Sleep On It

Feb 25, 2011 - 4:23 PM
Photo by Sara Lieser.

I am having a lesson with Michael, and I just don’t get it.
I haven’t been sleeping overwhelmingly well, so I’m a little foggy. And because I’ve been a bad, bad girl and haven’t kept up with my karate at all, I’ve lost a little of the feeble muscle I had on my otherwise nonexistent white girl butt, which made yesterday’s work with no stirrups rather painful for my poor little exposed tailbone.
But darnit, I speak three languages, and I’m college educated, and I’m just generally not an idiot. So why am I not understanding this?
“Trot over piaffe!” Michael says. I am flummoxed. Trot over piaffe? What does that mean?
“I don’t get it. Do you want trot? Or piaffe?” I ask.
“I want trot over piaffe,” Michael says.
It’s like he’s speaking Turkish, which is, for the record, not one of the three languages I speak.
He tries to explain. “She has wonderful activity, but one of her front legs gets sort of left behind in the transition to piaffe,” he says. “I want to get rid of that hiccup. I want it to be smooth.”
Nope. Still don’t get it.
And poor Ella keeps trotting along, equally confused, because if I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, heaven knows she doesn’t know what she’s supposed to be doing, as I get more and more frustrated (and ride increasingly poorly).
I finally do something that must have been what he was looking for (no idea what), because he says “Good! That’s it! Walk!” And I go home, and I pat my girl (who was VERY good in spite of me), and I go to bed.
And I have a dream. In my dream, Ella does not hesitate into the piaffe. She simply floats there, quick and bouncy. It feels like every step is the same. It feels, in essence, like trot.
Trot over piaffe!
This morning, I let Ella lumber around in her warm-up, and then I pick up little, bouncy, active trot. And then I just sit back. And she makes the most delicious, bouncy, uncomplicated transition into jumping, forward, active piaffe. I sit back a little more and close my hands the teensiest, tiniest bit, so delicate. And it’s piaffe on the spot, no hitch, no hesitation.
Trot over piaffe. I get it.
She’s pretty tired, so I don’t ask again. I do make a canter half-pass zig zag, which is quite lovely, followed by these big, banging one-tempis that are to the bit and powerful, a big PUSH off those hind legs, into the air, and then bouncing back onto the ground, still active and under. That’s another HUGE accomplishment; Ella’s so powerful, it took her a long time to learn how not to fall on her head in the ones, and then she was so collected she could do all 15 by the centerline.
She’s standing in the aisle, wearing her ice boots as always post-workout, drooling apple bits onto the floor and looking very pleased with herself.
If only one of us can be a genius, I’m glad it’s her. And I hold up my end of things much better when I have enough sleep.


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