Life Health & Wellbeing

Sunday 19 May 2019

'On a horse, your legs are tired, you're breathless, but you keep going' - Yvonne Connolly

Yvonne Connolly
Yvonne Connolly

Former model Yvonne Connolly (45) turned her passion for horse riding into a way of getting stronger and tackling things she might never otherwise have considered.

'Both my parents came from farms and were horsey people, so that was my childhood. It was full on up until I was about 17, until I went to college. My plan was just to take a little break, and of course other things came along - distractions. College, then modelling, then I got married and had kids. I always wanted to get back into it but time went by so quickly.

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"Then, unfortunately, my daughter broke her arm while riding last year. I decided to exercise the pony - it had probably been about 25 years. And I just got the bug again, or as I call it, the curse!

"I was sucked right back in. Just after Christmas I had the opportunity to buy my own horse. It took about six months to get the legs back, and get back into it properly. I said I wasn't going to compete, I said I was just going to do it like exercise at home, but before I knew it I was doing cross-country and show-jumping and all that kind of thing.

"If you had said to me a year ago that I would have my own horse, I would have said no; or that I was going to do three races on a racehorse, I would have said absolutely no - but here I am. I'm useless in a gym; as soon as I start to feel tired, I just stop. But on a horse, you're enjoying it. Your legs can be tired, you're out of breath, but you keep going, because it you don't, you'll probably fall off!

"I noticed riding my own horse that I was getting fitter and fitter. But now I've started training in Jessica Harrington's yard, and I'm also on a simulator.

"My goal? I am determined to get really strong and fit to be able to complete the challenge - to ride a thoroughbred racehorse in the 2019 Corinthian Challenge Charity Race Series in aid of Irish Injured Jockeys. It consists of three races at The Curragh, Cork and Leopardstown Racecourse from July to October this year."

For more information on how to donate, see @yvonneconnolly; corinthianchallenge.com

In conversation with Liadan Hynes

Yvonne's top tips

1. To get fit and strong, pick something you love.

2. Don't over-invest. Look online for ideas for things you can do in your house, rather than expensive gym memberships.

3. I try to be careful of what I eat when I'm trying to be fit and strong. It's a circle: if I've exercised, I won't eat that chocolate bar. If I've been careful of what I eat, I want to push harder in the gym. For me, it's an all or nothing kind of thing.

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