I can't really be self-righteous, since my first feelings towards Midge were not so magnanimous. But the list of people who told me that Midge would never amount to anything is long. A "project horse," one said. "He'll top out at first level. Get rid of him," said another.
Even Michael was skeptical in the beginning: "He's so cart-y. I don't know if the judges will buy it," he said.
But Midge did his first Grand Prix level test yesterday, on a 73.25 percent, with a 10 on gaits. How 'bout them apples?
Now, let's be realistic. It was a schooling show. The judge was a large R, which judges to fourth level at recognized shows; she may never have had to judge a Grand Prix test before. 73 percent was a bit optimistic. And 10 on gaits… well, hey, take 'em when you get 'em.
And it wasn't like it was faultless. A certain ding-dong who, a month ago, was dragging me all over kingdom-come trying to get the ones now believes that the ones belong everywhere, including on the initial centerline. Twice. I got totally run away with in the twos. I'm still balancing the power I need for the work with really being able to let him walk. I rode a perfectly nice canter half-pass zigzag of 4, 8, 7, 4. And the first piaffe had a little syncopated rhythm moment.
But damnit, five months shy of his 10th birthday Midge hacked over to the show, flags, cars, nonsense, and rode around like an old lesson pony. He was keen and bright but not silly (well, maybe the changes were a little silly). My Wisconsin-bred "wagon horse," as Michael likes to call him, wore a pair of nicely tailored Big Boy Pants. He's made a believer of everyone, and he won the Developing Grand Prix test in his first effort, in Florida.
The judge wrote on the bottom of my test, "He is magical!" Add one more to his fan club.
He'll do the I2 in two weeks at the new show grounds, and then his first qualifier for the Developing Grand Prix Championships at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby about a month from now. Here's hoping the magic extends out to the Big Leagues.