For the past few weeks my coach, Belinda Trussell, has been working Biasini and me towards raising the level of our trot and canter: more cadence and more swing in the trot and more power and more jump in the canter. Yesterday’s lesson was on the canter work. Well if all I’m doing is a 20 m circle I can get that power and jump. But when I put it into a movement….AH….that’s where it all goes pear shaped. The canter zig zag from the PSG is a movement that I had mastered over the winter season in Florida. So where did it go yesterday? We were all over the place and had to go back to basics (Travers on a diagonal line across the arena) before I could negotiate the zig zag. Sometimes it can be discouraging and frustrating but I have accepted that this is all part of progressing in dressage.
After my lesson I got two other valuable lessons. I watched Belinda ride in her lessons with her coach Christolot Boylen. First she rode Tattoo, her up and coming Grand Prix horse that she will be showing in Ottawa next weekend at the Medium Tour level ( Inter A and B). The canter! I could see it now. The countless times Belinda has said to me: “more power!” or “more jump”. I now could watch a demonstration of that power and that jump. So this is where Biasini and I must go. Tattoo did need reminders from Belinda about the job in hand and it was useful for me to see that this is not just a case of the horse doing it all on his own.
Her second lesson was on her seasoned Grand Prix horse Anton. They warmed up in a lower frame and then Belinda began to pick him up, sometimes lowering his neck again for a stride or two and then picking him up again. Then they began to work on the Grand Prix movements.
Once the ‘working in’ phase was finished we went to the outdoor arena which is the regulation 20 x 60 competition arena. Here Belinda rode through the Grand Prix test. Anton is very comfortable at this level and knows his job very well. Yesterday afternoon he was in a very energetic mood and even Christolot remarked: “He’s a lot of horse today.” I watched as Belinda took this energy, worked with it and calmly rode through the test.
I am so very lucky to have professionals like Belinda and my Florida coach Lou Denizard to watch as they ride. I may be just an amateur but I must ride like a “semi-professional”. So the lessons when I was on the ground yesterday were equally valuable and perhaps even more valuable than my lesson on my horse.
Belinda is off to the CDI in Ottawa next week to continue her journey as a “Rider on the Road to Rio”. I shall be following up on that. Stay tuned!