Preparing for Rio
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.”