1% More with World Equestrian Brands: A Different Approach to Rider Fitness

Jill Thomas Smith and Obos Darko. Photo by Shelby Allen.

1% More” is a new blog series in which World Equestrian Brands endorsed and trainer team riders give us one booster tip that will help us to improve our competitive edge by 1%. As any true athlete knows, all of those 1%s add up to significant results.

First up, World Equestrian Brands sat down with Jill Thomas-Smith, a Canadian eventer based in Middleburg, VA. She competes with her top horse, O.B.O.S. Darko at the CCI 4* level, in addition to Prix St. George Dressage and 1.30m jumper classes “for fun.”

On any given weekend, you might find World Equestrian Brands Trainer Team Member Jill Thomas-Smith competing multiple horses at an event on the east coast, in addition to coaching her students. We recently caught up with her in between rides at Pine Top to ask for a 1% booster tip.

She doesn’t have to think very hard. “One thing that I teach all of my students is that they have to be fit outside of riding to ride well in competition,” she says right away.

Jill explains that she played “every sport there is” as a kid and gives the credit for her high performance in the ring to cross-training outside of riding. “I do hot yoga and take Orange Theory classes. The core work from yoga helps me in the dressage arena and with body control over fences, and the cardio base of Orange Theory classes gives me staying power out on cross country.”

“You absolutely can’t be puffing harder than your horse when you come off of cross country,” she laughs. “If you start to empty on cross country, two things happen. Your position starts to suffer, and you can get tossed around in the saddle. (Secondly), you start to lose focus on your work, leading to bad decision making because all you are focusing on is how tired you are.”

Read the full list of fitness tips and more from Jill Thomas over on the World Equestrian Brands blog here.