Equestrian Canada (EC) hosted a Para-Dressage Training Camp from Oct. 10-12, 2017 in Langley, BC, featuring FEI 5* Para-Dressage Judge, Kristi Wysocki and EC Para-Dressage High Performance Technical Leader, Clive Milkins.
Building on the momentum of the successful Para-Dressage Training Camp held in June in Uxbridge, ON, seven athletes and their personal coaches traveled to Windsum Enterprises Ltd. and Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities (PRDA) Langley for three days of personalized training and education in high performance para-dressage.
Wysocki and Milkins were on-hand to work with the riders on their performances of the new FEI Para-Dressage tests. Over the first two days, the athletes had the opportunity to practice the new tests and receive feedback from Wysocki and Milkins, who used immediate video playback to walk through their comments and suggestions.
“Being judged and videotaped with feedback immediately was excellent,” said Jennifer McKenzie, a Grade II Para-Dressage athlete from Maple Ridge, BC. “I really enjoyed and appreciated comments from Kristi Wysocki, whom we were fortunate to have with us for the two days of the riding part of the clinic. To have a 5* judge was incredible. All the [presenters] were most professional, patient and understanding of my disabilities.”
Stephanie Ross, a Grade IV Para-Dressage athlete from Langley, BC echoed McKenzie’s sentiments, stating, “The training camp was a great learning experience for both me and my horse. It was a great way to learn more about what it takes to make it far within competitive para-dressage, as well as dealing with tools I can use in my day-to-day riding.
Ross continued, “My biggest takeaway was my sense of desire. This training camp brought back all of the drive and desire to become a top para-dressage rider. It also helped me realize how much more I have to put into it, aside from just riding; mental performance, fitness, etc.”
Wysocki was impressed by the athlete’s positivity and the concerted effort they put in during their practice rides.
“The athletes were focused and worked hard to improve the areas that were weak in their tests,” Wysocki said. “Whether that was geometry, activity, or connection, all the athletes were willing to address their issues and polish them up. When the riders rode through their tests the second day, there was vast improvement by all of them.”
Off-horse portions of the training camp included a presentation by Milkins, entitled Understanding What Great Looks Like, which focused on how athletes should approach continual improvement.
The final day of the training camp provided participants with the opportunity to interact with EC’s National Team Program Integrated Support Team (IST) – including Human & Equine Registered Massage Therapist, Caroline Archambault and Mental Performance Specialist, Dr. Chantale Lussier. The athletes were able to meet the new IST practitioners, learn about their roles, background and experience, and spend time one-on-one to ask specific questions and find out how they can benefit from IST support.
Athletes also had the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with Milkins and EC Para-Equestrian Coordinator, Jamie-Ann Goodfellow. The opportunities to learn from and interact directly with multiple members of the EC Para-Dressage and IST teams offered the athletes a comprehensive approach to continuing education.
EC would like to thank all participants, as well as the presenters, volunteers, and horse owners. The clinic would not have been possible with the time, energy and support of these many individuals. EC would also like to give a special thanks to Windsum Enterprises Ltd., PRDA Langley, Horse Council British Columbia (HCBC), and their staff, for hosting the clinic at their beautiful facilities.
For more information on para-dressage sport in Canada, visit www.equestrian.ca/sport/para-equestrian.