This woman has been smiling on the walls of Angkor Wat since the 12th Century. No doubt about it she is ancient. Some days I feel ancient or am I just old? This weekend I am entered in a dressage show. This is my opportunity to see if I can bring all the things Biasini and I have been working on and improving for the past few months into the show ring. But there is a wrinkle.
I am going with my coach Belinda Trussell who will be riding her up-and-coming Grand Prix horse and Belinda’s assistant Lynsey Rowan who will be riding a four year old she has in training. We are not going to stable overnight and the show organizer has generously allowed us to ride in the arena on Saturday morning so the horses can get accustomed to the ring . This is very important for a young horse and also for a nervous horse like Biasini. But this will mean a very early start. I will be getting up at 4:30 or 5:00. That may not be so early for some of you but for me it is the middle of the night!
The show starts at 8:30 am and goes all day. I will be the last horse in the ring to ride my test at 5pm. When I was in my twenties I could have done that no problem. But now? The weather forecast is for a cold day so after a couple of hours my replaced hips will start giving me notice of every change in the barometric pressure. This might be useful for a meteorologist but not so much for a horse rider. By the time it comes for me to get on and ride I will be pretty tired. Can’t I just suck it up and go as a biscuit? I don’t think so and here is why.
I ride the Prix St. George test. This is an international level test just a step below what they ride in the Olympics. I must ride every stride. Every stride I must say to myself:” How is he? Is his shoulder up ? Is he light in my hand? Has he got his hind legs under him and is he powering off them? Is he ready for the next move? Do I need to spark him up or bring him back a bit? ” This list of questions has to be all in my head and asked within that one question of “how is he”. Every stride. A stride is about 1-2 seconds.
If I am tired or a bit off my game I will loose the place. Then Biasini will take over or fade. The test will drift off into la-la land. What’s so bad about that you ask? Well every ride the rider is training the horse. If we do the test and it’s a la-la land test Biasini will think that is what I wanted and next time we go in the ring he will say to himself:” Oh yes, this is where we just go toodle-ooddle-ooo around the ring.” And he can’t be blamed for that because that’s what we did the last time.
I cannot expect more from my horse if I do not expect more from myself. I have not made a decision about whether I will scratch from the show or find a way around this. That Ancient Cambodian woman is still smiling…..but she’s made of stone.