RAISING THE BAR
From the get go my coach, Belinda Trussell,was on my case! It was all about the gaits and Biasini’s frame. I had to have Biasini up in the shoulder, his poll the highest point, sitting behind and more power! More power!
How was I to accomplish that? Well…more leg. More leg! And that is just my lower leg and for a further “tick up” just the ankle. It seemed that however much leg I used it was not enough. I was not generating enough power, enough sitting, enough lift in the shoulder.
“Leg before hand!” “Tick up!” “He’s too flat!”
Belinda was putting as much energy into teaching the lessons as I was in riding them. I was encouraged that Belinda felt it was worth it to put this amount of energy into teaching me. Not every coach will do that with an older rider. This went on for a few weeks. Was I ever going to get it? Was I ever going to get that uphill frame and that power from behind? Maybe I was too old.
This year I had adopted Jordan Speith’s motto of “Do or do not. There is no try.” Therefore I was not going to say to Belinda: “Well I’m trying.” But one day I did say that I wondered if I was too old physically to accomplish what she was asking of me. This was her reply: “ I can see that you get it on the long side for a few strides and then loose it and then you get it again in the corner and then loose it and then get it again on the next long side. So if you can get it three times going around the arena you can do it,you’re not too old. That’s just in your head.”
That settled that.
A couple of lessons after that the proverbial lightbulb flickered and finally came on! Ride! Ride! Ride! Don’t wait for Belinda to give me the correction. Do it myself. Be aware every moment of how it was going. If I need to get him lighter in the contact then do it! Do it!
Things got better from then on. Not perfect but better.
Exciting! That’s what it is when your coach is going to the Olympics. Exciting! The preparations begin well in advance. I spoke to Dr. Usha Knabe about what was required from a veterinary point of view.( See blog post: “Ask the Vet”) I talked to Belinda’s assistant Lynsey Rowan about what she would be doing en route to Rio and in Rio. ( See: “Tratador Olimpico”) Finally I talked to Belinda about how she felt heading to Rio. (See: “Riding from the Heart”)
The boxes started to arrive with the CANADA horse coolers and fly sheets in red for Anton, Belinda’s horse. Next came boxes of the official clothing for Belinda and Lynsey and Usha. I peeked in all the boxes. This was really happening! My coach, Belinda Trussell was going to Rio!
Once they were all gone we settled in at the barn and got ready to watch the Dressage. There was an infuriating hiccup when the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) did not provide live stream of the first day of the dressage! There was outrage on social media and many dressage fans, including me, barraged the CBC with emails and phone calls and demanded and pleaded and also threatened to withhold tax dollars (it is publicly funded despite having commercials) if the dressage was not live streamed. The second day ……there was live streaming. Victory! Power to the People!
We gathered around a laptop set up in the barn to watch the Grand Prix. We all thought Belinda rode well and rode a mistake free test and we felt she could have had a point or two more in her score. But the score was good enough to move her on to the next phase; the Grand Prix Special. In the afternoon I watched at home. What a luxury to see the world’s top riders.
Then on to the Special and again Belinda did a lovely job but her score was just short of qualifying to go on to the Individual Freestyle. The day of the Freestyle I rode early in the morning and watched at home with a friend. Again what a marvellous spectacle and at Charlotte’s final salute and embrace of her horse my friend and I were cheering.
THE HOMEWORK AND THE REPORT CARD.
Belinda had assigned homework. I was to have someone video 30 second clips of my canter work each week she was away. I did that. (See: “Video Assignment Done!) and when Belinda returned in my first lesson I knew she would give me the report card.
I GOT AN A! And on we went to make everything more consistent and to incorporate the improved canter and trot into sections of movements from the Prix St. George test. “It’s a dance,” Belinda says. And so my dance partner Biasini and I are dancing into the autumn.
Here are links to the blog posts mentioned previously.