Hartpury’s Jenni Douglas is helping horse riders all over the world to achieve peak performance and cope with the long-term demands of an eventing career after launching a new suite of rider fitness resources.
Jenni – a Hartpury graduate who went on to become an equine lecturer at the college – has developed ‘EventFit’ as a result of her own PhD research focused on the fitness and physiological demands of eventing.
The fitness suite includes a 30-day, 40-exercise challenge, with the next one launching on June 1st, 2016. The challenge requires no equipment and offers support and encouragement via an online global community.
The challenge, however, is only one part of EventFit. It also includes three progressive six-week programmes; the first focused on providing a solid fitness foundation, the second on stabilising the core in reactive situations and the third on pushing and supporting riders to maintain form and good functional movement patterns when they are under cardiovascular strain.
Jenni also offers online coaching, effectively acting as a personal trainer for top level competition riders, who include Hartpury Equine Academy 2* eventer and Equine Business Management degree student, Madison Penfound, from Canada.
This coaching package is tailored to the individual and can take into account age, levels of fitness, the number of horses they ride, levels of competition and the equipment they have access to. The bespoke programme starts with a remote screening assessment and is designed around competition if required.
You can find out more and sign up for the next 30-day challenge at www.eventingfit.com – the website was designed by Hartpury Equine Science graduate, Celeste Wilkins, who is now a marketing specialist based in Ireland. And the Hartpury links do not stop there. Jenni has also collaborated on research with Hartpury graduate, Thalia Edwards (BSc and MSc Equine Science).
Jenni said: “Scientific evidence has proven that riders have to maintain good posture, while making decisions and keeping neuromuscular control for five to 10 minutes periods at over 80% of their heart rate maximum during a cross-country phase.
“Riding is definitely a mental and skills-based sport but as its status as a sport and competitions come more into the public eye and people become more aware of the physical demands, riders are increasingly seeking ways to find an edge and recognising that it’s not enough just to be skillful; they need to ensure their physical strength and fitness can cope with the performance demands too.
“Many riders experience pain and asymmetry that need to be addressed and they need programmes that fit around the equestrian lifestyle, to be able to cope with training and performance demands and be fit for life.
“Riders should concentrate on their own weaknesses and problems with their symmetry on the ground before they think about their performance on their horse. When I moved to Canada, I was really keen to continue to educate students and clients about how best to physically prepare for horseriding activities, as well as how to peak at the right time for competitions and to build up their longer-term resilience, both physically and mentally, using a recognised strength and conditioning approach.
“The idea behind ‘Eventfit’ is to reach riders from all over the world and give them the guidance and exercises they need to be as competition fit as they can be, using training techniques that best replicate the demands of the sport.
“It’s vital to take them on a journey from functional person to athlete using progressive methods to ensure they peak at the right time and achieve their goals.”
Jenni has also recently contributed to the book ‘Training for Equestrian Performance’, which a whole host of Hartpury lecturers were involved with producing.
Jenni is now based in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in Canada, with her husband and fellow Hartpury graduate, Lee Douglas, who is the now the assistant coach for Canada Rugby Sevens.
However, she remains a visiting associate principal lecturer for Hartpury, supporting and helping to disseminate research from Hartpury University Centre.