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World Class Training

We had a good two days of training at Stow-on-the-Wold at the end of January.  It was quite a high trial as the squad session was within a week of when I started riding again, but it was a good target that kept me motivated to get back in saddle by that date. The horses went very well, and I'm extremely grateful to the team that helped keep them going in my absence - particularly Angela Tucker who helped with the training of some of the more experienced horses when they came back into work after their holidays.


The World Class training days consist of one-to-one sessions with the team trainers, veterinary assessments of the horses, medical reviews, diet, equine nutrition, event planning, sports psychology, developments on lorry driving regulations (not the most enjoyable hour!) and discussions about the future of the sport and what we need to be doing to beat the Germans! We are also all assessed by the collective team of staff (trainers, physio, vets, saddler, farrier etc.) who look at the finer details of the way each rider moves with the horse, the symmetry and the ability to ride movements, using video analysis. This assessment was an excellent test of the work that I've been doing during my rehab, as I've been put to work in the gym at Bath University three days a week for the past four months in order to both minimise the effects of a prolonged period out of saddle, and also to use the extra time and energy to focus on an area that would otherwise not be a priority, with the aim of using the enforced break in training to progress and come back better in certain areas than before the fall. Fortunately, and surprisingly, the panel were so pleased that all the riders have since been sent to the gym to go through similar strength & conditioning programmes! Since the January session we have all been working together in the gym at Oaksey House in Lambourn, which is an facility set up to support jockeys.


It was great to be back at the Unicorn Centre for two more days of training, this time show-jumping with Yogi Breisner and Philip Surl. We were put through our paces with some gymnastic exercises, before working on using the full range of gears whilst riding around a course of show jumps, in order to be comfortable working in a gear above what the time requires at 3 and 4* events. On the second day we concentrated on riding tight lines.  


I was thrilled with the horses I took, and it was great that a number of our owners were able to come along and watch. The Unicorn centre at Stow is a fantastic venue with a warm and extremely comfortable viewing gallery and a delicious lunch, making it a very comfortable way for owners to see their horses and riders work in January and February!


Day to day training during the winter months can be fairly solitary, so it's fun to spend a few days training with other riders. The six of us on the squad have all become good friends, partly through spending time together during the World Class sessions, so there's a great atmosphere and we all came back refreshed and inspired!


Photograph:  Away Cruising.

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