Dressage Dreams and a Goalkeeper’s Regime - Part 13

The Equestrian and Football world’s collided two weekends ago when Stoke took on Arsenal whilst I was joined by Dressage great and trainer, Richard Davison, and the chief of business development, Lisa Lazarus of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), the governing body for equestrian sport. It was a rare opportunity for me to bring both sports in my life together. The demands of maintaining competition horses can leave little time for much else, however, it was great to have Richard Davison, my trainer and mentor, and his son Tom join us for the day. It was a pleasure to welcome Lisa Lazarus, and her wonderful family to their first Stoke game. Lisa’s children and our daughter Taylor embraced and regaled the infamous Stoke atmosphere whilst donning their ‘potter’s’ kits. Lisa has told me that nearly two weeks later, her daughter still insists on wearing her Stoke kit around London daily! It’s great to hear that the Stoke fan base net has been cast far and wide.

Friendly time again!

No sooner had the final whistle been blown on the epic 1-0 win against arsenal, was Asmir packing and preparing for his first International friendly of 2014. This game served as a very important opportunity to tune up and prepare for the imminent World Cup in Brazil. These games are critical to experiment with variations in formations and introducing newer members of the team whilst also smoothing out any rough edges. These games are crucial for providing competition within the team, as they battle for selection for a place in the final 23 man strong World Cup squad. Bosnia took on Egypt in what would have looked like a home game at Innsbruck, Austria with the stadium at capacity with predominantly Bosnian fans. Although the 2-0 defeat was less then ideal, it proved to be an invaluable experience. Hopefully lessons will be learned from this game and the team will be better prepared and knowledgeable for their next friendly against the Ivory Coast in May.

Horsing Around

Well the long awaited day for the ‘Top Hat and Tails’ arrived. My first advanced test was a great success from a training point of view and I couldn’t have asked more of my horse Foxy. Just my sense of direction could have been better as unfortunately I made a wrong turn here and there. My usually reliable and steadfast internal GPS system had failed me and gone into temporary meltdown with the excitement of riding my first advanced test. Thankfully the score was satisfactory enough for me to qualify to move on to the next level, Prix St George. That day for me had the same sense of occasion for when my family and I witnessed Asmir, make his premier league debut, for Portsmouth against Sunderland on the 18th of May 2009. It is these ‘firsts’ that mark milestones in one’s career.

From the 20 x 60 Dressage arena one day, the next Asmir and I found ourselves in the Grandstand at Cheltenham for Ladies’ day earlier this week. This was a rare day off with a few of the couple’s from Stoke where we got to get together for a lovely social occasion and a chance to dress up in our finest. Although I spend almost every waking moment around horses, I found myself in very unfamiliar territory with punters negotiating with bookies and terms flying around such as ‘on the nose’ and ‘plunge’. I thought I knew a lot about horses, but clearly that’s Dressage horses. I enjoyed studying the jockey’s colours and horses names as my own personal guide to selecting a winner. Unconventional I know, but certainly one method I could understand. Mostly I just wanted to see the runners all come home safe and sound. Although, the thundering roar of the hooves along the grassy track was exhilarating, I will be sticking to my Dressage arenas instead.

Here’s hoping the odds are in favour of Stoke beating West Ham today for those vital three points. I may be no betting expert, but I still always remain the hopeful optimistic!

Nicolle x