Saturday, 28 February 2015

Meeting the GB Divers

I had such an inspiring day yesterday. I went over to the Olympic pool to watch Tom Daley, Georgia Ward and Emily Boyd doing their training sessions.

It was so interesting chatting to them about how they train and how different the training and structure is to equestrian sport. This day was set up between their trainer Jane Figueiredo and my fitness trainer Sam Marshall.

We turned up at the London Aquatics Centre up and met with Jane in the first instance. She had the most amazing enthusiastic, positive and fun personality. She showed us around and the facilities were just incredible. After our tour we met Georgia, Tom and Emily they were so much fun! We all went for lunch together and got chatting about their discipline, their diet and what their training is like from a day to day and in turn I talked to them about the world of eventing and the kind of training we do.

We went back to the Olympic Pool and it was time for their training, it was land training to start with where they do gymnastic exercises, followed by some training in the pool diving off the diving boards.
This was absolutely incredible to watch, the power that is executed into each dive was just unbelievable, until you see it up close I don’t think you appreciate what goes into it, but then I suppose the same goes of all sports.

After watching them we all went back to the gym and talked about the kind of gym exercises that would help me with my riding.

As Equestrian Athletes we have to take this seriously if we want to have the edge.
It really made me realise how little strength and conditioning we do as equestrian athletes.  Because I have worked previously with Jon Pitts and more latterly with Lisa Sparrowhawk I have been very lucky in having this side instilled into me. But we do not do enough of it and it is not something that Amateur riders going up the ranks have any support in.

At Lisa’s suggestion I started with a personal trainer before Christmas, previously I had done gym work, running and pilates but in a very unstructured way. I am already noticing how much stronger I am when I’m training in the gym and also when I’m riding I am able to maintain my position in all three phases.

Interestingly and a bit different was the suggestion of ballet, we were talking about dressage and how you have to be strong though your core, absorb movement and be graceful and elegant. Tom mentioned that as divers they did this because it teaches you to really extend through the legs to the end of the toes and maintain posture. I thought how good this would be for someone that isn’t so graceful (me) to learn to be elegant, to extend through the upper body to make myself taller and hold my posture.

I left the GB dive team yesterday inspired, I learned so much about how to keep myself stronger by the right exercise and the right nutrition. It was great to meet like-minded people. It made me realise how self motivated and self disciplined you have to be to get to the top but it also made me realise how much we as equestrian athletes have to do on our own and how much is up to us to structure not only ourselves but our horses day to day. When I talked about how much we do on our own, I think that took the Dive team by surprise a little. Their set up and support is incredible.

Thank you Jane, Tom, Emily, Georgia and Sam for making this day happen, we all got on so well have all vowed to keep in touch and they want to come to an event so watch this space!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

International Eventers Forum 2015 - my take on it

Busy weekend, we went to to visit MDR photo to look at the the new website and a new business idea (watch this space), stopped of to see the bro in Oxford, met Lisa Sparrowhawk (My performance coach) there and then the following day we went on to Gloucestershire and Hartpury! Mum, Lisa and I had a great time, we were joined by Michael Rogers from MDR Photo and Jenny Gray-Wallis . We came away from there...well inspired would be the word overall and personally I took away a lot of things that I could start using immediately.

Start the trot, not finishing the canter' This was one of many things Christoff Hess said that really made me think differently about doing 'gymnastics' (flatwork) with my horses.  
What a way to start the evening forum, Christoff Hess is such an amazing trainer, every horse that entered the arena left a better horse. We watched him train Sam Griffiths on a youngster and on Happy Times and we also watch him train Nicky Roncoroni. 
I really liked his techniques, in my opinion he worked with the horse, harnessing its natural movement, I have already started putting it into practice with my horses and it really does work, next I'll be trying it out on all my clients that I teach!

Next was a very insightful talk about how to get your horses up to eventing fit by Hugh Suffern, Irish Team Vet, Charlie Logsdon Racehorse Trainer and Andrew Nicholson. I think keeping records for comparison was the theme of the whole talk whether you are taking bloods, looking at how much fitness work your horse needs or recovery rates. I already have fitness plans for individual horses but taking a record of each of my horses fitness plans and comparing what stage they were at when they performed at competition, so that I can refer back to them to look at what each horse particularly needs to perform at its peak is something I will be now be doing. (Mum informs me it just a case of a simple spreadsheet)!!!

The day was rounded off with a jumping demonstration with Andrew Nicolson, what a character...Not entirely sure we agree with galloping 4 year olds on a weekly basis but I still learnt a lot from him and we all really admired his honesty.
He did some really interesting exercises in his demonstration, helping to train the horse to pop the fences and not over jump because this could land you into trouble in the cross country course

Little diagram of my favourite exercises Nicolson did. It really helps the balance and its a lot harder then it looks.

Quote of the day by Nicolson: Question: Do you believe in using calmer at events? Nicolson Answered: You've got the wrong man......

International Eventers Forum 2016 is already in the diary. Special thank you to Laura Lucas on Facebook's Twitter Eventing  Group who organised group tickets this year.