Leah Lang-Gluscic is an advanced level three day event rider and trainer based in Ocala, FL, and Freeport, IL. She qualified for the Rolex 3 Day 4**** Event in 2015 & 2016 with A.P.Prime and finished 33rd in 2016.
Her philosophy on health and fitness as an equestrian:
“We are athletes just as much as the horses as eventers. This sport is very physically demanding and I think it is our obligation to make their work as easy as possible. A huge part of that is being an athlete and taking care of ourselves as well as we take care of our horses.”
“You go into any barn where there is a horse going training level or above and these horses are spoiled, their nutrition is perfectly regimented, and they have a weekly program for their workouts. But then the riders don’t always hold themselves to the same standard.”
To do our equine partners justice she thinks it is important that we start looking at ourselves and how we view ourselves within the context of the horse rider dynamic. “Being a better athlete gives you an edge in equestrian sports, particularly in Eventing,” she points out.
Picture: Holly Jacks-Smither (CAN) at Rolex 2017
Leah was always an athlete, playing varsity basketball and being a New England all-star. Because she has pushed herself athletically in that way she recognizes the changes her body makes when she is in peak condition but realizes that perhaps a lot of riders don’t have that type of back ground in athletics.
Is she always super disciplined? “No,” she says. “Sometimes I struggle. But especially leading up to a 3 Day Event I know I have to be in the best shape possible. So 6 weeks leading up to Rolex I am not really eating any processed foods, I am eating whole foods that are going to make my body better and stronger and will make me last longer out there (on the cross country).”
Leah has worked with a nutritionist in the past and has learned to balance proteins and vegetables and to incorporate healthy life style changes. In the grocery store, for example, she only shops around the outside. This is where all the fresh produce and what she calls “real food and good proteins” are located. She admits that is sometimes tuff – but worth the effort!
Another healthy lifestyle change she uses: making healthy choices when going out to dinner! “You think you can’t go to Applebee’s and have a healthy meal?! That is not true: you can make good food choices at any restaurant. You can order your vegetables with no sauces or butter on them for example” You can still enjoy going out to dinner – while making healthy choices!
Leah’s suggestion and challenge to riders who want to try improving their health:
“Only shop in the grocery store on the outside aisle! Try it for 2 weeks and see how you feel! I bet at the end of those 2 weeks you will feel so you good will want to start running,” Leah says with a wink and a smile.
Picture: Will Faudree at Rolex 2017
Because she did not compete in Rolex this year she estimates that a bit heavier than she would have been had she competed, and her body is not as lean. But within that she points out that she is still fit enough to ride every one of her horses every day. Leah likes to use her training sessions with her horse as physical training for herself. She would rather incorporate her own physical fitness training into her riding.
- she rides for 45 minutes without stirrups
- she does all her own gallop set and trot sets
- when she does trot sets for 30 minutes she does the entire ride in 2 point
Her suggestion to riders: “Push yourself to do a 2 minute two-point trot or canter and then up the time to 10 minute – that is a great cardio workout!!! And you make yourself more fit while using the muscles you need to ride!”
What sets her apart from the rest of us are also things we could learn from her:
- Realizing she is an athlete and owes it to herself and her horse to be in the best physical shape she can be when riding and competing
- Goal setting
- Motivation and discipline to stick to her goals