The Mentoring Program
The Foundational Concepts to Becoming your Horse’s “Personal Trainer”
A mentor is one who is considered a trusted advisor, and assists others in their training or search of knowledge.
Tracey’s knowledge and expertise as a REMT combined with her years of riding (dressage) provides the riders with an in-depth understanding of how they are physically affecting the development of their horses’ musculature and their ability to be athletic. This, blended with Tracey’s personal journey of strength training and an awareness of the importance of proper form and function during exercise is what has developed this program that can benefit both horse and rider.
“It is not the horse that needs to be mastered. It is the horse that is a gift to us humans in the most honest and purest attempt to master ourselves” ~ Tracey A. Mitchell BA REMT
Purpose and Goal of the Program
- To help the rider develop a new understanding of how the horse moves in response to their aids and body movements.
- To produce and navigate a strength training program that targets problem areas on their horses.
- To encourage the rider to have a deeper consideration of the process involved in strength training and the physical affects it has on the horse.
- To promote the rider as their horses’ ‘Personal Trainer’, therefore taking a different perspective and responsibility to the training process.
“Strength transfers into endurance” ~ Anna Mary Yoder (Personal Trainer at ‘Whole Health Fitness’)
What is the ‘job’ of a Personal Trainer?
- Set a program with progression
- Observe and ensure correct technique
- Program organization (follow it and assess it)
- Apply proper training to an activity
- Individual specific programming (know about you and your horse)
- Respond with variations due to long-term/short-term goals
- Help to rehabilitate from injury back to full function
Why should you consider yourself your horse’s Personal Trainer?
- To better your relationship with your horse
- To take responsibility for the direction and path that you and your horse are on, and the outcome of it.
- To develop an appreciation of the athletic undertaking by the horse based on the riders aids/demands/requests from the saddle.
- To realize how stretching, suppling and strengthening are all interconnected and a ‘must have’ for any sound and productive athlete.
- To provide for the horse a sound training program based on strength training and conditioning, that can be not only discipline specific, but also to help correct muscle imbalances and support conformational challenges.
What to expect from the program;
- An individualized program for horse and rider that can be utilized within their current coaching schedule, to help them attain more out of their everyday work.
- To become educated on how to approach strength training, and to complete exercises in appropriate sets and rest times.
- To soundly rehabilitate a horse so as to ensure a well-balanced and less stressed horse as it goes back to work.
- A better understanding of the muscle anatomy and why the horse carries it’s tension where, and the way it does.
- One-on-one sessions with plenty of feedback and communication.
- Patterned exercises in a format that will encourage horse and rider to work together.
- Both horse and rider to become more flexible and balanced and to increase their effective range of motion.
- A relaxed environment that is conducive to thoughtful, productive work.
- To develop or enhance the confidence levels in one or both of the partnership, therefore leading to an overall better performance, in and out of the ring.
“Strength training makes the body more efficient in the transferring of energy” ~ Rob Mitchell (Personal Trainer & Owner of ‘Whole Health Fitness’)
Thoughts from Tracey…
So many riders, even the best intentioned ones ‘get in the way’ of their horse, and it isn’t always in the physical sense of the phrase. As an REMT, I have worked on many horses over the years, and witnessed many horse and rider relationships, at all levels of the competitive spectrum. Over my several years of practice, I have seen how the effects of not only hard hands, heavy seats and ill-fitting tack can affect a horse, but most of all how the expectations of a rider can cause a horse to stress themselves to the point of shutting down or ‘turning off’ from the horse and rider partnership. Although it is obvious that the high-performance horses of any discipline have to face a lot of expectation, it would be unfair to assume that horses at lower levels, not competing for Olympic medals, do not pick up on and internalize the expectations of their riders.
“If you are a good horseman, you will learn that the horse will teach the rider self-control, consistency, discipline and the ability to understand what goes on in the mind and feelings of another creature, qualities that are important throughout our lives” ~ Martha Grace Blackburn ‘90