Coming off a successful season at First Level, Mia Perrin wasn’t sure what to expect when she trotted down the centre line this year. Her and her seven-year-old Hanoverian mare, Lotta, had moved up to competing at Second Level, as well as Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Children’s division in the dressage ring at the beginning of this summer.
“We really didn’t know what to expect this year,” Perrin said. The 14-year-old equestrian athlete said she and her support team approached the show ring with an “open mind,” not expecting too much in terms of results at a more challenging level.
“We were very surprised, especially when my first score came in,” Perrin said. All the hard work put in by the young rider and her trusty mount had paid off with percentage scores in the mid-70s, which are considered remarkably high in the sport.
Making the move up the ranks was a logical step for the team, which took top honours at the national level last season in the sport of “horse ballet.”
Going from First to Second level meant mastering a set of new movements, particularly lateral work that requires the horse to cross her legs in time with virtually invisible cues from the rider, and perform more precise gaits. Neither Perrin nor Lotta have been trained in these skills before, so learning has been a team effort.
“We’re basically at the same place,” Perrin said. “She doesn’t have more experience than me. It’s a learning experience for both of us.”
Luckily, Perrin and Lotta have a coach to look to for guidance. Ashely Czerkas of Arabask Farms in Chelmsford has worked with the pair since Lotta became part of the Perrin family two-and-a-half years ago. Czerkas helps by regularly riding Lotta, “keeping the horse a little more educated than the rider.”
Perrin and Lotta have earned a spot at the national championships again this year. The duo has also been scouted as a prospect for the Canadian FEI Junior Team by several FEI-calibre judges and trainers.
Perrin said it’s a goal she is looking forward to striving towards.
“I think (Lotta) really enjoys the work,” Perrin said. “She knows what she’s supposed to do, especially when we are at the show grounds.”
Czerkas said Perrin’s attitude has contributed to the team’s success, too. The young rider has a perfectionist nature, but never loses sight of the importance of patience, empathy and understanding.
The young rider’s mom, Janique Perrin, said she has enjoyed watching her daughter develop as an athlete.
“They go into the show ring and they get their game on. That (starting) bell rings and they come to life. They find that special energy between them.”
The nationals are being held at the Royal Canadian Riding Academy in Newmarket this September.