There are a million things that makes a good rider, but here are five things you definitely don’t want to miss.
The riders physical condition
The first thing that pops to my mind is, that a rider needs to have a general good physical condition. Your physical condition also depends on who you are, and what your goal is. In terms of physical condition, I would say that these factors are important for a rider:
- Strong upper body
To keep the perfect balance on the horse, these two factors are crucial for being able to give the right aids at all times. Without a good balance, the rider will find it difficult to achieve the correct position for hands, arms, legs, seat and upper body, and therefore not be able to help the horse, to perform it’s best.
To get a good balance on the horse, you’d really need to have a strong torso. Good general strength in the back muscles and abs will help you to keep control of your body when sitting on the horse. With the control comes a great feeling of balance.
Another important thing towards being a good rider, is to be aware of the importance of mentally strength, when going for competitions. When I started as a newbie entering my first competitions, being nervous would often distract me from doing my best in the arena. But with a lot of mental training with my coach, I’ve really come a long way. The mental training tools I have learned over the past years, is helping me a to perform my very best at competitions.
Mental strength is not only important when being at a competition, but also when training at home. Who says it’s funny to train, when it is ten degrees below minus, it’s 5 o’clock in the morning, and you’re freezing your ass of? It’s not funny at all, but if you really want to be a good rider, it takes thousands of hours training to get there. You’d have to sacrifice a lot of things that “normal” young people put high on their to-do list every week; go to the cinema or seeing your friends on a week day-evening, parties on Fridays, sleeping aaaaall day Saturday or simply just doing nothing.
Personally I’m always thinking of my next training, whether it’s my next training at the gym, or the next ride in the training arena. So when I am invited for a big party Friday night, followed by the worst hangovers Saturday morning, I am always thinking to myself how this will effect my next training. It sounds silly but what if this one training really makes the difference at the next big competition?
Keep the goal in mind
In this case it is important to keep the goal in mind. What’s most important to me?
For me it has always been naturally to prioritize the sport above everything else, and it makes sense as long as the results are good and there is a flow in the training. But when the results aren’t good and the training is not going well (which it is in periods for all athletes), I sometimes think to myself “why am I doing this, and what is it good for?”.
Often it’s just a short period and whenever I have a perfect session with one of my horses or I get a great result at a competition, I remember why I get up at 5 o’clock in the morning and prioritize my beloved horses and my training above almost anything else.
Prioritizing the sport like this, really requires mental strength.
The next thing that’s crucial for being a great equestrian is closely related to the pointers above. Here I’m talking about the willingness to work hard everyday: Monday-to-Monday, 365 days a year. You really have to be patient and willing to do to the same work day in and day out for a loooong time. Training and educating a horse is a lot about repetition and repetition without getting the horse bored. But as a rider you must have the patience to repeat the same exercise like a thousand times, and then you might get it right when you hit exercise 1001.
When a rider has gotten the above three things right, he or she is definitely off to a good start. But no matter how talented a riders is, how persistent and willing to work, or how many hours he or she uses in the training arena, the rider will never be a top rider without an amazing team.
You can not be a top equestrian without a great team.
This is my dream team:
- Trainer - Rune Willum
- Family - Mom, dad and sister
- Stable staff
- Medical team
- Closest friends
My trainer, Rune Willum, is responsible for all the training with me and my horses. I’ve trained with Rune for 12 years so we know each other incredibly well. My family supports me with whatever I should need. Mostly they’re helping me maintaining the confidence during my training and competitions, but they’re also my rock when it comes to anything else; they’re all simply essential.
Our stable staff at our dressage center “Grønagergård” makes sure that all horses are being taken care of in the best possible way every day. My groom Mie Poulsen personally takes care of the horses I ride. She grooms them to perfection and makes sure that they’re all super well brushed, shiny and ready to do their best when training.
Then there’s of course the medical team for my horses. It consists of a vet, chiropractor, masseuse, osteopath and the blacksmith. This strong team keeps all of my horses perfectly fit, so that they can develop in right direction every day during training.
Last but definitely not last: my closest friends. They’re my greatest supporters, because no matter what, they believe in me, and they can always cheer me up even during hard times. It’s sooo important for me to have this friend group outside horse-world, so that I can relax and just be Cathrine when hanging out with them.
This was my thoughts on what it takes to be a good rider. Hope you enjoyed it and can relate to some of my points. If you have anything to add or something you really think is crucial for you to be a great rider, please comment below!