With the first horse inspection for the Olympic eventing happening today (5 August), find out how British team member Pippa Funnell prepares for an Olympics
When I’ve been preparing for an Olympics in the past, I’ve had to remind myself to treat it like any other championship. In your head it’s the Olympics and that’s huge, but you need to keep your feet on the ground in the run-up to the Games; it can be easy to overtrain.
Stick to your routine
I’ve always kept to the same plan with my horses ahead of any Olympics, right down to feeding. At the Games I’ve given them what they would have at home or very similar, as I have seen how a richer type of haylage can affect temperament.
With all the Olympic hype surrounding the horses, it is also essential they are still given space and allowed time to relax.
It’s a crucial balance to get right: not to overdo the preparation, nor underdo it. Stick to what has worked for your horse. Some horses might need a fun run, others a big run.
Fitness for rider
It’s important you are as on form as your horse. The nature of eventing keeps you pretty fit, simply by riding a large number of horses daily. I now do Pilates, which I didn’t before the other Olympics I’ve been to, but I find it helps with focus and core strength.
The most anxiety I felt was when Supreme Rock was travelling to Australia. I wasn’t able to travel with him, but you do know they are in good hands with a team of top vets on the flight.
The heat is another factor. Ahead of Athens we did a lot of canter work in special rugs that included neck covers to acclimatise the horses.
Like this? You might also enjoy reading these:
Controlling the nerves
I’ve had hideous nerves, but as it’s an Olympics everyone does. It’s a huge honour to represent your country and the team spirit is fantastic. The horse doesn’t know it’s any different, so you need to make sure you don’t pass tension on.
It’s easier said than done in the atmosphere. You need to be mentally strong so the horse picks up the positive vibes.