Mary King’s Olympic Games diary: dressage phase

  • ON Saturday, the day after the first trot-up, I got up early as I was keen to watch the first session of dressage. Later on I worked Call Again Cavalier (Cavvy), but nothing too intense as he had gone so well the day before.

    To keep him happy I took him for a canter around Penfold Park before heading out to Beas River and my third cross-country course-walk. By this stage the track was certainly beginning to seem shorter to me, I guess because I was becoming familiar with the site. But one thing that didn’t change was my view of the intensity of the track and the accuracy that would be needed to tackle it.

    I spent the rest of the day with family and friends at their hotel. I also meet up with Paul Kingdon, who has been to every one of the five Olympics I have ridden at.

    A car took us back to Sha Tin to watch the evening dressage. Part of me was left wishing that I had been one of those riding under the floodlights — the atmosphere was amazing.

    I was up at 5.45am this morning, which gave me four hours to prepare Cavvy before our test at 9.41am. Firstly I took him into the indoor air conditioned school where I did some loosening exercises. After a break I worked him in one of the outdoor arenas where he became a little twitchy — he could sense that there was a big competition in the offing — and he started to make mistakes, including in the counter canter. This was probably a blessing in disguise, as it made me ride him properly once I got into the arena.

    On entry I made sure that we trotted twice past the camera that had been spooking all the horses. This did the trick as although Cavvy looked at it during his test he stayed in his outline. Foremost in my mind throughout was remembering where to go and focusing on the movement ahead. Cavvy stayed settled and I was particularly pleased with his medium and extended trot work, although the first change didn’t go so well. I was concentrating on the counter canter and I hurried him into the change too much.

    A fantastic cheer went up from a band of British supporters as I rode out of the arena. I felt relieved that we had done our best and earned a good score for Great Britain. Now I have another course-walk on the agenda followed by trying to get a good night’s sleep, but I have to say I can’t wait to get out there and ride the cross-country course.


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