Ack! Chaos ensues. We've had a nice quiet week prepping for Devon—Ella's been great, Cleo's been good enough, and I've been happy and content knowing that some dear and wonderful friends were lending me their trailer.
Alright, it’s confession time. I’ve admired them from afar for years. Since moving to Virginia, interacting with them every day, I’m even more infatuated. They’re so brave! They’re so talented! They exude this tough, slick exterior that, as a Weenie Dressage Princess, I can only dream of. They get to wear fun colors! They’re fearless! They are rough and ready and so much cooler than I could ever hope to be.
We host schooling shows at my place for a few reasons. One, it's great exposure for the farm. Two, it’s a way of giving back to the community that supports us as professional riders. Mostly, they’re a ton of fun, and a lovely opportunity for people to try their hand at showing for the first time without diving in head first, school a young horse, or try and move up a level.
Yesterday’s was no exception, and the riders all were courteous, on time, low stress and respectful of our facility. How perfect is that?
Scott Hassler came down yesterday for his monthly-or-so clinics at my place, and all of my horses put their best hooves forward. I swear they all know when Scott is coming, because they all get just a little worse for about a week, so I'm all frazzled when Scott arrives and asks me how things are going, and then they make me look like a moron because they behave brilliantly in his presence. I think he could sit in the corner of the ring and doze off, and I'd have great rides anyway!
One of my students brought her 5-year-old warmblood mare over for a lesson Tuesday night, and while warming up, she attempted a flying change. I know she’s played with them at home a little, but the horse is only showing First Level, and I was quick to suggest that maybe she wasn’t ready to school them yet.
“I want this horse to be an all-purpose horse,” my client said. She jumps, she events, she trail rides. “She needs to learn them, and I don’t want to wait for Third Level. She’s ready.”
Hail the conquering heroes! The Red Hots really stepped it up on Day 2. Ella was much hotter in the warm-up, her normal tight, squirrely self, which presents its own challenges, but they’re ones I’m well-acquainted with. I got her really quite supple and in pretty darn good self-carriage, and it stayed with me all through the trot and the collected walk work. She fell apart in the extended walk and got a little labored in the canter, but for the most part the test was really lovely and uphill and much better to the bridle than Saturday’s test.
This weekend Ella, Midge and my mom’s perfect Andalusian stallion Tres are off to the dressage show at Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia. I wanted to get my two redheads off the farm, and Middleburg is a whopping 40-minute drive, so it’s an easy show to trailer into. Unfortunately, Ella is a MAJOR pain in the butt about her herdmates—put her on a trailer with anyone, and suddenly she can’t imagine life without them.
Ringside at a local dressage show this spring, I heard another trainer tell her student to let her horse “seek mushrooms.” It’s an odd phrase, certainly enough to make one look up, but when I caught the eye of the trainer who said it—as did several others—it was because we recognized it. It’s a term Conrad Schumacher uses often in his teaching, and six or seven of us around the arena knew it because we’d all been through the USDF Advanced Young Rider program during his tenure as the program’s clinician.
I like my horses fairly hot and fire-breathing. Not the dirty, rank, I’m-going-to-dump-you-in-the-dirt-and-run-away-cackling hot and fire-breathing. More, the kind that finding the “Off” button takes a few years. So it’s no surprise that my horses are not meek and mild-mannered in the stable.