Training Insights from 2 Top Olympians

Laura Kraut and Kent Farrington share some quick tips on training and keeping their top mounts happy.

Laura Kraut and Kent Farrington have competed in five Olympic Games between them, and they’ve both made the U.S. Jumping Team Short List for the 2024 Olympic Games. While they’re the sport’s elite, their approaches to training and keeping their horses healthy focus on the basics.

Here are some tips from their programs.

Fit and Ready to Compete

At home, Kraut of Royal Palm Beach, Florida, noted that she doesn’t jump her top horses much, but she may set up a gymnastic exercise from time to time. “If I do gymnastics, I’ll do four verticals in a row at 21 feet and with landing rails just making [the horses] have to make the shape over the verticals.”

Kraut explained that most of her work at home with her top mounts is outside of the ring.

“I like to ride them, hack them out and take them on the trails and just try to keep them happy when they’re at this level,” said Kraut. “They know what their job is, so it’s mainly just keeping them fit.”

Farrington of Wellington, Florida, follows a similar training routine with his horses, changing the scenery to prevent the work from becoming monotonous.

“How do I keep a horse interested in his job? I think that’s actually getting out of the arena, so you’re not just going around in a sandbox every single day,” said Farrington. “The horse goes in the paddock, I ride him out on the trails, and I work him on the track. I work him and I kind of change the settings so that his mind stays interested in his job.”

Farrington keeps his horses, such as Landon, interested in their jobs by riding them out on trails. | ©Sportfot

As big competitions draw near, Kraut returns to the show ring to get her horses primed for success.

“I’ll show them a couple times because I feel like when they show, even if it’s 1.30 meters or 1.35 meters, I feel like when they’re in the ring is when they get the most fit,” said Kraut. “So, I’ll use a couple—two or three—classes to help with that.”

Practice Good Horsemanship

In addition to getting horses fit, good horsemanship plays a role in the success of Kraut’s and Farrington’s programs. An important aspect of horse care for their horses is turnout. Kraut noted that she is a big proponent of horses getting down time outside to decompress from competitions.

“I love to turn the horses out,” said Kraut. “I really like that they have freedom. And we’re just very conscious and aware of their happiness. I think they like to have their alone time. They like to be in the fields. They like to hack out cross country and just things like that so that they don’t get bored.”

While equestrian sport has a mental aspect for riders, Farrington believes the same is true for horses. He aims to have his horses in the right frame of mind to compete.

“[The horse is] mentally interested, so he’s totally engaged in the tasks that are set before him in the ring and balancing that schedule,” said Farrington. “I would say the most important thing is that the rider’s ego always comes second.”

Eyes on Paris

Kraut and Farrington have been contributors to the U.S. Jumping Team’s success over the years, and they are Paris hopefuls with several top mounts. Kraut made her Olympic debut at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games with Liberty. She partnered with Cedric for team gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, followed by team silver at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with Baloutinue. Farrington made his Olympic debut at the Rio de Janeiro 2006 Olympic Games, collecting team silver and finishing fifth individually with Voyeur. He competed as an individual at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with Gazelle.

One of Laura Kraut’s three horses named to the U.S. Jumping Team Short List is Bisquetta. | ©Sportfot

An Impressive String of Horses

Looking ahead to Paris, Kraut was named to the short list with three talented horses: Baloutinue, Bisquetta, and Dorado 212. Baloutinue (Balou du Rouet x Utika) is Kraut’s most experienced mount, with an Olympic team silver medal on his resume. Bisquetta (Bisquet Balou VD Mispelaere x I-Squalls Esta Ioletta) is an up-and-coming horse who made her Nations Cup debut during Wellington’s winter season. Lastly, Dorado 212 (Diarado’s Boy x Stutbuch 1) partnered with Kraut to secure team gold and fourth place individually in the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games.

“I’m very fortunate that I have a few options,” said Kraut. “And, if the stars and the moon line up, and everyone’s healthy and happy, that would be the idea [to go to Paris].”

Farrington has four impressive horses on the short list: Greya, Landon, Myla, and Toulayna. Greya (Colestus x Contessa) recently has earned top results with Farrington, including first in the Rolex Grand Prix at the La Baule CSIO5* and fourth overall in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final. Landon (Comilfo Plus Z x Indigo van de Muelenburg) is Farrington’s most experienced mount, with the pair winning team gold and individual silver at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games. Myla (Crunch 3 x Dinara 1) is an up-and-coming horse with recent wins in CSI4* and CSI3* classes in Europe. Lastly, Toulayna (Toulon x Vuelta) tied for fourth in the first phase of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final.

“I think at the Olympics you want to go with an experienced horse, especially now with the format that there’s only three riders on the team,” said Farrington. “You’d kind of want a horse that’s been around a little bit and seen all the questions before you go.”

Team Selection

Several skilled U.S. combinations are vying for a spot on the team in Paris. U.S. Jumping Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland and a group of advisors will use selection criteria and performances at European observation events to choose the team. The observation event period concludes with the World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen from June 28 – July 7 in Aachen, Germany.

“I think it’s a different set of circumstances at the Olympics because it’s only three riders and no drop score,” said Kraut of the competition format. “So, I think that our chef d’equipe probably will be looking for seasoned riders and horses. And I leave all that up to him.”

Thanks to Zoetis for our coverage of the 2024 Paris Olympics, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more.

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