Jun 10, 2012 - 2:40 PM
Blue ribbons are lovely, but this weekend was more about good riding, lessons learned, and overcoming a funk.

Redemption! Neither my horse nor I are ninnyhammers. Hoorah!

Midge and I have had an interesting two weeks. We came home from New Jersey and I said, OK. Look. You’re not a bad guy. And I’m not a bad rider. And yet here I am on the one-way train to Crazytown. Let’s take a break. So we did. We hacked, we rode outside. And when I put him back to work on Tuesday, he felt like himself again. Go figure.

My horse has a tell. It’s the second time in his life he’s gotten unreliable in the passage, and both funks were eradicated with just a week of fluffing around. This is that thing about learning your horse all over again every time he ascends a level.

So off to Morven we went, where he felt outstanding on Friday and warmed up like a star for Saturday’s I2 test, where I was assisted by the marvelous Eliza Sydnor, who I adore. (Thanks, girl!) I warmed up a little longer than I have in the past, schooled more pieces of the test, and felt way more prepared for the test than I ever have. Rode my trotwork, started to passage, and I held my breath, waiting for it to suck. Which it didn’t. And then I spent the rest of the test going Wahoo!! It didn’t suck!! Which was all very nice, except that I really didn’t bother doing anything other than steer Midge through the rest of the test. He still got almost 66 percent, and he left the ring with a big smile on his face, cocky and perky. What a guy.

But today, oh, today! I got out of my head, made a little tweak to my warm-up (helped by Scott; thank goodness for awesome pinch-hitting ground help!), rode on fire, and marvelous Midge stayed with me right up until the end, the last piaffe, where he said Mom? I love you and all, but it is 92 degrees, and I just don’t have more for you. And I decided that was OK.

And we got a 67.6 percent, the best qualifying score he’s gotten. Hoorah!

There are still kinks to work out. The canter half-pass zigzag felt AMAZING in the warm-up, but it’s right after the extended canter in the test, and I need to practice getting the canter that has a good zigzag in it with less preparation than if I just come in and do it at my leisure. So it was a little goofy. The transition into and out of piaffe is still never as good in the ring as it is outside. I need to train in the heat, since it’s not getting any colder out anytime soon. I need to ride some &^*@#$&*! centerlines, because Midge has gotten phenomenal scores, including my first 10, on his centerlines, and a certain someone with two legs has totally dropped the ball, and that’s a dumbass way to lose points. Mostly, I need to diligently keep schooling my tests, until the handful of 6s I get become 6.5s and the 6.5s become 7s. And then I’ll be home.

One of the best things about today? My amazing mom came out to help and watch her horse – Midge is, technically, her horse, though I’ve long since paid all his bills. My mom was the first one to believe in Midge, doing so long before I did. I don’t think she’s seen him compete in years, possibly since he was a wee babe. How cool is that?

The things the panel didn’t love were mostly things related to how Midge moves in nature – a little up and down behind instead of under, wonderfully active but not always lowering his croup. I don’t know how much of this I can change, though certainly, of course, the judges should bring it up. I hope I can keep plugging away at it, and I hope that they come to accept him for his weird little self.

But I’m feeling really good about it. Midge and I have our plan, and now I have a big chunk of time to implement it. And we’re out of our funk. Yeah!


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