Rising International Rider Series Pt. 1 with Claire McKean
Competing at the top of the sport is not only mentally challenging but physically as well. From the constant training, the showing, and the travel in between, there is not a lot of time for many additions to the schedule! However, many brave professionals take on training other aspiring riders as part of their business. It’s one thing to manage yourself and your horses, but it’s a whole other level to manage riders below you all while helping them achieve their goals and dreams too! This week, we chatted with U25 Ambassador Claire McKean to get the inside scoop on what it’s like training with a top international rider and how that benefits her equestrian career.
Claire has trained with Tiffany Foster, two-time Olympian and 2015 Pan- American Team Gold Medalist, at Little Creek Equestrian for almost two years and in that time she has notched numerous international wins, learned many valuable lessons, and had fun along the way! Get all the deets below!
What has been the greatest thing you have learned from Tiffany?
Claire: Tiffany has taught me a lot in the short amount of time we have been working together, but something I’ve found to be very important is the correct planning for every horse. It is our job as riders to build a schedule that allows our horses to perform to the best of their ability at given times and in certain venues. Making sure we are giving our horses the best chance at success by having correct vet work, training, and taking into account the type of show/venue you are taking your horse to plays a big role in the success you have through the year.
How has training with someone who is currently at the level you aspire to be helped you?
Claire: I believe having a trainer that is pursuing their sporting career at the top of the sport is extremely beneficial. It’s a blessing to be surrounded by the level of show jumping you aspire to be at because there’s always something to watch and learn from. Watching your trainer flat, jump school, try horses or even do business with other professionals is key learning material if you aspire to be at that level one day.
“It’s a blessing to be surrounded by the level of show jumping you aspire to be at because there’s always something to watch and learn from.”
Is there a specific exercise you do at home that helps set your horses up for success in the ring?
Claire: Exercises set at home are very horse specific. Not every horse needs to school the same thing, but one thing almost all of our horses do is work on their adjustability. We almost always have a 3 stride line to a 3 stride line set up with poles or small verticals. We jump up and down changing the striding to make sure our horses are as responsive as possible.
How do you and Tiffany organize your show schedule every year?
Claire: Every show I do is horse specific. We normal have a show schedule planned and I decide which horses I think are best suited for that certain venue.
Any funny stories of past experiences working with Tiffany?
Claire McKean: My first show with Tiffany I won my first International Grand Prix so it seemed like a good omen!
What is the most inspiring thing about working with Tiffany?
Claire McKean: Tiffany encourages and pushes me every day to be the best I can be at this sport. It’s nice to have such an amazing team of people behind you helping you achieve your goals on a day to day basis.