Mari recently emailed in and asked me “How many times do you ride a day? What’s your training schedule like?” I receive this question frequently from fans. There’s a TON of factors that go into this question so I’m going to break it down a bit more than simply # of horses and basic training schedule. Here goes…
Maximize your time to get the best training you possibly can. Don’t extend yourself too far.
Right now, my schedule only permits time for one horse so I focus my energies on my 2005 gelding that I imported as an unbroke 4 year old several years back with the help of my BFF Geoff at Unique Sport Horses. So in short, I only ride 1 horse per day at this time. In my perfect world, I think riding two advanced horses daily would be optimum fitness for both me and the horses but I make it work with just my gelding Hansel (think Zoolander and “Hansel. So hot right now. Hansel.”). I’d like to think he enjoys my training world revolving around him! 🙂
Define a clear goal and go for it.
Because my goal is to compete in USEF High Performance Dressage, just riding isn’t enough for my personal fitness so I developed a program inspired from my time in the yoga studio, my early years training in ballet and jazz and my body building training comprised around core development to create equibarre. It’s the ballet barre workout for equestrians and we’re actually in editing for the DVD at this time. My wardrobe was SUPER comfy FITS Full Seat PerforMAX™ Cadet Breeches! Thanks FITS! It will be officially launched and promoted with my amazing friends and supporters from Absorbine at this year’s November Equine Affair but I’ll post on my blog about pre-orders once they are available. All that aside, I do equibarre workout here at home with the jump (AKA ballet barre), occasionally head into town to visit the yoga studio and was thinking about starting a dance class as I simply love to dance! The emotional release for me alone is completely worth it!
Create a schedule and follow it.
Since my work occupies my mind significantly, I prefer to ride in the mornings so I can start the day with my training then regroup my efforts to work, breaking only for quick feed preps. I ride six days per week at this time, weather permitting or not (although I am smart enough not to ride if it’s lightning outside). I give myself and my horse one day off to relax. In regards to specifics of my training, I don’t have a set schedule every week. I journal my rides even if it’s taking just a few notes about how something felt so I have a good chronicle of my progress. My goals have been aggressive these last several years and it was a bit ambitious to start an unbroke 5 year old and now, 2 years later, be schooling the PSG. The first half year of training was averaging 3 rides weekly then up to 4 or 5 then up to 6 and it was really last September when he started to give the feel of an FEI horse. If the walk, trot and canter feel good enough earlier in the week then I might try schooling some movements but I’ve really tried to keep my focus on quality gates because a half pass is seriously effortless when you have the proper walk, trot and canter going!
Determine your logistical setup and improve it if you can.
I am very fortunate to live, work and train at the same facility. My horses are in the stable about 40 meters behind my house. I’m so lucky to have top quality GGT footing installed by Attwood Equestrian Surfaces so the training surface is brilliant! I work with HorseGirlTV full time and am also working on my novel part time on weekends so being able to manage my own feeding program, care for my horses and watch them in turn out while I work is absolutely brilliant!
Do remember, it’s not only the training but also nutrition of the athletes that are important.
It’s been an education over the last couple years to determine the best nutritional profile for Hansel. When he arrived, he was 16 hands. He’s now at least, if not over, 17 hands so growing 4 inches in 2 years is significant. I studied a variety of feeds, supplements and concepts and upon returning back north from the winter in Wellington, I switched him over from processed feeds to whole foods and I haven’t looked back! Because I live and work at my stable, I have the time to drop feed 3 times daily and with the whole foods it’s as easy as 2 cups of this, 1 cup of that, 1 cup of that mixed in with my soaked beet pulp and flaxseed and voila, a nutrition whole feed is prepared and I’m empowered because I know what I put in the mix! He gets his daily paste of SUCCEED Digestive Conditioning Program and he loves it! I also feed him some BioStar EQ supplements and I decided to go with these guys because they work hard to seek out the best quality whole foods products in the preparation of the supplements plus they are fair trade friendly which makes it an even bigger win! Likewise, I’ve been doing my best to focus my personal nutrition plan towards whole foods and away from processed and packaged. It’s been an interesting challenge to avoid processed sugar since it’s in almost EVERYTHING! Again, back to the whole foods.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what I’d strive for in my perfect training plan. I’ve already started developing this next seasons series for HorseGirlTV and I think we’re going to focus on what sort of support it takes to make a winning team. It’s SO much more than just a talented horse and rider! For me, I’d like to go be invited to Gladstone someday making the top 15 in either Small or even Big tour but the what it takes component is the same whether you’re goal is to drive down the road for a schooling show or fly to the Olympics!
As always, suggestions or comments on this blog are welcome and you can send me questions via our contact page at http://contact.horsegirltv.com/.