare of our horses at the core of everything we do. My first love is eventing. I saw a Mary King demo as a child; her enthusiasm and love of the sport was infectious and I’ve wanted to do little else ever since.
I left school at 18 and spent two years working for Australian event rider Bill Levett. I learnt the importance of hard graft and sheer determination alongside the importance of horse and stable management. You need to be aware of the importance of every aspect – from farriery to feeding – not just training the horse under saddle.
From here I bought a cheap young thoroughbred for £1750. This bargain basement horse turned out to be something very special and I was extremely fortunate to partner him all the way to advanced level eventing.
A few years later I heard about a local yard that specialised in natural horsemanship, run by David Grodek, who is an Intelligent Horsemanship Association recommended associate. I had little understanding of what this intelligent horsemanship malarkey was… I assumed it was something to do with hugging horses? However, I live my life by the motto ‘never dismiss an opportunity’, so I put aside my prejudices and spent a year hugging those horses.
During this time I learnt to question everything I thought I knew; why do horses need to work on the bit? What does on the forehand even mean? What makes a happy horse and does he perform better? I developed a greater understanding of the biomechanics and psychology of the horse and how all of these things interconnect.
Fast forward a few more years and I accidentally fell into training people. I was asked to teach for a local Pony Club and, as much as training people terrified me, I couldn’t dismiss this opportunity and began to develop as a coach.
This year I trained for and successfully passed my UKCC level two (which is specific to eventing) and have now achieved my ambition of becoming a British Eventing accredited coach.
I now coach a variety of riders from beginners to competition riders and am looking forward to developing my coaching further. I try to combine my competitiveness and desire to get the most out of both horse and rider with the more sensitive and thoughtful ideals of a natural approach. There is a great sense of achievement in seeing partnerships develop and I am enormously proud of my clients for their achievements, whether that be jumping a 60cm course or moving up through the levels of British Eventing. Horses can bring great happiness to their human partners and I feel privileged to be a part of this.
There are a few more mottos that I live and coach by; I believe we can achieve anything. No one was born a great horseman or woman so our only limit is our ambition. I also will not accept that there is such a word as can’t. I used to say ‘can’t is short for can’t be bothered!’ This then developed into ‘it’s not that you can’t, it’s just that you won’t!’ I’ve now settled with ‘it’s not that you can’t, it’s that you can’t yet’ and ‘how can you turn I can’t’ into ‘I can’? This illustrates that I have developed some more tact with people and have learned to put my thoughts across in a much more positive way… although my wife may disagree with this statement and will tell you that I still have a lot of work to do!