January was a busy month competition-wise. Not only were there two major CDIs being held back to back, but the Palm Beach leg of the World Dressage Masters (Jan 26th-29th 2012) was fast approaching. Tellin' yis... excitement overload!
The most anticipated dressage spectacle that I am sure I will ever see could not have come around any sooner.
5 CDIs were being incorporated into the The World Dressage Masters weekend, as well as separate day competitions (i.e. competitions not being run under CDI ruling). It was also a 2012 World Cup, 2012 Olympics and Paralympics qualifier! I was literally a walking sponge that whole weekend.
Pam was entered to compete in one of the CDIs, and I was her groom. So not only was I there all day, I also had a wristband to get me into the CDI barns were all the top horses were stabled!! Mint.
But wait!! There is more! Pam gave us tickets for Christmas to watch the entire World Dressage Masters. Again, I was at the show grounds all day AND I got to stay there for the night too??!! Epic. Dreams are never this good.
Between cheering on fellow barn and Paralympian hopefuls Dale Dedrick and Ellie Brimmer, grooming for Pam and watching all the top riders preparing and riding in the Masters, I was a made woman.
Admiring my plaits on Pam's La Rusch (my favourite pony)
I do have to say something. Years ago in the North Munster Dressage region (my dressage region from back home), an Irish para rider named James Dwyer competed and trained with my trainer from back home. I used to plait (not braid-I refuse to succumb to such a term!) for James a lot and I had not seen him in the longest time. He moved here to the states. Well guess what!! I got to meet him at the Masters! He was stabled the block behind us. I bumped into him a ton over the weekend and it was so good to catch up with him and see him ride again. Seeing that green coat with the Irish flag made me smile. Talk about another great thing happening on such a great weekend. He pulled out all the stops in his tests. He won all around him. His freestyle gave me goosebumps, made me miss home. But in a good way, a proud way! Stupid of me not to have gotten a picture with him. :( Next season maybe? I hope to see you James in Florida this coming season! Be prepared for a photo session :D
(I stole this photo, but I do know it was taken Masters Weekend!!)
Being able to stalk all the top competitors became my forte over the weekend...
I got behind the scenes photos of Charlotte Dujardin working in Valegro on the thursday. Well, when I say behind the scenes I meant behind the barriers as my wristband was a great asset. I also tried to build up the courage to jump Carl Hester for an autograph or something but reckoned that him talking into Charlotte's ear piece was more important. Oh well. My quest to meet that man continued!
Charlotte and Valegro
Herself and himself again
I literally bumped into Anja Plonzke (Germany) after her Grand Prix on Friday evening. We were in the show office and I was trying to get the day sheets for the next day. That woman is a GIANT. Couldn't take a picture as that would be totally obvious and a bit creepy on my part. But seriously she was well over a foot taller than me.
Creeping on the famous also coincided with me actually watching some dressage. It was great to watch all the greats together working in on the thursday. It was nice to notice that each one of them rode differently than each other to match their horse-type. There were so many different types ranging from longer backed, to longer necked to longer limbed horses. Not forgetting different temperament types also. But the one simliarity between them all is the harmony each had with their horse.
Ashley Holzer (CAN) on Pop Art
Steffan Peters (USA) was mind blowing in the Saturday's freestyle. He went from extended canter to double canter pirouettes - flawless and harmonious. I read an article in Dressage Today (a US dressage magazine) that ultimate training and harmony is achieved between a horse and rider when they can go from extreme extension to extreme collection from movement to movement. Think of a pendulum of a metronome. Extension is on the far left, collection is on the far right. If you can glide from extension and collection without stopping along the metronome harmony, balance and confidence is achieved. I am trying to find that article as we speak... I am not so good at explaining it. Anyway, it was jaw dropping. Another rider that showed great harmony between collection was Anja Plonzke on Le Mont d'Or. She rode from piaffe straight to double canter pirouettes. Perfectly!
I guess my favourite riders that I followed throughout the Masters were of course Carl and Charlotte but also USA rider Adrienne Lyle on Wizard. Check these guys out on YouTube or something. She is THE most beautiful rider. Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven (SWE) with Favourit was another favourite (haw haw excuse the pun!)
Tinne and Favourit
Now due to the ultimate kindness of Dale Dedrick, she put Shauna's, Ali's and my name down on the competitors party list that was being held on the first night of the Masters. Shauna and I were grooming all day and had ten minutes to change in the toilets while dousing ourselves in perfume and putting on some make up. Another competitors party, great. Tacky, awkward and probably the only good thing there would be the food.
Dale Dedrick, her mount Erik and friend Meagan
Dale after kicking some serious bum
Could we have been anymore oblivious??!! First of all the address for this party did not click with us. The International Polo Club in Palm Beach. Second of all we completely misunderstood the whole affair. Pictures can only describe:
We were greeted by these ladies
Polo Club Poshness
THEY HIRED MERMAIDS TO SWIM AROUND!!!!
Ice Sculptures and Shrimp Table
Take a seat!
Polo Mallets above the bar
FINALLY!! The celeb stalking finally paid off.....
Carl Hester himself!! (He smelt amazing and he called us lucky ducks for being here to train :D )
Charlotte Dujardin. Wowsers, what a lovely person. She was shocked that we asked for a photo with her!
Note to self:
- Next year have the decency to at least shower before meeting some of the world's greatest dressage riders - baby wipes just don't cut it
- Find a designated driver - the alcohol was FREE
- Consider my outfit - stretchy trousers need to be worn, the food was never ending