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How to train a horse you’ve never met for the Youth Olympic Games

10 September 2018

BUENOS AIRES: Seventeen-year old show jumping rider, Madi Sinderberry is as talented as they come.

Over the past two years she’s collected back to back titles, winning both the U21 Australian Young Rider and NSW Young Rider Championships in 2016 and 2017, but even more impressively is that she is about to compete at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) with a horse she’s never met.

Currently completing her last year of school at Condobolin High School, Sinderberry prides herself on competing with four successful horses, two of which she produced from green broken (untrained) two-year olds.

However, at next month’s YOG in Argentina, all riders will meet their steed for the first time just days before competition.

“Competing on a horse you know nothing about is certainly a challenge, but all the competitors are in the same situation,” Sinderberry said.

“Forming a relationship with your horse is an integral part of being successful in competitions. The horse needs to trust that they can achieve what you ask of them, and as a rider you need to understand how the horse is feeling each day and know all their little quirks to be able to get the best out of them.

“Developing a strong relationship with a horse and knowing them inside-out can be a lengthy process, so when competing on a borrowed horse, that process has to be fast tracked,” she continued.

This will not be the first time the Condobolin local has competed on aunknown horse, having already competed in four international competitions with borrowed horses, she looks forward to the challenge.

“At the YOG I will have a couple of training sessions with my horse before the start of the four days of competition.

“In those sessions, I don’t necessarily have enough time to form a relationship with my horse, so I will be focusing on working out the best way to ride it to have it respond in the best way possible, as all horses prefer and understand a slightly different ride,” she said.

“We will also get a chance to jump some practice jumps in the competition arena. This will ensure the horse is familiar with the competition surroundings and doesn’t react in an unexpected way when competing.

“Getting the best out of a borrowed horse is a challenge I love, and I am looking forward to riding a different horse at the YOG,” the Year 12 student said.

“I train and compete with four different horses, and two of them are very young, so my own team of horses gives me the variety of rides to prepare me for a borrowed horse event.”

Sinderberry believes her confidence in her own ability will give her a competitive edge over her competition.

“I ride and train in Western NSW, mostly by myself,” she shared.

“From an early age I developed a natural instinct to get around the course clear without any coaching, so I learnt to trust myself on a wide variety of horses.

“I have had more technical training now I am jumping the bigger tracks, but I developed my base by myself, just by feel of the horse. This put me in good stead to respond to situations on course and react very quickly by natural instinct.”

The teenager shared that what most people don’t realise, is that most of the training for show jumping doesn’t even involve leaving the ground.

“Training for jumping horses, isn’t actually jumping. It is riding on the flat like a dressage rider and training your horse to move into exactly the right place at the speed you ask it to,” she said.

“This means you can ride the horse between jumps in the most organised way possible.”

Sinderberry will compete in one more competition this month at the Melbourne Royal before she heads to Argentina.

The Buenos Aires 2018 YOG runs 6-18 October 2018.

You can find out more about Madi and the YOG team HERE. 

Liana Buratti

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