As the lazy, hazy days of summer begin to fade and we mourn the end of our annual summer holiday, thoughts turn toward the arrival of a new academic year at Bridgwater & Taunton College.
Many of us spent a glorious summer with the rest of the world, eyes firmly fixed on Rio and the long anticipated 2016 Olympics. Team GB certainly did not disappoint and repeatedly wowed us with their outstanding performance across a range of sports. The equestrian team performed exceptionally well achieving two individual gold medals and a team silver in the only Olympic sport where men and women from 43 different countries compete against each other on a level playing field and where the age ranges from Brazil’s 18 year old Giovana Prado Pass to New Zealand’s 62 year old Julie Brougham.
In the Olympic hangover that remains of the holiday season the rested and refreshed equestrian staff based at the Cannington Centre wonder how many budding Nick Skeltons or Charlotte Dujardins will walk through the door this year and what we can do to help them become the very best they can be.
Reflecting on the skills and qualities displayed by athletes in Rio 2016 it is clear that a raw talent, skill and training within a discipline is a good starting point. The Horse Management team at Bridgwater & Taunton College have proven competitive experience across a range of equestrian disciplines (we even have our very own European Championship gold medallist on the team), are highly skilled and passionate about developing individuals knowledge and skills set both in the saddle and on the ground. The Equestrian Centre boasts a range of handpicked, experienced and talented horses who regularly put the students through their paces and often teach them more than you would imagine: respect, compassion, patience and more often than not good grace and humility!
Well known and highly respected instructors regularly hold clinics at the Equestrian Centre which students can attend at a heavily discounted price through the College riding club. Students are given the opportunity to compete and represent the College as part of the College riding team on their own horses or on the College schoolmaster horses. Staff work closely with learners setting targets and measuring academic and riding performance whilst nurturing valuable attributes commonly seen in the athlete such as self-confidence, determination, focus and positivity which can be applied to and benefit all aspects of students’ lives.
It is now widely recognised that a fit and healthy work force reduces absence, improves morale and mental well-being and as young people about to enter the equine industry it is important that like athletes, students understand and embrace the importance of and increase physical strength, agility and stamina in relation to personal performance and employability.
If you have ever had the fortunate or unfortunate experience (in the case of long suffering parents and spouses) of working with horses you will understand that physically it is a demanding vocation. From the early mornings, late nights, freezing winters lugging buckets of water across muddy paddocks to the blazing summer sun and crippling midges. Long distance treks in a lorry with failing air con and at least two terriers and a lurcher trying to sit on your lap. The never ending cycle of mucking out, blistered, calloused hands that look at least 10 years older than they are. Being able to recognise and use a plethora of tack and equipment more taxing than the Rubik’s cube to chasing round after a half-tonne of horse that has made its mind up that it is simply not being caught today.
The equine industry is dynamic, exciting and rewarding, it is however tough and students will need to work hard to develop and maintain the level of fitness, stamina and often sense of humour to meet its demands. Horse Management staff are committed to working very closely with all students to assess and consequently work with individual students to improve their general fitness and well-being during their time at the College.
The Equestrian Centre rest room now houses a range of fitness equipment designed to improve both core strength and cardiovascular fitness. Regular boot camps run throughout the year focussing on rider fitness and the world renowned ’Fit to Ride’ team are due to visit to focus on rider performance, confidence and safety. Students are also part of a ‘Fit to Work’ programme where they are educated about the merits of healthy eating and encouraged to take responsibility for improving their overall fitness level. On top of this they have access to a range of sports, activities and gym membership at the College.
I have heard it said that it is not always about the destination in life, it is often about what we learn along the way. For many Olympians in 2016 the road to Rio wasn’t always smooth and many had to demonstrate adaptability, emotional maturity, open mindedness and dignity in the face of adversity. The merits of self-discipline, team work and time management clearly contributing to their success.
The Bridgwater & Taunton College Horse Management experience offers students so much more than just a destination. It offers students the chance to work with likeminded people, form lifelong friendships, create industry links and open employment opportunities they would have never had imagined. Passionate staff work tirelessly to ensure that the student experience goes above and beyond expectations with fantastic facilities to train and learn, committed tutors to coach and mentor individuals through all aspects of personal and academic progress and a podium to reap the golden rewards of their hard earned success.
If you would like to know more about studying an equestrian course at Bridgwater & Taunton College, please contact our Information and Guidance team on 01278 441234.