Our pessimistic jockey kept tipping over. With every stumble he became less patient and eventually sat down in a huff - Jo Foster

Racehorse trainer and Country Week columnist, Jo Foster
Racehorse trainer and Country Week columnist, Jo Foster
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This week I returned to Jack Berry House for some January rehab

My daily physical exercise used to involve no more than farm work, riding out and waste disposal walks (picking up dog poop in the dog field) but over the last year, in an attempt to remain flexible, I have expanded my exercise portfolio to include walking, swimming, dancing (I acquired a radio for my birthday so it’s usually around the kitchen) and Pilates (it has taken me 20 years to find this beauty).

Providing I partake in some of these sports frequently, my body and I now maintain a healthy respect for each other.

Annoyingly, I have spent more time slumped over a computer screen and was beginning to walk with a stoop. A trip to Malton was long overdue.

I was booked in for the ‘Jockeys’ Pilates Class’ held every Monday afternoon which is always worthwhile. There were a few of us attending this week but I am always surprised there isn’t more. Jockeys seem to, understandably, prefer time in the gym to maintain their fitness than in the yoga room.

One particular jump jockey was in for rehabilitation last summer and was asked to join the class by his physiotherapist.

“It will really help with those areas you need the most work on,” she explained kindly.

“Ha. That stuff’s for old people,” he laughed, “…look like you’re playing a game of musical statues.” He continued ridiculing the exercise as we dragged him to the work- out room, after eventually persuading him to give it a try. Part way into the routine the sarcasm ceased, and I noticed he had gone quiet.

After managing the plank leg lift he had hurried through a few single leg stretches and was now struggling to remain balanced as we all stood on one leg with outstretched hands and toes pointing in various directions (apologies for the incorrect terminology).

Our pessimistic jockey kept tipping over. With every stumble he became less patient and eventually sat down in a huff.

“No. I’m not doing it.” He chuntered like a spoilt child as the class instructor offered her help. There were collective smirks from the group. “Admit it,” piped up a colleague hoovering in a one-legged stretch position. “It’s harder than you expected, isn’t it?”

“Waste of time mate,” replied our pessimistic pal smartly. But the next week he returned, and the week following that too. Determined not to be beaten, he eventually mastered all the basic moves. Possibly Pilates has nothing to do with it, but he happens to be riding out of his skin this season and tells me he has had fewer falls – for which we can all be thankful.