The Now What Place, Redux

Jan 17, 2013 - 12:35 PM
Photo by Susan J. Stickle.

It’s a seriously great place to be in your training, when your horses do everything you want them to do, and you’re just kinda waiting around for them to get strong enough/quick enough/confirmed enough to move onto the next thing. But oh, is it ever boring.

Ella feels brilliant in her body, loose and swingy, and so focused in her work. She continues to develop towards a super-solid Grand Prix, which is just a matter of miles and miles and miles of transitions between piaffe and passage, transitions within passage, and keeping all the other things she does brilliantly (read: everything) tuned up. Thing that makes me ecstatically happy – she is FAT. This is no easy feat for my girl. Three cheers for Pennfield’s Fibregized Omega, Uckele’s Cocosoya oil, and persistence. (And Lord, in my next life, please let me have Ella’s metabolism.)

Midge, who last year was Mr. Useless for the first few days in Florida, hit the ground quite literally running (leaping off the top of the ramp off the van and sliding across the blacktop, sparks flying from his shoes – I just about died) and hasn’t looked back. He feels amazing. The last pieces of the puzzle for him are generally riding the neck down and out; me not panicking in, um, every movement; and figuring out how to apply this INCREDIBLE floaty trot I’ve found into the half-passes. On a straight line, I’m a rockstar; sideways, I’m a total put. But I’ve been just playing around in the beautiful five-acre field we have to ride in (so I’m not limited by the size of the 20×60 ring, and can just keep half-passing around until I figure it out, and if I let his neck up a little more than I should, the withers come up too, and he’s got it. I’m hoping this is just a phase, until he gets coordinated at it. If it is, yay for me. And if it’s not, I’ll have to see what scores better, a little more earthbound with a low neck, or fabulously impressive with a high one. 

My darling Fender was, and I quote Michael, “the biggest idiot on the planet” about half-steps this summer. Like, couldn’t even get a glimpse of what in the heck I was asking him for. Do it from the ground, Mike said. No better. So I decided to just screw it and wait until I could spend some serious time in the ring at Michael’s, and we’d figure it out together. So off we went to Camp Barisone, and Michael declared that it would take four days.

Day One: Complete fiasco.

Day Two: Marginally complete fiasco.

Day Three: There’s hope?

Day Four: Of course Fender makes half-steps, he’s a pro, what are you all looking so shocked for?

Yeah, yay for a coach with oodles of experience. I’ve been so lucky with Ella and Midge; they just GOT IT. So I have a bunch of new tools for my toolbox, and Fender has both an understanding of the basics of half-steps and a healthy appreciation for The Rules. (There may have been some attempts at biting Michael. This is not something I recommend.)

In all, it’s the waiting game, waiting for Fender to REALLY figure out both half-steps and canter pirouettes in a seven-year-old kind of way (the pirouettes are really getting somewhere!), waiting for Midge to coordinate his legs in that gorgeous trot in the sideways work, waiting for Ella to develop the consistency to make the same passage-piaffe-passage transition every time, and waiting for my flight home to Virginia, where I’m teaching for the weekend.

And also waiting for my legs to not feel like cement from all the running, biking and general punishment at the gym. Good grief, Charlie Brown.


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