Hello! My name is Eleanor Brimmer, I am a SmartPak user and grade III para dressage rider. I am blogging for SmartPak to share my experiences at the 2013 National Para Dressage Training Symposium. Friday was the third day of the symposium, we headed out to the barn a little early as I had the first ride of the day with Catherine Haddad Staller. We built upon the lesson from the day before, really focusing on relaxing my arms and keeping the bit centered in Captiva’s mouth. I’m afraid it probably looked very boring to the audience members, but really picking away at these hand and position issues will really help me in the long run when I go back to my own horse Carino in Michigan. I’m glad I got my first ride done early in the day, as the weather was really starting to heat up.
I caught my breath, I went to my appointment with Gill Merrick for a video assessment. Gill viewed some recent footage of Carino, and we discussed strengths and weaknesses. We also made a plan for my afternoon session with Captiva. I slipped back into the covered arena and caught Sydney’s
ride on her horse Wentworth and the Lara Oles ride on Cyndy West’s Tito. What is interesting about seeing those two lessons is that even though due to their different grades they were working on different things, they both have hand involvement with their disabilities and ride one handed. It’s neat to see how different rein adaptations work for different riders. Both did quite well, I think some riders who use two reins would be pleased to get the kind of connection these ladies have.
At the lunch break Catherine gave another talk, this time on mental preparedness. She talked about techniques that helped to ease her show nerves and how to handle the pressure of being on a team. One simple thing I thought was really helpful is she said the remind yourself that things will be different, that way there is less of a panic when things don’t go the way you expect them too.
By the time my second ride with Gill rolled around I was tired from the heat, so I was glad of our plan to keep things simple. Gill got on Captiva first so he could get a feel for her and refine his plan for our lesson. We spent a lot of time on twenty and ten meter circle lines, changing direction thorough a figure eight pattern, doing transitions within and between the walk and trot gaits. I am very comfortable with this kind of work, so it gave me another tool to work with for the position issues Catherine wanted me to address in her sessions. It was a long, hot day, but I felt like we got some good work done and I am eagar to see how it translates over to my horse Carino when I get home.