Make a Great Equestrian Rider – Aldergrove Star
by Ronda Payne/Langley Advance Times Special
A horse-rider team is said to consist of 51% horses and 49% riders, or vice versa, each day.
This ultimately means that horse and rider form a sporting team where both athletes must be at their best to compete and have a chance of winning.
What makes a good rider? Chris Pack, president and chief operating officer of tbird, said it was a combination of factors.
“I think about hard work and the ability to keep learning,” he shared.
“There are riders in their 60s and 70s who are still riding and doing their best laps because they keep adapting and applying what they learn.”
Also, because every horse is different, with different strengths and weaknesses, a rider must be able to adapt to that horse and allow him to perform at his best.
“You don’t want to hold your horse back,” he said, noting that each horse brings a different lesson to the rider.
Part of helping the horse half of the team excel, surprisingly, comes from human strength, Pack explained.
Because professional riders make their job easy, it’s common to overlook the amount of training they do to ensure they have the strength to let the horse do its part.
“It’s all those things that you don’t see,” Pack said.
“All of these top runners in the world are working on core strength and leg strength. The science of fitness and diet is huge now.
For a horse to jump effortlessly, the rider must be able to maintain the optimum balance in the saddle so that the horse is never pushed the wrong way with unwanted momentum.
It takes incredible strength of core and leg strength to stay still, using only the desired muscles, while above a 1200 pound animal it jumps 1.5 to 1.6 meters .
One of the riders Pack is nominating for athletics is Kent Harrington, 42, who will be racing for Team USA in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup at tbird.
Harrington has always had an interest in fitness and talks about it on various social media.
He has a video on his Instagram of him doing a headstand on a half-ball balance trainer.
With so much upper body and core strength, it’s no wonder he’s one of the best runners in the world and is sponsored by TechnoGym, Pack noted.
Mental fitness is also essential.
Competing as a team of horses and riders is stressful, but when that team of two is part of a larger team, representing a nation and the goal is to qualify for the Olympics, the pressure increases.
“You compete as a team and with your team,” Pack said.
“It’s not just for you. This is for your team and your country.
Getting enough sleep and taking time to focus before a round are other aspects that bring a full package to the ring, Pack explained.
Ultimately, a great rider uses their own mental and physical abilities, but also their relationship with the horse to make sure everyone is successful.
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