Pre­par­ing for Rio

Dressage Today - - Olympic Focus -

P repa­ra­tion for the 2016 Olympic Games takes place in­side and out­side of the dres­sage arena. In June, Lau­ren Bar­wick at­tended a three-day Par­a­lympic Ori­en­ta­tion in Canada, where she and her prospec­tive team­mates were in­formed about lo­gis­ti­cal re­quire­ments. Bar­wick ex­plains, “As we’re now three months out from Rio, I am re­ally shift­ing my fo­cus away from teach­ing to be able to train my­self and Onyx more in­tensely.”

Bar­wick ac­quired Onyx, whom she is rid­ing on the cover of this month's issue, in Oc­to­ber 2015, and the pair has al­ready par­tic­i­pated in nine na­tional/in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, con­sis­tently scor­ing be­tween 72 and 84 per­cent. “Be­tween now and Rio, the fo­cus will be on fine-tun­ing our freestyle,” she says. “We will work to get our foot­falls more pre­cisely timed with the mu­sic, re­ally per­fect­ing our tem­pos and rhythm through­out.”

At her train­ing fa­cil­ity in Red­dick, Florida, Bar­wick and Onyx have had vis­its from mem­bers of the Cana­dian ParaEques­trian man­age­ment team, in­clud­ing coach, phys­i­cal ther­a­pist and vet­eri­nar­ian, all to en­sure that they are pre­pared phys­i­cally, men­tally and emo­tion­ally. Onyx has been hav­ing body work done reg­u­larly so that Bar­wick and her team will know ex­actly what he re­sponds to and be able to best sup­port his per­for­mance in Rio.

“In the re­main­ing months, I’m care­ful not to in­tro­duce too much that’s new,” says Bar­wick. “In­stead, I make sure to fo­cus on con­sis­tent train­ing. But I also rec­og­nize that im­prove­ment takes time and some­times you have to ac­cept small im­per­fec­tions for the good of the over­all per­for­mance and de­vel­op­ment of the horse.

“For me, com­pet­ing at the Par­a­lympic Games brings with it the feel­ing that all our hard work has paid off,” con­tin­ues Bar­wick. “It rep­re­sents com­pet­ing at the high­est level you’re ca­pa­ble of and hav­ing earned the right to be there. I’m ex­cited to wear that maple leaf, to com­pete along­side my team­mates. As al­ways, it’s ex­cit­ing and most im­por­tant to be a part­ner to my horse in the arena.”

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