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Kirstie Leightley’s international showjumping vlog: how I eat and workout to stay competitive

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The season is in full swing for us at Team Williams. This time of year is so busy as a showjumper as there are so many shows to get to. So, there’s been a lot of jumping and a lot of travelling for us!

First up I hit Le Mans two-star, where Thais jumped an amazing round to place second in the 1.45m ranking class. Love had an unlucky fence so didn’t place, but I’m so pleased with how this mare is coming on. From here we headed straight to Zangherside where I jumped Love in the under-25 class and she was fantastic, speeding round the jump-off. She put everything that we have been learning into practice to win and I couldn’t be more proud.

At our last show in Le Touquet, Love gained another placing on the last day, finishing second in the 1.40m. For Thais, it was her first show on grass so we weren’t 100% sure how she would go, but she was fab in the Derby, finishing eighth.

A week at home in-between Zangherside and Le Touquet gave me time to get organised. Being so busy as a rider and putting all our energy into the horses’ well-beings it can be hard to keep on top of our own nutrition and fitness. I mentioned in my last blog that as a team we are now working closely with Connor from Intergrum Nutrition, who is a qualified nutritionist, as well as strength and conditioning coach. Connor has created the ‘showjumping blueprint’, which covers all aspects of being a rider and treating your body as an athlete. The plan not only puts together workouts that we can do at home, but it also considers that we are more often that not living out of a lorry, so incorporates easy workouts that we can do while out at shows.

I have been on the plan now for a couple of months and I can really notice the difference. When at home I try to go to the gym a couple of times a week, where I will follow the workouts set for me. The programme focusses on making sure you can stick to the plan easily without missing a day here and there, so some days it may only be a quick 10-minute workout, but it’s making sure that I am always doing something. It’s so easy for riders when we are so short on time to think that the job of riding itself keeps us fit, and I hear so many people using this as an excuse. I have always thought that my lifestyle was enough to keep me fit, but I have to say that adding in the exercises set for me into my daily routine has had noticeable effects on both the way I feel and the way I ride.

In addition to the work outs, we have been set quite a comprehensive meal plan. A typical day for me will now look something like:

6.30am Wake up and have a glass of milk or a smoothie
7am to 9am Muck out
Breakfast Porridge and fruit with plenty of water
9am to 12pm Ride
Lunch Jacket potato with tuna and salad
1pm to 4pm Ride
Snack Apple and rice cake with peanut butter
5pm to 7pm Evening stables and gym
Dinner Cottage pie with vegetables

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I feel much stronger since being on the plan and find that I tire a lot less. The most noticeable difference for me is finding that the early mornings and late nights, that come with the job, aren’t such a struggle. My biggest weakness has always been using the excuse that a lack of hours in the day keeps me form being able to stay on top of these things, but I’ve definitely learnt that it’s all in the preparation, and if you really want to do it, you can always find time.

Over the next couple of months we have more shows in store for us, not least of which we will be heading over to England to jump at the Hickstead Derby Meeting. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Kirstie x

Music credit: Purple Planet

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