Dancing Horses

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. πŸ˜‰

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Grades Ia and Ib are the hardest to discern but I’ll give it a go!

    Grade Ia is a walk only test. To qualify, the rider has impairments in all 4 limbs as well as imbalance and trunk body issues. Most are wheelchair bound, but that’s not a hard and fast rule as some have limited mobility on foot with support. Their gait is however, uneven and unsteady (a manifestation of their limb, trunk and balance issues).

    Grade Ib is a walk and trot test. Again, most competitors are wheelchair bound. They can have 1) trunk imbalance, issues in all 4 limbs, or both these issues, 2) good upper limb use but no trunk balance or 3) moderate trunk balance but sever impairment in all limbs.

    The long and short is that competitors with 4 impaired limbs and balance are walk only Ia, whereas competitors with a mixed level of limb and balance impairments fit into Ib and can trot.

    I’m so glad you got so much out of it. I’ll be honest: while I was in total awe of the competitors in the lower grades, I definitely enjoyed the less-impaired grades more exciting to watch as the variety was greater. I imagine being there makes things a whole different story though!

    Two great entries Marie, and I am pleased that the auditory feed and facilities were so good. Also great to see how inspired you are: can’t wait to see how far your riding dreams go either πŸ˜€

  2. I’m so glad you enjoyed this so much. Roll on your future lessons πŸ™‚

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