Debbie McDonald: Olympic Dressage Team Kicking It in England

After a soccer game goes awry at the U.S. dressage team's headquarters in Hadleigh, they find other ways to work on their fitness leading up to the Olympic Games.

July 16, 2012–It has been a few days since my last update and wanted to fill you in on what was happening. The horses continue to be doing very well, and I am very happy with Wizard! I don’t know what has come over him but he is actually becoming a very nice gentleman. Everyone keeps commenting on how happy he seems to be. I think this Olympic stuff has given him the attention he felt he deserved all along. Not that he hasn’t been treated like this at home, but the Team USA clothing that he wears must make him feel he needs to live up to a special standard now. At least I hope so!

We have been doing our boot camps with Steffen everyday, but had a little accident yesterday. It was raining so we decided to go into the indoor ring for our work-out. Our warm up was a game of soccer. Although not very many of us have ever played, we were all very competitive. I was on a team with Steffen, Julie, Adrienne and Rick (as goalie) against Ruben, Eva, Dawn, Jenny, Sann, and Anne. Our team had scored two goals, and Eva was not happy about that so she decided to be the goalie. Steffen was coming in for a goal and accidentally kicked the ball a little too hard. Now, mind you that this wasn’t a real soccer ball. It was a work-out ball that was a little over-sized for playing soccer. Well, Eva saw it coming and stuck her hand out to stop it, which was not such a good idea. She found out today that she broke her hand! Now we are not allowed to play soccer anymore. It is too bad because we had so much fun and laughed until I almost couldn’t breathe. We still had a pretty good work-out with planks, push-ups, lunges, and running.

U.S. dressage riders work on their fitness. | Photo courtesy Adrienne Lyle

We found out the eventers hold the record for the plank, so we all tried to see how long we could do it. It is pretty sad in comparison, but I did manage to do one for four minutes. I don’t see how you could do it for ten! Tomorrow is a day off for horses and boot camp. I think we are taking an adventure into some town to have lunch and look around. Then it’s back to the grind on Tuesday and Wednesday, then we’re off to Hickstead on Thursday morning. They will show on Friday and Saturday and then come back to our beautiful place here in Hadleigh. The team spirit is fantastic which makes the whole experience so much fun. For now, all people and horses are happy, so let’s hope it can stay this way for the remainder of the Olympic Games. That is all for now! I miss everyone, and thanks again for all your support!

With Peggy and Parry Thomas’ Brentina, Debbie McDonald has represented the U.S. at Olympic Games, World Championships and a Pan American Games. In 2009, the pair became the first American combination to win the World Cup Dressage Final. Debbie now trains Adrienne Lyle, who will represent the U.S. as an individual at the 2012 Olympic Games. For more from Debbie, check out her book Riding Through, which details her system for dressage success

Read more about Debbie’s Olympic experience in the Olympic dressage coverage.

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