A personal moment from Trainer’s Challenge

Published 4:11 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2012

By Eric Dierks

It was 2:30 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Horse Expo and I was sitting on Brazilian Wedding, along with the other two trainers on their mounts, about to enter the indoor arena to demonstrate what Brazilian Wedding was capable of after one month of training.

You could hear the crowds gathering in the stadium as we waited in a narrow aisle of committed fans and concrete. I felt like a gladiator about to enter the coliseum for the first time, unaware of what we may see or how our horses may react. All we heard were the crowds gathering and the Fresians exiting the premises.  It was our turn.

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Upon arrival Brazilian appeared a little nervous. There was so much energy in the air from multiple disciplines, the multiple breeds and multiple personalities. When it came time to perform, she was more comfortable under the saddle than in the stall.

With all the seats filled and people jammed in standing, everyone was respectful of the fact that we were on horses that retired from racing and had one month of training underneath them.

Steuart Pittman acted as the ringmaster as we warmed up, describing the mission behind the Retired Racehorse Training Project, and Brazilian was digging into work the moment I took up the reins. The clapping from the crowd distracted her and kept her on edge; however, the intention was to be on best behavior.

When it was our turn to showcase our strengths, Brazil was all business. When demonstrating in front of a large crowd, I like to educate, so my nerves were calm.  I like to talk to the crowd when riding so I may keep them entertained. Meanwhile I converse with the horse into keeping balance so nobody makes a judgment based on a snap shot in time. Brazilian peaked in performance while demonstrating balance over every one of her jumps in good form.

We had five minutes to show what we can do, and I believe Brazilian and I demonstrated just that with structure and tact. And when we ended with a halt after the last fence jumped, and she took a big sighing breath, I felt it was then she realized the race was over.

Receiving all the generous compliments from the judges and fans was winning enough for me. Seeing the masses in the arena intently listening and watching to discover what these horses are and always were capable of on the final day of the Trainer’s Challenge was the finish line for the Retired Racehorse Training Project. It was a successful maiden race, if you ask me.