I’ve spent the last few weeks in California (grateful!!). I went with some friends and we created a “training camp” at Galway Downs in Temecula, CA for a week. Then we headed north to Paso Robles, CA to Twin River Horse Trials. I had some mixed results on this trip but overall it was great. I took Elliot and Pangloss and between the two of them always had something to ride!
Early in the trip Pangloss was a rockstar. I was so proud of how well he schooled cross country and performed at a hunter/jumper show. Then he developed a heel bruise from the hard ground, and I had to scratch Twin Rivers Horse Trials. It was disappointing because I think we were going to have some serious fun. The good news is he’s feeling better and we’ll get on track for our next event.
Elliot was the opposite. He struggled a bit in the beginning of the trip from travel stress and fatigue from jumping bigger fences multiple days in a row. Elliot is coming out of a rehab program for a ligament injury and this was the most days we’d strung bigger jump efforts together. I had to regroup and change his schedule to include some days off and light hacks. The cool thing is he re-bounded and we had a great event. Phew!
My experience on Elliot is the topic of this blog.
I ran him Training at Twin Rivers, which was a goal I had set early in the year. It was a stretch goal because Elliot had gotten hurt in the fall of 2017 and has been on the slow train to coming back to competition. I had not competed in eventing at that level since 2011. I left eventing for several years to play in the show jumping arena, then returned last year on Pangloss at the Novice level. Also, Elliot is my sister’s horse, so he and I are a new partnership. She’s in school to be a Nurse Practitioner (woot! woot!) so I’ve gotten to ride him. All those variables are why it’s a stretch goal!
Our lead up to Twin Rivers was challenged by a wet Idaho winter, but I felt confident when I crossed into California that we had plenty of time to school cross country and practice in a dressage arena while at Galway Downs. Then Elliot got too tired, needed some low keys days, and I had to scrap my plans.
And so, I found myself leaving the box for cross country underprepared.
But the coolest thing happened.
I found myself nervous but not scared, anxious but not panicked. I was thinking of all the tools I had to draw upon, and one of them was remembering past rides from many years back. I replayed some of my best cross-country rides in my head. I also was able to replay some of my rides on Elliot, as we had gotten some cross-country practice under our belt. I reminded myself that I had a lot of experience out there and it was stored in my brain. I just needed to draw upon it.
In the end my round had a few problems and lots of awesome fences that were so much fun! I almost fell off when Elliot twisted over a hump jump, but kept my head, recovered my stirrup, and carried on. I crossed the finish line proud of myself and Elliot for putting this competition in the books, and I’m excited to get out there again soon. Our score wasn’t great, but that’s okay. We had lots of other “greatness” happen at Twin Rivers.
One of the reasons I felt more confident and stayed on when things got dicey was because I’ve made physical fitness a priority. This is something I’ve really committed to the last few years. I went through a time when I was out of shape and that had a huge impact on my riding and confidence. I talk about my journey in this blog post. When you spend time on your fitness, even when your ride doesn’t go as planned, there’s comfort in being more athletic in the tack.
I’m passionate about helping riders get fit. For equestrians, we need functional workout programs that focus on core and posterior chain muscles. Our core needs to be strong to hold us stable on a moving surface (the horse!) and brace against outside forces that push a rider around (again, the horse!).
The Core Challenge for Equestrians kicks off May 6th. Join this 14-day challenge and commit 20 minutes per day to strengthen your core and become a stronger, straighter, and more effective rider. It goes on sale Friday, April 26th. Join the pre-sale list and I’ll send you a promo code for 20% off!
In this challenge I’ll help you understand what “core strength” really means, how to properly strengthen your core, and the best exercises for core activation and body alignment. When you commit to spending 20 minutes per day for 14-days, you will be a more effective rider. Wow!
I hope to see you in the Core Challenge for Equestrians!
Photos by the amazing Jayne Fife. Thank you!