Four months ago my dream became my reality when I launched The Strong Rider program. I plan on doing a monthly blog, but to start with I thought I should do a introduction. Who is the name behind the Business? So here is my horse journey and then my strength and conditioning journey.
My name is Nardine and I grew up in a small town in New Zealand called Stratford. The horse obsession started at a early age, every birthday and Christmas my parents brought me a book from the saddle club series and my high school job was a exercise rider at the local race track.
The first horse I remember coming into my life was called Blondie, she was the best! She was a beautiful Clyde cross with a heart of gold.Then we moved into Town and we had Miss Piggy whose racing name was Karat Gold, maybe that is where my love of thoroughbreds came from. Eventually I was loaned a pony named Hugh, Hugh was a Welsh/Arab, he taught me how to fall of a pony! he used to try and throw me into a hole in the hedge all the time, but boy was he beautiful and he sure could jump.
Then came Painted Lady, a beautiful paint who I leased, she was the sweetest thing, but she wasn't mine....and so the hunt began to find my own horse. Enter Ollie, a chestnut thoroughbred who had been sitting on a farm for 6 months doing nothing, he tried to buck me off when i tried him, but he was so fat it was in slow motion, I laughed and fell in love with him. It was a sad day saying goodbye to him.
I took a break from riding to focus on University and work being a strength and conditioning coach, but every opportunity I had I would get on a horse. Till finally the serenity and joy I used to get from riding grew too strong and I decided to get back into riding. It was my happy place and I am so grateful to have these beautiful animals back in my life for good.
Riding in Canada is certainly different to riding back in New Zealand, part-boarding wasn't a thing I had heard off before moving here and there are so many barns everywhere. In New Zealand you really only rode if you had land, it was rare to lease land to have a horse and because our weather is not as bad, stables weren't as necessity, but more a luxury.
What I have learned and what I love in Canada is the community aspect, the barn family, the equestrian family that I am now proud to be part off. Everyone is so supportive and I have mad some incredible lifelong friends.
I currently part-Board an awesome Thoroughbred called Reese or as I affectionately call him Bugs, My goal is to event him, it is exciting to have this goal and feel supported by other amateur riders to achieve this.
So you might be wondering but what about the strength and conditioning side of things? I have been a strength coach for 17 years, I have a Bachelor of Physical Education from Otago University and I have so many wonderful experiences from New Zealand, from working at High Performance Sport New Zealand to being the Lead for the Academy Southland program as some of my career highlights, to where i am now which is at the University of Toronto where i work with men's hockey, women's basketball and men's and women's rugby. I am also fortunate to work with a Canadian Wrestler and Canadian Paralympic track athlete.
I have been in the sports industry a long time and my love for what I do hasn't wavered if anything it gets stronger each year as I learn more and experience more. But it is this passion for what I have done for the last 17 years that made me want to combine my two loves of horses and strength and conditioning. I saw a real gap in knowledge around how strength and conditioning could help equestrians with their riding and the more i talked to friends about their riding and giving different tips the more i started to think there was an opportunity there for me to help educate riders of the benefits, which lead me to create the program as education alone is not enough, without action, it is just knowledge without power or substance.
As I continue to watch my riders get stronger and fitter and more confident when riding, that is all the reassurance I need that I have done the right thing. I am proud of this program and what it offers and the results you can achieve.
I hope you now know a little or a lot more about who I am and my passion for The Strong Rider. I look forward to having you on this journey with me.