The end is, alas, nigh. This holiday weekend was the last of a three weekend tour of relative tranquility, a glorious quiet period after our insanity-inducing Spring tour of showing. I worked, of course, teaching lessons and riding like I normally do, but it was lovely to be at home on the weekends, to see my friends, to run a triathlon last weekend (faster on all three phases, especially my weakness, the bike; nailed it), to have the teensiest weeniest bit of a life.
That’s about to go back out the window.
Next weekend my team breaks—nay, obliterates—our previous record of Most Number Of Horses At A Show: 18. A few of those are just coming down for a day, and a few are non-competes, but we’ll have 18 horses in our squadron, nine from my own farm (requiring four trailers to get them there). And to top it off, Allison is riding four and I’m riding five, which will make it a challenge for us to coach all our students. There’s no way around it, unfortunately; this is one of Region 1’s biggest and best shows, and it’s a convenient weekend for a lot of people, so off we go, 18 horses strong. My clients have been tremendously understanding, and I’m bring an absolute army of staff to help us out; we’ll get through it.
As loopy as the weekend is going to be, I’m excited. Because we always have so many clients going to shows, I do most of my own showing while I’m in Florida. And while I’m all about the quality training of horses, and providing a supportive and constructive environment for my students to advance towards their goals, I’m also a competitive little snotrag, and I like ribbons as much as the next guy. So the chance to show—and on such nice horses as I’ll be riding this weekend—at a fun show like Dressage At Lexington is one I’m pretty stoked for!
This weekend I’ll be riding Windhorse Ysis, an awesome little Freisian mare, for her owner, Jamie Hedges. Jamie will take the reins Saturday and Sunday, but she couldn’t make it down to the show on Friday with her work schedule, and wanted Ysis to get in the ring and, maybe, get qualified for the Region 1 Finals at First Level with me while she works on getting qualified at Training Level herself. Ysis is a super cool Freisian, much more forward thinking and short coupled than others of the breed I’ve met, and riding her is a hoot.
I’m also showing my mom’s new Dorian Gray at First Level. I helped my mom pick Dorian out as a horse to develop over the next two years; she’s got her own wonderful horse who, unfortunately, isn’t getting any younger. He’s doing great, but two years from now he’ll probably be looking to back down on his workload, and Dorian will be his replacement. He’s a FANTASTIC Dutch gelding started and beautifully trained by my friend Erin Freedman, and rides a lot like Midgey did when Midgey was six, although dramatically less evil than Midge was at six, for which we are all very grateful.
Fiero, Bev Thomas’s delightful Oldenburg gelding who I showed in Florida at Second Level has figured out his flying changes like a super smarty, and so he’ll make his Third Level debut this weekend. I’m also super excited to show Maggie Deatrick’s Divine Comedy at Third Level; Dante is an off track Thoroughbred and has successfully evented at Advanced, but while Maggie is moving and changing jobs, Dante is playing dressage pony. He’s an awesome dude, and I’m hugely sad that Dressage At Lexington doesn’t offer a TIP Award for high scoring Thoroughbreds, because they give super awesome ribbons, and, as we all know, it’s all about the ribbons.
Lastly, I get to put my tailcoat on to show Caroline Stephens’ brilliant Three Times at Prix St. Georges. Dutchie is one of my all-time favorites, and any time I spend with him is a pleasure, but we need to watch our butts, because my favorite pint-sized student and my favorite crotchety Trakehner, Kristin and Billy, will be making their Prix St. Georges debut this weekend as well. Kristin is not yet 14-years-old, and when she just missed making the Region 1 Junior Team to the NAJYRC, we said, “What’s next?” Getting her USDF SIlver Medal is next, and we begin that process this weekend.
Johnny will sit this show out—I honestly hadn’t planned on showing him at all this year, as he’s doing his five-year-old thing: oscillating between child prodigy and inebriated hippopotamus. There are days where he’s plugging away at self-carriage and engagement, uphill, balanced and organized; there are days he can’t turn right. So it goes with athletic baby horses.
The same is true of my newest friend, Dothraki, or Rocky for short, my new six-year-old Dutch gelding, who FINALLY made it to my doorstep after a dreadfully exciting trailer experience, fodder for my next blog. Rocky is related to Johnny (and Dutchie, and my two homebreds, Farrah and Goya—I’m riding three generations of Jazz. Whee!), and while I can see a lot of similarities—they’re both hugely powerful horses, short-coupled and clever and unyieldingly cheerful all the time—they’re also very different. Johnny is wonderfully “tight” in his core, not tight as in bad but tight as in strong and organized; Rocky is so supple and elastic and swingy. It means that stuff like engagement and collection is as easy as breathing for Johnny, but he struggles with the looseness, and Rocky is so loose and squishy that keeping his legs all going the same direction is going to take some time.
I don’t think either of them will see a show ring this year, and that’s totally cool. I’m in no hurry, and clearly have plenty to ride!
I come home from Lexington late Sunday night, and then have a day to get my ducks in a row before I head to Kentucky for the NAJYRC. The weekend after that is my favorite show of the year, the Region 1 Youth Team Championships, then my next triathlon AND a clinic with Michael the weekend after that, and then back-to-back shows the two weekends after that. Back to the grind!