Antarès Rider: Bryan Balsiger’s season in review

Bryan Balsiger's season in review

Antarès Rider: Bryan Balsiger’s season in review

We’ve been following Bryan Balsiger’s remarkable rise for almost 10 years, so it’s a treat for us to look back at his 2021 season with him.

You’ll also get some exclusive, handy insights from this professional Antarès rider!

The season in review (performances): 

“My first goal was to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It was really my top priority. Then, I won a team gold medal at the European Championships in Reisenbeck, Germany which I’m really proud of. The horses jumped very well and it was the first year in the world top 40 rankings. These were certainly the season’s highlights for me.

It really was a busy year. We took a short break from May to July to deal with an outbreak of equine herpes but then it was back in the saddle competing in all the events, one after the other. It’s when things like this happen that good horse management is a must. I had one or two horses that were injured when the season restarted so had to alter my plans a bit but I was lucky enough to have several leading horses that could compete at this level. Having these options helped me compete in the Olympic Games, the European Championships and the Nations Cup Final, in Barcelona.”

The rest and recovery process for the horses (how and for how long):

“Rest and recovery time really depends on the horse and its age. Generally, for horses up to 8-9 years old, we try to give them a 2-month winter break from competition. In any case, they don’t compete for 2 to 3 months, to then start back in the spring on outdoor trails and tracks.

For slightly older horses, or those with more set routines, like Twenty, I know that she shouldn’t rest for too long. We avoid 2 to 3-month breaks from competition and instead take just a few weeks, say 5 or 6 weeks, without competing. That said, she has to keep up the training to be sound in mind and body. She’s the kind of mare that needs it.

Often, with older horses, we have to manage them differently and try to find the right number of weeks in and out of competition that suits each horse. That’s also why it’s important to have several horses to give them a break, let them rest and to compete in the right number of events so that they are competitive.

Then, for me, when it comes to maintaining horses, it’s their mindset that counts. Is the horse happy? Does it want to work? That’s why it’s key to try to vary their work-outs, change their routines and habits and not do the same exercises in the same place (dressage ring or covered arena). You can also try making up games with them to make the training more fun so that they enjoy working with you.”

2022 season goals:

“Firstly, it’d be to qualify for the World Cup Finals in Leipzig, Germany. I’ve not got many points right now but I’ll do my best to make them up during this winter break. Then, looking ahead, obviously, there’s the Outdoor World Show Jumping Championships, where I want to make the Swiss team. I’d really like to give it my all for my country and be among the top 4 or 5 riders that will compete for the Swiss team.”

I’ve a fun fact or recommendation to finish with, to keep horses in good condition during this winter break:

Go for a gallop in the snow. It’s sheer bliss for the horses and riders too! Anyway, we’re lucky enough to be able to do that in Switzerland. Usually, there’s enough snow to gallop in the fields and make the most of the opportunity.”

Credit: @Tina-Dufour