How Jim Koford Finds the Silver Linings in Quarantine
Team BioStar rider Jim Koford shares how he is remaining positive and finding the silver linings in everyday life as the world combats the coronavirus together. Read what the Grand Prix dressage competitor has to say and his advice about quarantine routine:
How has the quarantine and cancellation of horse shows shifted your focus?
“It takes the short term pressure off — we just finished the Florida season that was so intense. You have competition goals where you are just trying to get as many points out of a test as you can. When you are at home, you get to let your hair down and let the horses get muddy and roll. It’s nice to take a look at the bigger picture. Instead of worrying about how I can pick up a point here and there, I have the chance to make substantive changes and work on long term developmental things that will make my horse stronger, more sound and help develop their power and expression.”
What are some things you have been working on at home?
“I am doing lots of work on the hills conditioning, because with Adiah HP fitness is always a work in progress. There are no hills in Florida, and it’s great to develop more explosive power. Working on balance on the rolling hills so she doesn’t rely on me so much for balance has been really helpful.”
What has the extra time without competing allowed you to do?
“We’ve had a magnificent spring here in North Carolina, so it’s been nice to just enjoy riding. It’s fun to ride and not worry about what the judge thinks. I school maybe 3 days a week, and the other days I am out on the hills or the trails. I’ve also had the time to look at my tapes from Florida and the progression there, then decide where I am losing points in my tests. Experimenting with things to add to my freestyle to increase my degree of difficulty has been really fun. With an eye toward World Cup qualifiers hopefully in the fall, we can take some risks and try some new exercises to incorporate into my floor plan.”
How has your focus shifted from potentially going to the FEI World Cup Finals, to now not knowing when the next show will be?
“I had surgery myself in January, so I was riding a little bit handicap, so some of my performances were not as strong as I had hoped. It’s honestly nice to not have that pressure when my body isn’t performing as I want, take a step back and let myself heal. Doing it when it’s playful and fun without the intensity. At the end of the day, we don’t only ride horses because we want to try to make it to the World Cup Finals or the Olympics, we ride because we love our horses. Without rushing around, I can be more mindful. I’m fortunate to be able to ride during this time because so many barns are closed. I have been spending time grooming and hanging out, just enjoying the whole experience.”
What would you recommend for people who cannot go to the barn or ride right now?
“Now is a good time to view training tapes or competition tapes. One of the things I really enjoy doing is watching the top European horses — that’s something that really inspires me. I like to do it before I ride so I will have a mental picture of what I’m trying to do. It’s a great way to learn and there are so many good videos out there. It’s also great to do things like pilates. Getting on a pilates ball and working on your core and balance can really improve your riding so you aren’t starting from zero when you are allowed to go back to the stables.”
Besides riding, what else have you been doing during the quarantine?
“I found walking trails in my area, and the ones that are here are amazing! I am always too busy to do things like that, so it’s fun to be able to get out and move. I spend an hour every day reading as well as studying Spanish. There is no reason that I can’t be a better communicator, and there are great programs online for that. I am trying to come out of this in a good place mentally with improved communication skills. I’m spending more time with my family, just trying to seize the opportunities I have. It’s awful to look at the news and see that this is so extraordinarily difficult for so many people, and I am just so fortunate.”
Jim Koford is a Grand Prix Dressage rider and trainer as well as a USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medalist. He is a five-time winner at the U.S. Dressage Finals, twice at Grand Prix, twice at the Grand Prix Freestyle, and Prix St. Georges. He placed in the top 10 in the 2019 Pan Am Rankings for the Large Tour with Adiah HP. His talent alone is not what makes Jim so good at what he does, but it’s the love and bonds he shares with his horses. He is renowned for taking some of the most difficult and unconventional horses up the FEI levels.