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What a fortnight! Nina and I are exhausted after  ”coaching” and “chef -fing” the Thai Team at the first ever Asian Championship (One star). It was really fun for me to spend a fortnight with Nina….it was like old times!  Nina was a little apprehensive about coaching as she has no prior experience. As a ponyclubber, she intensely disliked “teaching”. The job was made more difficult as her Thai is not fluent and I had to translate for her. However I think ( a biased view of course) she showed a natural flair for coaching, being both empathetic and effective. It was impressive to me how quickly she understood each horse and rider needs, and was able to find exercises to help them improve. Thank you Gerd, Kim and Katie Prudent for giving her the tools! By the end of the fortnight, she was a “pro” at it!

Coaching Dressage

 

Walk SJ Course

Nina had 8 riders to work with  (half military /half civilian), so it was a busy camp. Terri Impson (3 star rider and Nina’s team mate from the 2010 Asian Games) was in Thailand and pitched in one day to coach dressage. I am persuading the powers-that-be to hire Terri as the national coach. The riders thought she was a great teacher. Terri has over twenty years of teaching experience and is excellent at simplifying and clarifying for the amateurs. She is visiting Thailand regularly every 2 months on personal business; so there would be consistency and continuity in her program.

Apparently the riders have never had any cross country schooling. We spent 2 days working on how to ride combinations, turns and a balanced gallop to the single fences. The day before Terri gave an unmounted talk with Nina demonstrating the various XC riding positions; we watched Nina’s xc videos on Sparky and Jazz. I think we managed to get across the difference between “speed” and “power”. The  CIC one star championship course was true to its level, but provided 3 black flag options for the less experienced combinations. However the weldon’s wall had to be taken and that alone caused several eliminations. The Indian and Indonesian teams and the one Japanese individual rider were riding leased Thai cavalry horses, whose primary jobs are to parade! So it was a very tall order and definitely unfair for these green horses to tackle a big and technical course. The Japanese Olympian Negishi was the only rider able to coax his horse through the finish flags.

Braiding lesson

Showing off our homemade pillow wraps

In addition to the riding, we spent a lot of time teaching horsecare. This ran the gamut of pulling manes and tails, how to find digital pulse, palpate tendons, bandaging, appropriate use of Vetwrap, the importance of providing fresh water as well as electrolyte water, to wound care. Pillow wraps and stable bandages are no where to be found in Thailand. The riders were using vetwrap without sufficient cushioning underneath and we were really worried about this. At first I tried to find materials to make bandages the Old Ponyclub way with sheet cotton, cheesecloth and tape,  but came to a dead-end. So Nina googled a photo of pillow wraps on the internet, and I explained to Mint’s mom about the materials used and in 2 days we had them manufactured by a local seamstress! I cannot stress to the riders enough how important preventative maintenance and correct use of equipment is at upper level eventing. Please DO NOT use 3m wrap directly on the skin and under boots for cross country. 3m, used incorrectly, can prevent  blood flow to the legs and bow tendons in a a heartbeat!

With Team Thailand and Harald Link, President of Thailand Equestrian Federation

So Thailand won Team gold. Annie Ho of HK, who rides in the UK and brought her own horse, took Individual gold. I really hope that our efforts to raise the bar of coaching, riding and HORSECARE in Thailand will pay off in the long term. The debate is still out whether the 2014 Asian Games will be a 2 or 1 star. Some of our riders are going overseas to get experience and coaching, while others cannot afford to do so. For those who cannot go overseas, I hope the Thai Federation will use Terri as a resource as well as find ways to run more competition venues. Thai Polo is an amazing facility but it is not enough for the riders to run the same tract over and over again. I would also like to remind our riders that Tor Chalermchan has ridden to Prix St George, is a great teacher for riders and trainer for horses, used to event himself and is now an FEI accredited xc course designer. He is a tremendous resource and willing to help anyone…..all you have to do is make the effort and ask! If it means trailering your horse to him for lessons, then that is what you need to do.

Between Terri (Thai cell: 088 497 5402, email:tpro@flash.net), Tor and Andrew Hoy, the riders do have access to 2 and 3 star level coaching.

Nina and I would like to thank Khun Sam & Khun Link  for trusting us to coach & chef and give back to the sport in Thailand. Without them and their amazing team, there would be no meaningful eventing in Thailand and Asia.

by Mom