It’s something all eventers dread: The off season. Those few dreary months that take place after the season ends and, for some, before we pack up and head off for Aiken. So what to do within these cold, hard winter months?
What I do during the off season:
-Everyone hates it, but it pays off: running. It builds stamina, helps you maintain a healthy body, and makes you feel great.
–No stirrups– So the burning in the inner-upper part of your thighs the next morning may be extremely uncomfortable, but we do it for a reason. Needless to say, it’s essential to have strong legs in any aspect of equestrianism.
–Small gymnastic courses-Gymnastics for your horse increase his/her ability to read fences more accurately and improve their footwork. It makes them quicker on their feet and will help them deal with combinations in stadium and cross country courses easier when you get to competitions.
Some gymnastic exercises include: Bounces.
Here I demonstrate a simple bounce exercise:
Your horse lands after the first small jump, and immediately takes off again over another small jump. These two obstacles are generally 9 feet apart.
You can integrate this exercise into longer gymnastics, for example a bounce into a small one stride to a bounce out of the one stride.
In the video above, I demonstrate a bounce exercise with small cavaletti. There is a cavaletti 9 feet from the base of the first small jump, creating a bounce into the one stride. This can back your horse off if he/she is prone to taking the bit and running towards the jumps. In the middle of the one stride there is also another cavaletti, acting as a placing pole so your horse stays aware of his/her footwork throughout the entire exercise. Then after you land out the one stride there is another bounce immediately following, giving your horse one last “check” before he can canter off. Remember: Gymnastic exercises are prime opportunities to stay soft with your reins and let your horse figure what’s going on for themselves. If you’re ever in trouble during competition and can’t help them during a combination, you should hope they know how to get through it without leaning on you for help.
-I followed Alana Blanchard, a professional surfer/model on Instagram… needless to say I felt a little behind on my workouts.
-I watched a lot of interviews from Rolex where a lot of upper level riders were talking about how important it was for not only the horse, but the rider to have stamina around the grueling 11+ min course. I envision Rolex in my head while I’m running (I know it’s dorky) but it really works for me.
I have no plans of riding in Rolex myself for the next few years, but it’s never too early to start getting ready, right?