My goals for this winter season were to get the remaining scores for my USDF (US Dressage Federation) Silver Medal and the USDF Master’s Challenge award for riders over 60. After my first show at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) February 6th and 7th (see “Biasini and Me” for the full story) I had two scores toward the Master’s Challenge and one toward my silver medal.
I entered the AGDF national show February 20th and 21st. My entry was confirmed but then just a week before the show I got an email to tell me there was no stabling available! They were also running a jumper CSI (Concours de Saut International) at the same time on the Global showgrounds and most of the stabling was taken up with the jumpers. Hmmm… at this point I was wondering why it is called the Global DRESSAGE festival as at the previous show they had been hosting an Eventing Showcase! The show organizers offered a refund if you were not able to trailer in. I chose to trailer in on the Friday and school and then trailer in and show on the Saturday and scratch from the Sunday class. Biasini is not a horse that you can just turn up with and pop into the showring. He has to have a chance to see all the flowers, signs, billboards etc. So we went to school on the Friday and returned Saturday with my coach Lou (Luis Reteguiz Denizard) to show on the Saturday.
Busy would be an understatement when describing the showgrounds. There were the three dressage rings and two dressage warm up rings. The jumper CSI was taking place in the Derby field and their warm up just adjacent to the dressage. So as I warmed up there were two announcers one giving the jumper order of go and the other the dressage horse and rider combinations. It went something like this:
“Becky you’re on one.” “And in Ring Two we have Leueen Willoughby on Biasini” “Raoul you’re on two” “ A Hanoverian gelding by Bellissimo M” “John you’re on three.” “Riding the Prix St. George” “Alysia you’re on four.” And so on it went. But once I am in the ring and riding the test they could announce a bomb threat and I would not hear it!
I have to say that Biasini was unfazed by it all. He did however get a bit strong during the test. At each turn onto the diagonal he pretty much said: “I got it Mum! Leave it to me!” Well, as we all know, that is not exactly what is needed. So we had a few mistakes; a rather abrupt entry into the first pirouette and a mistake in the four tempis (changes of lead every fourth stride. We got a 58. Not good enough for the silver medal. But I learned some good lessons during that ride and so it was not a waste of time.
Our next show was at White Fences Equestrian on March 25, 26, 27. White Fences is a more relaxed atmosphere than Global with three competition rings and two warm up rings and enough stabling for all competitors who need it. It was Team Denizard for this show. Lou was riding four horses: his two up and coming horses Demetrius and For Treasure that are owned by Charles Schneider, as well as two clients’ horses Maxine Tabas’ mare Ceicarla and Nancy Kleiner’s gelding Kubla Khan. Maxine was also showing two of her horses Dante and Dede. Team Denizard took up a whole aisle in the tent stabling.
The weather was HOT! HOT! HOT! With highs of 86F (30C) and humidex of 97F (36 C). I have been using Omega Alpha products for several years and when showing I give Biasini Omega Alpha’s Gastra FX Ultra paste before bridling which helps to prevent an irritated stomach. Due to the intense heat I also gave him Omega Alpha’s Equisel Lyte after being ridden. This is a recovery formula that helps replace minerals lost in sweat. Omega Alpha have sponsored me this winter season with the products I use as well as two new products that I will be reviewing later. Fortunately Biasini adapts well to the heat and I manage fairly well too. What is my recovery formula during shows? Chocolate milk! Yes…studies have shown that milk is the best hydrating drink for humans and the second best is water and third are the sports drinks. So I have a thermos of cold chocolate milk and I find it does me very well. I also drink a lot of water if it is as hot as it was at this show.
On the Friday Biasini was good but strong and so we had some problems again with the pirouette preparation and the tempis. We scored a 59. Good enough for the Master Challenge score but not for the USDF silver medal. The judge’s comments were fair and did not tell me anything I did not already know about what was needed.
Saturday the heat meant that jackets were excused so I rode without my tail coat. I got help in my warm up from Nancy Kleiner as Lou was riding one of his four horses. Lou was, as my mother used to say, “Busier than a fiddlers elbow”. Biasini and I went in and rode a well-organized test and he was listening and focused throughout. I sacrificed some impulsion in the trot tour so that he would not get too strong for the canter tour. The test was mistake free and I felt it was the best Prix St. George we had ridden so far. We got a 63. Good enough for the Masters Challenge and also the final score I needed for my silver medal!
Sunday was Easter Sunday and the Easter bunny visited the Team Denizard aisle and left small malt Easter eggs that were quickly consumed. By the riders of course, not the horses! Nancy Kleiner was able to give me occasional pointers as I warmed up as Lou was riding in the other warm up on her horse Khan. At this time Lou’s horse Demetrius decided to do a bit of sightseeing and got out of his stall. There were cries of “Loose horse!” “Loose horse!” but I did not hear them as at that moment I was going down the centerline to start my test.
The trot tour went very well. But unfortunately part way through the canter tour I was not quick enough. I think Biasini was also a bit tired and I did not think quickly enough to compensate for that with my aids. It was ok but not as good as I had hoped for. We scored a 61. The judge commented that we had a very good first half of the test but then had “some problems”. Fair enough.
David, my husband, is my assistant and support person. He is willing to get up at 4:30 to drive to the showgrounds, he walks Biasini while I muck out the stall, helps with the bathing after I ride and provides quiet moral support if I get anxious. He gets the Horse Husband Award for sure.
Lou was the last rider of Team Denizard for the day. He had success with all of his steeds and had an array of red and blue ribbons! We packed up with the help Team Denizard assistants Ene Gorrotxa and Lindsay Sanderson, got the horses onto the trailers and headed home.
We all went out for a celebratory dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Palm City. Lou congratulated all of us on a job well done. Then he said something about me going for my gold medal. Whaaat? …..that involves the Grand Prix! Biasini is not trained yet to that level although I am sure he could do it. And as for me …..I don’t know anyone who has ridden their first Grand Prix at the age of 70. Do you? Well ….I will take it one step at a time. The Intermediare 1 is the next step for us and the journey will be fun and rewarding.
“You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.” CS Lewis
Many thanks to Carmen Elisa Franco for her photos of Lou riding his horses, Biasini and me and,of course, the Team Denizard!