A Team. That is what you need in competitive sport. For athletes going to the Olympics that team will be a bigger one than I need but I need a team nonetheless. So who is on my team?
David is willing to get up at 4am and drive me to the show grounds to start grooming and braiding if I have an early ride time. Other things he does: makes sandwiches, brings a cooler with cold drinks, refills Biasini’s water buckets, looks after our little dog Tia, and is just generally supportive.
In Florida for the winter season I train with Luis Reteguiz Denizard. He’s Lou to his friends. He will warm me up before I go into the ring and will be there for a de-brief after my ride. If he is also showing himself and is not able to warm me up then I will be expected to tell him how the warm up went, how the test went and we will discuss the plan for the next day’s showing or the plan for what we will work on at home. I have trained with Lou for eight years now . I started with him at USDF First Level with my horse Tommie. So we have come a long way together.
At home I train with Belinda Trussell. My horse Biasini was trained by Belinda from a youngster so I could not have asked for a better start for him. When showing at home Belinda will warm me up and watch my ride and then we will have the post ride de-brief. When I am showing in Florida I will send her texts to let her know how the show is going . I am very fortunate that she and Lou communicate well and so the transfer from one to the other is pretty much seamless.
HORSE CARE ASSISTANTS
Unlike many people who show in Florida I do not have a full time groom. Nor do I have a part time groom or even an anytime groom. But I do have the assistance of Lou’s professionals Lindsay Dance Sanderson and Ene Gorrotxa. They make all the difference to David and me because they look after the duties of stall cleaning and feeding. That means that if I have a later ride time I do not have to be at the show at the crack of dawn to feed and then have to muck out the stall . Or if my ride time is early I can go home after lunch and Biasini will be given a hand walk and be fed and settled for the evening and his feeds for night check and breakfast will be prepared and left out for the Equine Nanny service that checks on the horses through the night.
At home Erin Haug has helped with looking after Biasini in the early morning before I get to the show. David and I are Senior Citizens and this kind of help makes the difference between being able to show and not being able to show.
At my last show at White Fences my friend Nancy Kleiner, who is a judge, coach and trainer from Indiana who trains with Lou during the winter season, was my ‘eyes on the ground’ for my warm up when Lou was riding. Given her level of expertise in dressage I am very confident that Nancy can give me the right pointers to take with me into the ring. Also she is a very positive person and positive people are the ONLY people to have around when showing.
I am only an amateur so why would I need a sport psychologist? Couldn’t I just keep calm and carry on? Well, yes, of course I could. But I am 67 years old and I do not have decades stretching ahead of me to train and show at the level I am at now. I want to enjoy my training and my showing. I want my head to be in the right place so that I can enjoy the excitement of showing, deal well with the frustrations of showing, and bring my A Game to each test for myself and also for my horse Biasini. So this year I started to work with Dirk Stroda , a mental coach. Dirk has been the mental coach for Equestrian Canada through the World Equestrian Games, Pan Am Games and The Rio Olympics. There is no doubt in my mind that he has helped me to be more positive, more efficient and more stress free and therefore having a better time both training and showing.
So those are the members of My Team! I thank all of you for your help and support. Without my team I would not be showing. It is as simple as that.