Maybe it’s just me, but when being an equestrian there is in general not a lot of focus on your training and your diet. But when it comes to your horse, you know exactly what he (or she) eats, how to train it or what kind of extra products is needed to complement his needs of gaining or losing weight, maintaining liquid balance or controlling his energy level during daily training.
It is really important to know how to train and feed your horse, but what about yourself?
I have always had a difficult time in the off-season when it comes to proper eating habits. Too much cake, candy, unhealthy food or even fast food if I was late home from work. I think that is pretty normal but now I have decided to do something about it.
In the very beginning of this year I had a meeting with some trainers from Team Denmark during a workshop with other athletes. These trainers are not “horse-people”, but trainers that work with a lot of different athletes, trying to optimize their chances of success by making them able to perform at their best.
They asked me how I could do even better this season than the last, and by that enhancing my changes for being considered for the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro in 2016.
I had a very organized plan of how I wanted to train my horse Cassidy, how we had the first 5 months planned out with competitions, and some other facts that I could optimize - it was all about Cassidy. So naturally they asked me: “and what about your own training? Could we improve your skills when it comes to a better position on the horse, better endurance and an ideal weight maybe?”.
Of course they were right. I had been so focused on my training of the horses, that I forgot (or perhaps neglected) to pay serious attention to my own training. After this meeting I started planning my own workout two new trainers from a fitness centre. One of them helps me with all the physical workouts, while the other one is planning my diet and keeps track of what I need on terms of diet etc.
It has now been two months and I can already feel the difference when riding. I feel so stupid when thinking about all these years where I never had the optimal training for myself.
I can feel that it is getting easier to ride horse number 6, 7 or 8 because my strength and endurance improves a lot at the moment. My body is not sore in the same way it was before – now it is sore from using new muscles and putting on more pressure on the ones that I already use a lot.
Tommy, my physical trainer knows exactly where it is important for me to be strong; my upper body, bag and legs need a lot of strength, but what is even more important is my body’s control when it comes to balance. I need to be able to control my body a hundred percent when riding even when I am under alot of pressure. And why is that?
When riding a horse it takes some amount of strength, but I think it is even more about precision when helping the horse. Of course you have to be rather strong sometimes during a long test, but if you can’t help your horse by giving the excat amount of help in the very moment he needs it, the horse won’t understand what you’re asking for.
Therefore my training is 70/30 strength and stability training three to four times a week for one and a half hour with a personal trainer pushing me to the limit every second.
When talking about general fitness it’s up to the individual rider how much he or she would need to train this. I run or train at the crosstrainer quite a lot, because I really don’t want to be breathless after the fourth extended trot in Grand Prix Special, or in any other case. But some people can do just fine with a bit less cardio training (running, crosstrainer, row-maschine). I train roughly 4 hours of cardio a week and I think that suits me perfectly according to my needs.
After starting all of this training, I really regret that I didn’t started much earlier, because of the massive improvement on such short time. But no more regrets for now, I just want to be in better shape and eat healthier from now on!
Within the next weeks I’ll show you in much more detailed how I train and what I train, and I’ll give you some specific exercises that I find good for riders, plus some of my favourite recipes for great healthy equestrian-food.