Making Progress

Feb 4, 2014 - 1:13 AM
Fender is getting closer and closer to Prix St. Georges. Photo by Lisa Slade.

I am so, So, SO happy to be here.

It’s not just the weather (though yes, that’s really very lovely.) It’s the training. It’s getting at least one, if not two, lessons a day. It’s getting to catch up with my friends from all over the country. And more than anything it’s feeling like I’m moving forward.

Fender is great. Between all the moving farms and the dreadful weather, not to mention wanting him to have a break after his busy end-of-show-season ramp up, we’d been really just coasting along at home. The amount of progress that he’s made in not yet a whole month is fantastic – our pirouettes look like pirouettes now. They’re rideable, and influenceable. The carriage in the double bridle is better. Michael noted that I take on my left rein in every change; when I take on the right instead, they’re straight as an arrow. There’s a real half-halt at trot. There’s progress in a big way, and there’s Prix St. Georges not too far ahead.

Johnny, too, has been on a bit of a hold. For him, it was less about fitness or about peaks and valleys, and more just about not really knowing that to do next. Michael, of course, had the answer – do the things he can’t do. And for him, that’s go sideways. The big straight lines are easy for him, and even the circles of various sizes aren’t so hard. But crossing his legs without falling down? A major achievement. So that’s what we’ve been after, and day by day he gets more and more coordinated. He can now leg yield nearly all the way across the diagonal, both directions, without ending up a pretzel. Amen! Of course, on Tuesday he was 16.1 and on Wednesday he was 16.2 and skinny as a rail, so we’ll see where his winter takes him. I’m not worried. That’s a Genius in the Making, I’m sure of it.

There are two other horses I ride down here, both owned by clients. One is Fiero, a rising 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding whose owner, Bev, came to visit this week. I haven’t had the ride on him for terribly long, but he, too, has made a boatload of progress in a short time, and nothing made me happier than when Bev drove right by us on her first day here, thinking there was no way that that could have been her horse I was riding! (Of course, then I had to flag her down, but all’s well that ends well.) Fiero is in the not-quite-Third-Level place – a little overqualified to show Third Level at the trot, but a little underqualified at canter. Such is life with the developing horse, so we will show Second Level soon.

And the last is Dutchie, a 14-year-old Grand Prix horse. My primary job for Dutchie is to keep him fit and rideable for his owner, but I also wanted to experiment with improving his piaffe and the general quickness and push of his hind legs. He’s a wonderful gem of a creature, and is not only a pleasure to ride and live with, but has also been a huge boost to my confidence, because I’m getting to apply all that I learned about Grand Prix last year on Ella and Midgey to him, and lo and behold, it’s working. I, obviously, have less mileage at Grand Prix than at any other level, and it’s a huge thrill to have a little proof that I’m competent at this, even at the highest level!

I’m getting to run and bike a ton, which I’m LOVING, and is helping me look damn fine in a bikini, thankyouverymuch. The two clients I have here to teach are both making huge progress, and are aiming for shows in the near future as well. All in all, it’s a banner start to the year. And it’s only just February – two more months to go!



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