Keeping your Focus...
Do you ever wonder what it’s like getting ready to go in the competition ring?
You’ve had your (at least... for para that is) 15 minutes in the warm up ring where you work on loosening up your own body, getting your horse to become sharp off your aids, work on transitions, make sure you know your test (at this point it’s really a little too late), and keep yourself in the moment. When the steward tells you it’s time to go in, you have to stay focused and with your horse. What a lot of people don’t realize is that going into any major international ring requires you to walk through a lot of chaos. You walk by the stewards, TD’s, show management, other horses, coaches, spectators, people shouting “have a good ride”, riders coming out of the arena, and grooms walking by. It really requires you put your game face on so you and your horse don’t get distracted by all the stimuli around you. You want to make sure your warm up carries over to the show ring. I always focus on Taco, telling him he’s such a “good boy” to increase his confidence and mine, and acknowledge each judge we walk by to give me something to focus on while going around the ring. Though she’s not allowed to coach us while walking around the ring, Sara’s always there just in case. As my confidence in myself and partnership with Taco has grown stronger, I often feel more comfortable to go ahead of her.
That focus and determination is always worth it when you’ve ridden a good test and come out of the show ring with a giant smile on your face, proud of yourself and your horse. There’s always room for improvement, but it wouldn’t be dressage if you got 100% on every test! That’s what makes this sport so fun.