Welcome back to another interview blog! This time we are joined by the two masterminds behind the brand new Showjumping Podcast – The Full Course.
Hopefully you read the last blog where I caught up with Equestrian Commentator, Sam Gerrard-May, and today I am again joined by Sam, and fellow brains behind the brand and International Showjumper, Will Fletcher, to discuss their exciting new venture.
Lockdown, although tough on everyone, has offered the opportunity to grow, educate and inspire. The Full Course Showjumping Podcast brings you up to date news, debates and interviews with some of the biggest stars in Equestrian Sport.
I am so excited to finally bring you this interview.
I hope you enjoy!
Lucinda: So first of all, let’s start with who you are. Sam, hopefully everyone has read our previous blog, but could you both introduce yourselves and say what you do?
Will: I’m Will Fletcher, I am a full time Showjumper, I have been on young riders and European teams. And recently, I have started a podcast!
Sam: If people don’t know, because you haven’t read the previous blog (yet!!), which obviously they should, I’m Sam Gerrard-May, Commentator, I do a lot of shows both in this country and abroad. And then I have worked with Will on the Podcast over the last couple of months.
Lucinda: And how do you two know each other?
Sam: Literally through the shows!
Will: Yea, through shows. Potentially a couple too many beers at the bar.
Sam: Haha yea!!
Will: Well where else are you going to meet people?!
Lucinda: Definitely one way to meet people! We are obviously facing a very challenging time at the moment. How are you both managing under Lockdown?
Will: Well for me, we have got the horses here. It’s a bit of a shame that we were ready and raring to go this year. But we are lucky that we can go outside with enough land to be able to continue with the horses, and it is really difficult for people that can’t do that. We are really lucky we are able to do that.
Lucinda: My little share pony is in lockdown at the moment, so I know a lot of people are in that situation too. Sam, how about you?
Sam: It is a really different time for everybody. None of what we are doing now, is what we would normally be doing at this time. For me, it’s tricky, because a lot of what I do is event based. I can do bits at home, but still not a lot. The podcast has been really great for interviewing people and keeping involved that way. It is difficult for me currently to carry on with every day life. I have been doing voiceovers, as well as the podcast.
Will: We are doing a lot with our younger horses at the moment. My best horse is getting a bit older now, and it is a bit of a shame that we are losing some months where we could be getting out to some nice shows and doing well. But everyone is all in the same boat, and we are all just trying to get through it.
Lucinda: So you’ve recently started a podcast, The Full Course, how did this come about? Was it something you’ve been thinking about for a while, did Lockdown give you a push, or how did this initially start up?
Sam: This was Will’s idea at first. He sent me a message in February, ‘I’ve got this great idea, lets have a chat’, and I thought ok lets have a look into this. One of the things we both thought is that Showjumping, out of all of the Equestrian disciplines, didn’t really have media that is adapting to the present time. We really wanted to find a way to keep people involved in the sport, and podcasts are a brilliant way of doing that, I definitely think they are the future, as well as the present. It also opens you up to a new audience, and it really went from there. We were planning to do it for a long time, and this gave us the leg up to progress it. Will, we’ve managed to adapt it at the moment to the current situation as well haven’t we.
Will: I wanted to do a podcast because I’m getting up every morning, mucking out, driving to different shows, and there wasn’t a showjumping podcast. I listen to a lot of different ones, and I love to hear different opinions on sports. We wanted ours to be a way to keep in touch with different riders going to different shows, and keep up with results. It is a way to put it together, without someone having to do the research themselves. We did a test one, with a format of how we were going to do it, and then we had this, and there were no shows – so that wasn’t great. But it has allowed us to have some really great people on, such as Scott Brash, which was brilliant. To be able to interview someone of that Stature is amazing, and of course, this will continue after the lockdown now as well.
Lucinda: How easy is it to start up this sort of thing? Going from an idea, to then actually putting it together? With the success of social media, there are so many people with great ideas to set up Vlogs/Blogs/Podcasts, but they maybe don’t know where to start in turning it into a reality, or they worry they need certain equipment, or something fancy to get them going. So, how did you take your idea, and then progress with it?
Sam: So we both came up with the idea, and then we went away and did a lot of research. We researched what equipment and software we might need, and how we would go about doing it, what would be the best format. You could spend a fortune and start with the best kit in the world, or you could start with something that isn’t quite as fancy, but when you’re listening to a podcast, there is really very little difference, depending on the software you use. We wanted to do it on a relatively low budget, but still make it really exciting. The way we have done that, is by looking at software which is free, and if you have a concept and do your research, bringing something to life can be easier than you think.
Will: I think it is more time too. We have put a lot of hours into getting things right, planning for the shows, and making sure that we stick to the original idea. When we get to the stage of interviewing people at shows, which is obviously still the idea, we will hope to video and be able to update the equipment as we go. But currently we are only in our first couple of months, we’ve had the most amazing feedback so far, and we hope a lot of people are enjoying it.
Lucinda: I completely agree. I think sometimes when you have an idea you just want to dive in immediately and yet it really helps to step back and do a lot of research to see what the best options are first. Finding a niche, and then working out what equipment you might actually need initially is sometimes, a better way than just diving right in.
Sam: For us, the most important thing, although the episodes are an hour long, it takes hours and hours of planning. It isn’t just a case of just the episode, it is the time we spend working on the questions, our social media channels. It isn’t just sitting down and recording the episode, it is everything else.
Lucinda: I completely agree – these things don’t just pop up out of no where…
Sam: Exactly. As you’ll know if your own blog, it is the hours we spend between us, doing the research, is a lot more than just the hour we spend recording the actual interview itself. That is really important to realise, that you have to be prepared to put in the time, but then you get the reward at the end when the episode is released.
Lucinda: Absolutely. I think people can start something and become a little disheartened, but it really is hours behind the scenes for sometimes a really short published piece.
Will: Just like a show, how much planning and the amount of hours at home, to then go and jump for 65 seconds. You’ve got to do your planning and your research, but it has been really fun to do, and it has given us a bit of an escape and something to work towards.
Lucinda: If someone is wanting to start up their own podcast, what advice would you give them from your own experiences so far?
Sam: Firstly, work out what it is that you want that podcast to be about. Find your USP, there are so many podcasts out there, that you need to come up with an original idea and something unique. And then plan, how you’re going to do it, who you want to get on, the software and equipment needed. Definitely research! I said this in our other blog too, its all about research, research is key! Why would people want to listen to your podcast, and what will set you apart from the hundreds of others out there.
Lucinda: Definitely, and picking something you are passionate about, is really important.
Sam: I agree!
Will: I completely echo what you’re saying. Do something you really want to do, and will really enjoy. Is it something that if someone else put it out, you would enjoy. I think it is really great for people to see the inside of a riders life, and at the moment, people are so much more guarded than they used to be, so its great to get behind the walls and see what is going on in real life, and I hope other people think the same!
Lucinda: Absolutely. I think thats a good thing about social media actually, you can see some of the ‘behind the scenes’, with training and real life, not just necessarily the perfect round you might see at a show. People really like seeing a ‘real’ person don’t they, whether that be someone behind a brand, or a professional rider.
Will: Completely agree, there are so many more opportunities to show what you’re doing with everything at home, and that’s we are trying to do too – adding to the media of Showjumping. There isn’t so much available in Showjumping, so this sort of media is really good for that. Sam, as a commentator makes it sound professional too.
Lucinda: I think it sounds really professional.
Will: Well thank you very much! Probably helps we do have a professional speaker!
Sam: I think to be honest it has been really good for me to do this as well. Especially working alongside Will and with other riders. You learn so much from them. And it has definitely helped my interviewing in many ways. When you’re interviewing, put your mind into the shoes of the person you are interviewing, alongside the people listening. You need to be asking the questions that the people that are listening have running through their head. The more of this that we have done, the more it has shown me that I might look at things from a media point of view, but Will might be looking from an angle totally different to me. That’s why it works so well, there’s someone that works in media, and someone that is an athlete, and you can learn a lot from each other.
Lucinda: So as we have discussed, this isn’t just a case of getting someone on, interviewing them and posting it, there is a whole behind the scenes process that takes a while each time. Your podcasts are weekly aren’t they, so from finishing one podcast, to posting the next, what is the process through the week until the next one is launched?
Will: Sam, I’m going to have to leave that one to you *laughs*. My technical ability is probably as good as my grandparents. Once the podcast is finished, we leave that to Sam!
**All laughing by this point*
Sam: So basically, this is the process we are following. On a Saturday we record with the guest that we have on. So we have a chat with them, ask them the questions we’ve got and then on Sunday, Will and I record the intro and the exit, and the debate topics for part 2 of the podcasts.
Lucinda: And this is all on this podcast software?
Sam: Correct, all on this podcast app that we use. Then on the Sunday and Monday, I go away and do all the editing, so crop bits out, and anything else needed in, including the music. On Tuesday, Will and I both listen, and have a catch up to check we are both happy with everything, and then both sign it off. I will then go onto the Anchor system that we use and type in the title, description and set the launch date and time. On Wednesday, the new podcast goes live, all episodes go live at 8am in the morning. I am always up at 7am that day – you know exactly what technology is like, so I am always up and ready to make sure all is ok, that everything uploads and it goes live ok. Will and I always listen across the channels it is available on, to make sure it has all gone smoothly and there were no issues on any platforms with the uploads.
Lucinda: And…. Have you had any technical issues?!
Sam: Yes …. a couple!!
Will: Well it doesn’t help that I live in the middle of nowhere!
Sam: Yea thats my favourite one – Will’s WiFi! I’m sure he can tell you all about the issues we have had with that!
Will: Yea it is terrible. They keep losing me half way through, but overall, it has been fine!
Sam: The podcast aside, we are always working all through the week. So whether that be promotion on social media, planning our next guests, Will and I write the questions for the guests together, so literally every day of the week we are doing something for the podcast.
Lucinda: Wow, lots of hard work. How easy have you found it to grow an audience from scratch?
Sam: Ok so the phrase I always keep with me is actually one that Will gave me: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, and I remember this every single time with the podcast. It will be the same with your biog, and well any social media.
Lucinda: Sam… the blog is booming!
Sam: Haha well of course, but it all takes a lot of time doesn’t it.
Lucinda: Completely agree – it can literally take as long as years to build a genuine, keen following. It definitely doesn’t happen overnight. It is typically a gradual build up.
Sam: Definitely the one thing I’ve learnt is to have an active social media presence. Every day we post, and there is things constantly on our stories. Every single day I am posting new things, hash tagging, trying to drive traffic to our social media.
Will: We are just doing our best to keep promoting it. I am really lucky that I know people well from jumping, and that has really helped with the people we have had on, and with promoting it. And they have all been fantastic in promoting it. We keep trying, keep doing our best, and hope that people keep enjoying it!
Lucinda: How far ahead are you planning your episodes? How far in advance do you have people lined up? Are you rolling a couple of weeks at a time, do you have a really set schedule and how easy is it to get the dates in the diary?
Will: Well we don’t want to ask someone and say will you come on in two months time, as they probably wouldn’t commit to that. We generally work about three weeks in advance, that way we can send the questions over, and hopefully they can tell us if there is anything in particular that they want to discuss. At the moment, we are luckily that no one is really doing anything, so it has worked well so far, and we love getting feedback on how it is all going, even constructive criticism is great.
Lucinda: Are you getting a lot of support from the audience so far, things they love and want to see more of for example?
Sam: Oh absolutely. In our Scott podcast episode, we launched ‘ask a question’. We want to make it as interactive as possible, it is so important to get the audience engaged and involved. We do get feedback from all episodes, people have commented on what questions they really like us asking, and which bits they maybe don’t want to hear as much on. Something I have found really interesting is that yes we are a Showjumping podcast, but so many people have messaged us saying that they love the ‘what didn’t you know about us’ questions are really popular.
Lucinda: Haha I love that in your podcasts, I have actually put that in to ask you two!
Sam: Everybody says that is their favourite, they love that these people you follow, see at these big shows, they suddenly just become people. They all have funny moments and silly stories, and I think that is what people really like. Feedback is good and we have had lots of really great feedback. and this is allowing us to adapt to our audience. and keep them involved. By keeping them involved and valued, they are going to keep listening, and also keep sharing, and continue to work with us.
Lucinda: What podcasts inspire you? Either something you have listened to, or ones you continue to listen to?
Sam: Over to you Fletch!
Will: I like to listen to sports podcasts. I love football, and something I really enjoy at the moment is basketball, so I listen to podcasts on those. I love those and was looking for one in Showjumping, but there just wasn’t any, so we wanted to help just make Showjumping a little more mainstream, and keep it up to date.
Lucinda: And a lot more people are listening to podcasts now aren’t they, or certainly I have noticed a change, with a lot of people listening in their car or when going for a run or exercising for example.
Sam: Especially when you have a horse and you’re mucking out every morning. It is great with music, but there is really only so many times you listen to the same playlist. The podcast is great because a) you can learn something, and b) it is good fun (well usually!), also it is something that really is so easy to get hold of. Why wouldn’t you want to listen to people right at the top of the sport you’re interested in, whilst you’re doing your daily activities.
Will: Yea exactly!
Lucinda: It’s the the equivalent of having the radio on isn’t it, but instead it is listening to things that are all relevant to you/or the sport you love, instead.
Will: Yea absolutely. I have driven for days. Some of the shows I go to, for example Vilamoura which we go to once a year, which is a 3 day drive. Music can get a bit boring after 3 days, so I am hoping for others there are lots of times when they will be able to tune in and listen.
Lucinda: And your plan moving forwards is to record some of your podcasts at shows as well?
Will/Sam: *both nodding*
Sam: I think it is a good plan, we both go to a lot of shows, and it is easy to find results on the International stage, but sometimes it isn’t as easy to find the results for County show level for example, which I am a big believer in, and I am sure Will is as a young rider, in supporting. If we can get to these shows that I am commentating at, and Will is competing at, and get some interviews and results, you are still getting your big names at these shows, so we would love to make it more interactive for the people at home.
Lucinda: Definitely, and allowing everyone competing at that level to have something relevant to them as well.
Will: Yes definitely, and we also want to aim for the much bigger shows too, we want to know what the riders are doing all around the world. As well as Jumping full time, I am also a huge fan of it. I love being able to interview and hear riders opinions of whats going on. When we did our test podcast, we both watched the global tour, I love hearing the reaction of different sporting events. So we are aiming for something like that – thats what we are wanting to do.
Lucinda: Will you keep the podcast weekly once Lockdown is over?
Sam: I would say so! That is definitely the plan. Sometimes it might be trickier than others if we are both away, but our aim will certainly be to keep it every Wednesday. I think people get used to things being on a set day, and then they look for it.
Lucinda: Yea I completely agree, I think consistency is really important. It’s something I definitely struggle with, with my blog.
Will: At the moment for us, we could probably do 2 a week, but we want to build up and have a really good following and audience. Once we are established, we could take it up to 2, that would be great.
Lucinda: Sam, you better get going with the editing, with 2 a week!
Sam: Nightmare!! But no seriously with this, the world is your oyster. There are so many sporting podcasts that I have listened to, that do live videos at events. So many things start as a podcast, but who knows where it will go! At the moment, 1 a week is a good start I’d say.
Lucinda: So we’ve said shows will hopefully be a big part of the podcast moving forwards, but what else are your plans for this year?
Sam: Making it as interactive as possible. The one thing Will and I are really keen on with this, is to make sure that everybody that listens is able to play a part. What we are doing now is great, Will and I having a chat with riders, but getting listeners involved and part of the show is something we are really focusing on each week.
Will: Yes, we really want to get to the stage where the second part of the podcast is the listeners getting involved, asking questions, and thats where we really want it to get to. We are really keen to get to the stage where we are known widely across the equine community.
Lucinda: You’ll have people begging to come on – you’ll be up to three a week!
*Sam laughing – nervously!!!*
Lucinda: If someone has never listened to the podcast before, what can they expect?
Will: Insights from riders that they might not have heard, and seeing showjumping from a different perspective. We try to give the listener nuggets of information from riders, that they probably won’t have heard before.
Lucinda: And if people are equine, but not particularly a showjumper, is there plenty in the podcast for them?
Sam: I would absolutely say so. I think that all the guests that we have had on so far, are all people that you would have heard of, whether you’re a show jumper or a happy hacker. And you’re able to learn so much from them, whatever level you are riding at. Absolutely anybody should listen, it is good fun, the guests have all been big names, and they can teach us so much, no matter what level you are riding at.
Will: Even if you don’t showjump yourself, it also opens your eyes to the sport. In most other sports, at the top level, everyone is watching it. But that doesn’t seem to happen as much in Showjumping. For me, I love to boost the profile of the sport I love, and I’d love people to feel even more inspired to go and watch a class. If you have an interest in horses, Showjumping is a really fun sport to watch.
Lucinda: I completely agree, I don’t Showjump – in fact I barely leave the ground, but I listen and really enjoy it. The guests are all well known, whether you showjump or not, and I think your discussions, even things more technical to Showjumping, you talk about them and put them across in a way that could be understood by anyone.
Sam: I think we’ve learnt a lot from riders, and so many funny stories too. When James Wilson came on, the story of him as a gymnast. Who would have thought that. Some of these stories that people tell us, and it is great to see these riders in a different light, and have a bit of fun with them, as well as having a chat with them.
Will: Another thing that I really enjoy about it is hearing about how different riders have come up from different backgrounds. So far we have had so many different types of stories. We have had Joe Stockdale, who’s Dad obviously jumped at the top level, and Joe has followed in his footsteps. Then we’ve had James Wilson who said he grew up with a fence on the side of a hill, and worked his way up. Scott worked his way up and up. So many people still believe that you get the best ponies and you just go on and do it, and thats not the case. It is so great to hear from so many different riders, explaining how hard they’ve worked to get to where they are.
Lucinda: I completely agree. I think people like to know these professionals are also human, and that they do have funny stories and mishaps to tell as well, alongside all of their success. I know for example Harriet was talking to you about all of her hobbies outside of horses, and how she probably would have been a PE teacher if she wasn’t a professional rider.
Sam: It is also great to hear what they are doing at this time too. Harriet was saying about doing yoga and James has been doing his garden. No one is able to live their normal life, we are all at home, so its quite good fun listening what everyone is getting up to!
Sam: Something I definitely want to mention is how to actually find the podcast!! It’s a question we get quite often!
Lucinda: Guilty!! I had to message you didn’t I Sam to ask about subscribing!
Will: I have no idea how, but people do seem to struggle to find podcasts. I’ve had lots of phone calls asking how to get onto it.
Lucinda: For saying we are such a tech savvy world – I do wonder why we struggle.
Sam: Yea- I get a lot of messages each week saying people have seen the social media and are wondering now how to find the podcast, so it is definitely something I want to get across. It is really easy to do once you know.
Will: And it’s free!!
Sam: Yes, it’s available every week, every Wednesday, and it doesn’t cost you anything.
Lucinda: I think if people haven’t listened to one before or if they haven’t had to download them, they are maybe struggling. I know a lot of the ones I have listened to have been a swipe up on Instagram – so it has taken me straight there.
Sam: And we can’t offer that without 10,000 followers.
Lucinda: I know – you better get advertising! I think there is also a way through the IGTV option to add in a link.
Sam: Yes I have looked into that, but it still doesn’t take you right there. I think the plan will be to have our own website for it. That way it really will be so easy, you would just go onto The Full Course website, and press listen now. I think that’s definitely what we will look at next.
Lucinda: Okay so currently, what is the step by step to be able to get onto the podcast?
Will: So it really depends what you are using. If you have an iPhone, there is likely to be the podcast app already on your phone – its a purple app, you click on it and search either ‘showjumping’ or ‘the full course’, click on it and press download. You can also find it on spotify, just search ‘the full course again’. Or you can just google us!
Sam: Or if you’re using social media, if you click onto our instagram, there is a link in the bio which takes you to the anchor website, which has our podcast.
Lucinda: How do you keep coming up with content and ideas for the podcast?
Will: Well we would love the shows to start up again so that we are able to get stuck into that, and start covering those. At the moment we are really enjoying talking to the riders and getting their opinions on showjumping topics though. I know Joe and James really well, and I didn’t know that James did gymnastics, and I’ve known him for a good couple of years. It means you get to ask questions too that may normally sound a little bit weird in normal conversation. We could keep talking to the riders for hours, its so great, and when we interviewed Scott, we could have just kept going and going.
Sam: I agree. We have been trying to keep the interview itself to 45minutes, and thats actually really hard to do. Will and I have gone through who we would like to get on, and we have a list, and every single rider on that list, I have already got questions for, I am sure Will has as well. You can learn so much from everyone you have on, so i think the hardest thing is actually keeping to the time, and keeping the interviews concise.
Lucinda: So how are you actually keeping to that time?
Sam: Time flys. We have roughly worked out how many questions you can get into 45 minutes, and most of the ones that we ask are 7 main questions, with the bits off them. We haven’t really had to cut down any of the interviews with that prior planning in place.
Lucinda: Ok, so as you ask all of your guests to tell you something that nobody knows about them, I thought it would only be fair to ask you both the same thing!
Sam: Are we going with what we have said in the episodes?
Lucinda: No no, this is a Country Classic Lucinda exclusive, we need something new!
Sam: So are you saying it needs to be fashion related?
Will: Well I have a semi fashion related one.
Lucinda: Ok, go on Will…
Will: You see my hair, I don’t actually dye it! Everyone thinks I do. It’s blonde all over the top, and darker underneath, and everyone thinks I have dip dyed it, but I have actually never dyed it. So that’s something I want people to know about me!
Sam: I can’t actually think of anything!!
Will: You sound like Scott!
Lucinda: Yea and I’m not brushing over this like you did with Scott!
Sam: Most people probably wouldn’t know I live in London, but thats not very exciting.
Will: I once played Tetris for an hour!
Will: Come on then what’s something we don’t know about you Lucinda?
Lucinda: My go to one with this would be that I can rap.
Will: Oh god.
Lucinda: No one expects that from me, so yea I would say that!
Will: You have to show us now!!
Lucinda: Absolutely not!
Lucinda: What are your lockdown tips?
Sam: Pay for a Netflix subscription!
Lucinda: and Disney Plus!!
Sam: And listen to our podcast!
Will: Try to do something productive. We are really lucky we have the podcast and something we are working towards. If all else fails, sleep more.
Lucinda: Any tips for working from home?
Sam: Do your best to keep up productivity, and adapt to the environment. Things like Zoom are great.
Will: I’ve got a couple of younger horses in, so we are really working on their flatwork, getting everything right with them. Doing lots of work without stirrups, working on my position. Youtube is great for finding exercises to use, and its a really great time to work on yourself.
Lucinda: It is definitely a bit of a forced focus time.
Lucinda: What TV shows are you watching at the moment?
Sam: Gavin and Stacey for me – I love that!
Will: I am watching the US Office. It is very easy to watch and not pay attention to, and thats generally what I like to do. I also watched Happy Valley!
Lucinda: Ohh thats so good!!
Will: I would strongly suggest that!
Lucinda: Sam, you have already answered this one in our previous blog, but Will, what advice would you give your younger self?
Will: It took me a long time to get to the point in realising right now is not the most important thing. You have a lot of time to grow into who you want to be. Try and improve a little bit every day and don’t focus on everybody else. Little improvements every day will get you a long way.
I hope you’ve loved this blog.
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That’s all for now, but I will see you very soon indeed!
Lots of Love,
‘Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you’Oprah Winfrey