Julia Chatigny is a competitive jumper rider who found her passion for riding at a young age. Throughout the years she trained with several Grand Prix horses to help bring her up in the ranks, but as time went on, Julia realized she wanted a horse of her own. This is when she started saving her money and, in May 2018, Julia purchased her first horse, the French import Tonnerre De La Folie, also known as Thunder. Below Julia shares some of her top tips for preparing for the show ring.
What are three important exercises you perform to help you and your horse get ready for a show?
1. Gymnastics: I try to jump gymnastics at least every two weeks, if not every week. Gymnastics is great for getting a horse to think, which helps him jump better and be more aware in his body. This will give the rider more time to focus on equitation.
2. Spirals: I find spirals are a great way to get Thunder focused on my aids. I use them to get him where I want him to go, or to get him on the bit naturally without too much force. Overall this gets the suppleness out of him, which translates amazingly into lateral work.
3. Pole or small cavaletti work: This exercise is great when it comes to stride length and impulsion. I love exercises where the horse has to sit back on his hind end and shorten his stride while maintaining impulsion and adding strides down a line. He can return to normal striding or potentially remove a stride, and then I get him back and add the strides again. This gets both of us really thinking and working as a team and that ride ability is a huge advantage in a technical course.
How will Hylofit help prepare you and your horse for both pre-season and in-season showing?
I find that with Hylofit, I get a good look at how Thunder is feeling each day. If he feels off I can see it in the information given by the system. He is also an anxious horse, so once show season rolls around I am sure I will be able to see where in the course he gets nervous and plan how to best help him to alleviate that feeling or be prepared to ride harder in those areas. The data will also help me see off course if his heart rate is slightly higher during those stressful show weeks. Higher stress would lead to higher energy consumption so I would know to adjust his feed accordingly. Since I cannot communicate with him verbally, I find this is a great way to monitor his fitness, to know when I’m not pushing enough or pushing too hard, and overall to better understand how I need to ride to keep him happy.