My preparations towards the Dodson & Horrell National Amateur and Veteran Championships are well and truly underway. The entry has been sent off for the finals! I have started working my horse Boy on his fitness regime and have planned all his competitions leading up to the Championships.
Boy usually gets the Monday off as he will have been competing the day before. On the Tuesday I take him on a hack for around an hour, power walking up the hills to build up his muscles in his hindquarters. On Wednesday he is lunged for 25 minutes, I like to use a Pessoa training aid to help him carry himself correctly.
Thursday I will ride him on the flat and work on his balance and suppleness. Friday I usually do another session of flat work but involving pole work and then the Saturday I will do some small jumps but make the work technical so Boy has to think and lift his legs quickly. As I work Boy I always am thinking about his strength to push himself over the jumps, his suppleness and flexibility and keeping his mind engaged and interested in the work he’s doing.
I would like him to be at his best and physically fit for the Championships so I expect the same for myself! My training regime involves a two mile run three times a week, going uphill and sprinting in areas to get my heart rate higher. I need my core to be strong to sit up around the course so I do planking and sit ups in the week.
There’s more to Boy’s preparation than just being fit - I have some fantastic professionals helping me keeping him in good health and feeling great. Boy has an appointment for his feet to be shod two weeks before he goes to Aintree International Equestrian Centre for the Championships. My farrier Steve Woolley DipWCF fits four shoes on and a stud hole in each back shoe. Boy always wears studs, even on sand as I find it helps our confidence in fast jump offs.
Another person Boy regularly sees is Hannah Haskew, a Mctimoney Chiropractic, veterinary physiotherapist and equine sports masseuse. She treats him every six months and gives him a lovely relaxing massage; this makes me confident that he is comfortable and happy to jump.
Of course Boy has to have the right food for the job. He has a hay bar so he eats in a more natural position and is given a mixture of hay and haylage. He has two feeds a day, in the morning he has Dodson & Horrell Pasture Cubes soaked in warm water and in the evening he has a conditioning fibre, Dodson & Horrell Pasture Cubes, a balancer and plenty of carrots.
My lifestyle is extremely busy as I work as a freelance instructor so the hours are varied, but luckily I can choose my own work pattern and fit that around Boy. If I am unavailable my Mum is a massive help as she is also horse mad so will look after Boy for me. Looking after a horse is hard enough work but when you start looking after an equine athlete it’s a whole new story. I love seeing the results when Boy looks great and performs well - it’s worth every early morning and late night.