A year later than originally planned, the time has finally come. The Olympic Games in Tokyo are about to start. Our dressage team is already present. Team veterinary Edwin Enzerink kept a close eye on the horses during their journey, they all arrived fit. What's it like in Tokyo?

In the first edition of ‘KWPN in Tokyo’ Dutch dressage rider Marlies van Baalen tells us how things are in Tokyo. Marlies is part of the Dutch dressage team with her KWPN horse Go Legend (Totilas out of Litchy elite sport-dres pref prest PROK by Ferro, who is bred by her in-laws at Stal Wittenberg).

What does a day only a few days before the Olympics look like?
“Coming from the Olympic village to the stables takes quite some time, during the week it is very busy. You can easily be on the way to the horses for 1.5 hours. But we established a sort of routine,  first we train and then we have lunch at the stables. In the afternoon we take the horses for a walk. We all take of our horses and then we play some games together. There is a physio present, who can treat us. I brought my portfolio with exercises that I can do. Or I'll go for a walk. We get through the day very well. We are now changing the rhythm and ride in the evening, because the competitions will all be held in the evening.”

“It's hot, but it's not as bad as I expected. We heard such stories about it before. But because you can warm-up in the cooled indoor, it is doable," the rider says about the temperature in Tokyo. “The grooming areas for the horses are top notch and there is water to cool the horses everywhere. The stables are airconditioned and the surfaces in the arenas are good. It's actually perfect for the horses," says van Baalen praising the accommodation. "You can cool down all the time, so that makes a big difference and all competitions are  in the evening."

How did the first training sessions go?
Van Baalen about the training: “We are slowly building up. The first day I only walked and then I did a light training for two days, which went well! At the beginning of the week we were allowed to train in the main arena for the first time. There are very large stands, but of course they will remain empty. It is a very nice stadium with super surfaces and the horses felt comfortable there.” Training is done individually and as a team. “Today we were allowed to enter the ring as a team, fifteen minutes or so, but we may also get the opportunity to train alone in the coming week. The atmosphere in the team is good, we get along really well. Everyone has had a tragic event in recent times. We all know that about each other, but we don't talk about that constantly. If someone is having a hard time, we'll talk about it. For the rest we just have a lot of fun together and it is very relaxed.”

What is the plan for the coming days?
"Tomorrow we will train in the evening, because during the competition there is artificial light and the horses have to get used to that." Marlies van Baalen is confident about the planning for the coming days. “We continue to increase the level of difficulty in the training. I trained harder for two days now and then do one day less. That way we will continue to build up towards the first competition day.” For Marlies van Baalen the preparation is really no different than for a show like the CDIO5* Nations Cup Rotterdam. "It's the same tests in the same arena, so the build-up is absolutely the same."  Marlies van Baalen trains together with her mother Coby van Baalen and national coach Alex van Silfhout. "We're discussing what we're going to do and what it feels like all the time." Marlies likes it that she can do this together with her mum. “We have travelled the road to these Olympics together, so it is very nice that she is also here to be able to experience this together.”

DvdB for KWPN
Photos Marlies van Baalen & Go Legend: Dirk Caremans

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