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November 21, 2011

Michael Clinic, Day 2

Michael Barisone spent two days at Sprieser Sporthorse on his way back from delivering a load of horses to Florida. Photo by Lauren Sprieser.

Day 2 of our Michael Barisone clinic went just as well as Day 1. Both of the Red Hots were a little tired; for Ella, this was a hindrance (though not much of one), and for Midge, it was a much-appreciated reprieve from the temporary psychosis under which he's been suffering for the last week. 

I rode Midge first, and he was much better than Saturday, though still a spicy guy. We played more with the canter and played more with the ones; the secret is to make Midge's canter little and blah, but also to keep the ones totally separate from the rest of his work. Michael had me ride weird lines—short diagonals, diagonals to or from the centerline instead of the rail, anything that isn't the full diagonal a la the Grand Prix test.

We also played with doing just a couple of changes, two or three at a time, several times on a longer line. Midge was not such a fan of this. "I got 'em!" he kept saying, continuing to bang out perfectly lovely changes long after I'd stopped asking. "Let me show you!" My little overachiever. So the plan for the ones is to mostly continue with the plan I've been on, with a few small tweaks, and looking to develop both a quiet on button and a quiet off button.

We finished on some just stellar piaffe and passage. Midge is so wonderful and active in the p&p; it's just amazing to sit on, because there is no limit. He just keeps trucking along. As he develops, my task is to help him learn to step under, not just up and down. It's one part nature, the way he moves, and two parts being 9 years old and not yet finished, so I am not remotely worried about his future. It's just something I need to keep in mind. I continued with the DUH factor of learning to not panic and use my spur when he falters in the passage—that's all strength, not a bad answer, and I need to chill out and use my calf so I stay out of his darned way. I'll learn this eventually.

When I got it right, Midge rewarded me with the most wonderful steps, even when he fatigued a little at the end. Michael declared, "He's a superstar!" I concur.

Ella's superstardom has been declared countless times before, so Michael didn't feel the need to repeat it; instead we got straight to business. This was a good thing, because Ella's still in a strength developing phase too, but she doesn't have Midge's goofball bottomless-well-of-energy. It makes her ultimately more reliable, because she only uses her energy for good, whereas with Midge there's always that little bit of a devil on his other shoulder whispering in his ear. Ella's so honest, so genuine; she's the kind of horse who keeps me on the straight-and-narrow, because she'd let her person be terrible to her, and she'd just keep giving until she broke. She's both a privilege and a responsibility to ride.

Sunday, she was a very tired privilege. But she kept on trucking, and we made some super trot work, and she felt the absolute BEST in her neck and back she's ever felt for me; I just felt I had to really create the "go." I got frustrated and lamented (no, really whined would be the right word. Embarrassing in retrospect. Yikes.) to Michael that I hated feeling like she had no energy. He told me I had to have patience, that she would just need time to have all that power AND balance AND energy to operate it all, all at the same time.

Patience? Not my best virtue. But for that wonderful horse, and for all the ones to come, it's time to start learning.

The weather was beautiful, everyone continued to ride great, and I was at least moderately successful at keeping Michael on task and on time, which is no small feat, as anyone who knows Michael would agree. I was sad to see the weekend end, because of course clinics are fun, but also because I realized that this is likely the last help I'll get until we arrive in Florida, which is more than a month from now.

So I have my exercises, and I have my tasks, and I have the voices of two Olympians in my head. It's not a bad place to be.