It's official! Midge is incredible. (That's been official for years, actually.) But what's really official is that he's going to be a Big Tour horse—we've entered his first I2 in mid-February, and he'll do the Developing Horse Grand Prix test at a schooling show two weekends before. Wahoo!!
The last piece of the puzzle has been the ones. Midge is perfectly capable of producing as many changes as I'd like, but his joie de vivre sometimes gets in the way of making them elegant and/or rideable. A few weeks before I left for Florida, I borrowed a heart rate monitor from one of my working students, just out of curiosity. His heart rate for the ones? 20 bpm higher than when just cantering around. Clearly, the changes give Midge a little anxiety. (Interesting—his heart rate dropped 10 bpm for piaffe and passage. He likes those!)
But I've been plugging away at them, doing them in little bursts, and really focusing on making the canter little and blah. This seems counter-intuitive, but Midge has so much going on in his normal gaits that amping up is a sure recipe for disaster. I needed to figure out how to turn the canter down.
They've been steadily improving, but in the last few days I've gotten gorgeous lines of them, culminating in one line today that was so beautiful and easy I could have ridden a thousand changes. So it's horse show time!
Ella and Fender continue to impress as well. Ella and I schooled the whole canter tour of the Grand Prix in our lesson yesterday, and I got a big education in why we all need help from the ground. I've been diligently practicing the canter half-pass zigzag with Ella's haunches leading left and dragging right, apparently. And the weirdest thing is that if you'd have asked me, I would have SWORN that she wasn't tracking up enough left and was super to the right. Trust thy trainer!
Fender's also trucking along nicely. After really cooking for a while, we seem to have plateaued again, which is fine; that's the young horse game. We've plateaued in a place where he can put his neck up and down, left and right; where he's really quite adjustable in all three gaits; where he's pretty darn dexterous in the sideways, and he makes gorgeous changes each way. There are worse places to be.
So we truck along, making our progress, or not. The kids will all have a few days off this weekend, as I'm heading home to teach. Naturally, it is going to snow, and I'm just starting to come down with a head cold. Outstanding!