GRAND Prix status does not come easily, but Berry’s Pamela Bice has achieved just that.
The NSW Dressage Council’s (DC) recent Winter Festival at Clarendon saw Bice compete at Olympic level on her nine-year-old, 14.05hh, bay pony Rosthwaite Tinkerbell, affectionately known as Tink.
Bice said going into their first Grand Prix test was nerve-wracking and exciting.
“It is a milestone for us,” she said.
“It’s taken a lifetime of work for me, but with this horse it’s only taken five years which is pretty amazing.
“She [Tink] is a feisty little woman who refuses to be a quiet pony.”
Bice said she began competitions with Tink in 2005.
“You’re learning all the time and I just love the training … dressage tests strength and flexibility,” she said.
“It’s about developing suppleness and the horse has to enjoy it.
“I don’t think you should work your horse hard, but you should work them very mindfully thinking about what you are doing.
“We work five days a week minimum, but only for about 40 minutes.”
Bice said on the day of the test things weren’t looking up for the pair.
“She was really tired and shying a bit throughout the test,” she said.
“It’s a big step mentally for me to take as well and just remembering the test proved difficult.
“It was a nine minute test and it’s a dance routine. You have to know it right through, and truthfully I was nervous and rode it like a rookie.
“We have lots to improve on.”
There have not been many ponies in Australia who have competed at such a high level.
“While she is not the first, she is the only one doing Grand Prix level at the moment,” Bice said.
“The tests are the same whether you are on a big horse or a little horse.
“Because we are the only ones in the pony section, the glory is not very big. We are really glad to reach that level, but now we have so much work to do.”
Bice and Tink’s next competition is in the Shoalhaven on August 3.
“The more and more practice we get the better,” Bice said.
“As of this year, ponies are allowed to compete at the Sydney CDI. We are definitely aiming to qualify for Grand Prix in next year’s CDI.
“I just can't wait.”
Bice said with a little hard work, dressage can be for everyone.
“I really want to encourage people, both children and adults to come and do dressage – you don’t need a huge warmblood and there are so many grades to climb, it never gets boring,” she said.
For more information on local dressage clubs and competitions visit www.shoalhavendressageclub.com.au.