Billy had at least some idea of all the pieces, but they certainly weren't finished. Cleo had only just shown her first Prix St. Georges about a week before I bought her. Tres, too, had done a few PSG tests and had the passage down but no piaffe and no ones. Ella came to me at five, knowing only how to go, stop and steer.
And now Midge joins the list, one I've known since he was barely under saddle: the fifth horse I've finished to Grand Prix. I turn 28 in about two weeks. How 'bout them apples?
OK, now that I've gotten that one tiny, cocky metaphorical fist-pump out of the way, I can get back to working my tail off. Because while I'm wildly proud of Midge, it was not our best test. Sprieser Sporthorse Boot Camp has made Midge much fitter in a very short amount of time… and today we were a little exuberant. Actually, judge at E Lois Yukins nailed it brilliantly: more power than balance today.
We had OODLES of go (a HUGE relief after our underwhelming and underpowered performances at the Developing Horse Championships), but not a tremendous amount of organization. No mistakes in any of the tempis (also a relief! I CAN do them, I can, I can!) or in the zig zag, but a totally bamboozled first transition from extended trot to passage (note to self: you need to practice this in the warm-up!!), and I just ran out of room to recover for the first piaffe and passage out.
We also basically fell down in our first pirouette (genius), had a hinky transition from passage to canter, and could have had a better reinback. Overall, the biggest problem is that Midge was PRIMED and ready to go, and I just didn't have a moment to say, "DUDE, put your neck down and FOCUS" because that crazy test has a bajillion movements and takes so long and OMG.
But it's done, it's done! Midge is a real Grand Prix horse, earning a 65 percent from one judge and a lower score from the other judge that we're not going to talk about, and I was seventh in a HUGE FEI Test of Choice class and was the highest scoring Grand Prix test, so huzzah for us.
The thing Michael kept reminding me of, which is SO true, is that this is the time to figure out what works best, to experiment with how I warm up, for how long, in what way. What movements do I need to hit? Do I school the pirouettes too big or normal size? Do I do the ones and then the twos, or the other way around? How do I approach the passage in the warm-up? Do I do a transition to piaffe or not? Etc, etc. This is the time to experiment, to get a groove going, and also to make Midge feel like he's a superstar every time he goes down centerline.
He certainly felt pretty large and in charge today, dragging me around. It actually was pretty fun, feeling him so fresh and fit and full of running and self-assured. If I could just tone it down a LITTLE for tomorrow, please, so I could actually get a word in edgewise!