Dear Santa Claus,
Wow! It's been a heckofa year. I've tried to be good again this year, Santa. I ate my veggies and went to bed early, and I even started making my bed. (Then I stopped, because when one lives alone, who really cares? I feel I should be honest with you, Santa.) So once again, I'm passing on my wish list, and hoping you're thinking fondly of me.
- Midge has come SO far in just one year! A year ago, I asked you for help in getting him equal left and right in the bend department, and he's pretty much there. Thanks, Santa! This year, I'd like to continue the trend towards ambidexterity and ask for the ability to turn left in passage. Turning right, he's a rockstar. The left turn lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.
And if you can fit the rest of my one-tempis in the box with the left turn, that'd be awesome. I've gotten eight a couple of times, and then he's a flying Dutch freight train that Zenophon himself could not stop.
- Ella is maturing beautifully, and while she hasn't mastered the art of breathing at horse shows like I asked for last year, she's managing to keep it together a whole lot better. So I'm going to call that one a win, too. Now I'd like your help with her fitness, Santa. I want her to be as keen at the end of that seven-minutes-of-Hell Grand Prix test as she is at the beginning. And I want that last piaffe on the centerline to be as buoyant and chipper as the first one in warm-up. She believes she can do it; now she's just got to get good at doing it.
- You surprised me last year, Santa, you Mystery Man, you. I asked for my wonderful mom to learn how to breathe at shows, too. Instead, you sent us Indy, the spotted wonder. She still hyperventilates, but Indy is truly saintly, and I can't thank you enough for him.
All that said, I think we could rely less on Indy's saintliness if my mom increased her oxygen intake in competition, so I'm going to stick that one back on the list. She's far too incredible to let this silly horse show stuff get into her head.
- Speaking of horses and wonderful people, I wish for a schoolmaster for my wonderful working student, Nicole, who is horseless. It's a real challenge, when you're a broke 20-something, to find an opportunity that lets you sit on trained horses; I do the best I can for Nicole, but she's at the point in her riding where she can't just catch-ride anymore. She really needs something she can develop a partnership with and learn from to progress in her riding, and I'm riding a big Failboat in getting that done for her. Santa, can you help? She's a wonderful girl.
- Working student Lindsey is a superstar as well, and so Santa, I'd like your help in teaching her mare, Tina, that her rider is the boss all the time, not just some of it. Tina, you must understand, Santa, is a 4-year-old, half-TB, half-Trakehner chestnut mare. We absolutely need some divine Santa intervention on this one.
- The best gift of all last year was meeting Fender, who is wonderful and charming and who already keeps all four of his legs going in the same direction most of the time. My wish for Fender, Santa, is that he becomes all I hope him to be, but even more importantly that he does it with good health and with joy. He's one of those happy-all-the-time guys, and his energy for life is infectious. I hope he never loses it. (If you could toss in a shoulder-in left, that'd be cool, too.)
- Cleo has done so much for me: she brought me blue ribbons to hang on my walls and to brag about in my advertising; she taught me about a real trot half-halt; she helped me learn the pain of loss and the fragility of horses; even in her retirement, she's brought me Farrah, who is oh-so-charming, and three more this year. I wish most fervently that I can give her a sweet, happy retirement, without pain. And when it's time, Santa, I wish that I can give her a swift and painless end. I loathe suffering, especially in animals. I hope she never experiences one minute of it.
- And last but not least, Santa-baby, I wish for the ongoing good luck in the health of my competition horses. They are SO special, and RIGHT on the brink of big things. I hope that they, too, never have to feel the pain of an injury, or the agony of a colic, or any of the other things that can fell their big, strong selves. Ella's illness this summer, which was SO minor, thank God, was yet another reminder that they're not indestructible. I wish that 2011 has for them the best care I can provide and a continuation of the good luck I've been blessed with.
Thanks, Santa! See ya next year.