It will be a new stage in the rider/horse combination’s development.
Dressage rider Elaine Lash and Sandy Fitzpatrick’s Hanoverian mare Wonderland will be raising the level of their game this year.
The rider/horse combination will continue to work toward their goals, with the objective in 2014 to compete at the Prix St. Georges level.
“It’s really exciting to start the FEI with her,” said Lash. “She’s still a little weak in her canter work. Her trot work is getting absolutely phenomenal. We’re improving but I’d like to be doing better.”
Lash and Wonderland have been scoring in the mid-60 level range, but would like to score higher. They were among the rider/horse combinations Thursday at the Jennie Loriston-Clarke clinic at Highfields Event Center.
“I think when the canter really starts to conform itself, our goal will be to get into the 70s,” said Lash. “We’re always pushing to go forward.”
It’s Lash’s objective to move up to the Grand Prix level within the next 18 months. It’s a collective effort involving a team of people to help a rider reach their goals, she said.
“I have a nice strong crew in the Tryon area,” said Lash. “We may be going to Florida because we’ve been lucky enough to start working with Larry Poulin, which is really nice. And although he works with a lot of driving people, he’s also very successful in the FEI dressage world. It takes everyone else to get you there.”
The horsewoman, who is based at combined driver Pixie Keating’s barn, now finds herself working with a number of drivers because Lash’s riding of their horses helps the combined driving event participants’ driving particularly in the dressage phase.
Lash had a number of students auditing the clinic. They had the opportunity to watch her ride on Thursday.
“It takes a lifetime to learn how to ride, and I don’t know what lifetime I’m on,” said Lash. “That’s why I don’t mind inviting my students to audit my lessons because I’m not perfect.”
The chance to work with Loriston-Clarke at this stage of her career was an opportunity Lash embraced.
“When I was a teenager I idolized Jennie,” said Lash. “And now having the opportunity to work with her, where we’re both more experienced and wiser, I’m extremely lucky.”
Loriston-Clarke’s ability to reach horsemen by talking to them at the level that they’re at with an individual horse, made the clinic an enjoyable experience, said Lash.
The horsewoman had one of her students videotape the lesson. The rider was wearing a microphone, so she’ll be able to review the video and get more from participating in the clinic.
“She never talks down to the rider,” said Lash. “I’ve seen her teach people that are just starting, and I’ve seen her teach world class riders. I love the fact that she’s able to get on the level with the rider, and build up their existing foundation. She’ll push but just enough to help the rider improve.”