Training Tips - Olivia Wilmot
Hello everyone sorry this has been a very over due update. The last few months have been a total whirlwind and all emotions have been experienced with so much going on and so many changes. Firstly Hunter was born. He arrived a week late but all was well. I managed to start back riding when Hunter was 17 days old (one day longer than after I had Hamish) but I had definitely lost a lot more fitness and muscle strength which I noticed particularly when I rode Zebedee as he’s much bouncier!
It took time but I tried to build myself up gradually which is really important after a break (for horses as well as people) little and often is what I’d recommend. Some days I only managed to ride for 20 minutes but to me that was always better than not riding. There were time as well when my riding would be interrupted as I would have to jump off to feed Hunter. Fortunately my horses are very well trained and just stood waiting patiently for me.
With the jumping it was the same - little and often. I felt this was particularly important for the horses as they didn’t jump the whole time I was pregnant so I didn’t want to over do it with them and risk any possible injury. The first few weeks back I tried to jump them 2-3 times per week but nothing big (everything was kept below 1m) they know how to jump so it was a case of us getting our eyes back in.
I managed to get back competing when Hunter was 8 weeks old. It was tough but I was determined. With regards to improving my own fitness I started training with Lauren (Equestrian 24 Fitness). She was good as she knew just how much to push me, it didn’t always feel good at the time but afterward it did!
The horses moved home to my house (which was very exciting) in August so right in the middle of my season! 2017 was a year full of changes - many changes in fact!
I got through the season with the usual ups and downs some events going well and some not quite to plan, generally though I was happy especially as it all finished well in the end with Zebedee winning CIC** at Ballindenisk and Axil was 3rd at Blair CIC*** and also 8th at Ballindenisk.
Axil and Zebedee had some down time but the plan wasn’t for too long off as they had had a short season then disaster struck. Axil had an accident which initially we didn’t think was too bad but sadly took a turn for the worse and he had a severely broken leg which there was nothing that could be done. It was devastating and heartbreaking, he had been part of my family for 11 1/2 years. And that’s what he was, he wasn’t just a horse he was part of the family. We did so much together and had some amazing times. I was so touched by all the messages I received. My favourite was a Winnie the Pooh quote my sister sent me - I didn’t realise we were making memories I just knew we were having fun.
That to me sums up what we did together.
I have found this winter quite long but I have been kept busy with 2 small boys. Hamish was particularly excited about Christmas this year.
But we’re now in 2018 so it’s time to think onwards and upwards and get excited about what this year holds. Although we have had a huge amount of snow in this last week so that’s a slight setback. So after having 2 children and coming out of winter now aiming for the eventing season I thought I’d share my tips for getting back into training after break.
My first tip would always be to focus on little steps. A friend of mine said to me - it’s a bit like eating an elephant (not something I’ve done!) but if you look at the whole thing it’s too much but break it down into little pieces and before you know it you have eaten it! We are all planning our goals and aims for 2018. Some of these might feel more like a dream than an achievable aim but it’s good to dream but also remember it’s like eating an elephant - think of lots of little steps to help you get to that dream and before you know it you will be on track for it. Now you have your dream it is also good particularly with horses to have alternative routes to help you get there. Sometimes we need plan B C D!
It can be tough at this time of year to get yourself motivated especially with this weather (we currently have 7 inches of snow!) so fitness for both horse and rider can be tricky to increase. My tip for this is little and often. For my own fitness I’ve been doing lots of this. I still see Lauren (Equestrian 24 Fitness) and in between times I’m supposed to do some practicing but as I’m sure most of us are the same other things seem to take over and finding time can be tricky. So I just do random little bits when I can - I’ve found bath time for the boys is quite good for practicing things like my plank, press ups etc! I’ll do some sprints (on the spot!) in the kitchen while Hamish’s milk is in the microwave. I just find by doing little bits often I’m starting to get fitter and lose some Christmas weight! And it’s easier to fit in little bits, I struggle to find a free 30-45 minutes to dedicate to my own fitness.
With getting Zebedee fit I have a similar plan - little and often! There’s no point in over doing it and risking an injury (injuries are more likely to occur when not fully fit for what you’re doing)
If there are days I can manage to ride a second time even if it’s just for 10 minutes I do it. There have been days the weather has been not good but I have still made sure I’ve done something - one day the school was a little frozen so I didn’t do any canter work. I focussed a lot on walk and doing lateral work in walk and working on my position and going without stirrups so it was still a productive session.
So far I haven’t jumped Zebedee since his little break but I have been doing pole work again it’s back to the little & often and progressive steps. There’s no real reason for him not jumping, I’m just trying to build both of us up a bit more. I use poles in walk, trot and canter.
This also leads on to my other tip - variety! Variety of work I find is really important when staring back after a break and getting fit - for both you and your horse. It’s important that neither of you get bored and start to find any work you’re doing boring. Varying the work is definitely good for the mental state. I also find the variety helps build up the fitness quicker. For many people on the winter they have to ride in the school under floodlights so it’s important that you and your horse don’t get bored. Set yourself like challenges for every time you ride - one day you do focus on lots of transitions between paces and within the pace and could bring in lots of school movements & dressage tests. Another time poles - walk, trot and canter poles as well as using the poles to go between to check straightness and can also be used to leg yield from one lot to another - if you set 2 poles out on 3/4 line then another 2 on centre line further down the school.
If and when you can hack out but you can make it interesting bring in some of your flatwork such as transitions and remember to change your diagonal. You can also practise going into the 2 point position then back to normal position - you can do this in all paces. I’m fortunate that I’m not too far from the beach so can take my horses there. I never gallop on the beach. Often we spend time going in and out of shallow water (just above their fetlocks) as this makes them work hard. Again doing transitions so your horse is listening to you.
I hope this helps to get you all started.