Olympic Training at the Florida Horse Park

Florida Horse Park officials announced Monday (April 17) that the facility is hosting a training session this week for riders short- and long-listed for the U.S. Eventing Team. The event began Monday and continues through tomorrow (April 19). Capt. Mark Phillips and Robert Dover are instructing the riders. Phillips is the chef d'equipe (head trainer) for the U.S. Eventing Team, an Olympian, and a well-known course designer. Dover is a six-time Olympian and is providing dressage instruction for the eventing riders. 

The training sessions are open to the public and auditing is free. USEF Eventing Managing Director Torri Nahorniak said the training sessions would be informative and fun, especially the dressage portion. "There are such subtle differences in tests, which are deciding factors when it comes to judging, Nahoniak said. "Watching the training helps explain those differences."

Nahorniak said Dover provides descriptive explanations and suggestions that make sense. "Even for lower level riders or people just getting into the sport, it is easy to understand him," she said. "It is amazing to watch him teach. Bring a chair and set yourself up right next to the fence. You will be close enough to see the riders clearly and hear the training comments."

Phillips said that spectators should keep in mind that "the best riders work just as hard, if not harder, than the riders in the lower levels. You may think you are working hard at home and the top riders are finding it easy. The top riders are not finding it easy. They work extremely hard to achieve the level of performance they do." He added that the April 17-19 training sessions will prepare riders and horses for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, which will be held April 27-30 in Lexington, Ky.

Phillips is also the course designer for the Florida Horse Park's first internationally-recognized three-day event, which will be held April 20-23 in conjunction with the Festival of the Horse, presented by The Star Banner.

Today's training sessions began at 8:30 a.m. Tomorrow, sessions will commence at 8 a.m. and should end around 2 p.m.

The Festival of the Horse will be held April 20-23 and will feature two-star eventing competition, an antique car show, polo demonstrations and games, dedication of Horse Fever's "Copper Charm," carriage rides, tailgating, breed exhibitions, shopping, and more. For details, visit www.flhorsepark.com or call 352/ 307-6699.

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