Ella redeemed herself on Sunday, though not with the scores I was hoping for—a meager 63 percent on a forward, fluid, mistake-free ride. Whatever. My plan for changing her warm-up to be more like a normal school rather than a test prep session worked really well, and while I’m sure her being a little tired from five days of horse show helped, she was a totally different animal—quiet, rideable, and way more confident. And that is a big victory in and of itself.
She ended up placing fifth, bringing the ribbon total for the weekend to two fifths and two Reserves, all in sizeable classes. Not a bad haul!
But it’s back to the grindstone now. I planned on catching up on errands and things on Monday, the farm’s day off, but I barely got anything done but laundry. And I’ve had three 12-hour teaching and riding marathon days in a row since, so my apartment looks like a tornado came through, and I don’t exactly have any food that doesn’t come out of a freezer and/or a microwave. Yum!
Fortunately, the horses are all cooperating nicely with my harebrained self. Cleo is on a maintenance plan, just keeping her fit and strong and healthy but not really working on anything in particular. Ella’s on a forward and fit kick. I feel like she’s really solid in the “tricks,” confirmed in the idea of pirouettes and ones and piaffe-passage transitions and whatnot, but not strong enough to produce them cold yet. So I’m working on trot sets and big forward canter tours, and just keeping her happy and buoyant.
Midge is doing some fun stuff. In the clinic with Morten Thomsen, he suggested to me that I play with Midge in hand a little, to teach him how to raise each front leg in turn, and to hold it up. Eventually I’ll teach him to hold each leg up in front of him for a moment cued not by the whip, which I’m currently using, but with a sound, so when I play with the passage from the saddle, I can cue that up-and-HOLD with a cluck of the tongue. He’s just starting down that road—in two days he’s learned to lift and hold the leg, only for a moment, and lower than I want—but I’m non-plussed. It’s going to take time to build both the strength and range of motion. I’m excited, though, because he’s been totally cool about it. I figured he’d be a naughty prat, but I got this swell new whip at Regionals with a big, thick throng at the end instead of a lash, so it makes more of a THWACK noise than a stinging touch, and he’s Mister Sensible about it. Good boy!
A few weeks off before it’s onto the next, the Young Dressage Horse Trainers’ Symposium at Hassler Dressage, where Ella and I are a demo pair. I’m going to make good use of that time—catching up on my paperwork, finishing some laundry, getting (a very little) more sleep and a hot date with my vacuum cleaner.