I must say, life has changed rather a lot for me again. With the birth of our third child in January we now have two red-haired daughters, and if their temperaments match the ginger horses of my experience, then I know Mark and I are in for an interesting journey!
It has now been six weeks since Hanni’s birth — luckily her brother and sister are smitten with her — and as her routine starts to settle in, I am back in the saddle, which gives me some “me time”, even if in a rather rushed manner. I am extremely lucky to have three happy, healthy children; they put career and ambition into perspective in a good way and yet, as a highly competitive career-focused woman, my challenge to balance the two sides to me continues.
In order to have a chance of repeating some of my past successes, I must be even more diligent with the time that I do have, and also make sure that my preparation is impeccable.
After the birth of my second child I suffered a severe slipped disc and only just managed to avoid surgery, which took a lot of effort with physiotherapy and gym work. I made sure I kept this up throughout my recent pregnancy and since, to enable me to get back in the saddle quickly but without causing another injury.
Nowadays, I warm up religiously before riding every day. In order to do my job well, my preparation time has increased, while my spare time has heavily decreased, so I have to be more organised than ever to give myself and my horses a fair chance.
As the competition season draws near it is important to set realistic goals, to be prepared to work very hard to achieve them and to make a plan on how to succeed. What things need to improve from last season and how can you pull off those improvements? Regularly assess whether those things have improved and, if not, ask why not.
Make sure your horse is on the appropriate feed for the level of training you are doing and that tack is fitting well.
Prevention is always better than cure so setting yourself up with good yard and horse management means getting the best out of your horse is easier.
Likewise, get in the gym or to your nearest Pilates class and make sure you are as balanced and fit as you expect your horse to be.
A thrilling year
Looking ahead to this year’s pinnacle, the European Championships in Rotterdam in August, I think we are in for a very exciting season. The Dutch have some high-scoring combinations, while Germany’s Isabell Werth has enough top horses to keep her on winning form and there are other German combinations who will make it as difficult as ever to knock them off their perch.
Looking at our own stars, it will be very exciting to see how Mount St John Freestyle has developed over the winter.
I know Charlotte Dujardin will have been doing her homework and Carl Hester’s Hawtins Delicato will have gained from a few months’ consolidating, too.
There are also some exciting upcoming horses and riders and I am looking forward to competing my horses at high level again.
Fingers crossed for a thrilling 2019 all round!
Ref Horse & Hound; 7 March 2019