The British team event rider for Rio 2016 tells Helen Triggs about her training and fitness tips — from jumping skinnies in the school to the importance of regular gallops
Jumping training in the school
The Rio-bound eventer uses jump training in the school with all horses, from babies to four-star horses, to help develop confidence and agility.
“They learn to jump skinnies and all kinds of jumps in the school, even if it’s just walking through the wings over a pole on the ground,” says Gemma. “I do lots of exercises and angles and it helps them hugely.
“I’ll build a course in the school once a week and take them all round it. If any of the young horses hasn’t understood, I’ll do it again the next day and find that they usually understand then.”
The plank is an exercise in which the body is raised horizontal to the floor on the arms and feet, without the knees touching the ground.
“I try to do the plank every day,” says Gemma. “It has really helped me with my dressage — I’m getting better scores because I’m stronger in my core and more able to hold myself better.”
“The horses doing three-day events need to be galloped consistently,” says Gemma. “Rather than going to the gallops once a week and doing loads, I prefer to go twice a week and get their heart rate up to 200bpm (beats per minute). I do it as much I can without them getting too tired.”
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“It’s so important to be consistent and have a really good routine,” says Gemma. “The horses never have more than one day off a week. I want them to be strong, but not too lean. I like to be flexible about turn-out, so some have a few hours out each day while others are out overnight.”