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1% More: Planning for the Year Ahead with Woodge Fulton

Woodge Fulton and Captain Jack. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

“1% More” is a 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.

It’s January! Time to set goals and make big plans for the new year. If you are lucky, you have already or are getting ready to head down to Florida for the winter season. But what about the rest of us? How do we work towards our big goal horse show of the year when our ponies are fat, hairy, and covered in snow?

We sat down with 5* event rider Woodge Fulton to learn how we can approach 2023, even if it’s not yet time to hit the ground running. Click here to read the full blog on the World Equestrian Brands site.

WEB: Thanks for sitting down with us, Woodge! We’d love to chat a little about what happens when we start setting goals in January that might be months away, especially if we happen to not be headed somewhere warm to get a leg up on the competition.

WF: I think this tends to attract a type-A go-getter, goal-setting mentality, which I think in a lot of ways can work to our advantage. I think we want to be careful that our horse has no idea it’s January 1. And so you just want to be careful that we weren’t having a nice holiday and we had Christmas, and we’re getting on maybe two days a week and hacking around. And then all of a sudden, January 1 comes and there’s a big wave of publicity about the New Year. And everyone on social media down south is jumping big and galloping fast and your pony is a little fat and hairy. I think it’s really easy to sort of lose sight of your own goals and what your milestones are, and A), get discouraged and then B), the tendency would be to push too hard because it’s January 2 now and we’ve got big plans. We don’t want to break anyone in January, that’s for sure!

WEB: We don’t! So what can someone do if they’re sitting in a cold place, thinking about what to do for all of their big goals and they’re not going to Florida?

WF: Walk! I think walking is underrated — it’s boring and it’s especially not much fun to do when it is freezing. But get some heated gloves and some heated socks, and if you have a safe place to walk on the road and it’s not super icy. Just getting out of the ring and going and walking until you freeze to death is a good place to start!

And then also create a plan week by week by week for your horse’s fitness so that way it doesn’t come March and you haven’t even seen your dressage saddle in three months. There’s no reason you can’t walk in your dressage saddle and there’s no reason the horse can’t walk on the bit. There’s no reason you can’t do little lateral stuff as you’re walking. But I think those bite-sized pieces every single day adds up over time.

I think on the flip side of that, just being mindful, too, of the day you’re having — if it’s negative 40 and everything’s covered in ice, maybe just take the blanket off and groom your horse.

I think social media is great in a lot of ways, and it opens everyone’s eyes to different ways of learning, and you’re able to see everything. But on the other hand, everyone is only putting their best work out there. So while it may look like Susie Q in Ocala is training from sun up to sun down every single day, that doesn’t mean that’s your program or that’s going to work best for you and your horse.

[Read the rest of this blog on the World Equestrian Brands website]

1% Better with World Equestrian Brands: Cornelia Dorr’s Top-10 Burghley Weekend

World Equestrian Brands recently caught up with Cornelia Dorr, fresh off of her 10th place finish at Burghley, to talk about her 5* debut, her feelings throughout the competition, Daytona Beach 8 (her equine partner in crime), and how she approaches day to day training and competition.

Cornelia Dorr and Daytona Beach 8. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

WEB: What were your thoughts leading up to Burghley?

CD: I’ve been based here in England since January with Kevin and Emma McNab. I came over here with hopes to do a 5*, and after our first jump lesson with Kevin, he said, “There’s an argument for Burghley here,” and I was like, “It’s my first 5*, no way!”

You know how you can plan for something, but it doesn’t really feel like it’s going to happen? It was a little hard to trust in the lead-up that it was happening.

WEB: Tell us a little about the event itself. What were you feeling after dressage?

CD: For each phase, I had a little goal in mind. For dressage, I just didn’t want it to be a disaster! She’s really emotional about the flatwork, and it’s hard for her mentally. I didn’t know how an arena with that much atmosphere would affect her. I was thrilled with the 39. That was way more than I expected!

After that, I wasn’t thinking about a result at that point. I was just thinking about completing.

WEB: Were there any combinations that were noteworthy on cross country day?

CD: I was really nervous about the Leaf Pit because a stride away from the drop, it looks like you are literally leaping off the face of the Earth! But Daytona was so dead-on there I knew that we were going to be good. She wants this.

WEB: Going into show jumping, you had moved up from 50th to 16th place! Were you starting to have some thoughts about where you’d finish?

CD: I was just really glad to be jumping in the afternoon session in the top 20! She tried so hard!

WEB: Tell us about your relationship with Daytona. (We secretly have a mare obsession!)

CD: We are finishing four years together now! She’s been really difficult. I don’t think that’s a secret. I’ve thought a few times about selling her because of the flatwork. But I think this year abroad has been so good for us. She’s my best friend now.

Kevin really understood that we can put pressure on her in training like a normal horse. Understanding that about her has changed her idea towards life. She’s much softer towards everything. Everything has to be her choice.

Cornelia Dorr and Daytona Beach 8 impress in their first five-star. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

WEB: What’s one piece of wisdom that you can share with our audience that can help them to become 1% better?

CD: I have a couple, I think. I’m really big into sports psychology and understanding how my mindset affects the outcome and affects the people and horses that I’m around. Being aware of my mindset.

I’ve been reading this book called Mind Gym, which really talks about how you are not what your brain says you are. It’s helped me to work on separating what my brain says vs. reality.
Also, I think a lot about the horses’ physical strength. Fitness isn’t skinny; fitness is strength. A strong horse has less risk of injury, so I’m thinking about that all the time while I’m training. Where are they weak? What can I do to make them stronger? What exercise do they need for that? I try to think about that all the time while training.

WEB: That’s so helpful! Something our readers can take away for themselves. Thank you for chatting with us, Cornelia! Of course, before you go, we have to ask. What’s your favorite WEB product?

CD: My favorite product is the Vespucci Eventing Rein! I am super picky about reins and always have been. If I notice them in my hands, I don’t like them. The rubber reins with stoppers just fit perfectly in my hand and fingers! They don’t even think about slipping, even in the worst of weather!

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.