“Equestrian art is the perfect understanding and harmony between horse and rider.” ~ Nuno Oliveira.
The Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) can be a tricky concept to explain to people; from the draw to the deciding of which horse to use for each level, it’s both an art and a science. The point of this concept is to challenge the riders and to allow each team to decide for themselves which horse they think will be successful with their rider for that level.
After weeks of preparation, Albion’s dressage team had the equestrian center and its horses ready for our IDA show. Saturday morning came quickly and when my alarm went off, I knew it was game time. This was it; my first dressage show of the season was finally here.
Early morning consisted of getting horses moved over the west wing (staging area) and getting them brushed, polo-ed, and saddled. Once that was done, Alyssa Olson and I helped Danielle Menteer (our coach) with the draw and then Danielle sent me to her office to start typing up the time slot sheet. While I was typing up said sheet, the parade of horses took place, after which I had to match up the horses and riders from each school based on the coaches’ decisions. Then it was time to start the show!
IDA shows begin with first level tests. Alyssa and I worked the warm-up time table and made sure each rider had 10 minutes (and ONLY 10 minutes) to warm-up on their horse. First level ran smoothly; hunt seat member and stable manager extraordinaire Lauren Levy had the horses in the warm-up area with plenty of time, though the occasional delay occurred due to some riders being late for their warm-up time. Apart from that, everything went really well. Upper training followed first level and it too ran well.
After the last upper training rider had completed their test, we took a lunch break and I got myself ready in my white breeches, tall boots, and jacket. After that, I had just enough time to help teammates Johnna Serydynski and Samantha Green learn to run the table before it was my turn to go.
My draw was Albion College St. James. (This would be a good time to mention that all of our school horses are named after Michigan cities and towns. They compete under fancy names like “Albion College St. James” and “Albion College Bronson,” but around the barn, we shorten them up. “St. James” is just known as James. Much simpler!)
Our ten minute warm-up felt as though it flew by and went quite well. I was a little nervous going in for my lower training level ride, as it was my first time cantering in a dressage test (I rode at introductory level last year), but James was a good boy and I had a good test overall; there were a few moments where I knew I could’ve done better, but I was happy with how it went. (Plus, it turned out I really enjoyed the canter part of the test. It was quite relaxing and gave me a bit of time to recollect the horse.)
Once I was off, I rejoined Johnna and Sam at the timing table. After lower training came introductory, the last rides of the day, and finally clean up. With the help of all the volunteers, clean up went quickly and we were out of there at a decent hour. It was a good show and it was good to be back in the IDA swing of things.
Points-wise, our A-team finished third in the final standings, which means we’re still very much in the running to go to the national championship show this year – it would be Albion’s fourth team appearance in a row. Fingers crossed!
The next show on the list is our trip to Lake Erie College (Ohio) in February. This gives us plenty of time to prepare for that show and ride the hair off the horses when we get there so we can get the points to send us to Nationals!
I’ll end this entry by saying that my fellow team members did a great job and thank you to those who helped out at the show. Everyone rode really well and the show ran very smoothly – have a great semester break and I’ll see everyone again next semester!