Chelsea Ryan, 26
Exercise Rider at Winstar Farm

How long have you exercised race horses?
About four years.

Do you exercise or have you exercised any horses that have run in the Derby or Oaks?
While I worked for Dominick Schettino I was fortunate to work with 2017 KY Derby Winner, Always Dreaming before he switched trainers.

How long do you typically exercise a horse in a day and how many horses are you responsible for?
Each day can be very different. We normally train for about 4-5 hours six days a week and in that time I normally ride about 10 horses. Each horse has a unique training program designed for its individual needs. I usually spend about twenty minutes or so riding each horse.

Would you say that exercising these horses keeps you fit and in shape?
Absolutely. Riding, especially galloping racehorses, is a very physically demanding exercise. Not only must you have strength, but you also need stamina. These are fit, lean, athletes so you need to be one as well.

Why do you work out/exercise?
I work out to keep my body and mind healthy.

Have you always been fit?
I have always been fit-ish. I was involved in many sports while in high school including golf and swimming but when I went off to college I definitely didn’t work out or eat as healthy as I should have. It wasn’t until I started breaking (horse) babies in Ocala, Florida, that I started getting back into shape.

Do you work out with anyone?
When I do go to the gym I choose to workout alone. I just put my headphones on and focus on myself. Working out with a friend, I tend to get too distracted. I do love workout classes with groups, but that’s a bit different.

Photos by Melissa Donald 

What has been your most recent fitness accomplishment and what did you do to prepare for it?
Running. I have always hated running. I’m starting to really love it. I plan to run in some 5ks this year with the ultimate goal of running a mini-marathon eventually. I just started with small goals like running continuously for a set amount of time and I just increased my goals from there.

How do you keep up your daily motivation?
I love my job. It truly doesn’t feel like I’m at work because I am living out a childhood dream — I get paid to ride horses. That’s what gets me up at 4 am.

What is your biggest excuse?
Being tired or not having time. I currently work two full-time jobs. Both riding and serving at a restaurant. It truly is hard to find time to workout and sometimes I’m just too pooped. Thankfully I get paid to workout with my job so even when I don’t make it t the gym I still get some form of activity in.

Type of exercise you think does you the most good and you recommend to others?
I prefer high intensity interval training. These exercises are fun, high paced and intense. They help keep me fit and mentally sharp.

What do you think is your best body feature?
Honestly? My butt. I’ve worked really hard on building those muscles and sculpting it and I am not ashamed to brag.

Do you follow a specific diet?
Not really. I just focus on eating real, whole foods. I limit processed foods and overall “unhealthy” foods. I am addicted to fruit. That’s my candy.

How about sharing a specific recipe or meal?
One of my favorite healthy desserts is the easiest thing to make. This recipe makes it feel like you’re eating a decadent mousse without the guilt.

Protein Mousse
1 cup greek yogurt
1 scoop protein powder any flavor (I prefer EHP Labs)
Mix the ingredients together.