Here at Cosmic we’re sponsoring a young horse rider Taggy who is competing in an event this weekend. We thought it would be great for some of you guys to get to know her better so we interviewed her earlier this week and asked her about how she feels when a competition is coming up and her experience during the event.
How long have you been competing in events?
I have ridden for as long as I can remember but it wasn't until I was 10 that I started eventing. I began with the pony club and school one day events and from that went on to British Eventing which I now prefer even though it’s much tougher competition. The dressage judges give more feedback and the jumping tracks are a lot more technical which I like because I enjoy a challenge. My first event with BE (eventing's national governing body) was in 2010, since then I have been out every season from March to October with BE.
How do you and Moo prepare for your event?
We spend a lot of time training in the arena practising for the events all year round. Because eventing is a three phase competition the training is very varied and sometimes contradictory, while you may be working to get the horse relaxed and supple in the flatwork you may be training it to be alert and powerful during the jump phases, it takes time to get the horses to understand what we want from them. So we put a lot of time and dedication into the training and thanks great coaches I'm getting the guidance I need for this.
I also spend a lot of time working on my horse, Moo's fitness. The cross country phase requires her to gallop and jump for Six to eight minutes so it is Important that she is fit enough otherwise it can be dangerous and she could get injured (and if we don't go fast enough round the cross country we get time penalties).
I try to keep myself fit too, I go for a run whenever I get a chance and I play netball once a week, I am always on my feet working on the yard and riding horses so my fitness and strength levels are generally quite good. Whenever I'm feeling stressed or anxious I talk to a sport physiotherapist, this really helps me and I think getting my head straight is one of the most important parts of my preparation for events.
In the days leading up to the event I pack all my tack and kit that I will need. I usually have help doing this as I pretty much always forget something important. Last week I went on a three day training camp and forgot my jods so had to ride in my running leggings!
Do you get nervous?
I wouldn't call it nervous but I definitely am not relaxed when competing, if I'm honest I really struggle getting into the right mind-set on the day, especially for dressage. It's a mix of excitement, anticipation, anxiety and a fear of messing up.
What are your most and least favourite things about training?
My favourite thing is mapping the horses progress, some days can be really difficult and I can feel like I'm not getting anywhere with the training, then I will have a break through and it’s the most rewarding thing, especially with the young horses, makes it worth all the hard work everyone has put into it. My least favourite things are early mornings, I love to sleep, but I deal with this by getting an early night once a week. Also falling off. I try not to but sometimes the horses are too sneaky for me and before I know it I'm on the ground looking up at them, it’s not too often that I do fall off but I seem to always land on my head and I ache for days after!
How do you relax after competing?
Movie, chocolate and an early night for me and a day off for Moo. I usually sleep all the way home after a competition, I am lucky that I don’t have to drive home!
Can we find you in social media? Are you a fan? Do you use technology in any other aspect?
I have a sports person’s page on Facebook as Taggy Forester-Bennett I post to this regularly with any news or results I have with the horses. I also have a YouTube channel on which I post videos of training and competitions. I have just got a new video editing app which I use to make the videos a bit more fun by trimming them and adding music and other effects.
I love social media, I like to keep up with the latest news and I find it is one of the best places for this. There is a surprising amount of advertising done over the internet, Facebook in particular this is always useful when looking for training venues, competitions, lessons and even horses.
Any favourite apps?
My favourite app to help with the horses is one called 'Track my hack' which I have on my phone. I switch it on at the beginning of my ride and it maps my route and tells me how far and fast I went. This is really good for the fitness aspect but I also find it quite entertaining.
Finally any advice to aspiring jockeys/riders?
My advice would be to get out and compete, even if you make mistakes the most important thing is that you learn from them. For example, starting before the bell, jumping the wrong course, forgetting the dressage test and even missing out fences - I've done it all (and so has everyone else at some point, just some won't admit to it!)!
If you’d like to find out more about Taggy get in touch via social media or email [email protected] and we’ll answer any questions you have.