Pony racing has gathered increasing support and status over the last few years. Rarely would you now find a champion apprentice or conditional that hasn’t ridden on the pony racing circuit. But some might say there is a growing divide between competitors or perhaps more so the ability of their ponies. I’ve heard of kids riding racing ponies bought for over £100k. So how do the rest compete? And what’s more if you want to make this your career could this mean it’s over before it has started?
So if you have notions of being the next Oisin Murphy or Bryony Frost but are constantly being left at the start don’t despair? There are ways of bridging the gap (or at least getting noticed) without resorting to robbing a bank to fund a faster pony!
One way of standing out is by being fitter than your competitors. And what better time to start focussing on fitness than now while pony racing fixtures have been halted. There need not be a heavy financial burden. Some basic kit, a little knowledge and you’re away. And there’s no better platform to demonstrate your superior lung capacity than on the back of a slow pony that needs driving from start to finish! Onlookers always admire a jockey with this type of resolute determination. After all it’s what top riders are made of.
A jockey that is physically strong in a finish can easily be taken off a slow pony, put on a mediocre one and be given a good chance of winning. A weak jockey on the other hand on a mediocre pony has at best a slim chance of winning, fact.
As a rider you may have been taught that a good squat technique is fundamental to the drive in a finish. Correct, but don’t over focus on quads (thigh muscles) and forget to train the muscles that help stabilise them. Train smarter not harder. Learn to spread the workload between neighbouring muscles so you don’t fall in a heap a furlong out.
The glutes are the most under used muscle group in the squat. The majority of riders I see have a brutal squat (true story) and there are physiological reasons associated with riding that cause this. But the good news is that it’s fixable with training.
Try lateral walking (like a crab) with a mini band around your legs to strengthen glute medius (the side of your bottom). This will get glutes firing, help spread the workload and stop quads fatiguing as quickly. You’ll look more professional and be more fluent as you drive to the line.
If you want to find out more about how to train effectively for race riding contact me.
Are you fit to ride? What are your pony racing experiences? Comment, like, share.