There may be a tropical storm brewing, but equestrians are a force of nature too. Determined to brave the weather and lay down the best rounds of their lives, five riders from around the world weigh in on what they're thinking about as the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina are set to begin in just a few days. From the intensive physical preparation to sharpening their mental muscles, the journey is well underway and sights are set on gold.
Nicola Philippaerts, Show Jumping, Belgium
"I have good horses right now for sure, and Tryon [has been] a big goal for me to get to. They’re in very good shape [...] – things can happen, but if [H&M Chilli Willi] keeps jumping like this, there’s a chance [we'll do well]. It can change so quickly, but at the moment, [my horses] feel great and it’s my job to just keep them like that."
Ludwig Svennerstal, Eventing, Sweden
"[I really try to keep things] the same. You kind of want it to be the same and not change [things up], because if you make it a massive thing, then it becomes uncomfortable. But if you do it the same as you do every week, it’s much more comfortable and it’s easier to perform your best."
Daniel Bluman, Show Jumping, Israel
"My routine is very, very important. Through the years I’ve tried to tweak it to find what best works for me mentally and for me to stay fresh. I feel it’s very important to stay fresh. If you get mentally tired, your performance isn’t going to be as good as it can be."
Blyth Tait, Eventing, New Zealand
"My horse is by far the least experienced of any on the team. She’s very solid in the dressage, she’s improving all of the time. She’s nearly there. I’d like to arrive at WEG with [her feeling] full of confidence, and then I can look after her after WEG. I think the mare is really nice, she just lacks a little bit of match play at the upper level. She’s at the right place for her age – she’s not behind schedule, she’s not ahead of schedule. Once they’re 12, 13, 14, they can really be counted on to go all out to win. Whereas with her, she’s still learning. Maybe it's six months too early for us, but we're going to give it a go."
Laura Graves, Dressage, United States of America
"It’s horse sport, which means you can only take it one day at a time, even [with WEG]. [Riding and competing] is a whole other thing [compared to other sports] in that we feel something physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s a lot to manage but I think that’s really what makes equestrians so special and why it is so intriguing to people."
Portraits by Andreas Pollak.
Laura Graves photo by Shannon Brinkman.
Written by Erin Lane
Erin Lane is the Director of Insider at NOËLLE FLOYD and a living definition of crazy horse girl. A lifelong hunter/jumper rider and avid polo player, Erin believes that equestrian education should be accessible to all riders and is on a mission to bring that to life through Insider. Shaped by the horse community, Erin wants to give back, build relationships connected by a passion for horses, and vibe with her fellow horse girls. You can pretty easily win her over with bay horses, weenie dogs, and wine in any form.