We are excited to interview Emma Barrow for November’s Rider Of The Month.
Emma is an accomplished show jumper, and in this interview we gain valuable insights into her passion for showjumping and the equestrian world. Emma shares her experiences, discussing memorable moments, the qualities she seeks in a show jumping horse, and the strategies she employs for both mental and physical preparation before competitions. Emma’s interview provides a glimpse into the dedication, challenges, and joys of a successful show jumping career.
1.What inspired you to pursue this Show Jumping as a discipline?
I did a couple of disciplines growing up. I did mostly showjumping and dressage. I have to say I love training dressage but I think showjumping offers so much more versatility in terms of different courses and not quite knowing what you’re going to get on the day.
2.Can you share a memorable moment or achievement in your show jumping career that stands out to you?
I had lots of fun in my pony career on a pony called Carel Hancke Jukskei. I remember being so disappointed if I had a pole because he was so fast and we always had a chance for a place. I wouldn’t say I’ve had many podium wins but producing my own horses to open level has been so much fun and production of horses is definitely my favourite thing about riding. I also went to the German Friendships in 2017 where my partner and I placed 2nd on day 2 which was super cool. The atmosphere of the show was awesome and it was fun seeing all the different riders from all over the world at the show.
3.What qualities do you look for in a successful show jumping horse, and how do you develop a strong partnership?
Willingness and athleticism. Most horses are willing but they need to have a little bit of extra fight I think and want to be competitive and be in the ring. Then athleticism is super important in terms of soundness as well as being able to jump the bigger fences. I think if you have those to characteristics you can work really hard on improving their strength and get them to the level you’d like. I watch my horses, see how they react to different things naturally. Normally they behave similarly on the ground as they do under saddle/with other horses. I also try and give them a life which allows them to be as much a “horse” as an athlete as possible.
4.How do you prepare both mentally and physically before a competition, and do you have any specific rituals or routines?
I absolutely hate schedules and plans (incredibly ADD) so I can be a lot of people’s worst nightmares. It makes me anxious. So I kind of just go with the flow as scary as that sounds. I think if I’m relaxed my horses will also be relaxed. I always work my horses properly the day before the show on the flat (it’s what works for them) and them. I always exercise throughout the week which helps me keep myself fit and strong so that I can help my horse and not just be a passenger on it.
5.In the fast-paced environment of show jumping, how do you handle pressure and stay focused in the ring?
This is really something I am working on drastically. I get quite easily stressed and unfocused. I try visualise my track and tell myself how I’m going to ride each section to deal with the challenges it poses. I know deep down I have put the work in at home to be able to do it.
6.Are there specific training techniques or exercises that you find particularly effective in improving your performance as a show jumper?
For myself I strength training 5 times a week and work on any asymmetry in my body. The mind to muscle connection is great in helping you be able to improve yourself while on the horse if your body knows how to activate that particular muscle. Then with my horses I do dressage lessons working on straightness and symmetry on both sides. It also helps with my discipline and feel I think. I ride will always do a stretch long and low getting them to take the contact in all the gaits and then take them up and then add in different exercises which target their specific weaknesses. I find my flatwork lessons have helped give me a bigger “toolbox” to try help with a problem and nitpicked small things that I don’t think I would have noticed had I not done them.
7.What advice would you give to aspiring show jumping riders who are looking to excel in the sport?
Work hard and then work harder. Every opportunity you get on a horse is an opportunity to better yourself and take something valuable away from it, even if it’s not your type of horse or you didn’t get a long, it’s a really good opportunity to feel something different and maybe apply something you used on that horse to your own. Horses are amazing teachers. It’s really hard to focus on yourself but put your blinkers on and direct your energy to improving yourself. Most of all, Enjoy the process of getting to where you want and try not be obsessed with the final goal.
8.Who is the rider you admire the most and look up to?
Peder Fredricson, his horsemanship is second to none. He keeps things as simple as possible. His success list is really long yet he remains humble and always looking to improve himself.
9.How do you approach course analysis, and what factors do you consider when strategising your ride in a competition?
I whisper a lot to myself (very weird😂) quietly before getting on my horse and if I’m taking a walk break and feel like I need to tell myself the strategy again I do it again. I’m a very auditory learner and while talking I sort of see myself riding the course. Without the little whisper I can’t visualise the course as well and I often get distracted.
10.As a show jumper, how do you balance the competitive nature of the sport with the well-being and care of your horses?
As I said previously I try to let them be horses as much as possible. The ones that can go out in a herd and for as long as possible. I think I give them good breaks in the year to recover and I try not compete them often so they still enjoy the process.
11.What is your favourite Equine Culture product?
I love the kinetix breeches range. They are super super light material and fit really well. They are affordable as well which is an extra bonus. The show breeches also come white very easily after shows which is super cool for me as I don’t keep myself the cleanest 😂
Thank you Emma for taking the time to be part of this interview. To follow Emma follow her on-