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It was approximately 24 years ago today that I retired from competitive showing jumping at the Grand Prix Level. From then to now the sport in North America has grown immensely, along with the dedication, time and physical energy it takes to reach that level.

When I rode in high school the physical energy I had to ride was neverending. By the time I reached University, the demands of school and competing at such a high level left me constantly drained. With a full course load, group projects, studying, traveling to and from the barn and horse shows, I was exhausted every day.

One day my finance professor asked me why I was always falling asleep in his class. While it was not always that interesting, I told him about my busy schedule with riding. He suggested I start a fitness program. I thought he was crazy! When was I going to find the time to work out? In my sleep? I took his advice and I started running, biking, lifting weights, going to the gym 3 – 4 times a week. After about one month of working out, I noticed my energy level had increased. After exercising for three months I noticed that not only had my energy level skyrocketed but I started sleeping better and rarely felt tired or drained at the end of the day. It was at that time that a light bulb went off in my head and I realized that exercise played a huge role in my ability to ride. Not only could I ride three horses in one 1.50 jumper derby class or two rounds of a Nations Cup and still have energy to ride again, I was stronger, more able to control and connect with my horse, more balanced, and overall just able to ride more consistently without getting tired in the middle of the show ring.

My journey into fitness did not stop once I retired from show jumping. I realized that in order to keep my energy level up and be better in everyday life, I still needed to stay active no matter what I was doing in life. Fitness and nutrition are now a big part of my life. That is not to say that I don’t have a vice… and anyone who knows me well knows what that is. But that vice does not control who I am, I control who I am. Fitness and nutrition allows me to do just that.

While I do not competitively ride anymore, my children, Austin and Kyle, do. So I do find myself on a horse a quite often. Because of my fitness, I can hop on and off with out any difficulty or any soreness the next day. I want to help fellow riders who get off a horse after one round and are so winded they can not talk or so sore they can not walk evenly or sit centered on a horse. In the coming issues I will introduce exercise – not only as a tool to keep fit and healthy, but also to help improve your riding, connection with and balance on a horse.


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