Levon Biss for TIME
British equestrian Mary King, one of several top-ranked event riders on the planet, will likely make her 6th Olympic look for britain in London. The woman sport, eventing, includes three disciplines: dressage, show jumping and cross-country. At 51, King could be the earliest competitor for the uk and something of the very accomplished. In addition to picking right on up team Olympic silver in 2004 and bronze in 2008, King is a four-time Brit champion and has won all three tournaments within the Grand Slam of eventing, including the Badminton Horse Trials within the U.K. King, which started her profession operating the neighborhood vicar’s pony at age 6, nabbed society number one area in 2011 by using her top horse, Imperial Cavalier, called Archie, who she's going to drive at Olympics come early july. She spoke over time at the woman residence and stables near Salcombe Regis, Devon, about horse massage treatments and why eventers don’t ride stallions.
(MORE: Equestrian Eventing: The Olympics’ Many Dangerous Sport?)
TIME: what kind of psychological attributes do you look for in an Olympic horse?
King: They’ve surely got to be very forward-thinking. You receive some horses that can come out of their stable and they’re on a mission. They’ve got that joy of life about them. It’s those horses that are often the many effective.
At exactly what point do you realize a horse could achieve Olympic amount?
Quite early. It’s the way they decide to try those first few events you take them to. Do they think, “Yippee, it’s this once more!”? Or do they go to the next one reasoning, “Oh dear, it’s this again”?
Do the ponies enjoy it?
The nice horses like it! When you take all of them around the lorry or dress all of them up [to go to an event], it's like they’re off planning to a party.
Does it make a difference if a horse is a male or women?
No. Geldings [castrated males] are far more preferred since they have typically a more consistent temperament, whereas a mare could easily get unsettled at the tournaments if there most men around and she’s in season. When I started breeding ponies, 1st three were all women, and I believed, “Oh dear.” But in reality, I’ve had great success together with them.
Think about stallions?
You'll have believed that a stallion would be the most useful occasion horse, however in fact, often stallions aren’t courageous adequate, because they’ve got their [genitalia] to be concerned about. It makes them a little bit more wary.
Levon Biss for TIME
How can you help them learn?
it is continuously saying — they’re like children, constantly extending the boundaries. Good trainer is someone who’s very methodical, really willing to reward them if they do things well but regularly correct them if they do things wrong.
How do you communicate with them, and who’s responsible for just what?
Their sides become somewhat like a series of buttons. According to where you put your knee, with exactly how much stress, suggests various things. You as a rider are totally in control of the rate, the way, the steering, then it's up to the horse to actually jump the jump.
Could you just take all of them all over training course anyway before?
No, an element of the recreation is the fact that ponies don’t get to begin to see the fences. They have no idea exactly what they’re likely to be leaping on competition until they’re galloping fast towards fence. Whereas the rider will stroll the cross-country training course before a big event four times at the least. You get it really clear in your mind, and the horse trusts you.
In 2008 your horse Call once again Cavalier, with whom you won an Olympic medal, was pay after breaking a leg in an autumn during competition. Exactly how did that influence you?
It was terrible, hideous. it is like dropping element of your family. He was a mature horse, and no point in trying to work on him and hold him alive, because he was coming to the termination of their career anyhow. Plus should they had managed to pin the break, it might have now been centuries of him having to hold nonetheless which can be therefore unnatural for a horse. It absolutely was horrible, saying good-bye to him. Used to don’t see them capture him, because i really couldn’t keep to watch that.
Are you currently previously afraid before a meeting?
If you were frightened, you'dn’t do so. It’s much more the worry about doing some thing ridiculously incorrect as a rider. That’s what you’re focused on — letting people down, letting your horse down.
How often do your Olympic horses train?
Six times a week. Every third time they are doing their particular galloping, their particular aerobic work. They will have one day off a week in which they invest a half day out in the field soothing.
Just what do you feed the ponies? Can there be a horse same in principle as Gatorade?
They have three feeds just about every day. It’s a horse blend like muesli — a mixture of grains, oats, barley and maize. It has a little bit of molasses with it, therefore it’s somewhat sweet, which they love. The ponies have electrolytes, specially when they’re traveling. Hydration, much like peoples professional athletes, is seriously crucial that you their particular performance.
Do they get massages?
Some riders are into that kind of thing. I’m a little antique. I’m more of a physiotherapist at the top.