How do you think the sport of eventing can attract new participants?
I think the world is changing, especially regarding media outlets: The great thing about live streaming and websites is there’s instantaneous information available around the world and that makes it more available and accessible to anyone and everyone to see what eventing is all about. As far as attracting new fans and participants, eventing has that element where any rider at any level could get involved in the sport. A top-level show jumper might get involved in eventing at a higher level from the start, while a completely inexperienced beginner can get started at the bottom and work their way up. Finally, competition is one thing but there’s also this journey of becoming a partner with your horse. Eventing, in particular, puts a big emphasis on that, and I think that’s a draw. The United States is a big country and I feel like the sport of eventing is getting bigger and bigger all the time.
Tsetserleg had a fantastic spring competition season. What’s next for him?
Thomas bounced back really well after the Kentucky Land Rover Three-Day Event. For some reason, he just had a magical spring; everything went to plan and he feels magnificent coming back into work after his time off following the five-star in Kentucky. Hopefully the selectors were properly impressed and he will be my ride for the Pan-Am Games in Lima, Peru, this summer. I understand the United States will most likely be sending a group of experienced horses since our Olympic qualification for the 2020 Games in Tokyo is on the line and it would be a huge honor to be picked for the U.S. team.
You recently partnered with Hylofit; can you talk about using their heart rate monitor in your training program?
I’ve been using the Hylofit heart rate monitor for galloping my event horses and it’s a huge advantage in the fitness program. It’s been a wonderful asset to really zero in and streamline the horses’ training to make the horses as fit as they can be. After you ride, you can review how your horse’s heart is responding during work. I’m using it every time I canter and gallop to see how hard I work the horse. I don’t actually use a heart rate monitor myself, but that’s also an option, so you can compare your data with your horse’s data. Everyone could benefit from using one; instead of doing your fitness work based strictly on time. It’s an interesting strategy. Having specific data can help you tailor your horse’s program to the individual. There have been a couple of horses I realized had to go a little faster to reach their threshold and a couple that I could go a little easier on, so it’s been useful for fine-tuning the fitness program on a few individuals. The company is also very professional to work with and they are helpful when we have any questions about their product.
Can you talk about your strategy for ongoing competitive success?
I have been working closely with our chef d’equipe, Erik Duvander, and that’s been a huge advantage for me in tailoring my business plan as well as improving my riding and training. I came to America from Australia about 12 years ago, and in the beginning you kind of take what you can get and make do with what you have. Over time, I’ve developed my business through hard work, competitive success and connections with people in the horse industry (not to mention the support of my wife Silva, at home and with the horses). These days, I’m more discerning about picking horses, and it shows. I’m set up well with two top training facilities, at our farm in Pennsylvania and at Stable View in Aiken, South Carolina. The biggest thing is as you get older you have to stay hungry to improve and keep working and not get stale, not just be the same rider you were before. No matter your age or experience level, you need to always keep learning and improving. It’s an ongoing challenge. I’ve also put a lot of focus on my fitness and nutrition, and my body is holding up and I’m still loving the sport and the lifestyle, so I think the next five or six years are going to be the best yet.