“Pipeline” is becoming a key word in the U.S. dressage community as the sport implements a coaching module that reaches deep into the country’s resources to pump up the level of success on the world stage.
The USEF/USET Foundation Dressage Pipeline Clinic brings the three USEF national coaches together with promising competitors to aid them with meeting the challenges of the equestrian athlete. In the long term, the goal is to position the U.S. dressage team as a gold medal contender.
This weekend, Oct. 11 and 12, 17 West Coast riders join Robert Dover, U.S. Chef d’Equipe and Technical Advisor, Debbie McDonald, USEF Developing Coach, and Scott Hassler, USEF Young Horse Coach at Epona Farms in Thousand Oaks, Calif., for the second of the 2014 clinics.
“This clinic is such a learning opportunity beyond training, from both the coaches and my fellow riders,” says Kasey Perry, one of the selected riders. “I’m so looking forward to being around people who are really competitive, and excited about things, especially on the West Coast, my stomping grounds. I want to get to know them and see what they’re doing, what they want to do with their horses, and what their dreams are. And riding for Robert and Debbie is my chance for them to know me as a rider.”
Hailing from Spokane, Wash., and Orangevale, Calif., Kasey will ride Grand Prix mare Trøstruplund’s Scarlet (Blue Hors Don Schufro—Ramona, Blue Hors Romancier) with whom she competed in Florida last winter. She also showed Diane Perry’s Goerklingaards Dublet (Diamond Hit–La Costa, Olympic Ferro) on whom she placed sixth in the USEF Intermediaire Dressage Championship at Gladstone, N.J.
Owned by Diane Perry, Scarlet has produced offspring in Denmark that have also had successful careers, including Intermediaire I horse Ronaldo, 2013 USDF Reserve Champion at fourth level with Christopher Hickey aboard.
In preparing for the clinic, Kasey, 27, has upped Scarlet’s work after a somewhat relaxing summer for the mare. “Since she is 15, we haven’t worked her too hard. For the clinic I’ve worked her a bit more, so she gets in the mindset for what she’ll be doing. She’ll do anything for you. She is such a super star about that. But she’s been a little in siesta mode. I want her mind on the right page,” she said.
Kasey, on the other hand, has not been snoozing. She runs before or after work in preparation for a half-marathon the week after the clinic, a tradition with her mother and her sisters. However, this time she’s going for her personal best, under 2 hours, 15 minutes.
More importantly, she does her own barnwork for Scarlet, Dublet and her mother’s Welsh Cob stallion Camina’s MacCoy. “Sometimes I wish I had someone to do the work on the ground. Then I think, no, I love taking my horses for hand walks every day, and doing their maintenance work. I would miss sitting with them and being in awe of what I have. These horses work so hard for me. I owe it to them to do these things for them.”
When Scarlet came to the Perry family in 2013 from Denmark, the chestnut mare included among her accomplishment first place at the 4-, 5- and 6-year-old Danish Warmblood Young Horse Championships. Though she was trained to Grand Prix, she hadn’t shown that often. “She hadn’t consistently worked hard. But that’s good for me because she has fresh legs. It’s finding the right balance in her work,” Kasey said.
“She’s tough to get fit. I’m lucky she is so sensitive because she teaches me a lot. “
Around the barn, Scarlet is a mare in the classic sense. “She might pin her ears at horses she doesn’t know. But she’s not marish towards humans, especially her human. I do everything for her, so she knows me well and lets me kiss her face. If she doesn’t know you, she won’t want you to do that,” said Kasey.
Under saddle, Scarlet is an over-achiever, “sometimes too much, where her movement gets too hectic and out of control,” Kasey explained. “I calm her down and say, ‘We’ll get that, but in a different way.’ She’s very expressive and just wants to please. I’m so lucky she’s so willing. She will throw a fit if the rider isn’t quiet and won’t communicate with her. If a rider demands she do it, she won’t do it.”
The clinic is intended to prove the synchronicity of the various USEF coaching programs and to give these upcoming riders an overall package based on the coaching programs. Both days the clinic will start with rider fitness sessions, followed by individual mounted training sessions, and finishing with afternoon sports psychology sessions. An evening discussion will focus on media, owner, and sponsor relations, led by a panel of experts in those fields.
Keep up with how the clinic goes for Kasey and the others on www.chronofhorse.com, where we’ll be posting reports on Sunday, Oct. 12 and Monday, Oct. 13.