Casey Mckenna: Preparation is everything

It’s been a busy time at Team Mckenna HQ lately! After an unusually quiet period, which I think we all enjoyed, we are nearly back up to full capacity again. We still seem too have lots of youngsters in, which I do enjoy as it’s a real sense of satisfaction to back and train them from scratch – it never ceases to amaze me how quickly the youngsters learn.

Zsuzso at Keysoe – for their last show before the Regionals

I have certainly learnt over the years that the young horses learn very quickly and easily and it’s so important to get the first bits of training right and remember that they don’t know a thing, so only let them learn what you want them too – they learn bad as easily as good! The only slight challenge we have had with the young horses is we don’t have enough nanny’s to go around when we hack out. The latest plan has been to take three 4-year-olds out together, safety in numbers! It’s worked so far and to be honest I often find that because the youngsters are so naive, they behave better than the older horses – my advanced horse can still find a different coloured leaf totally terrifying!

As well as the yard at home I have also been busy teaching which I love and it’s great to see riders and horses improve.

Summer Regionals

We had a great time at the Keysoe Summer Regional Championships with Issy and her horse Zsuzso, where she competed in the PSG gold class and finished second in a very competitive class. I was so thrilled for her as she has worked very hard to improve Zeus and the hard work certainly paid off – she was less than a percent behind the winner.

We had planned the preparation carefully for them to try and produce their best work at the Regionals. We used two local shows as their prep which we didn’t set out to win (although they did) – we just wanted to put in place everything for the regional test, you have to look at the bigger picture!

I’m so thrilled for Issy

On the day they produced the test we had hoped for and although there is still much more to come for them both, it was the best they can produce at this stage. I’m not sure who was more nervous Issy or me! Those who know me will know I’m a pretty laid back character and competitor, I’ve decided maybe I’m not cut out for this watching lark! The plan for them now will be to qualify Inter I and concentrate on the Inter II training at home over the winter.

Gym life

So as I said in my last blog, I have joined the gym. I have been going between three and five days a week depending on what time I have. So far I’m really enjoying it! It was tough going to begin with but now I’ve been going regularly its getting easier and I’m pushing myself more.

It’s been very interesting to find out which muscles are already strong and which are weak. Although I can ride eight to 12 horses in a day, it’s very repetitive exercise and I’m finding muscles in the gym I didn’t know I had! One thing I have really noticed improve is the strength in my back – an area I have always struggled with as I’m very tall. I have recently started on the free weights which I’m enjoying and I think will help me as you have to use your stabilising muscles more. My osteopath thinks this will really help me so I’m interested to see how we get on.

The other thing I’ve become more aware of is my diet. Like lots of riders I have been guilty of living on tea, coffee and chocolate. I have now downloaded an app to track what I’m eating which has been very interesting – on an average day when I thought I had eaten a lot, I was only getting about half the calories I should be. I’m now eating lots more and remembering that my horses diet is very important to me so mine should be too. I think I might be slightly driving the girls mad with my new regime but it makes for good banter around the yard!

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