Arlene “Tuny” Page Sets Sights on Europe to Qualify for the USA Dressage Olympic Team
Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Sunday, April 24, 2016
Having been successful at applying her long-term strategies during this year’s Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, Arlene “Tuny” Page placed well on the U.S. Dressage Team Olympic Ranking List. Developing a mastery mindset for receiving high scores, she accomplished a USA Dressage Team win at the 2016 CDIO Nations Cup and prepares for the journey to compete in Europe for the United States.
Vying for a spot on the U.S. Dressage Team at the Rio Olympics in August, she is one of the six selected riders who will be competing in the European Observation Events that include Compiegne (FRA) CDIO5*/3* May 19-22, 2016, Roosendaal (NED) CDI5* June 1-5, 2016 and Rotterdam (NED) CDIO5*/3* June 22-26, 2016 (Rotterdam CDIO5* being the only required competition, allows the athletes a chance to choose one of the first two competitions that take place less than 2 short weeks apart.)
With 15 years of international tour experience, Tuny will be traveling to Europe to compete her own fiery 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood Woodstock (Havel v. Contango) for the four USA Dressage Team slots that are available for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. She will give valuable European show experience to her up-and-coming horses, 11-year-old Dr. House (Don Schufro x Krack C) and 7-year-old Edy Rava (Lord Leatherdale x Negro).
Tuny continues to benefit from her many years of continuous training with some of Europe’s world-renowned dressage coaches including Klaus Balkenhol, Hubertus Schmidt and Jürgen Koschel. She appreciates having learned the basics from a variety of viewpoints. “My years training with these top trainers gave me valuable experience. All of them have been so encouraging. They coached me with absolute confidence and mentored me into becoming very successful on the international stage. They were always so positive and encouraging.”
Bringing horse after horse up and onto the USA Dressage Team, Tuny shared, “I’ve also increased my independence and act as my own coach quite a lot, actually. I’m taking 100% responsibility for the process and the outcome because the more correctly my horse works on the basics in the day-to-day training, the more each grows strong with the right muscles and becomes confident and secure.”
Last year was the first time Tuny focused on competing Woodstock in the international arena. Aware that the European judges had never seen her ride him before, she said, “When I was put on the Nations Cup Team in Europe, I thought, ‘Okay, the door is open to these European judges. Here’s what I’m capable of.’ In Rotterdam, Woodstock proved to be very dependable on two solid scores that lead the U.S. Team to a bronze medal.”
During week #3 this past winter season at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival in the Grand Prix Special, Tuny rode Woodstock to the top of the class, winning with a score of 73.059%. Attributing their success to a visualization approach, Tuny said, “I’m committed to riding only in the moment with Woodstock and all my horses, which allows me to ride with complete focus. Woodstock loves it.”
Then, proving consistency during ADGF week #7 at the Palm Beach Derby, the pair again scored well over 73% in the Grand Prix Special. "I'm learning how to balance out my horse’s incredible expression with a little bit more security that allows him to be very confident in the canter tour as well as expressive in the trot tour. The fact is, this horse is incredibly expressive and is blessed with a tremendous amount of scope and elasticity. He has so much more power and has a strong will to work and enjoys showing off in the ring. It’s a fun challenge to figure out how to channel that power.”
She continued, “I know absolutely that I have to take this power and expression and channel it in the direction of 75% and upward.” With career best during the CDIO Stillpoint Farm Nations Cup in Wellington, Florida this year, the pair scored 75.925%. It looks like Tuny is on track to develop an above 75% score for the US Dressage Team.
With a knowledgeable team of riders/trainers David Marcus and Nicholas Fyffe, along with her two grooms Andrea and Verity, they all collaborate and talk about what she feels and what they see. “It’s so important,” she acknowledges, “being with people who will work together and come up with the best route for the right result about any training plan. It’s so important to have someone on the ground who’s on your team and supportive and who you can have a conversation with to become secure in your own mind. It’s about the brain to body connection, to discuss what’s seen and what’s felt. It’s been fantastic.”
With new training insights, Tuny revealed, “I’ve learned that I’m also comfortable with relying on myself to find solutions. Last year, it was all about confidence and being secure in the ring. This year, it’s about trusting in the process and concentrating on the moment. It’s developing habits so that I always subconsciously and naturally do things in a consistent way.” She elaborated on what she meant by ‘moment’, “I’ve developed a way to embrace any challenges in training or in competition as a door to possible solutions. Staying in this mindset allows me the trust my subconscious to work for me, and my horses love it.”
Somewhat of a perfectionist, she has also refined her mindset about how a competition ride should take place, “Take Woodstock. He’s a card with a lot of temperament and even though he can be very hot, he still works. He’s a very forward thinking horse with tremendous scope. Slowly but surely, I’m doing a better job at directing that scope. It’s been a lot of fun.” Tuny always credits Vincente Guilloteau for allowing Tuny to develop a great partnership with Woodstock; he achieved his own goals with Woodstock for five years and instilled a strong base in the horse for which Tuny is grateful.
Not taking her 18-year-old Danish Warmblood (Michellino x Diamant) Alina to Europe this summer, she said, “Alina, she’s 18, but don’t tell her. She thinks she’s 10. She’s been a crucial link at successfully keeping me in the game while waiting for Woodstock to mature. I’ll be forever thankful and grateful to her for that. She has that fire. She’s staying home because she’s 18 and I want to be respectful of that.”
Continuing the Quest and On To Europe
“There are so many building blocks that I’ve pulled together for so many years with all sorts of different horses,” she stated. Every one of those building blocks has a point and a purpose that has gotten me to where I am now.”
Tuny is eager about heading for Europe next week, “I feel very confident about being on the short list. The dependability we’ve shown in the arena has been consistent over the 12-week Adequan Global Dressage Festival tour. And, I’m eager to continue to build on that confidence in Europe. I’m looking forward to going to a part of Europe I know well.”
Looking forward to being part of the group of six riders that include Steffen Peters, Shelly Francis, Laura Graves, Kasey Perry-Glass and Allison ‘Ali’ Brock, she said, “I love the people I’m going with. I have huge respect for each of them and it’s going to be a great European tour for all of us. Robert Dover (Chef d’Equipe) and Hallye Griffin (Director of Dressage at the USEF) continue to be so supportive. I’m really excited to be in Europe with this group of people and I know we will do America proud!”