Ever wonder how top equine professionals get and stay at the top of their game? Luckily, we can take some of the guessing work out for you, as we recently sat down with World Champion 4-in hand driver, Chester Weber about his top 5 tips for peak performance in and out of the ring.
What are your top 5 tips for keeping your horses in peak performance shape?
- Recovery: I have a lot of tools in my toolbox for helping my team of athletes recover after a workout. Similar to professional human athletes, my horses enjoy IceHorse ice boots, Respond Systems magnetic blankets and therapy lasers, RevitaVet pole cap, and Theraplate magnetic footpad.
- Nutrition: Just like human athletes, the horses in my program are fed specifically to their needs. Our feed each night is specific to the horses dietary requirements as well as being adjusted to the weather and how much work they did that day. Some amazing supplement feed companies that I swear by are Horse Quencher, Cosequin, Kentucky Equine Research, Succeed, Choice of Champions and Racing Blue. In addition to feed, it is important to find good quality hay to nurture the horses.
- Movement: Horse’s naturally are very active animals and are constantly moving in nature. We try to keep the horses in my care out of their stalls and moving as much as possible. Whether it is their daily workout, walking on the treadmill or water treadmill, being in the paddock, or hand walking, our horses are emulating their natural condition as much as possible.
- Cross Training: I like to mix up the exercise my horses do each day and which surfaces they work on. For example, a horse might work as a single one day, be ridden dressage in the ring the next, go for a longer ride/drive in the woods the following and then work in a four in hand team another. Changing their fitness programs keeps the horses sharp and in the best fitness. I also believe that the horses’ ligaments are stronger from working on different surfaces and not always the same ground.
- Hoof: There is a saying, “no foot, no horse” and my team and I take this to heart. We take hoof care very seriously by using products such as Farriers Formula and only working with top level farriers and vets to make sure the horses have the best confirmation possible.
Photo by Erin Gilmore
What are your top 5 tips when traveling with horses?
Hydration: I always travel with a container of Horse Quencher when traveling, short or long distances, with my horses. Often times when you stop at a rest stop, the water you can use to fill the buckets isn’t appealing to the horses or they are not interested in drinking at the moment. By adding a handful of Horse Quencher, the water instantly tastes to whichever flavor of the pellets and they drink the entire bucket. Having hydrated horses keeps them healthy and fully recharged when you arrive at their destination.
Travel with a buddy: I try to keep the horses next to horses that they are normally stabled next to or particularly bonded with on a trip to give them a sense of comfort.
Movement: We like to move our horses extra before a trip so they have plenty of blood flow to their legs and are not restless to prevent excess activity while traveling.
Bandages: We wrap the legs of the horses while traveling to reduce injury and increase circulation while moving. Depending on the horse and their preferences or cautious areas this could be normal standing bandages or full shipping boots.
Planning Ahead: It is difficult to foresee traffic or other issues, which may cause a delay in travel, so always be prepared with the right supplies for a long trip, such as medications or extra blankets and hay you may need will take the stress out of added time.
What are the 5 biggest lessons you’ve learned while being a professional in the equine industry?
- The highs are high, the lows are low, and the importance of celebrating every good moment when you have one.
- Even the best athletes in the world are only winning a small percentage of the time. If you are having a bad day or week or even year, to never give up!
- Be correct to your horses and success will come.
- Hope isn't a strategy, you need a plan.
- Winners train losers complain.
What are your 5 best pieces of advice you would give an up and coming rider, driver or professional?
- It is a very small jump from the penthouse to the outhouse.
- You are never too old to learn. I have trained with many equestrians over the years, both driving specific and not, and I like to take knowledge from all those I train with and those I watch to better my program. I am fortunate at the moment to be able to learn from Anne Gribbson, dressage Olympian, to add her knowledge into my program.
- Hard work pays off.
- You always learn more from your failures than your successes.
- Take every opportunity that is handed to you.
What 5 equine products couldn’t you live without?
- Ariat Clothing is flexible and long lasting clothing which allows me to move freely while competing while also keeping me warm and dry. On marathon day, my team and I have a lot to worry about and having an outfit which handles any climate takes one stress away.
- Charles Owen Helmet: You only have one brain and I know when I have on my Charles Owen helmet during the marathon that both myself and my team are protected as best we can.
- Horseware Ireland Horse Blankets: Their horse clothing is unparalleled. The sheets last forever and I can find a style blanket for any weather requirement or activity.
- Horse Quencher: When you travel, you know the importance of staying hydrated and the same is true for horses. Horse Quencher keeps my horses hydrated which aids not only their health but also their competitiveness when we arrive at a competition.
- Prestige Dressage Saddles: Over the past few years, my team and I have really increased the amount of dressage work we do with the horses under saddle. Having a comfortable saddle that fits to the horse’s back is vital.