Tokyo. The Canadian Dressage Team riders and horses are not just lollygagging about. They are busy. They are riding their horses in the main stadium arena to familiarize them with that location.
After the horses have been ridden and exercised they will be washed down.
They will also be handwalking their horses to give them a break from being in their stalls. And ….they will be keeping up their own fitness.
And the Canadians are not the only ones keeping fit. Here is British Team rider Carl Hester. He says he is the oldest member of the British Team but he can still put the hammer down on the exercise bike!
Tomorrow, Friday July 23 will be the “jog”. This is the veterinary inspection for the horses to make sure they are all sound and well enough to start competing on Saturday. At the jog the riders will take the horses to the place where there will be a straight pathway, on reasonably hard ground, about 100 feet long. They will lead the horse, starting at the walk and then trot , the rider will now be running alongside the horse and then, at the end, slow the horse to walk again, turn around and trot back. If the vets and the President of the Ground Jury (the senior judge) and other officials see any uneven steps the will ask a vet to examine the horse while they move on to the next horse. If the vet finds any swelling or heat in the horse’s leg the horse will be held and re-examined later or even the next day. If the horse on re-examination is still not sound it will not be allowed to compete. That is when a reserve horse and rider can step in. Canada has a Team qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. That means Canada can send two travelling reserves. Individuals who are not competing on a Team cannot have a reserve.
The jog can be a nervous time. Horses tend to get excited and that makes it difficult to run alongside of them and keep them going straight ahead so they will trot out well. Some riders prefer to have someone else jog their horse for this reason.
I wish all the Canadian riders the best for the jog and the competition. I am also looking forward to seeing the British riders. Charlotte Dujardin will be riding a smaller chestnut horse Gio that has the barn name of “Pumpkin” . As my horse is also a smaller chestnut horse I have a fondness for Pumpkin already.
Photos for this post are courtesy of British Dressage on Facebook and Alan Manning, team vet for the Canadian Dressage Team.