2020 has been a hard hitting year - with major changes to everyday life and the cancelling of major shows we caught up with Show Jumper Ellen Whitaker at home to talk about how she's adapted to lockdown life and adapting ways to train, work and balance being a mother.
What’s your normal daily routine look like in lock down?
I get up and dressed, hit the treadmill and run 5k. Then I get my kids up washed and dressed, breakfast. Riding and exercising horses is next. Hacking, flat work, grid work and pole work. I stop for lunch at 1pm. When I have finished I home school the children, clean tidy, washing etc and cook dinner...kids bathed, story and bed. Finish cleaning up. I try to go into the office if I am not too tired in the evening because it’s the quietest time. A quick shower and bed.
What have you been doing with the horses, what’s their routines daily?
Horses are hacking, flat work, pole work, grids/jumping exercises in a week. All of them. 6 in a row vertical Bounce. And 4 in a row with pole in between each jump either all verticals. Or add on an oxer on the end. Or a two stride seperation from final vertical to an oxer. I've been doing this with all of the horses.
What’s it been like for you not being able to compete?
Not being able to compete has had its good and bad points. The good points? The calm, not endlessly travelling - the time I have been able to spend on myself has been so beneficial. The fantastic break for the horses and being with my children everyday. Bad points? I make my living from being a showjumper and selling horses. So considerably less income, postponed goals and plans. It’s been difficult not knowing what we are now aiming for.
How have you been coping?
By being so busy, some staff are not working. I have my children to take care of and all the horses to ride and do. I have been making sure I work out and cook fresh healthy meals. I have been taking a lot of time to evaluate everything.
Have you been relaxing and taking a break or are you keeping the horses in full fitness?
No we haven’t been relaxing, but we do have Mondays off from riding. All the horses go in the field or hand graze on Monday’s and I can catch up with washing and cleaning and office work and whatever else I need to do.
"I haven’t made any plans for the rest of the year, until we know exactly what is on and what is safe"
Can you give us an example of one of the horses weekly training splits / routine?
This is what Winston's training week looks like:
Monday - A well earned day off
Tuesday - A 90 minute hack with canter hills and a gallop
Wednesday - Flat work with trotting/ Canter poles
Thursday - Jumping exercises
Friday - A 90 min hack
Saturday - Flat work with poles
Sunday - Jumping exercises
He is bumping his work load up slightly shortly and will be ridden twice a day twice a week.
Do you have any favourite exercises you’re doing with the horses at home and why you do them?
Jumping exercises- the ones I stayed above... for balance, timing, strength and conditioning and concentration.
What are your plans are for when the lock down is lifted?
I haven’t made any plans for the rest of the year, until we know exactly what is on and what is safe.