Monday Motivation ⭐Alison Kenward ⭐

Alison and Neptune

This week for Monday Motivation, we interviewed Alison Kenward, a dressage rider and coach from Oxfordshire. With her horse Neptune, Alison regularly competes in British Dressage at Elementary level. For every rider and their horse, this requires a great partnership and communication but for Alison this is something particularly challenging due to lack of mobility and sensation in one hand. It is quite common for horse riders to have aches and pains of some sort as we choose to participate in quite a dangerous sport and injuries appear to be in most of our riding careers! More importantly though is how we overcome these physical difficulties. Here's how Alison manages hers.

What challenges have you faced during your equestrian journey and how have you overcome them?

I have limited mobility in my right wrist which makes it more difficult for me to hold my reins and a previous injury means I have limited feeling in my hand so this adds an extra dimension to the challenge of maintaining an equal contact.
Neptune has had to learn to really listen to my seat aids and to remain light in the contact as I can’t cope with a strong horse. Thankfully earlier in my career I was a Polocrosse player so I’m used to riding with my left hand. 

What motivates you on a daily basis?

I am happiest when I am spending time with horses and to have the chance to work with a horse one to one is a privilege. I find training Neptune extremely rewarding. He is a kind horse who has three correct paces, a delightful sense of humour and a great work ethic. He is a performer at heart, he particularly enjoys the atmosphere at competitions and the opportunity to show off his Medium paces! We are finding our way through the Dressage levels together. The opportunity to train and compete motivates me to prepare Neptune and I for the challenges ahead. 

What are your goals and what tools do you use to achieve them?

My riding goals for 2018 include working with Neptune to develop his suppleness, balance and readiness to be competitive at Medium Level and to strengthen our foundation as we train towards Advanced Medium. 

I keep a training Diary to help me plan and organise my sessions and to enable me to reflect on each ride / competition. I aim to write down three positives from each session and break down my goals into actions and small steps so that I can track our progress.

How do you think Trackener could help you reach your goals?

It’s helpful to be able to gain insight into how Neptune is feeling. Lots of things have an impact on his sense of well-being, he needs to rest well and to be relaxed to perform at his best. 
Trackener enabled me to discover how Neptune was spending his time especially in the field and this insight allowed me to plan his rest and relaxation to optimise his sleep time. It also showed me when he probably lost his shoe one night cantering around the field! The device has also shown me when Neptune got anxious waiting at the gate and this allowed me to understand his optimum turnout times. 
As a rider we can usually only guess at how our horses spend their free time, with Trackener we now have a new window into our horse’s world and well being. 

Our say

We are really pleased that Trackener has helped improve Neptune's daily routine to keep him happy and healthy and also think Alison is a great inspiration at showing you can overcome whatever challenges you are faced with. The importance of rider health is a topic that has really grown over the last few years and has forced us to think about the effect our physical fitness and health has on the partnership between rider and horse. There are now some great tools and activities in place to both identify physical weaknesses using modern technology such as Centaur Biomechanics and focus on rider strength and balance with pilates for the rider. 

I, myself suffer from a bad back after a fall as a child, only worsened by a bad fall last year. It massively affects my day to day life if left weak and really hinders my riding ability if I don't work hard to strengthen it. By working on my mobility, flexibility and strength on a daily basis along with some basic 'back hygiene' of regular movement and no long periods sitting down etc (I'm sure all the office workers out there know what I mean!) it enables me to be a better partner to my horse. Most recently, there was a great article on office health in horse and rider with some great nuggets of wisdom on how to 'keep healthy' in the office. For more information on some of these topics, have a look through the links below and feel free to share your thoughts or own experiences of rider health!

Home Pilates for the Horse Rider

Why rider fitness is important for the Horse

5 Steps to stay healthy at a desk

Written by Ruth Box @ruth_box6910 Email Ruth