MONA AL-HAJ A DANISH TRACK RIDER SHARES HER EXPERIENCE WITH THE STRIDEFREE TEAM ABOUT HER DAY TO DAY RIDING METHODS AND WHAT DRIVES HER PASSION FOR RIDING TRACK WORK.
TELL US ABOUT MANACOR, WHAT IS HER PERSONALITY LIKE?
Manacor is a 4 year old filly, bought at Danish auction in 2013 for 20.000 Dkr. (Around 4000 AUD).
As a 2 year old; Manacor brought home majestic wins in two of the biggest races in Denmark. Moving into a 3 year old; Manacor won the Derby Trial Stakes, The Mowerina and the Danish Derby.
At the Breeders' Trophy Classic in Sweden; Manacor lost by a nose.
Manacor is a very strong minded horse, independent, sensitive and at times an emotional filly.
She knows what she wants, is energetic and has an eager to win. When full of energy Manacor definitely becomes very strong to ride and can be extremely challenging to train with..
Manacor is one of the most challenging horses I've trained with, requiring a lot of patience. as she knows what she wants.
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN MANACOR'S DAY TO DAY TRAINING?
My role with Manacor, is that I have the responsibility to ride her in training and exercise. Working as a volunteer in the stable training with Manacor is a hobby and a lifestyle that feeds my passion for horses.
I take the opportunity to take extra care of the horses, especially for those horses who need a little extra attention, and therefore enjoy riding them through the forest doing hill work, which they love.
WHAT IS YOUR TRAINING PHILOSOPHY?
My training philosophy is to mix up the training methods from hill work to track work etc; the horse is never stronger than its weakest link in their body - and therefore need to train general physical training, so it becomes strong around all joints.
So in my training, I ride dressage when I'm warming up on the track and when I ride in the woods.
Out of season I ride also dressage in the canter where I stand up in the stirrups, so that they learn to use their back and back legs muscles properly and build more muscle mass.
EXPLAIN WHY MANACOR IS SUCH A SPECIAL HORSE?
When you look at Manacor, she doesn't look like a special horse, she is only small (between 150-155 cm) and not built in a good way. She looks like an ordinary riding horse.
Manacor is a fighter, and she wants to win. She loves to train, and sometimes she can be difficult to slow down because she wants to continue to train. She is a tireless horse who has a huge spirit!
My trainer Bent Olsen, recommended the owners not to buy her in auction, because she did not look like anything special. But the owners decided to buy her because she had the same birthday date, as one of the owners wife.
Manacor has captured the audience hearts, because she has proven that a horse does not have to cost a huge amount to win a big race.
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ENJOY ABOUT RIDING RACEHORSES?
When you are able to ride a horse that becomes a winner and you know that you have done everything you can to help that horse become the best horse it can be; is one of the most unbelievable feelings.
The adrenaline rush from riding races; I love, because when you jump out of the stalls and at a high speed, it is exhilarating.
In the summer I ride a horse at 05.30am (the stables opens at 06:00am), before going to school at 08:00am coming back into the stables in the afternoon and ride a few more.
When I reach my personal goals with the horses; it is very rewarding.
Every time I get a new horse to train, I assess the challenges both the horse and I have to overcome. I then aim for these goals; it may be that I need to be more fearless, independent, more flexible, more muscle mass, increase eating desire, etc. and teach them to gallop with their heart out.
So I try to stick to max three horses a day, so that I have time and energy to care for the horses when I`m finished with riding.
I always try to improve myself, and love to learn and try new things. I have been in the national team for powerlifting and weightlifting, winning medals on the international circuit and I am currently saving up so that I can afford to travel to Newmarket, to join the British racing school, so that I can become a better rider.
Because if I become a better rider, then my horses will be better therefore there there is a higher probability of being able to win.
We have been using the Stride Free saddles and have made several tests throughout the year with the Pressure Pad, to make sure my style and balance is in order when I ride in the saddle, since it may change much when you ride hard and strong horses
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE STRIDEFREE SADDLES?
I feel that the StrideFree saddle allows a much larger movement for the horses, particularly around the shoulder, which makes the movement of the horse feels more free and smooth, and also making it a lot easier to ride dressage on the horses, so that they use the back and the back legs correctly.
I also feel that the saddle is shaped by horse anatomy, so that I only need to ride with a pad on most of the horses. There is nothing better than a horse that is good at training well and looks good.
For all Danish enquiries for StrideFree Contact Sadelmageriet... http://www.pressurepad.dk/