Hello! My name is Eleanor Brimmer, I am a SmartPaks user and Grade III para-dressage rider. I am blogging for SmartPak to share my experiences at the 2013 National Para-Dressage Training Symposium. Saturday was the fourth and final day of our big event. I watched a little bit of Sydney Collier finish her ride on Wentworth as I was getting ready for my session with Captiva. It was really nice to see a collaborative effort between Gil Merrick, Sydney’s trainer Wes Dunham, and some input from fellow coach Kai Handt, work to bring out the best in this combination.
It was decided that they wanted to continue this co-teaching format, so they could work to improve on developing ways of communicating between coach and rider, as with or without a disability this can be a challenge. Since my trainer was unable to attend the clinic, Kai Handt stepped in and coached me with support from Gil. I’ve known Kai for several years while he coached London Paralympian Jonathan Wentz, but I have never ridden with him.
I will admit it was a little nerve-wracking to have a unanticipated voice jump in, but things went quite well. Kai had an approach to help with my hands that got some good results. He had me alternate extending right and left hands one at a time over a period of four to six strides and working on making that movement very smoothly without loosing the weight of the connection. We finished with some canter transitions, something I had struggled with through the week and by the end of the session they were starting to get quite nice.
Before leaving I was able to catch one of Hanneke Gerritsen’s lessons, if you ever audit a clinic with an Olympic level judge it makes you want to run home and get to practicing your accuracy! I had a wonderful time at the symposium, and I can’t thank SmartPak enough for helping to sponsor this event and having me as a guest blogger. I hope everyone enjoyed reading my posts and if you want to find out more about para-equestrian sport or para-dressage discipline, I would encourage you to go to the United States Para Equestrian website, USPEA.org or contact Hope Hand at Hope@uspea.org