Predicting the cause of problems in the future!
After my recent visit from the World Class experts including dressage team farrier Haydn Price, Haydn came to shoe Weltzin. My farrier has been doing a great job but obviously Haydn has a huge amount of experience with top competition horses and the best way to balance their feet for the job they have to do in the ring. So he came down to work with my own farrier, and John Hankinson, my equine physio’ was also present, so that everyone was sure they were working together and along the same lines. They watched Weltzin walk and trot up and discussed how he lands and what the best course to take is.
Haydn wanted to give him the best possible platform, to not only support his movement, but also hopefully increase his longevity in the sport. Grand Prix dressage does put tremendous strains on the legs and if the support is not there, then problems may arise. The World Class mantra is ‘Pre-hab’, rather than Re-hab, so assessing how the horse moves and predicting what may possibly cause problems, and seek ways to prevent them.
Weltzin is by no way a wonky mover; in fact he trots up very straight, but we look so closely, and examine every tiny little detail to try and provide the best possible platform for him to work on. So now he has shoes with wings, I hope he will go and fly! As he has little feet, the extra width on the shoes will hopefully mean he will stay on top of any surface, preventing him from sinking in and having to work harder to get his legs out of the sand! We will assess him again at the next World Class training session, and as he has now come back into work after his holiday, we will see how the new shoes have helped him.
Since Weltzin was just coming back to full work and we were adjusting his shoeing, it was decided I would take other horses up to the World Class training session in November. This time we had a very special guest trainer in the form of German Team member and gold medallist, Monica Theodurescu. I did have the privilege of training with her father in Germany when I was working out there as a teenager, and I also met Monica previously in the World Class selection trials. She was really lovely and took the time to watch and assess the horses before stepping in with very helpful suggestions. I brought my own Beans and Half Moon Revelation (Wotsit) for training this time. Wotsit and I have been successful in Young Horse Classes this year and he is a very fun horse to work with.
We worked on the canter, walk, canter transitions and flying changes. In the canter- walk transitions, we started with transitions within the canter first, before moving on to collection before the walk. Wotsit has a very good hind leg which just works better and better the more you collect him, so I actually have to be aware of him staying soft enough with his movement, as he gets so active. Not a bad problem to have really! We did walk transitions on the circle before moving on to counter canter and transitions out of that. The main concentration was on balance and connection, so I had to keep driving him forwards into the contact, even though he was collecting back towards the downwards transition.
We then moved on to the flying changes. He definitely has a talent for these and gains a lot of height and expression! I mentioned his hind leg works harder and harder, so you can imagine the jump he gets off them when he’s collected and I ask for a change! Some were so huge he felt like we were airborne for ages, but again, it’s not a bad problem to have, and I concentrated on keeping my new inside leg on him just before the change, so he didn’t bounce behind me in anticipation. We continued on to sequence changes and managed three changes on the diagonal. What a clever Wotsit!
In the afternoon I rode Beans and after warming him up with the help of Emile, I rode through the Grand Prix test in front of Monica and top judge Andrew Gardener. This was an incredibly useful exercise, to not only see how Beans coped with the Grand Prix test, but also how I rode the test on a different horse (other than Weltzin). I got the chance to re-ride any lines or movements I felt could have been improved and later that day we all sat down to review the test on video.
As well as all the riding, we had talks on planning, sponsorship and were updated anti-doping rules and regulations. We had media training as well as sessions with a psychologist, physiotherapist, and the strength and conditioning coach. If that wasn’t enough we also had our 6 monthly reviews! It was certainly a mental workout as well as a physical one, this time!
I came away so inspired, full of ideas and plans for the future, now I just have to put them all into practice. At least with the winter being a quieter time on the competition front, it’s a good time to take stock and review my goals for the next month, 2 months, 6 months and so on. I have started working more on my PR and have launched a new ‘Hannah Biggs Dressage’ Facebook page. So do take a look!
At home the yard is also slightly quieter as Socs has left! I was riding the gorgeous young stallion for Georgina at Tantoni Warmbloods, and although she did offer me an opportunity to buy a share in him to keep him at my yard and training with me, I just couldn’t afford it at the time. So Socs has been part sold to the Swiss Young Rider Team member Dominique Tardin and has now gone to the most fabulous home with her in Germany. Dom is the most lovely, gorgeous girl, who instantly fell in love with Socs when she came to try him. I know that they will have such fun together and I can’t wait to see them on the Young Horse circuit in Europe next year! Of course, that does leave a Socs size hole in my yard, but Georgina has plenty more youngsters coming up for me to bring on and compete. I’m very excited about the arrival of Socs’s half sister early next year. Out of the same Weltmeyer dam, ‘Tantoni White Mischief’ and by the fabulous stallion San Amour. I can’t wait to welcome her to the yard!
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