Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

Closing Out The Year

I came home from the National Finals and braced for impact. Two things happen to me every autumn: first, things slow down. People give their horses, and themselves, a break, and it means that I don't teach as much; combine with the holidays, and my whole world hits the brakes.



I came home from the National Finals and braced for impact. Two things happen to me every autumn: first, things slow down. People give their horses, and themselves, a break, and it means that I don’t teach as much; combine with the holidays, and my whole world hits the brakes.

It’s fun for a few days, but then I start to twitch, as idleness does not become me, but I’m so tired that it’s sort of frantic, directionless energy. And that’s usually when Thing Two happens: I get really, really sick.

But 2015 was different, for whatever reason. Things didn’t slow down. I got to teach some clinics in some incredibly cool places, and made wonderful new friends along the way. Thanks to an amazing client, I’ve got an opportunity to shop for a young horse for us to own together, so I travelled around meeting baby horses. And my clients kept riding, bolstered by a big group that are all in the Prix St. Georges 2016 Or Bust Club, as well as by unusually balmy Virginia winter weather.

I did get sick, per usual. I must give some kudos to an awesome Uckele Nutrition product called VRL, which I think kept the cooties at bay longer than they’ve ever been kept away, and also making the awful symptoms pass by quickly. 

But mostly, I just kept running. The oddly nice thing about getting my annual Autumnal Death Plague is that it forces me into slowing down. This didn’t. I’ve just kept going.


Normally I’m foaming at the mouth to get to Florida, to get up and running. And I’m thrilled to be here, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not the Big Exciting Adventure it’s been in years past. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting used to the trip. I dunno. This is all starting to sound a little whiney. Let’s move on.

Here’s what all the horses are up to:

– Ella did have some down time, because life for both of us is about to get intense, as I pursue CDI Grand Prix here in Wellington. I let her down for two weeks, then kept the work more about fitness and less about Capital-W Work, and we did trot sets on hills and worked in a snaffle (and even in a hackamore, as an experiment—it was kind of cool, though not as helpful laterally as bits are, at least not for Ella and I.) We’ve been back up and running for about two weeks now, around the holidays, and I’m eager to get lots of lessons going.

– Dorian is amazing, developing into such an incredibly nice horse to ride. He’s always been a delight, with this eager-to-please character that I have to really respect, because he’ll twist himself in knots trying to please, so keeping him confident in his work has been my priority. He and Ella share this quality: they want so badly to make their human happy that they become the kind of teenager who read a lot of Sylvia Plath, paint their fingernails with White Out and chew on their own hair. They need to be nurtured a little more than the other cocky little snots I ride.

Dorian’s putting all the Prix St. Georges pieces together, and will be up for sale this winter—as much as I just LOVE riding and living with him, it makes no sense for me to have three that are all essentially the same age. Since he’s the most amateur-friendly, and therefore the most marketable, he’s the one who has to go.


– Danny has a pattern: trundle along, develop bit by bit, have One Amazing Day where everything feels like sex on legs and gives me a taste of what a huge future he has in store for him, fall completely apart for two weeks, level out, repeat. We had One Amazing Day in a clinic with Michael in November, and then another one in December, with tremendous mediocrity in between. This does not stress me out—he’s been this way the entire time I’ve known him, and the mediocrity is getting less mediocre, and the amazing is getting way, way more amazing. 

He too is putting all the Prix St. Georges work together, though like Dorian, he also isn’t likely to show at that level for at least a few months. I’d rather hold off and do it really right and bang it out of the park than go out there just for the sake of going out there. He does need to go on some outings, since while he has a show record, he’s by far the less trustworthy of the pair of them, and I want him to Go and Do until I feel like I’m in charge at least part of the time.

– Johnny is coming back into work from a doofus pasture injury this fall (Johnny?! Play too hard in the field?!?!? Surely you jest!). The down time has actually been an asset, and while he’s far from mature (at six years old, thank goodness), he’s settled and grown up a lot. Still miles to go before he’s done, of course, as I watch him twirl a fly mask around in his mouth that he’s pulled off his next door neighbor. Sigh.

Two client horses round off the Florida herd—Fiero, who is doing beautifully for his owner, and (yes! It’s true!) my Midgey, who is (touch wood!) working magnificently for his person. Midgey hurt himself badly a few years ago, and I tried rehabbing him twice, both unsuccessfully. I sent him to the field for six months, but when it came time to get him rolling again, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t have my heart broken again. A client of mine, who was suffering from some truly rotten horse-related luck, took him on, on the deal that she could return him any time, no questions asked, and I’d retire him for the rest of his days. She’s got him healthy and rolling, and she’s part of that PSG-Or-Bust club. I couldn’t be more excited to have them on board!

I’m also joined, temporarily, by my fabulous Young Rider student, Kristin, and her Dutchie, who were accepted into the Robert Dover Horsemastership clinic. Kristin joined me on the drive down to Florida, which was fraught with horrible traffic and one gastrointestinally challenged dog (though, miraculously, no flat tires!), but we survived, Nike’s tummy is on the mend, and the horses arrive today. We’ll get them settled in, and then we’ll do some sightseeing around Wellington, including watching some great riders on great horses. I’m sure my inspiration will arrive quickly!

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