Arlene (Tuny) Page works towards excellence with a long-term strategy, competing successfully in Rotterdam last week on her mare, Alina, a 15 yr old Danish Warmblood (Michellino x Diamant) scoring a respectable 67% against top ranked European riders in the CDI3*. The journey to compete in Europe for a North American is indeed not an easy one, but with a strong strategy, Tuny, her horse, Alina and her new horse, Woodstock (Havel x Contango), a 10 yr old Dutch Warmblood, will build their foundation for high performance upcoming US team international competitions. Page shared with us her strategy, “My goal in competing Alina in the 3* CDI at Rotterdam was to successfully log a European CDI start and to establish her as a legitimate American contender for upcoming Nations Cup Tours as well as to get her qualified for the Dutta Corporation USA Championships. CHIO Rotterdam turned out to be very competitive in both the CDIO and CDI 3* tours with the top Dutch, British, and Swedish teams as well as a strong Danish team. The 3* was very competitive with the second horses of most of those team's riders. This all makes for fantastic sport and to be part of it is great experience for my horses and myself.”
She continued, “I am very lucky to have the support of Jurgen Koschel who drove from Hagen, Germany to school me on both my horses on the Tuesday afternoon. My upcoming "secret weapon" Woodstock (who came along with me as a non-compete horse) worked beautifully in the warm up area for the main stadium and handled nicely the chaos of restaurants and vendors preparing for the week ahead.
We worked Alina in the main stadium with little or no change in our normal schooling routine and the mare settled into the work very well. It was important to me to be steady in my riding and to ride cleanly through all the GP movements so I could establish a solid confidence with mr. Koschel and the mare and this worked nicely. Mr Koschel is a man of details leaving nothing to chance or assumption so we agreed that on the following morning an early morning tour of the main arena (now completely set for competition) would be wise and would not take anything out of Alina. This went smoothly and the mare was fresh but relaxed. I was particularly happy that I could make the 7-10 minute hack through the lovely Kralingsee woods (along with bicycles, baby carriages, fellow riders etc) to and from the main stadium on loose reins and in a lovely relaxed walk.
I was second to go for the Grand Prix and rode a clean test. I was completely happy with Alina who always gives at least what is asked and often more. In retrospect I rode too conservatively at the start of the test so did not set enough of a competitive tone. That said, each movement improved in quality with highlights in passage and piaffe and changes that were rewarded with 8's. her final score of 67+ had her sitting in 10th place and into the Grand Prix special. I was only mildly annoyed with myself for not being more aggressive in the beginning because I knew that adding power would now be fairly easy because I had laid down a good base of confidence in a truly international venue.
I had the chance to work Woodstock in the main stadium earlier in the day and again I was proud of his willingness to stay focused (most of the time:) and with me. Mr Koschel is not shy about the training and insisted that we ride through as much of the GP movements as traffic would allow. I was completely satisfied with this young and very sensitive horse's brave attitude in executing all the GP movements on normal aids in such a challenging environment. He too walked happily on long reins back to the stabling. I really appreciate how these little things prove to be good indicators of the horse's state of mind after training.
The following day we again started early by taking Alina for a stroll to what is called The Interchem Stadim in a smaller and and more confined area of the show grounds. This would be where the Grand Prixs would be ridden later in the evening. I made sure to not only take a tour of this smaller stadium but also to ride between its warming up area in an indoor arena nearby.
I very specifically took greater risk in warming up and riding the Special and again I was completely thrilled with my horse. She worked with greater expression than in the GP and was rewarded with higher marks. I did however make 3 mistakes...one that I should be shot for and 2 as a result of not taking enough care with her in a higher degree of expression....the faults were completely mine! What delighted me was that she accepted the challenge of competing closer to "the edge" and I have absolute confidence that as I make this more the norm the mistakes will disappear.
So, some interesting side notes: We are very spoiled at our American shows! These city shows in Europe require that you take shuttles to and from the show often with plenty of wait time. There was no chance for any parking at the site of anywhere near the stabling.
Two of my warm ups were amusing in that one involved sharing the warm up area with 15 jumpers and 8 men erecting a dressage arena around us. The other involved sharing the warm up with 24 children on ponies preparing for a quadrille exhibition! The good news here is that we managed just fine and I now have a far greater appreciation of the thought and care given to the warm up areas by the American show organizers!
My horses traveled safely back to Hagen and have now had several days of rest and some light work."
"ON TO LINGEN!" said Tuny with her enthusiastic full steam ahead course of action.
Lingen CDI will be July 12 – July 14, 2013 in Lingen, Germany
Photos: Astrid Appels
Follow Arlene (Tuny) Page this summer on Dressage Daily.