Outside of dancing, few disciplines blend grace and athleticism as seamlessly as equestrian eventing. The horse’s powerful gallops are dramatic. The rider’s form during leaps is balletic. The degree of harmony between the two is utterly spellbinding.
Look a little closer, though, and you might pick up on a simple truth: equestrian eventing appeals to thrill-seekers amongst riders and their horses. Cipla Vet sponsored rider and eventing champion, Roxanne Massaro, can vouch for this. We recently spoke to her about her sport, and her horses.
CV: What sparked your interest in eventing?
RM: I’m an adrenaline junkie. Doing equestrian triathlons appeals to this side of me.
First off, you’ve got to look for the precision and softness in the dressage. Then, it takes nerve to do the cross-country section, where the fences are solid, big and daunting. Plus the terrain isn’t level. Lastly, you’ve got to go back and find the precision to keep the fences up for the show jumping. It takes guts to do all of that, which is why I chose to make this my sport.
CV: What are eventing horses like?
RM: Eventing horses are definitely a different kind of breed. They’re a lot more gung-ho and willing to take on the challenge.
CV: What has been the highlight of your career to date?
RM: My best achievement to date was winning the SA Eventing Champs two star (2*) Short Format in 2015. I won on a mare I’d only had for two years. She was a difficult, temperamental horse when she first came to me, and it’s taken two years to build up a good enough relationship to win the SA Eventing Champs two star (2*) Short Format.
My second-biggest achievement is that I represented South Africa in the Inter-Africa Cup.
CV: How many horses do you currently have in training?
RM: I’ve got four horses in training. I’ve got my top competition mare, Return Gift. Then I’ve got my semi-retired horse. He still competes a bit, though at a much lower level. I actually let him stand for about eight months, but he wasn’t happy about that. The minute he started working again, he blossomed.
Otherwise, I’ve got a young mare that just started her competition career, as well as another young horse.
CV: What’s your training schedule like?
RM: With regard to the eventing, we’ve got to do the dressage at least once a week. It’s like ballet on horseback, so we have to practice specific movements to get the accuracy.
Beyond that, I do a lot of fitness and try to take my horses off the property as often as possible. I’m looking to get their muscles, bone density and tendons as strong as possible by taking them on different terrain.
For jumping, we look to get in at least one or two sessions every week. One session will be a solid jump over fences around the 1.3m level. The other session will involve small, easy jumps to relax the horses.
CV: How do you look after your horses’ joints?
RM: I’m very lucky to be sponsored by GCS-MAX, Cipla Vet. All four of my horses are on the joint supplement because it really does work. We obviously do other things after good, hard exercise sessions, like icing the horses’ legs, hosing them down and bandaging them. But without the joint supplement, it’s harder to look after the horses’ legs. It really does help with cartilage build-up, arthritic changes and that sort of thing.
CV: What do you look for in a joint-care product?
RM: GCS-MAX is a proper, pharmaceutical product that’s gone through rigorous testing. There are a lot of herbal products on the market right now that haven’t gone through any testing. We do international shows that involve strict testing for banned substances. Using GCS-MAX means I don’t have to worry about them finding anything illegal. The product also has good molecular structure.