WEST GROVE, Pa. (AP) — Despite the Tokyo Olympics being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, medal-winning equestrian Phillip Dutton continues to prepare at his farm in West Grove, Pennsylvania.
Dutton, a six-time Olympian in eventing, exercises almost daily with horses at the farm in the rolling hills of Chester County, about 50 miles west of Philadelphia.
The farm employs eight workers and houses about 35 horses in various stages of training. Dutton, 56, usually works them six days a week with sessions that include dressage, show-jumping and cross-country, the foundations of eventing.
“I’m just trying to work on stuff — go over what each horse’s weakness is and work on that. Same with me,” Dutton said.
Social distancing doesn’t have much direct influence on the farm’s daily routine, but it does effectively end the upcoming competition season and it has restricted specialty coaching.
“The difficult part is you can’t bring instructors in,” Dutton said. “We have specialized coaches that come and help, which we’re obviously restricted there.”
Dutton won two team gold medals in eventing, in 1996 and 2000, while competing for Australia. He added an individual bronze medal in 2016 while competing for the U.S. Dutton had qualified for his seventh Summer Olympics when the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers announced recently that the games would be postponed until 2021.
Despite the almost yearlong delay, Dutton continues “trying to get in a groove, trying to get better, trying to get the horses better,” he said. “Because like in anything in sport, if you just stay the same, you are actually going backward, because everybody else is getting better.”