Competition! Clients! Children! And last but never least Horses and Husband! The professional rider has a balancing act to juggle the priorities and keep all the balls in the air. I had a chance to speak with Belinda Trussell about this challenge. Belinda has competed for Canada in 1 European Championship, 1 Pan American Games, 1 World Cup, 2 Olympic Games, 4 World Equestrian Games and is currently competing in Florida with a view to making the team for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima Peru. But even with this wealth of experience she told me that for the balancing act there is no “one size fits all.” But for the horses it is easier to draw on previous experience.
Tell me about the horse you are competing with now.
Carlucci is the horse I am competing with this year. I am very satisfied with him; he is consistent and is doing his best in the ring. I’m very proud of him because he has come so far. He is a shy horse and an introvert. He’s really a mouse in a big body. But he has gone into the big ring even in a rain storm with thunder and he has focused and done his job. We have qualified for the Canadian team for the Nations Cup!
Congratulations! Will you do more shows after the Nations Cup CDIO?
I may do the last show at Global and then two shows at home; one in Ottawa and one in Palgrave.
How do you prepare for the competition season leading up to the Games?
I do most of my training in November and December while we are still at home . That is when I do the hard work to prepare. When we are in Florida competing I back off as the work has already been done. There are so many shows in the Florida season. I don’t do all of them. Before a show I will ramp up a bit and then give him down time afterwards. He will get two days off being turned out and hand grazed. Then some light riding and I will work on individual aspects of the tests.
How do you manage to balance your time commitments to your family and children as well as your clients who are here in Florida and those at home in Ontario?
It is really hard. Especially for my family. My husband looks after our kids , Matthew and Sophie, who are 12 and 13 years old. I was home for a week in February to see them and to take over all the cooking and driving and give Mark, my husband, a week off. He was relieved to have the chores off his shoulders for a week.He has to do all the driving of the children and the cooking and the laundry and he has a full time career as well. It is hard and part of me feels bad but it is my job. There is no simple answer. In the fall we make a plan for when I will come home and for when they can come down to Florida for the March Break holiday. There is no one size fits all for professional riders who have children and a family to consider.
For my clients that are at home and cannot come down to Florida with their horses I encourage them to have their rides videoed and then we can discuss them and I can give them some help. I always keep in touch with those who are at home.
For me to go home it means I am missing the training of the horses I have here. My owners are very understanding, so I’m lucky, but it is still hard so I only leave for the one week.
As hard as it is I love my job and the horses, so although part of me feels bad I keep going!
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me Belinda and the best of luck for the rest of the Florida season and beyond.