Warming up for Summer
Warming up at a competition is, I find, always the most nerve wracking part of competing. Most of us, as riders, have our warm up routine set. We work according to our individual horses' needs, getting them supple, reactive, and working through their body correctly before striding down that centre line and into the view of the judges.
For Kit and I warming up is not quite so straightforward… being blind, warming up in the arena with sometimes five or more horses and riders all of whom are in their concentrated bubbles, can be a little like playing chicken. I always wear an armband and a vest with 'blind person on board' written across my chest, but being unable to see to adhere to arena etiquette our warm up often leaves me feeling like a salmon 'half passing' up stream. I seem to spend the majority of this time concentrating on avoiding oncoming traffic rather than on ‘frame and impulsion’ leaving my entry into the actual competition arena being a little by the seat of my pants so to speak.
Warm up time is not only for Kit and I, it is also for my callers - my merry band of non-horsey letter callers whom I affectionately have named the Scooby Gang on account of their ability to unravel the mystery of my test! They have the unenviable task of manning the letter markers and shouting in sequence as Kit and I hurtle about the arena. They are my geographical anchors who spend the entire test bellowing out letters as if they have alphabetic Tourette's Syndrome. Warm up is the moment prior to entering the arena when they take up their respective posts by the letter markers around the warm up and begin rallying their voices in an alphabetic choir tuning for a song. Not wishing to cause disruption to other competitors we only practice the full ensemble of letters if we are alone in the warm up arena, which as you can imagine, is unusual. So we are normally reduced to a skeleton crew of four who, like dyslexic Sesame Street Characters, yell their allocated letter at Kit and I as we approach. So as you can imagine, warm up for Kit and I is far from conventional and straight forward - never the less it is always a hoot.