I love to make plans. Plans keep me sane. I also fully appreciate that even the best made plans, as Robert Burns once said, go oft awry. But as I head toward a competition I rely on making plans. I worked with sport psychologist Dirk Stroda during the winter competition season in Florida and he gave me a very workable outline for the weeks approaching competitions, starting 4 weeks before the competition. So with a competition May 26-28 how am I doing?
Week 4: Checking and asking questions. Is all my equipment in good shape ? Do I need to get anything repaired? How are my show clothes, tailcoat, breeches, shirts, stock ties, show boots? Is there anything I forgot at the last show for myself or for Biasini that I need to remember this time?
So, did I do all that last week? No, I did not. I was busy being sick and dealing with a porridge consistency brain. No worries I will do my Week 4 checks this weekend.
Week 3: That’s where I am now and I was halfway through the week when I realized OMG the show is in two and a half weeks! Ok. No Panic. The theme for week 3 is Challenges and Solutions. No worries. There are challenges I can easily solve. These are booking the trailering to the show. Arranging to have some help at the show. Talking to Nicole, another student of Belinda’s, who is going to the show and making sure we have everything we need.
There are also other challenges that are not so easy to solve. Since I have been back from Florida and working with my coach Belinda Trussell she has been moving us up in terms of the quality of the canter. Training is similar to hiking a mountain trail. Many years ago, I trekked the Inca Trail and so this is the image I often go to in my mind when training with my horse.
There are times when the trail is very steep, it is more like climbing than walking. The altitude is taking my breath away. Every step is a mountain in itself. No stopping, no lingering , the mountain pass must be crossed. Then a respite, I reach the top of the pass and there is a stunning view. What a sense of accomplishment!
And so it is with the Biasini and me. Last summer we struggled through improving the quality of the trot. Now we are working on the canter. In my lesson on Wednesday there was a breakthrough. Belinda was calling for “more jump”, “make him sit more behind”, “Let go! Half halt …give!” “More power!”
In my head I was saying: “ Lower legs on!” “Half halt…come back to me. Relax my wrists…. give!” “Remember the mounting block seat!” (see link below)
Biasini was saying: “She can’t want more!” “What?” “OK! I’ve got this! I’ve totally got this!” “Oh! Now she wants me to scale it back.” “Why doesn’t she just let me take over and do this?” ‘Ok! OK!”
Then it happened. He came up in front, sat more behind and the canter took on a whole new feel. We were bounding.
The Challenge? The Challenge Dear Readers is to keep that canter in the competition ring. That is the challenge. The Solution? I shall work with my coach Belinda on the canter in my lessons so that I can get a solid feel for how to achieve that canter. Here is a short video clip of the canter work in my lesson on Friday. You can hear Belinda’s instructions to me so you will know what I am doing.
I was happy that we could get the good canter back again on Friday. The only remaining part is to have the courage to go for that canter in the ring. That is the final part of the Challenge and the Solution is in how I prepare my head. It is all about that five-inch arena in my brain.
Next week is “clarity and certainty”. Belinda will be away as she is competing in a CDI (Concours Dressage International) in Ottawa. I shall be working on my own and continuing to prepare. I’ll let you know how it’s going!
Photo of the Inca Trail: Travel One Expeditions.