My name is Chris Holland, I am 18 years old and compete in the Olympic discipline of Showjumping. I have ridden horses since I was about five however, I didn’t begin showjumping until around the age of 10. For those who do not know much about the sport, showjumping involves riding a horse over a course with the result being judged based on number of faults and time taken. The fastest combination with the least number of faults is usually deemed to be the winner. Showjumping is most commonly an individual sport however there are some opportunities which allow riders to compete as part of a team.
For the past four consecutive years I have been named as a member of the Equestrian Queensland junior squad and have had the honour of representing Queensland on a number of occasions. This year I have stepped up to Young Rider classes and after winning two of the Young Rider National Squad qualifiers in 2019, I hope that I’m on track to be named in the Equestrian Australia Young Rider Squad for 2020. In January this year I had the enormous honour of representing Australia for the first time as part of the Young Rider team which travelled to New Zealand to compete in the Trans-Tasman Test. In February I was awarded the coveted Equestrian Queensland Rising Star award for jumping. This award is given in recognition of a rider who has jumped successfully and consistently at courses over 130cm for the first time in that year.
Showjumping is quite a demanding sport as we compete for around 10 months of the year and travel all over Australia to the major events. The infrastructure required in showjumping at an elite level is quite extensive as you need to have at least one excellent horse, as well as a safe place for the horse to live and an area to train. I chose to study as USC because my family property is located close by and my coach is also located on the Sunshine Coast. Studying at USC allows me to continue with my sport as I have the support of my family and infrastructure I need to train. I felt that by studying at USC I would be able to achieve my dream of continuing to ride at the highest level while also meeting my professional goals.
My horses name is Elsa and she is an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare that my family imported into Australia in 2017. As we compete for about 10 months of the year, Elsa has to be at the peak level of fitness both physically and mentally. I ride Elsa six days a week, with one day used as a rest day. Our training is varied but includes some time jumping but also a lot of time working on the flat (no jumps), small cavellettis (designed to help Elsa’s footwork) and I also make sure we do some short trail rides a few days a week as this is important for Elsa’s mental well-being – it keeps her mind active to see and experience environments other than her stable.
An important aspect of competition preparation is ensuring Elsa’s well-being and as such we monitor her diet closely to ensure her energy and stamina levels are correct and we also provider her with a program of physiotherapy, chiropractic and specialist farrier care for Elsa.