During the Olympics there were a series of ads on the CBC that focused on great quotes from coaches. One was about a young woman who was a boxer. She said her coach had inspired her even before Women’s Boxing was allowed, let alone become an Olympic sport. Her coach used to say to her :”In the ring it’s all you.”
That rang a bell with me. In dressage you warm up in a ring with other horses and your coach is on the sidelines guiding you through a remote mic system. But then comes the time for your test. You ride into the arena and you are alone. No other horses and no words from your coach, to help you . No matter how many people may be watching. No matter how big the competition is . You go into the ring and you are on your own with your horse. It’s all you!
Your support team: groom, coach and supporters must be on the sidelines anxiously watching. Coach Carl Hester,(seated below), groom Alan Davies,( standing behind Carl) and other Supporters of Charlotte and Freestyle. WEG 2018
Horses that are experienced know that they go from the company of other horses in the warm up to the solitude of the competition ring. Despite being herd animals they handle this well and focus on getting down to work for their rider. But for an inexperienced horse who suddenly finds themselves alone in the ring it can be a very scary time. They may call out to see if any other horse will answer them . Sometimes they will keep on calling all through their test. But as long as they just keep going and get through the movements well they will not be marked down. But if they start to get too distracted and their rider cannot get them through the movements properly then they are in trouble and the marks will go way down.
Biasini did not suffer from separation anxiety in the show ring, when I first got him, as he had already been to several shows with Belinda. Now we have had many miles in competition together. But just like every other dressage rider when we go down that centerline and halt to salute the judge I know we are alone.
In this photo taken at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival you can see my husband, who is a very important support person for me, taking some video of my ride. But he cannot come in to help me during the test nor can my coach give me any comments or reminders.
So there it is. In the ring it’s all you.