From Brandi Williams:
Less than 2 weeks to go! Not much time left to polish up our dressage, haul out of the flatlands of South Jersey for hill work and refine our stadium, yet still so much time for the bubble wrap on Topper and myself to pop!
In 2013 When David O’Connor was named as the new US Eventing Team Coach he emphasized being a “student of the game”. He emphasized learning this sport inside and out and how the desire to actively learn can determine how far you can go. I’ve audited numerous clinics with notebook in hand, schooled, lessoned and focused my volunteer time at events to anything to do with course set up and design. I’ve been soaking it in. Not necessarily progressing at a rapid pace but getting a more thorough understanding of the basics. Preparing for the Waredaca 3 Day Novice has been an engaging way to continue my studies.
Having to opportunity to prepare for “Something Big” while in my novice comfort zone (ok, fairly comfortable zone) has given a new energy to my riding. The support from family, friends and my coaches has been incredible. I’ve added using a heart rate monitor (borrowed from my dressage coach, Carol Conner) to my hacks and interval work along with my Garmin watch to see my real time pace and distance. My horse, Topper, is an OTTB with mild set bows on both front legs. I’ve brought him along from elementary to novice safely and slowly without aggravating those old injuries. Using the data to track our work and the longer, more frequent rides are boosting my confidence that I’ll be able to move up a level and maintain a sound horse. I’m less passive about missing riding time and have a detailed weekly plan.
I’m also asking more from Topper. Transition now! No more acceptance of a muddled walk to trot. With that expectation comes the obligation of clarity and body awareness on my part. Our dressage scores this past month have come down a few points! Taking myself a bit more seriously even though I don’t have high level aspirations is paying off!
With the additional fitness and taking the time to trailer down to Fair Hill for interval work nuances have been revealed. During a particular canter set I realized I no longer have a horse that is pulling down while cruising along in an open field. I floated my reins for a moment and I had a perfectly balanced horse actually carrying himself!
During a stadium warm up my coach, Megan Pappler, let me know that I’m actually now doing what she tells me instead of seemingly freezing up and tuning her out. (Grrr, I pay her to tell me what to do, then don’t listen? WHY?) Perhaps my subconscious is finally cooperating.
One of the unexpected rewards for Waredaca preparation has been the insight and conversations with my coach and other riders that were eventing during the long format days. You can see the twinkle in their eyes and hear the excitement in their voices. Our chats bring out nuggets and tidbits of wisdom that we generally don’t take the time delve into.
For those of us that will be experiencing the long format together for the first time it has prompted getting together for conditioning work and schoolings with wonderful people that I’ve known of, but not actually met in person. From what I’ve heard there are 5 of us coming from a small section of South Jersey. This is likely one of the largest groups from our area to take part in the 3 day. And by the way, I’m the oldest by far!!!
The goal that I have not met in my preparation is my own fitness and weight loss. I realize that I’m not helping my horse by not meeting those goals. I don’t have an excuse. Choosing clothes to wear for the jog was a depressing day. I’m back on track and feeling better than I was a few days ago, there is no time left to wallow!
I can’t wait to get to Waredaca! The preliminary schedule is packed with riding and learning opportunities! I know there is still a lot to learn! What are these gates? How do I find my way? How do you write out and decipher that paper that will be taped to your arm? What questions should I have that I don’t even know to ask? Anxiously awaiting the answers!
The Road to the Three Day series is brought to you by Event Clinics. For all of your clinic and schooling show entry needs, visit http://www.eventclinics.com. Event Clinics is a Platinum Sponsor of the Waredaca Classic Three Day Event.