Thursday, Jun. 13, 2024

The Pilgrimage, Day 3 and 4: Life at Lendon’s

Greetings from The Big Apple! Ella was a stellar citizen on her early-Gladstone-morning hack, so I didn't do much Monday. I ambled around, then stripped stalls, chucked my stuff and popped ponies in the trailer to Lendon Gray's, about a two-hour drive.

PUBLISHED
MidgePirouette_0.jpg

ADVERTISEMENT

Greetings from The Big Apple! Ella was a stellar citizen on her early-Gladstone-morning hack, so I didn’t do much Monday. I ambled around, then stripped stalls, chucked my stuff and popped ponies in the trailer to Lendon Gray’s, about a two-hour drive.

Logistics here are a little nuts. Lendon’s farm is chock full of horses, so I’m staying at nearby Coker Farm, where owner Judy has graciously allowed me to take over the back barn. The horses are very happy, but they’re by themselves, and since Ella is a real ninny about being herdbound, I’ve had to get a little creative in how I handle them.

Lendon taught me on Midge over there on Monday night, and then I threw them out in paddocks for the night. But, fearing that Ella would hurt herself by thrashing about until Midge was in her sights again, I led them out together, then back in together in the morning. Yeah, I’m enabling her. She’s rather expensive, so I think it’s OK.

Lendon was really happy with how Midge is going, which makes me very, very happy. We did a lot of piaffe-passage Monday night, and he was a bit of a squirrel—leftovers, I think, from Sunday’s boondoggle. She had me ride the piaffe very forward, which helped him tremendously, and she also had me focus on the transition from walk to passage. Midge likes to start the passage with the left front/right hind, so if I think about asking for it as the right hind is about to come off the ground, I get a very crisp transition. Nice.

Tuesday’s lesson was all about the canter. Everyone else I work with lets me get away with riding Midge in a more collected, but also more tight, canter. It’s not as loose as is ideal, but he’s also SO much less strong.

ADVERTISEMENT

Not Lendon.

“GO FORWARD!” she says. “MEDIUM CANTER! Now working canter with half-pass! Now twos!” With your hair on fire! Even though you have no control whatsoever and feel like you’re flopping like a fish!

“Aaah!” says I.

But it got better. He got more supple and more settled. He started to USE HIMSELF. And CARRY HIMSELF. And, you know, CANTER.

Dang!

ADVERTISEMENT

Doing the tempis in that canter is still a little terrifying, particularly the ones—yikes—but I see where it needs to go.

Ella was very civilized, although a little unenthusiastic. Good news—we ran through the whole Brentina Cup test, and even though she was more Aunt Fluffy instead of Ms. Crazypants, she let me drive, and let me tell her what to do, and she didn’t bail on me. The pirouettes were particularly good—yay Debbie—and though I had to be a little persuasive in the last centerline, she went forward and did as she was told. Hoorah.

The biggest thing for her is the bounce. She’s GOT to be thinking boing, boing, boing, at all three gaits. In the canter, I tend to hold her a little earthbound, so I need to focus on giving after each half-halt so she can climb a little with her shoulders. In the trot and piaffe-passage, she has to be really cooking with the hind legs and not ridden into transitions too abruptly.

In all, two really good lessons today. Unfortunately there was a schedule kerfuffle, and my trip has been cut short by one day. Good news is that I can turn the Red Hots out tonight at Lendon’s, which means that a) I can get cleaned out and leave Coker in the beautiful condition I found it in at a civilized hour, instead of 3 a.m., and b) I can hit the road to go home before the day’s heat gets too bad. I’m bummed that I can’t get one more day of lessons in, and I’m VERY bummed that I’ve had to cancel my plans to see some friends from college, but that’s the way it goes.

I do, however, get to go have dinner with my favorite aunt, and I get to go into Manhattan, where I haven’t been since I graduated from school. After three years in the countryside of Virginia, I wonder if I can still pull off my New York, I’m-No-Tourist swagger?

LaurenSprieser.com
Sprieser Sporthorse

Categories:

ADVERTISEMENT

EXPLORE MORE

Follow us on

Sections

Copyright © 2024 The Chronicle of the Horse