Fair Hill, Md. – Oct. 17
“I’m in a wonderful situation being shacked up with a dressage rider,” announced Boyd Martin at the press conference after taking the lead in the CCI** aboard Pancho Villa on 41.4 at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International.
He was referring to his wife, Grand Prix rider Silva Martin, who taught “Pancho” the elements of passage in order to create even more suspension in a horse naturally gifted with swing and suspension.
“His trotwork is pretty breathtaking,” said Boyd, who leads over Sharon White on Under Suspection (43.9) and Leslie Law on Billy Wiz (44.2).
More tips and insights from the top three.
How does your warm-up differ at a three-day from a horse trials?
Sharon White and Under Suspection
Boyd: “You’ve obviously got a lot more time to invest into preparing for the test. The horses are also stabled here for a day or two before your test, so the more frisky ones can have a chance to get settled in. The horses are as fit as they’ve ever been, so they’re a little bit more on edge, and there’s a little bit more atmosphere. The horses seem to be out there all by themselves in those rings, so it’s a little bit harder to execute a really good test on a nervous horse than a horse trial where there are horses warming up everywhere and not much atmosphere.”
Leslie: “When you’ve got a little bit more time on your hands at something like this than you do at a horse trials, you’ve got to be careful that you don’t overdo it. You’ve got to know your horse and know your routine.”
Sharon: “I slept until 8, and I loved every minute of it. I have wonderful people taking care of my horses. I thought it was absolutely lovely. That’s something I don’t get to do at home. My farm isn’t close enough to keep working. I can really concentrate on it and enjoy the time with my horses.”
What’s the one thing about your test that you wouldn’t have known from just watching it?
Boyd: “I did a walk pirouette right next to the judge at E, and he said, ‘7.’ I thought ‘Bulls*** mate, that was an 8! That was a flawless pirouette!’ ”
|Leslie Law and Billy Wiz
Photo by Shannon Brinkman
Leslie: “My horse can go in there, and he only needs the click of a camera or something like that to go off a bit sharp. So I’m watching all the things going on outside the arena, like the people driving up the side in the golf cart to collect the dressage sheets. I’m trying to make sure I’m in the right place going around the ring at the right time as people are picking up dressage sheets. It’s really the first few minutes, so I’m trying to get him through that while the judges are still focused on writing up their comments on the person before me. Once I was in there today, he was great, and there was nothing to hide. It was a case of really not throwing it away. But around the outside I had to be a little bit on my toes.”
Sharon: “Mine was an open book.”
How do you mentally prepare for dressage?
Boyd: “At this level, I don’t get that nervous anymore. I like to spend 20 minutes before my test chilling out by myself in the tack room and trying to think about one of the other great tests I’ve done on that particular horse and what warm-up I used and where I went wrong and right in that test. Then I try to be in the same routine preparing my horse for the test I’ve done over and over again.”
Leslie: “I just visualize the test that I’m hopefully going to ride. I get ready by telling myself, ‘Ride like you’re at home; pretend you’re at home.’ It’s been pretty good to me except for the days I ride bad at home. When I’ve done a bad test, I say, ‘Oh, that was one of those bad days at home.’ ”
Sharon: “This weekend is a little bit different for me. I wasn’t sure I was going to be here. I have a broken hand, and my mom is really not well. I decided on Tuesday that I’d come because it makes me really happy to ride these horses. I have genuine, kind, good horses this weekend. It’s where I’d like to be, so this weekend is about that for me.”