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Tips from a combination champion

Lisa: It is all about listening

WM Daily met one of the most successful international Icelandic horse riders of the past years, Lisa Drath. The 29-year-old Bavarian, who belongs to the German team at the 2019 World Championships with Kjalar frá Strandarhjáleigu in the Tölt and Four Gait competitions, talked to us about her fascination of the Combination results of the Four and Five Gaits and about what is most important to her in the interplay with her horses.

WM Daily: What is the Four and Five Gait combination to you?

Lisa: First you always show only individual rides and even if they get the most attention, the combination of the parts is very exciting, too. I think a good placement in the Combination is a really nice reward if you can show a high degree of versatility with your horse. This doesn't always work optimally, because neither rider nor horse are machines, but we make a lot of effort to perform well in Tölt and Four or Five Gait and maybe in a Pace competition, too. So, the fact that I was able to go home with Bassi with medals after the last World Championships in Holland, both for Five Gait as well as in the Combination, was such a great experience.

WM Daily: How do you prepare mentally and physically for a competition?

Lisa: Even if it's hard sometimes besides the work and especially during the competition days, riders and horses should try to be well rested before each ride. This is true both mentally and physically. In addition to concentrated training and careful analysis, we simply need the quiet moments and enough sleep to be as strong as possible on the day of the competition. After all, the tests are a pretty big challenge - especially at a World Championship like here in this setting and with such strong competition from other countries. But of course we are happy to face it, because such a well-attended event - in our own country at that - and meeting all the colleagues and their horses really is so much fun.

WM Daily: How do you calculate the Four and Five Gait combination and what is the biggest challenge for a rider taking part in this?

Lisa: It's actually easy," she says, "in the four gait combination you add up the preliminary scores of your own Tölt test - T1 or T2 - with the result of the Four-Gait competition. The five gait combination is a little bit more difficult to calculate. For this you first add T1 or T2 with the score from the Five Gait competition. In addition there is the score from the Pace test, Speed Pace or Pace Race." For the latter two, the result is converted into points by the calculation software IceTest. The best Pace result is then included. Whoever has the highest overall score of Tölt and Four Gaits or Tölt, Five Gaits and Pace at the end is the combination winner.

Of course, as a rider of combined tests, you always want to get the best possible total in the end. But I myself don't really do arithmetic games before the event. You can see with younger horses at the beginning of their career whether they are maybe better suited for T1 or T2 and where you will be able to reap higher points with view to the later competitions and combinations.

We simply concentrate on hopefully showing a good performance on the day of each individual test, and if the math also plays in the end, that's a bonus. So the challenge of a combination score is, I think, that you don't commit yourself too much to grades that you "have to get". Before I look at such a ranking, I am first and foremost grateful to my horse when we are a good team and able to show everything we have practiced before in the best possible way.

WM Daily: You are very successful in combining the competitions possible and have already won numerous individual and combination titles in recent years. Do you have a secret to success?

Lisa: There's no real secret for the combination, it's simply the result of the best possible individual parts. We should always listen carefully to our horses and not overdo it with all our sporting ambitions. Whether as a leisure or professional rider - our horses give us so much, and this is something very special in everyday life, I find. Good riding should never be a one-way street, I think, but if we keep the respect for our four-legged partner both during practice and in the competitions, then we can be successful together.

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