Fitness First with Hamish Cargill

Fitness First

I’m sorry to say it, but your holidays are well and truly over. You know it because the ham’s finally got up and walked out of your fridge; the tree’s lying dead in the corner; and the last of your festive beer supply was drunk on Australia Day.

This all adds up to one thing – it’s time to go eventing.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s surprised that it’s already February. As the first events of the year stare us in the face, we’re all feeling underprepared. Because even though many hardy souls have ridden through the heat of January, in reality they’ve been more concerned about serious summer issues like farmer’s arms and the dangers of riding in shorts than they have been about getting their horse on the bit.

But after two months of relaxation it’s time to get serious – so I’ve created some simple exercises to get you in shape for the eventing year ahead.  

Exercise 1: Rock ‘n’ Roll

Unless you’ve had your horse hooked up to an IV full of Ace before your first event, I’ll bet my bottom dollar that it’s wild as a raging bull when you step out to do dressage. To prepare yourself for this sensation, strap a chair to the roof of a taxi, take a seat, and then ask the driver to cross-town through peak hour traffic. If you can remain calm and balanced while the driver crushes the brakes, dumps the accelerator and completely disregards the kerb then you’re ready to ride.

   After I get this chair attached I'll be ready to ride

Exercise 2: Confidence Crunches

Christmas is a time of cheer, and unless you’ve had the misfortune of being born into a particularly spiteful family, you should be feeling reasonably positive about yourself. But since this confidence won’t last once you come face to face with a dressage judge, it’s wise to get in early to knock yourself back a peg or two.

At this time of year, a number of the commercial television stations are auditioning for the future stars of their popular singing and talent shows. So unless you have a rare and previously unidentified gift (I’m looking at you Susan Boyle), this is a great opportunity to shatter your confidence and bring your self-esteem crashing back down to earth on national television – before a dressage judge gets the pleasure of doing it for you.

Exercise 3: Queue Jumping

During your peaceful summer break, you’ve forgotten how rough and ready things can get in the showjumping warm-up arena. That’s where this exercise comes in handy. Take yourself to your nearest popular shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon and stand at the bottom of a busy downward escalator. Now try to make your way up it, against the tide of humanity bearing down on you.

Got that feeling of being unable to make forward progress without everyone getting the sh!#$ with you?

Then you’re ready to get back in the ring.

Exercise 4: The Washing Machine

Some people choose to prepare for their return to the eventing season by going cross-country schooling. As far as I’m concerned, this is for wimps. Instead, head to the beach during a massive swell and throw yourself into the ocean. Catch a wave, before allowing yourself to be dumped heavily on the sand. Stand, identify the horizon, swim back out and repeat.

After three sets of this you’ll remember how enjoyable cross-country riding can be.

   The waves will have to be a bit bigger than these ones if you are going to enjoy your cross country

See you somewhere out there.