July 2016 - Profiles in Fitness & Nutrition
Written by Kim F. Miller
Friday, 01 July 2016 04:02
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Lindsay Archer, James Alliston and Kasey Perry-Glass share strategies that have taken them to the top.

by Kim F. Miller

We checked in with three top riders to find out what’s working for them and one of their top horses when it comes to fitness and nutrition.

Show jumper Lindsay Archer emphasizes strength, fitness and overall health; eventer James Alliston gets away with an easy-going approach to his own nutrition and dressage Olympic contender Kasey Perry-Glass is crazy for CrossFit. Thanks to all for sharing their routines.

Lindsay Archer & Camerone. Photo: Flying Horse Photography

Lindsay Archer & Camerone


Lindsay and Matt Archer operate Shady Lane Farm hunter/jumper program in the East Bay Area’s Alamo and are top competitors themselves. Lindsay’s most recent big win was the LA Saddlery Grand Prix in Paso Robles with Rhys Farms’ Camerone.

Lindsay has always made fitness a priority. Growing up as a student of Karen Healey’s, “She impressed upon us that riding is an athletic endeavor and that being physically fit makes it possible to ride better.”

More recently, Lindsay amped up her work-out routine after having C-section births for both of her daughters, the most recent in 2012. To rebuild and maintain her core strength, she began working with a personal trainer twice a week. The routine includes Pilates movements, plus squats and other exercises done on a vibrating floor – similar to a TheraPlate or VitaFloor used primarily for therapeutic purposes with horses.

Lindsay is thrilled with the results. Back pain had become an issue after delivering kids, but that’s gone and the work-outs have led to a rock-solid position over fences. “In general, my position is much stronger and no problem holding my body in the air.” That’s especially significant when the fences in question are Grand Prix height.

Nutrition-wise, Lindsay has chosen to make eating healthy a priority. Proteins dominate morning meals and are emphasized throughout the day, along with fruits and veggies. She keeps her carb intake at a minimum and is grateful that so many shows have VIP areas and/or caterers that offer healthy options.

She and Matt strongly advocate for fitness and health over size in their program, especially with their young riders who can be prone to societal pressure, in and beyond the equestrian world, about body image. “I am a big believer that we have to eat,” Lindsay explains. “We work with a sports psychologist and have learned that the right food is important for our brains, not just our bodies.”

In her days as a junior, she recalls trainers (not Karen) who “were aggressive about wanting their riders to be thin. I think that led to many problems with eating disorders.”

Lindsay and Matt frame fitness and nutrition discussions as a way of reducing riding’s challenges. “If you stay strong, you don’t have to worry about holding on, which enables you to focus on measuring your distance to the jump and other aspects of riding,” she explains. “We never talk about it in terms of weight or size of breeches or hunt coat. It’s about valuing ourselves as athletes: being fit and strong.”

Camerone is a 13 year old Swedish Warmblood. He’s naturally fit and energetic, so his routine is designed to maintain that without him going over the top in either category. Flatwork dominates his between-show routine. Their schedule is typically to show two weeks, then be home for three or four weeks, during which he’ll typically jump a full course just once. Relatively small gymnastics that emphasize shape over height are typically done twice a week, and he spends 20 minutes on the treadmill four days a week. That’s at a good “power walk,” but not on an incline and not over 20 minutes. “We tried 30 minutes, and he got too fit!” Lindsay explains.

Camerone lives at his owner Catherine Harvey’s property in Woodside and whether there or at Shady Lane, he gets lots of casual trail riding, as much for his mind as for his body.

He benefits from ample time in irrigated pasture and good quality grass hay. As for supplements, he gets Succeed for hind-gut health and CocoSoya oil as an aid to digestion and coat quality. Although he’s high energy and a bit of a nervous guy, he maintains weight easily on the Archers’ preference for a simple diet.

Lindsay and Camerone’s next adventure is at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada, where they’ll begin this month in the 1.45M division with hopes of progressing to 1.5M.

James Alliston & Parker. James rides for Great Britain but is based in the Bay Area.Photo: Sherry Stewart

James Alliston & Parker

British-born James Alliston splashed onto the national U.S. radar screen in 2011 when he debuted in the Rolex Kentucky Four Star, finishing 14th and 17th respectively, on Jumbo’s Jake and Parker. He came to the States to work with renowned international eventer Bruce Davidson Sr., for six years, then settled in the East Bay Area’s Castro Valley in 2009 on his own.

James has continued to rack up accomplishments on the U.S. eventing scene while developing a full stable of students and sale prospects. Despite all he’s accomplished, James is still a young guy at 32 and he laughingly admits that may be why he can excel with a rather casual approach to his own fitness and nutrition.     Breakfast is typically toast at the barn before days that often include riding 12 horses. Summers are sizzling in the East Bay, so he’s good about drinking water through the day, but not much else gets down the hatch until a big dinner at the end of what are usually very long days.

For him, midday meals don’t sit well during dressage schooling that’s a key part of his horse’s daily prep. However, his team members recently told Eventing Nation that he’s known to nick a Cheez-It or other, preferably bright orange, not-too-healthy snack from students and friends throughout the day.

Occasional tennis matches are James’ main non-riding exercise. “But that’s more for fun than fitness,” he admits. His back is getting a little dodgy, but he finds that riding is better than resting. “It’s more sore when I go on a holiday and don’t ride,” he says.

The fitness and nutrition routine for his horses is a much more considered endeavor. We’ll focus on Parker, the 14 year old Thoroughbred who is one of his long-time Four Star mounts. The pair completed yet another Rolex this past April, were second at last year’s CCI3* at Rebecca Farms and have yet to incur a cross-country penalty in all their FEI runs together.

Parker’s back is a trouble spot. “Like a lot of Thoroughbreds, he has sort of kissing spine type stuff going on,” James explains. Dressage was a weak phase and James originally focused on “a ton of flatwork” to address that. In more recent years, he’s decided that hasn’t helped Parker’s back and he now incorporates more lunging and time on the walker for conditioning work without a rider’s weight. Long and low is the MO for the Parker’s flatwork as it allows him to stretch in a way that’s comfortable for his frame. Sitting trot seems to irritate his back, so James avoids it.

James initially thought it was strange when Parker seemed especially comfortable through the back after the three-day cross-country haul to Rolex in Kentucky. He determined that the ease came from three days of not being ridden and has adjusted his conditioning work accordingly. “It’s a fine line because you need to work him enough to where he is fit and quiet, but without doing it too much.”

Regular turn-out is also part of Parker’s routine. “I used to be really paranoid about him getting hurt,” James recalls. “If he trotted a few steps in turn-out, I’d go take him out.” James is now much more relaxed about it and observes that after-ride rolls in the dirt seem to be good medicine for Parker’s back.

Parker is a naturally fit horse with good wind, likely from his racing upbringing. When tune-ups are called for, he hacks out on the hills surrounding James’ stable. The trainer does that more, including gallops, with other horses in his program, especially Warmbloods that usually don’t have the Thoroughbred’s natural cardiovascular and physical fitness.

Thoroughbreds can be hard to keep weight on, but Parker is normally pretty good thanks to a regimen that feeds him “as much as he’ll eat,” typically about 10 flakes of hay a day.  During competitions, though, Parker can get “greyhound” skinny really fast. His diet is a mix of grass hay, grass hay pellets and alfalfa hay. James likes the alfalfa for its reported aid with stomach acids and likes the grass pellets because they compensate when a horse doesn’t eat all of his flaked hay. “It’s a good way for a horse that tends to get skinny without pumping them full of grain.” Parker gets grain twice daily in the run-up to competitions.

Finish Line’s Total Control is Parker’s main supplement. “It’s a great all-around product,” James says. Daily electrolytes are part of all his horses’ routines, even though they all have access to salt blocks. It’s hard to monitor how much they’re using the blocks, James notes. The eventing horse’s workload requires good hydration in any weather and especially in the East Bay Area’s hot summers.

Kasey Perry-Glass

California native Kasey Perry-Glass may not yet be a household name in the equestrian world, but if her current quest to represent the U.S. in the Olympics pans out, that will change quickly for the 29-year-old. If that doesn’t happen this summer, it seems a likely outcome in the future.

She was raised in the Sacramento area’s Granite Bay and calls the area’s Orangevale home, although she’s been traveling and training elsewhere for much of the last few years.

Kasey evented under Carmela Richards and Olympian Gina Miles until switching to dressage full-time at 17. Gina Duran was her first trainer in dressage and Kasey has gone on to work with many of the sport’s best, including a European tour last year with Olympian Debbie McDonald as her coach. Fitness is a big deal for Kasey, in part because, like Debbie, she’s petite, at 5’4.” “One pro of working with Debbie is that she’s smaller than me,” Kasey says.

“She’s instructed me on how to use our small strengths effectively.”

Kasey belongs to a large family of athletes, all members of her Team Believe support crew. Her dad played professional baseball and her mother and several sisters are dedicated to distance running and other intense athletic endeavors. “We strive to be healthy and it brings us together.”

CrossFit has emerged as a favorite among several routines Kasey has used in the past. “I used to just run and maybe dabble in some weight training,” she explains. “But I never felt as strong as I wanted to be, nor did I see any physical results that I was satisfied with.” Her sister and groom, Holly Gorman, introduced her to the sport and “now I’m hooked” thanks to the great mix of cardio and strength. She sticks with lower weights, focuses on correct technique and strives for three to five CrossFit workouts per week.

In May, Kasey and Dublet were named to the USEF’s nine-pair Olympic shortlist. They have been based in Belgium, participating in observation events that would be used to determine, by July 1, the final team. Finding CrossFit classes there and amidst the craziness of hopeful Olympic prep has not always been feasible, so a running workout fills in when needed.

Kasey admits that she struggles a bit with healthy eating, especially if there are Fire Hot Cheetos with Limon in the vicinity. “I try to make the healthy choices when it comes to eating, but it’s not easy! I don’t stick to any particular diet. Although, I do carry Isagenix mix protein shake around with me when I travel so I can fall back onto something somewhat healthy if there isn’t anything else around.”

Editor’s Note: Trans-Atlantic time differences and technical difficulties prevented us from getting Kasey’s fitness & nutrition routine for her 13 year old Danish Warmblood Goerklintgaards Dublet and a photo of the pair. Our apologies.