The equestrian athletic team
Non-equestrians may assume the horse does all the work and is the athlete... Riders know if they're not on board working, their horse stands still, head down inhaling grass. We are most certainly more than a backpack!
However, many riders spend all their time - and $ - on specific training, nutrition and therapies for their horse but not themselves. Well, eventually they do, but only when that nerve in their back is so badly pinched they can't get their leg over the saddle...
The focus on the horse keeps him in top shape, prevents injury and vet bills. Wouldn't you like to be on that team? As an equestrian athlete you are an integral partner to your horse and so your performance - for better or worse - directly effects the outcome.
Better balance, steady hands, strong core, flexible hips and back and endurance for gruelling competition days are all within reach for the competitive rider. I believe riders need the same exercise, sport science, nutrition and lifestyle support as any other athlete. Our sport requires very specific strength and conditioning, focus, reaction times, endurance and can be very hard on the human body.
We try our best to keep our horses performing to their peak and out of remedial therapies. Don't forget about the key member of the team - the team leader in fact! Consider all the other Olympic sports and how much focus goes into physically preparing the athlete at all levels, both during participation in their primary sport, such as football, diving or high jump, but also out of the pool and off the field. Similarly riders develop their primary skills and technique in the saddle - but they can get their winning edge out of it.