Thursday, January 14, 2016

Gigi and Rio - Clean Sweep In Wellington and One Step Closer to Rio!!

This past weekend at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, FL, Rio Rio and Gigi finished their first qualifying competition for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janiero with flying colors.  In fact, they earned the over-all Reserve Championship, just eight tenths of a point behind former fellow Blue Hill Farm para-equestrian and 6 time US National Champion, Rebecca Hart!

At the end of October, Missy and  Gigi came home from a disappointing trip to Katy, Tx, resolving to reassess their training routine in order to have successful results at the January International competitions in Wellington.  They consulted our Chester County team of experts, Todd Meister (farrier), Stacey Kent (veterinarian) and Bonnie Kibbie (equine chiropractor) as well as the nutritionists at Kentucky Equine Research.  KER's Chelsea Martin built a nutritional plan for Rio Rio based on Nutrena's ProForce feed with the addition of KER's Restore SR and Nano E.   In addition, Pari Nurrish received strict instructions to build upon the new nutritional program by increasing Rio's fitness program with more daily hill work!

With Amy Coughlin's support and Sarah Armentrout's cooperation, they also enlisted Clive Milkins’ expertise for clinics at Blue Hill Farm in November and December. Clive is well known in the para world as the long term coach of Great Britain's gold medal winning para-equestrian Sophie Christiansen. 

“Missy, Jessica and Clive joined forces to analyze my riding and partnership with Rio Rio. That was an extraordinary privilege and one of the most productive experiences of my equestrian life.”
Missy too was thrilled with the collaboration with Clive, citing that his tips encouraging Missy to follow Rio on the ground while Gigi was mounted really helped with getting the mare to move forward.  He also was very effective in helping Gigi understand the impact of her body position through the use of her hips & turning of her shoulders.

According to Missy, “The result was that Rio was much more forward and sustained her activity throughout the entire first test and they were able to hold onto that energy with much better consistency on days 2 and 3 as well.”
Missy also changed up Rio’s pre-competition game plan by doing the majority of the warm-up riding before bathing and braiding.  Missy would then do a quick 10 minute ride before putting Gigi in the tack for a briefer period of time before going down center line.  This approach kept the mare fresher for her performance. 

Team Rio Rio

All of their efforts came together beautifully this past weekend when a very fit and happy Rio produced three solid dressage tests to win the Grade 1a Championship and the overall Reserve Championship with 73.05%!
“I have an overarching respect for Missy's wisdom in the multiple quotidian decisions to be made as coach, groom, rider and trainer in order to get such a successful result out of Rio and me!  I am eternally grateful for her tireless efforts in those multiple capacities!”

Judge Carlos Lopes

An added bonus to the weekend’s competition in Wellington was that Portugal’s   CPEDI*3 judge, Carlos Lopes, remained on Monday to work with the riders in a day long clinic.  Carlos took the opportunity to review the comments on each competitor's test and made recommendations for areas of improvement.   Gigi has a great opportunity to fix last weekend's mistakes and to solidify her recent progress at the second qualifying competition in Wellington on January 20th.

Gigi is very grateful for the support of all her sponsors, the crew at Blue Hill Farm and the help from Mimi Lufkin, her daughter, Charlotte Tarr and her ever vigilant husband, Brian McIntosh!

To quote Carlos Lopes, Portugal's CPEDI*3 judge, "Let's get Rio Rio to Rio!"

Charlotte & Gigi

Team Rio Rio

Friend Mimi Lufkin

Roxanne Trunnel, Jody Schloss, with judge Kristi Wysocki and para Mom Becky Reno

Team USA!
Thanks as always to Lindsay McCall for her great USPEA photos and coverage!!

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