Introducing Erin our latest sponsored rider! Erin talks about getting her horses back in shape for the season
My name is Erin Stanway, I am a 16 year old currently competing in the discipline of Showjumping.
My main competition horse is a 12 year old Bay Mare called Maddie. Maddie and I are currently competing up to 1.20m together. I also have 2 other horses that I compete with at lower heights. This blog will be about how I am bringing Maddie back into work following her well earned summer break, ready for the new show season.
I started by adjusting Maddie’s diet a week before I brought her back into work. It’s important to ensure she is getting enough hard feed to sustain the degree of work I expect from her, along with plenty of roughage for optimal health. Maddie also has a daily mix of vitamins and minerals. Along with adjusting feed, I also had my Chiropractor out for a general check up, this is in addition to her yearly Vet check up. I feel it is important to make sure my horse is comfortable and happy before starting exercise, after all they athletes and should be treated as such.
I eased Maddie in gently, starting with light lunging with my Kincade training system mainly consisting of walk and trot, then added in trot poles and additionally introduced canter into her daily training. I find lunging is a great way to start rebuilding their fitness levels, it gets them to respond to commands, balance themselves, find their rhythm, and rebuild muscle.
I then started riding Maddie again, focusing on flat work. I think it is very important to keep my horse thinking and her mind stimulated, I find flat work is a good way to achieve this. I do lots of circles, figures of eight and transitioning up and down paces to keep Maddie focused. I also like to take Maddie out on trail rides, to clinics and to the beach for added stimulation and ensure she is enjoying her work.
Our first few rides went for about 30 minutes as I rebuilt her fitness.
When riding Maddie I always ensure I warm her muscles up by walking for 5-10 minutes incorporating plenty of bends and turns to really stretch her out. Once Maddie is warmed up and relaxed and ready to start working I will ask for a working trot with a loose rein to begin with, gradually collecting her up. Maddie can be particularly fussy on the bit, she throws her head if I ask for collection too early. If this happens, I just sit patiently and allow her to work it out. My coach has worked hard on helping me with this, as previously I would panic, which made Maddie all the worse.
Each day I increased the intensity of the ride, slowly building Maddie back up to full fitness.
For Maddie this took about four weeks. I was then happy to start jumping her again. I feel it is important to ensure my horses are at peak fitness, so they have the stamina for jumping.
I use an awesome app called Equilab which allows me to track my horses progress, fitnes and tracks what I do each ride.
My first jump session was with my coach – Nicky Meredith. I normally go to Nicky for weekly lessons. She also checks up on me throughout the week to ensure I am on track and aren’t encountering any problems.
Nicky started us off with a grid work lesson before moving into jumping. I find the grid work is a great way to focus on approaching a jump correctly, looking for your take off point and remaining balanced. Grid work also referred to as gymnastic jumping gets my horses thinking, giving them more confidence and accuracy.
I will continue to take Maddie to regular jumping lessons, training days and clinics throughout the season in addition to shows to continue to enhance our skills.
To maintain Maddie’s fitness I plan to lunge her 3 days a week for about 40 minutes, and ride for 3 for about 50-70 minutes – this will vary slightly depending on if we have a show, lesson or trip out.
I like to always give Maddie a least one day off a week and on that day I like to spend time grooming and massaging her.
I’m very excited to be in the 2020 season with my amazing horse and to be working with Hampton and Harlow Equestrian.
See you out and about guys. Erin x