At the next rated show near me one professional is riding 9 horses. 2x OT, an OP, 2x OI, 2x CCI3-S, CCI4-S and one A. That’s 6 dressage tests to memorize, 6 stadium courses, 6 xc courses, and 27 rides total in 3 days.
It’s the 6 dressage tests that boggles me the most. How do hey do it?
There’s a professional near me who rides 5/7 horses in a one day recognized event. He’s literally in the saddle all day. Last show he asked for the cross country map for prelim looked at it for a few min said thanks went out and was clear. It was very impressive. If you live and breathe this sport I can imagine it’s not that hard to memorize. Especially dressage they’ve probably been competing those tests on a bunch of different horses
What I can’t comprehend is having the fitness to compete that many horses in a day. Around here most HTs take place in one day and I’m usually exhausted by the end just with one horse, especially if it’s hot!
I think the secret to the six dressage tests is that they ride six tests Every. Single. Weekend. In the national levels there are 14 possible tests. They’ve been the same for three years. Someone with that size string is riding each of those tests in competition 10x/year (probably more often, honestly). Plus however they school tests and test pieces at home. Repetition FTW.
Really great help and great pattern/course memorization. That’s how they do it. Even with all the fitness in the world, the memory overload would kill me. Steady nerves, compartmentalization of each horses needs/skills/quirks. An army of adequate help or a platoon of excellent help to manage tack changes/warmups/ grooming etc.
I marvel at this kind of organizational skill and execution.
Sure…remember they ride as a job. They coach and evaluate the same tests they ride, over and over and over again. I used to show against a trainer in straight dressage who rode a TON of horses all over the levels and even when the tests changed…he was fine. Remember he has a zillion horses to ride so he can tinker with tests on loads of horses without souring the one horse on that one test. And yeah. The fitness is off the charts.
I know a professional trainer that does this on the regular. Recently rode numerous horses, 22 dressage tests in one weekend. It’s mind boggling, but he also has one of those incredible memories. We were chatting once and he remembered the name of a horse he rode for someone at a clinic he was teaching once 5 years ago. The horse boarded at my barn and I couldn’t remember its name for squat.
Back in the Dark Ages before she was an Olympian - Lendon Gray spent her winters in Alabama and worked for Peggy Whitehurst. She would take her string to the shows and show all the way from training level to Grand Prix. Never had a caller and rode them all from memory. And per Mrs. W - she never had an error on course.
For the x-country, I imagine they’ve been to this venue before, and the Prelim or whatever test is always pretty similar, so they just have to figure out which fences they chose to use? If you know the lay of the land and all the fences, that makes it much easier. Plus, the fences are flagged. There’s only so many ways to go.
As one poster said, it is their job! When I was a teacher I could and did memorize 5 different lessons each day, and remember 180 names . . .sometimes I made mistakes, but not often. We do what we have to do . . .
The same tests are used over and over again and do not regularly change. At FEI there are only 2 tests to learn so it will be A or B. What throws the pros is when they change the tests! Then they have to work a little harder to remember them.
I got lost on a twisty, turny, windy XC course a few weeks ago and later heard that that’s not uncommon at that venue. One poor girl was lost for so long that she got eliminated!
With so many portables these days, the courses can actually change a lot from event to event. Only the water, ditches, banks, and more permanent fences might be consistent and even then they might not all be used every time.
But yeah, if you are a pro and have ridden at that venue many times before you would have a better frame of reference and know the landmarks. I will hopefully never make that same mistake again (though I will definitely find new ones to make!).
Yes, this is definitely venue dependent. In the places I ride/rode often, one I have to look at the map but do not need to walk the course as there is enough room that jumps can move significantly but it’s pretty open and straightforward so looking at the map, I know where I am going and know what the jumps look like. One venue I didn’t even need a map - you went from start, to one field and either did a loop left or a loop right and I have totally asked at the start box if we were looping left or right. One venue I do generally walk as it can be a bit twisty. The last venue, no matter how many times I competed there (and it was A LOT), I ALWAYS had to walk - it was SO twisty.
As for stadium jumping, my experience has been that the course doesn’t really change between levels except for 2 stride/1 stride/bounce addition/removal.
For dressage - that is more to remember but you can practice at home.
That being said, I have seen more than one pro miss a jump out on XC on his not-first horse at that level, and probably one out ten horses for the day.