Everyone seems to be talking with a more up beat tone and positivity that over the coming months we may begin to resume our much loved sport.
Working with my riders over the last few weeks we discussed areas that they have highlighted during the lock down as now being more important to the development of their young horses or the maintenance of the older ones. Areas quite often addressed during the winter but not quite with the same focus or detailed result. So it was wonderful to have such positive conversations with them all regarding their equine teams. This enthusiasm was echoed by the owners who have all enjoyed interesting and developmental conversations with the riders and myself.
So now to the forward PLAN
Every athlete and every equine is different and thankfully my riders have been very focused on their own personal fitness not becoming in any way compromised .
The young horses are stronger and extremely happy with the time spent with them and the older horses are supple and ready to start.
So to the preparation required…..
What you must remember is that most of the work you have done will have been in an arena, on a level cushioned surface, so undulation and different ground textures and impact will not have been encountered for nearly 4 months, this lack of exposure to terrain is unprecedented so the re introduction of Cross Country schooling on grass must be thought about very carefully indeed. At the time of writing this the ground is exceptionally hard and dry so you will have to be very careful on your first couple of sessions back to not do “to much to soon. ”
Tack may need to be checked to see that everything is fitting correctly and your equine fitness programme needs to be discussed with your team at home or relevant Coach.
Feeding now also has to be worked through and seek advice if it is needed because getting horses back up and fit at this time of year is not the normal routine and therefore may have different requirements.
The social distancing rules and the venue guidelines have not yet been fully covered so this I feel may be an on going project that is tweaked regularly to fit the venues , facilities and levels of competition.
Collecting rings will change, quite how, I feel will take time and a lot of tact and diplomacy . I do hope however that they adopt some of the German ideas where possible as this allows both time and a none threatening environment.
The Show Jumping collecting ring of 3-4 fences with each rider with their groom having their own fence to warm up over is a great idea and works exceptionally well. The pre- jump Flatwork is in another area close by and then the riders feed through as each combination jumps. The riders and coaches have said that this allows you plenty of time and enables you to focus more on the combinations requirements and needs at the time.
The Cross Country would therefore work similarly.
My riders have also all been working on a more concise Dressage warm up plan and this has had a huge benefit on focus in relation to the needs of each horse to perform the test and the movements required in that test whist not expending unnecessary energy or mileage.
All in all I think this has had a hugely positive impact on changes that we need to implement to move the sport and our production of our team of horses forward.
Thinking, Listening and then Diversifying has enabled us to come up with new ideas that ultimately may be better in the long run for the sport, our horses, owners and ourselves.
I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason sometimes you just have to look very hard indeed to find out just why!!!
As a Coach, I am taking a huge amount out of the quality time I have found myself with . Working on new ideas, training thoughts and totally new and exciting approaches that may be needed to be implemented to enable me to best serve my individual riders and their wonderful team of horses that I am so privileged to work with.
Hope you are all well and stay safe, Ros