On Wednesday, they will begin riding for real.
Tara and Cameron, 1.45m Jumper Open, Del Mar International Welcome Week CSI3* (Oct 2017)
The daughters have been riding a highly-structured training program to prepare. It begins in January with flatwork, the foundational cornerstone in equestrian sports. It progresses towards jumping full practice courses by March. When the calendar flips to April, it is riding with speed, crispness and fluidity. By May, they are riding at competition level.
While they have been riding on and off through their off-season, the first day of training is riding with focus and discipline. The checklist they have assembled is extensive. It is precise and detailed. The training sessions are done at a steady, flexible pace. The need to push the training harder and faster is unnecessary. The horses, now in their prime, pick up on the training as they advance through the schedule.
dressage transitions with Lilith: Elizabeth listening to instructions from Trish (North Ranch, Apr 2021)
Though it is all business, they have fun. Kent Farrington, one of their favorite riders, said you have to love it all. From long, hard practice days to bitter disappointments in the show ring. When everything comes together in practice and in competition, it makes all the work and time you’ve invested more sweeter. “You’re riding for only one reason, you live to ride.”
The flatwork sessions are primarily dressage exercises focusing on tempo and motion. They form the technical foundation for jumpers. Add the grid exercises, circle exercises, slalom exercises, turning exercises, and cavaletti exercises, the sport is more than jumping a horse over a fence. Together, they are the core skill set for a showjumper. Practicing the fundamentals is how one becomes better. The best professional riders are always practicing their fundamentals, even with the horses they have ridden over several seasons.
Additionally, the daughters have watched every single frame of video from the practice sessions. They have watched every single frame of competition video from the previous season. They break down each ride. The good, bad, and in-between, noting what worked and what didn’t work. No detail is too small.
riding notes and details from Deborah’s 2019 season
How they prepare for a season hasn’t changed much since Trish did the planning. It is the same template Trish used when she was the young rider. She slowly gave the girls more responsibility in how they prepared themselves, much like how she was given more responsibility by her coach. The girls were given complete control of their own training in 2017. “They have the work ethic to handle the added responsibility. Also, they thoroughly study and understand their own riding.”
Trish continues to watch the practice sessions from the sidelines, writing her own notes on what they can do better. Afterwards, they compare notes. Often in a technical shorthand only they understand.
“They are ready.”