Ready

Warm, summery weather was the setting for the final, full weekend of practice. It was a much welcomed relief from the last 2-3 weekends of wintry, unsettled weather. Hot, sunny, dusty and sweaty – the way practice should be – at least to my girls.

taking a break: Deborah undoing her helmet (RRC, May 05 2017)

The riding – it is fast, crisp, precise and disciplined. Trish has said the girls are riding with a level of excitement that she has rarely seen. They are loving every second of it. They are riding with a purpose. The ribbons and success are of little importance.

Wistful as she may sound, Trish knows the horizon for her three best riders ever is wide open – inside and outside of riding. Stay, they will be among the best in 18-24 months riding a full schedule. Outside of riding, everything and anything will be possible. “They are that good,” she says beamingly.

Compliments aside, my girls would settle for one more practice session. And, one without snow.

was not forecasted: a snowy practice start for Elizabeth and SAM (RRC, Apr 29 2017)

 

A Rider’s Impressions

Written by Elizabeth Ksenia Ramos

The week of everyday practice went well, but we probably could have ridden it better. Though we got off to a non-start with some sketchy winter weather on the first day, we kicked it into gear on the second.

Practice, Day Three: Trish waiting on us (RRC, Mar 26 2017)

Preparing for a season is more than shaking off the rust and losing the bad habits picked up during the off-season. It is about riding with more precision and speed, but also with discipline. While we push ourselves to be better riders, we are careful not to push our horses too hard and ask them to do things they may not be ready to do. Horses, while they aim to please, they, too, need to ease back into the stepped-up pace and difficulty.

The note-taking has been thorough as have our back-and-forth discussions among ourselves and with Trish. She is quite pleased at how well we are riding, and how well our horses have responded to the increased tempo and practice. “You’re showing mid-season form. Can’t ask for anything more.” While her words are very complimentary, Trish knows we have areas that need some work and polishing.

It would be fair to say we accomplished most of the priorities we had set for ourselves. But, it wasn’t all practice. We had a chance to do a few trail rides despite the snow, fog, rain, and wind.

Tara leading the trail ride on a snowy Saturday morning (RRC, Apr 01 2017)

The last practice session of the week was riding the GP qualifier course from the 2016 Las Vegas Nationals. The aim was to ride a faster time than the best time cleanly. Trish had a new class of young, learn-to-ride students (age 5-7) watch our session. Afterwards, we did a Q&A period with the kids. They were great.

Deborah & Comet: in the start area of the GP practice course 1.50 m (RRC, Apr 01 2017)

About the author

Elizabeth Ksenia Ramos will be graduating from the University of Colorado in May (Class of 2017). She will graduate with an ACS certified Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. Elizabeth graduated with honors from Machebeuf Catholic High School in Denver in 2013.

She is the most decorated equestrian in Rustler Riding Club history, winning Rider of the Year, Horse of the Year and Regulator of the Year awards on multiple occasions. Additionally, she has won multiple blue ribbons, and other placement ribbons, with Mr. Ed, Lilith and SAM: Secret Agent Man.

Ten Days Of Perfection

During the last week of March, the attention of the horse world will be focused on the FEI World Cup in Omaha. It is the pinnacle of equestrian sports.

Instead, my daughters will be focused on their preparations for their 2017 riding season. Who wins, or does not win, in Omaha does not matter. Who rides well, or who didn’t, does not matter. With their season beginning a scant, six weeks later, in mid-May, it is ten days of everyday riding. It is ten days of requiring their best, and more.

Trish and Cameron visiting: “How are you today?”  (RRC, Mar 11 2017)

They prepare like elite professionals. The practice day is very structured, from beginning to end. Attention to detail is an imperative. Critical analysis is essential. While Trish can leave my girls to practice without much supervision, she watches from the sidelines. Like them, Trish, too, has her notepad in which she jots down her observations. After a segment is completed, the four will compare notes. This kind of off-saddle instruction allows them to have additional insight and analysis of their riding technique. The continual learning, including for a rider competing at the highest level, is a must.

warming up: Tara having a hot drink during a break at practice (RRC, Mar 11 2017)

While the practice sessions seem to be intense, they are fairly relaxed. If any mistakes are made, it is better to have them during practice. The repetitive nature of practice is also a good exercise in building patience and composure, and learning more about their equine partners. It is in championship moments when the hard work and staying disciplined make a difference.

If practice is any indicator, my girls are continuing to ride very well. They are riding fast, crisply and with precision, and have said, “better than last season.” They will know how well when they open their season.

Borrowing a line from their favorite rider, Kent Farrington, “Enjoy the process, not just the end result.” And, that is how they ride.

Elizabeth and SAM: kisses before practice (RRC, Mar 11 2017)

Spring Training

The horses were ready. My daughters were ready. Spring break time is prime training time. With nicer weather having arrived, it wasn’t much of a factor. Not until the one day planned at the Rustler practice facility last Wednesday.

looking towards the mountains at the Rustler practice facility (Wed, Mar 25 2015)

 

With other riders having cancelled their practice sessions, the girls had the place to themselves. They were glad they had booked the covered practice area for the day a few weeks ago. Overseeing the practice sessions, Mark and Trish were pleased about how well the girls have self-managed their offseason practice schedule, and how well the horses were riding.

Though prepared for riding outdoors, the girls broke out the long-rider gear for an afternoon trail ride before calling it a day. Much of the snow had already melted away.

Elizabeth riding Secret Agent Man (left), Tara riding Cameron (right)

 

When we left to come home, it was partly sunny and a bit warmer. And, the mud beginning to dry out.

 

Busy Practice Day

To say it was a busy practice day would be an understatement. Meeting up with the girls, early this morning, at Bella’s home on the far southeast corner of the Denver Metro area, we trailered the horses to the Rustler practice facility. They had full run of the covered practice area until the early afternoon. It was a good opportunity to practice without having to worry too much about the outdoor elements.

This morning’s practice was also an opportunity for Mark and Trish to evaluate how the girls and horses were doing. Though many videos of their practice sessions have been sent to Mark and Trish for review, this is the first time where Deborah, Elizabeth and Tara are managing their entire off-season training program alone. Training without any coaching, Mark and Trish believe it is one of those essential skills a professional equestrian needs. What has impressed Mark and Trish the most, it is the take-charge, self-starter mindset of the girls.

If practice is an indicator of what the competition may be, it promises to be an exciting weekend at the NWSS.

 

About the photo

That’s Candace (Happy Girl) having her premium hay breakfast this morning.