Anna Ross: Rider fitness isn’t rocket science *H&H Plus*


  • Welfare should always be at the forefront of our minds, and I agree with Laura Tomlinson’s thoughts in her last column that rider fitness and nutrition should be a priority, though for most of us the tension between ourselves and the tack room fridge remains a challenge.

    Top vet Sue Dyson has been doing some very interesting research into appropriate rider weight in relation to horse size. Rider fitness is definitely a hot topic, although it is fairly obvious that your weight should be appropriate for your horse’s size. Therefore I have taken the sensible precaution, of which I’m sure Sue would approve, by finding myself a large horse to leave room for error should I fall from the “fitness bus”.


    On the other hand, one of my riders, Vicci Greenaway, has taken the opposite approach and often goes running on Dartmoor after work.

    In her column, Laura discussed the importance of rider nutrition; she has an enviably slim figure so perhaps those of us who enjoy doughnuts should take note of her regime. In addition, I shall be making a cardboard cut-out of Sue looking menacing to stick to my fridge door as a reminder to “rein back” this Christmas.

    ‘An X-rated version of his former self’

    The recent British Dressage (BD) Quest final at Bury Farm was a fantastic event with a great atmosphere. It’s so great, in fact, that when I competed in the gala night’s pro am competition last year, such was the atmosphere that my usually rock-steady steed Delgado turned into an X-rated version of his former self.

    We performed about 150 one-time changes between every movement. We were paired with a child rider who had done well in her own competition, and who was relying on me, the British team rider, to top up her score. I had to apologise, and the next day the judge told me she was still “recovering” from my test.

    I didn’t have the guts to re-enter this year, though re-invited. I can handle the shame of my horse acting up, but I draw the line at potentially making children cry. However, Delgado has recently redeemed himself by scoring a fraction under 70% at grand prix, so perhaps I’ll brave it in 2020.

    BD needs to bottle the enthusiasm from Bury Farm for our new-look national championships, with spectators feeling part of the action.

    It’s so exciting at the top of the sport at the moment. The current World Cup series has been very compelling so far with a different winner on every round, and with FEI TV, YouTube and social media streaming it’s easy to follow.

    It’s great to see young stars such as Britain’s Lottie Fry and Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour coming through, and with Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St John Freestyle in action too, watching top-level dressage has never been more fun.

    Safety hats have finally been made mandatory by the FEI. It was inevitable and it’s a sensible rule, although I’m surprised it’s not been brought in across all the FEI sports.

    It’s pretty obvious to the outside world that getting on a horse is dangerous. Wearing safety equipment will not go out of fashion — it’s up to us to make it the new fashion, with a sporty look to go with our new sporty figures.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 28 November 2019