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July 19, 2013

Mid-Summer Dream: A Break

Johnny is one of the Sprieser Sporthorse residents enjoying a break from the chaos of summer shows. Photo by Sara Lieser.

With a song in our hearts we returned home from Dressage at Lexington last weekend, not just because our squadron of riders all did VERY well, but mostly because it's the last away-from-home show of the spring/summer season, and after running pretty much straight through since January in Florida, I cannot even begin to tell you all how giddy I am to have MULTIPLE CONSECUTIVE WEEKENDS AT HOME. It's like Christmas come early. There has been cooking! There has been laundry! There has been loafing in my underwear watching "The West Wing"!

… maybe I shouldn't admit to that in public. Oops. 

But it has been good, and it has also allowed me to put a little focus back on my own horses. Fender is AWESOME, feeling great in his body and really starting to put two and two together. If you don't mind that the pirouettes are either quite large or a little sticky, he can put the entire Prix St. Georges together. Until the pirouettes look like proper pirouettes every time, instead of the one-or-two-good-steps-punctuated-by-interpretive-dance that they are right now, he won't show at that level (he's 7, where's the fire? Florida at the earliest.), but as my plan is to take him to our Regional Championships in October at third level, for which he's long since been qualified, all this work will make the third level stuff seem quite easy, and that's how I like it.

Midge is still on the mend from his Floridian injury, but he's been a model citizen in his recovery, and if you'd told me years ago that Midge would be Mr. Dependable with absolutely no sedation whatsoever, I'd have laughed in your face, but there it is. What a guy.

I've commandeered some of my clients' horses, including Amy's Bo, who is HUGELY talented for half-steps but just hasn't quite figured out how to do them like a volunteer instead of me having to beg a little… until yesterday, when he just trucked merrily along from very little aid. Atta boy! Half-steps and changes are my favorite hot-weather projects, because they're both one of those things where you can warm the horse up a bit, play with, and then quit when you've had a victory. Very efficient when the temps are 90 degrees plus!

Another fun client horse I'm enjoying a LOT is an Arabian named Lord. Lord has been with us before, both in training and for lessons with his owner, who showed him in the English world and used dressage to help give him more balance and confidence. She's considering making him a full-time dressage horse, to the point where she and I are both going to show him in some dressage and sport horse classes at a big Arabian show in a few weeks. How fun is that?! I've been reassured that I will NOT be the biggest person on the smallest horse—at 15 hands, Lord does make me look a little like a giant—but it's providing inspiration for some dieting all the same.

And Mr. Johnny continues to be himself, making small progress, maybe growing a bit? I keep hoping. At this point, which direction he grows in is of no importance to me - width, height, length, breadth of chest, anything; I'll take it. Every now and then I get a glimmer of a half-halt, and then it's gone again, but I remain cautiously optimistic. He did go on his first big group trail ride today, as the high Virginia temps this week are making doing real work a challenge.

So we start early, we're efficient in our work, and sometimes we just quit and hack everyone. They're enjoying the break from the grind of showing and training as much as I am… though if the horses are watching "West Wing" reruns in their underwear, I don't want to know.