The second session I had tickets for was the Grade IB freestyle test.
Whereas the individual tests follow a specific test to which the rider has to follow to the latter, freestyle gives them the artistic creativity to have their horse move to music. It’s amazing and it was my first real experience to freestyle. Sure, I’d seen the ones on TV of the Olympics but to have it described in your ear was even more amazing. I want to really congratulate the commentator on his ability to convey what the horse and rider were doing. Even the way the foot falls matched to the beats of the music.
As much as I had loved watching the previous day, the performer in me would get so much more out of the freestyle than ever before.
Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, I cannot decide which, in grade IB they are not allowed to use certain movements and if they do so will get points deducted. For example, no cantering, no passage, no Piaf, and I believe there was something else but I can’t remember.
The riders in this grade are slightly more mobile than Grade IA but not as much as Grade II. The grading system is somewhat complex and if you can explain it, you’re better than me. But the idea is simple, have riders grouped to their level of disability so they can be judged on their equal abilities to ride the horses. Make sense? good!
A part of me wished I’d got Grade IV freestyle tickets as I would have loved to have seen a fuller array of movements but honestly, like the previous day, I was surprised on how much I enjoyed the movements that were included.
Every test was unique and the music was awesome. Each test had its own feel to it and I was blown away with how much trotting and walking could interest me. I also sat there, visualising their movements around the arena and I want to design my own freestyles now lol.
Some of the riders really stood out for me and their music was awesome. I absolutely loved Lee Pierceson’s freestyle. His music was very cool just like the man and his steed. If you can get a peek of it, you’ll love it.
Lee stormed into the lead but the two riders after him took Gold and Silver. Sadly, me not being an expert, but I didn’t agree with the silver medalist place. She was good but Lee was better. I thought I’d got to judging this dressage thing quite well but I highly disagreed with the judges on this particular event. And it’s not purely my British Bias, anyone could see in Grade III that Hannalore Brennam was better than Deb Criddle but the five percent gap between Lee and the Austrian was just too huge. Sure, he was good but not that good! Anyway, my moaning aside that we didn’t see Lee win another gold, the day was again enjoyable and my pride for our team just soared. In fact, all the riders were fabulous. I enjoyed the american rider and also relished in the fact that the South African horse was named Shadow.
It was definitely an enlightening and awe inspiring experience and I want to do it. Yes, I have the para bug now. Will I make it to Rio? Who knows? I’m not putting that pressure on myself for at least another year. But I want to try and see how far I can take this dream. Those athletes and horses were amazing, and I want to see how far I can push my abilities and knowledge as a rider. I want to be the best I can be and I definitely want to compete now. The finer points will only come in time, but with my first schooling session looming, it’s the direction I want to go. If I’m no good, at least I tried, if I have something, then lets go!
One of the best things I ever did getting the tickets and I hope to go to more events in the future. Just wish the accessibility was comparable to the Paras in the sense they had toilet access for the pup and in ear commentary for blindies like me. 😉