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My Road to Rio – September

If you follow my road to Rio, you need to always be prepared for a new twist or turn. Circumstances change and a new plan often has to be made.

On this occasion the sudden lifting of the Australian ban on importing German horses, gave me a new window of opportunity. It is never an ideal situation to have horses at Grand Prix level spread on two sides of the world, and the lifting of the ban meant I had an opportunity to ship my horses home. Leaving them in Europe for winter was going to be really difficult, for a number of reasons… My groom Carol understandably wanted some home time, and I was having trouble facing the constant traveling backwards and forwards to Europe. This was not really the way to get the best from my horses in either place, and having just re established my partnership with Boogie Woogie, it seemed counter productive, to have to leave him and start all over again.

On the minus side leaving Europe meant missing my lessons with my coach Patrik Kittel, making it a really difficult decision. I calculated that I could have 6 months at home in summer with my family, before having to return to Europe, and the chance was too good to miss.

It all happened very fast, with the horses now in quarantine, and all due home by early October. I had already sent Sancette via New Zealand, so by the time this article is out I will be very close to being reunited with all my horses, and in a happy place looking forward to staying at home and training at home, until I return to Patriks early next year to compete at our final qualifying events.

Exactly where and when those events will be, is still a mystery, as at this point I still have not seen a selection policy, but hopefully this will become available in the near future! Before I left Europe we made an exciting purchase of an 8 year old Johnson / Goodtimes mare. It was nice to see Johnson perform so well at the European Championships, and hopefully this charming mare will follow his footsteps as a successful GP horse. While she still has a long way to go, having only competed to advanced level,she shows lots of talent for the more difficult movements , and has a super trainabity and attitude to her work.

Things will be busy, with four GP horses on the go. Umbro and Whoopie (Hamag Strona) will do all the CDIs up until the end of the year, and by early next year I hope to campaign Boogie and Sancette. Of course all my plans are in the lap of the Gods, and circumstances may change all this at any moment, however that’s the current plan.

Meanwhile it’s just great to be home and I am gradually starting to catch up with my students in Australia, and get back into the swing of things here. I feel I have learnt so much training with Patrik. He is a very talented coach. He now has a remarkable number of successful students, and I look forward to sharing what I have learnt with my students at home. There is no doubt that we have to change the way we do things here, to catch up with the ever higher standard of Dressage in Europe. Being so isolated makes it difficult, but I feel the techniques I have learnt have helped me go to a new place. With an open mind and a willingness to change its possible to lift the standard here at home also. We have lots of good riders and many good horses, that just need to be in the right environment to make that leap forward.

Happy Riding, Mary Hanna


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