Accomplished Grand Prix show jumper Carolina Villanueva Suarez has big dreams. She’s on her way to earning a spot on the United States Equestrian Team for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan. Training—both physical and mental—are what it takes to get there. We chatted with her on her five secrets to show jumping success.

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Carolina and one of her beautiful horses at WEF.  

Work on the Things that are Difficult

This may seem obvious. Push yourself and your horse on the skills that give you the most trouble rather than working on what comes easily. “Train the horse’s drift or work on your lower leg and all these pieces will fall perfectly into place at the competition,” she said.

Focus on your Mental Mindset

We all have emotions flying through our heads as we ride. It might be excitement, anxiousness, or fear. Everything you feel is transmitted to the 1,500-pound animal beneath you. “I always take three deep breaths before entering the ring. It helps me calm myself and my horse,” Villanueva Suarez said.

Embrace your Style, but Stay Coachable

Watch the world’s top show jumpers and you’ll notice the fundamentals are the same, but most have a unique style. “The best in this sport have their own way of doing things. As long as your way keeps the horse content and delivers a clear round, keep doing what you are doing,” she said. “There are always ways to improve so listen to what trainers have to say and choose what works best for you.”

Let Tech Help

Riding is all about timing and feel, and in show jumping that includes striding. Next time you walk a course, try WalkPro, an app Villanueva Suarez created. It converts your walking steps into strides. “This app can help you set courses with accurate striding while on a horse,” she said.

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Protect your Horse

Without a horse, you wouldn’t have an opportunity to compete. Protective boots are one of the most important pieces of equipment for supporting the horse’s legs and tendons. Jumpers constantly stress their legs as they propel themselves over jumps and land on the other side.

“When looking into boots, read the features that each has and do not just go off of appearances,” she said. “All of my horses train and compete in Lamicell V22 Ventex Pro Master protective boots. They’ve proven to be the most durable and breathable protective boot my horses have ever worn.”

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