American Show Jumper and World Equestrian Games team gold medalist, Devin Ryan, isn’t afraid to put his top horse on the back burner.
After clinching the No. 1 team ranking in the world in show jumping at WEG last September, 37-year-old Devin joined us on the Heels Down Happy Hour Podcast to talk about what’s next after such a banner 2018 show year.
Much to our hosts’ surprise, Devin said his top jumpers, the ones competing at the pinnacle of the sport, will likely have an easy year in 2019, ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“Eddie Blue put me on the map over the last year and a half,” said Devin about his grey 10-year-old KWPN gelding, whom he rode at WEG. “2019 will be a lighter year for him. He’s a real championship horse, and has proven he can produce the biggest rounds. In 2018, our goal was training one day at a time to get clear rounds. I don’t want to use him up (before the Olympics). I don’t want to waste him.”
They need downtime and they need to relax. The best thing to stay fresh is to rest. That goes for both rider and horse, and any athlete.
Devin’s philosophy is simple: “He’s no different than a person. You can’t just go, go, go every day. You really have to pick and choose.”
As it turns out, down time plays a big role in the overall competition schedule for Devin’s horses.
“They need downtime and they need to relax,” he said. “The best thing to stay fresh is to rest. That goes for both rider and horse, and any athlete. In a lot of sports you’ll hear trainers talk about ‘tapers’, like with lifting and running. I grew up doing a lot of different sports and I’m a big believer in that. You have to have your down time and then your training time. You can’t just sit on the sidelines and expect to jump in and be at the top of your game.”
After a horse show, Devin explained that it’s fairly routine for his horses to have one-to-two weeks off completely. They may turned out or hacked around at the walk, but nothing more.
“A horse that is moving and staying active at the walk doesn’t lose their fitness,” he said.
“Last year, Eddie Blue didn’t jump for two months leading up to Florida,” Devin recalled, about the winter show season. “Not even step over a cavaletti. I really rested him after the indoors. We didn’t jump school him at all at home. His first jump was when we got to Ocala. And I slowly built him up.”
“They only have so many of those big jumps,” he warned.