In February, we talked to our profile rider Nathalie Bozic.
February is about the theme of Construction. Nathalie has been riding all her life, she has competed up to 3* international 145cm LR ranking class and is currently working on training her young horses to the same level. Through hard work she has brought horses up to difficult jumping in the past and knows what long term work means. We have asked her a few questions which she answers below:
What is edification for you?
For me, these are the building blocks you set as the foundation for your set goals. This includes everything from the feed regime, a varied and balanced training programme and knowing your horse. In order to build your horse for the long term, whether the goal is a healthy horse after rehab, 150cm jumping or strengthening your horse at the canter, you need to get to know your horse in order to provide the best conditions.
What does building up the competition horse mean?
When building a horse with big classes in mind, we have to think about all the elements. We want a horse that is capable and ready for the task. We want a horse that is up to the task and we want a horse that wants to do the task.
By setting sub-goals and setting up a training plan, you are actively working towards the big goal. The sub-goals can be set for a specific type of class and when you want to perform it. Then it is a matter of planning, what do we need to work on to achieve the set sub-goal? How do we do it? When setting up a training plan, it is important to find a balance in training and recovery. Variety of work and surface is also important for the horses, both mentally and physically.
In the training plan, we also need to consider factors where horses' bodies have time to recover and rebuild. If we train hard on the track 6 days a week, muscles, joints, ligaments or anything else will not feel good in the long run. It can be motivating to trim and train every day because it feels like you are working hard towards your goal. The problem with monotonous work like this is that it will eventually wear your horse out. It is therefore important to be a little creative in your approach. Just as you build strength in the riding arena, you'll also do it effectively on the slopes in the woods.
Another factor in this is the time for recovery. Giving your horse time to recover can be as simple as giving it a good walk after your ride. Then the joints can naturally recover and transport out the slag products instead of putting the horse on the stable aisle where the slag can remain and cause damage. Recovery can also be active rest after a tougher period, where the horse recovers on the move. This is also a matter of the individual. Some horses need longer rest periods between seasons while others do better with more work. Something all vets I have spoken to agree on is that active rest is always the best option for the healthy horse. It can be lighter work in the woods, trail rides, whole riding sessions at a walk only, well only your imagination sets the limits.
Motivating your horse to get on the track and want to do the job is also related to the above discussions. A horse that feels strong in body and prepared will also feel confident about the task. The same goes for the rider. For example, a horse that is trained to debut his 140cm will find it easy. On the other hand, if you go in with a horse that is perhaps too poorly trained physically or not obedient enough, you will find the task daunting and leave the track with a bad experience. That's why it's so important to have a holistic approach when building your horse. Look at each horse as an individual and find what suits them best. Think of the build up as steps and everything you do along the way lays the foundation to take you up another step.
What does recovery from an injury mean?
Post-injury rehabilitation is about gradually rebuilding your horse from its injured state back to its normal pain-free/healthy state. During the rehabilitation process, it is very important to be careful and to take your time. Otherwise you risk the injury recurring or even getting worse? With the help of advice from your vet and supportive supplements, rehabilitation can go relatively smoothly.
Your top 3 tips on the topic of construction?
- Be patient and let it take time.
Whether it's building performance, from injury or confidence. Ice in the stomach will pay off in the long run.
- Dare to get help.
By trainers, vets, experts etc. All knowledge is valuable and to think that you can do everything yourself is just stupid. If you don't agree or find it doesn't work, you can always change your approach. However, I think it is always beneficial to turn to someone with experience in the field.
- Post a sustainable plan.
Make sure you work on the build-up in a way that your body can keep up with and maintain. A healthy horse will perform better no matter what the task, it will definitely be happier and your friend will have a longer life. So plan in what the training will look like, when to push and when will the recovery periods come. Set up each session with a balance of hard work and recovery. Support your horse's body with supplements that support joints and muscles to avoid strain injuries.