The equestrian sport plays a huge role in both the physical and mental aspects of ourselves. These obstacles can be difficult to over come as a rider. After following Zandi for a while and seeing how she adds so much value to so many riders with her motivational talks on her Youtube channel. We know she was a rider we needed to feature on this segment.
Here what Zandi had to say in her interview-
1.For how many years have you been riding horses?
I’ve been riding for about 11 years.
2.What is your favourite show venue?
3. What are your goals this year while you are on a gap year?
I’d say in general my goal is to just figure things out and have fun. I think this year for me is mostly about seeing what I’d like to do in the next chapter of my life. So I think my biggest goal is to not have a goal. I’m going to do some traveling, ride A LOT and just see where the year takes me. In terms of my riding, my initial goal was to take Lansink up to the 1.50m level and so I made a whole plan of how I was going to get there, what I was going to do training wise and what show I was planning on going up. And well...that didn’t really go to plan. Turns out I have to wax the 1.40m first!
So I guess my new goal is to really get comfortable in the 1.40m and enjoy the learnings (because boy are there a lot of them!) and the journey of going to the top. I’m then just going to keep having some fun with Bold in the 1.30m and do some 1.35m with him here and there.
4. Could you share your weekly training routine with us?
I don’t actually have a set training routine. I usually have 1x jumping lesson and 1x flat work lesson but otherwise the rest of my week I prefer not to plan too much. I’ve learned to have a vague plan of what I’m doing that day with my horse but to stay very adaptable to how they’re feeling and if need be, to change my plan to what’s going to better suit them. Otherwise if I stay set on what I’ve planned for that day regardless of my horse’s mood or how he’s feeling, it generally leads to him being tense and me feeling disappointed and irritated. So besides the lessons I mentioned, my horses have 1 day off a week and then the rest of the week I like doing 1x long and low/stretching session, 1x pole work/flat work and 1x fitness session. The leftover day I have, I’ll either take them on an outride or dedicate it to whatever I feel I need to focus on. The track I do my fitness training on is also nice for outrides and I can also do various flat work exercises there to. So I just mix and match where I go and what I do depending on how my horse feels and what we need to work on.
5. What strategies do you employ to remain composed while competing?
I focus on breathing and positive self talk. I usually go down to my horses 20 minutes before I have to tack up and then I’ll either visualise or focus on my breathing and being present. This helps me get into the zone. I then tack up and while in the warm up I’ll keep focusing on my breathing and how my horse feels. I’ll even think of relaxing parts of my body like my shoulders or being soft through my elbows. I also remind myself to smile which also helps me relax. All of these things just help me stay focused and relaxed but not too relaxed because nerves actually help you perform better.
6. As a show jumper, what are some of the most significant obstacles you've had to overcome, and how did you manage to do so?
I’d say my pony riding career was probably a whole obstacle in itself! My first pony was completely green and used to run out of the arena and scrape me off under trees so that was a bit of a baptism by fire! From there I continued to have tricky ponies. I had so many stops and eliminations between all my ponies and I had one pony who had this ginormous buck! But at one point when my one pony kept stopping, my coach at the time, Michelle Dawson, lent me this book called It’s Not All About The Ribbons and that book had a huge impact on me. I learnt about taking the small wins and about positive self talk and just positivity in general. My mom and I used to drive to lessons saying “I love oxers, I love oxers!”. The mindset I started developing from there got me through the obstacles I faced after that. And then when I got Bold and I hit juniors, things just got better and better. I knew how to ride tricky horses and I now had this new way of looking at things. My junior career and start of my adult career has been amazing and it’s taught me an incredible lesson: that despite being a complete nobody and not getting the best results for years, I kept going and it was so worth it. So now when I face obstacles, I now know that if I just keep going eventually things will work out well, I’ve just simply got to carry on.
7.What is the most memorable moment or achievement you've experienced thus far in your show jumping career?
I’d say achieving my Junior Protea Colours by representing South Africa at the FEI World Jumping Challenge Finals.
8.What steps do you take to prepare yourself and your horse for a competition, both mentally and physically?
I do a lot of strength training with my horses so things like collecting and lengthening, long and low work, lateral work, pole work and I make sure they’re fit. I also work on the ground with them because it’s a huge advantage to know your horse really well. With Lansink, I can instantly tell when I walk into his stable if he’s going to be relaxed or if he’s going to be super spooky, anxious and tense. So it changes how I approach my ride from there and how I’ll warm him up at a competition. Mentally, I hype myself up the night before each day of competing. I tell myself in the mirror that I’ve worked hard, that I’m going to be amazing the next day, that I’m ready for this, I’m a good rider, I have great horses with big hearts - those sorts of things. Before championship days I’ll visualise my horse in the winners day sheet and me in a sash and I’ll tell myself over and over again that I’m going to win. Even if I don’t win and I fail dismally, I’ll still always do this because it hypes me up for the next day and I have to say that every time I have won it’s because I believed so wholeheartedly in what I visualised and told myself the previous night. I also make sure that I’m fit. I either play squash, do sprinting intervals to practise bringing my heart rate down quickly or go to boxing classes that focus on fitness and whole body strength training. I’ll exercise 3x a week and I’ll do one of the things that I’ve mentioned above in those sessions.
9.What are your goals for your horses in the future?
As I mentioned, my goal is to get comfortable in the 1.40m with Lans, win some 1.40m championships and take him to the 1.50m. I consider Bold my speed horse who gets my eye in for when I ride Lansink in the bigger classes. So I’m just going to continue competing with him in the 1.30m and 1.35m levels and just have fun with him. But I’m now looking for my next horse who has potential to go all the way to the top.
10.What inspired you to start your Youtube channel?
Well after I read that book, It’s Not All About The Ribbons, I started becoming fascinated with everything to do with mindset. I read quite a lot of books and listen to a lot of podcasts about it. So last year I decided to post some 3 Tip videos on things like nerves, focus, how to stop beating yourself up etc. just based on what I’d learnt and what’s helped me. I really enjoyed making the videos and people started sending me messages saying how much it helped them. At the same time, I wanted my competing to have a bigger purpose. I just wanted to go into the ring knowing I’m riding for more than just me. So I started my channel Zanz: The Motivational Horsey Girl with the intention of posting videos on things that I’ve learnt about and that have helped me and would hopefully help others. Once I reach 1000 subscribers, I can start earning money from the channel and half of it will then go to Highveld Horse Care Unit but in the meantime 25% of my prize money is going to them. I suppose my goal is to just make a difference (no matter how small or big it might be) in the world around me.
11. Who is the rider that has inspired you the most?
I’d say Nicola Sime Riley because she’s as tough as nails, takes super tricky horses from nothing to something but mostly because she is incredibly patient. She has a long term plan for her horses and doesn’t let competitiveness get the best of her, she builds each horse up and gives them the time and confidence that they need to excel.
12. Lastly, what is your favourite product in our collection, and what makes it stand out to you?
Well I recently got two pairs of Marvellous Tights and I have to say I really love them! I love that they have not one but TWO side pockets for your phone or other things (because it’s my pet peeve when jods don’t have pockets!) They have lots of stickies which I love because it means I have more of a chance of staying on Bold! And they’re super stretchy and comfy (like I could literally do gym in them!). But Equine Culture just has lovely quality clothes in general :)
A big thank you to Zandi for taking the time to do this interview. Don’t forget to subscribe to her Youtube channel and follow her on Instagram.