A student recently took an unplanned departure off her horse. She was up and about fairly quickly, but made a few wrong guesses at the name of the current President, and so got the pleasure of an ambulance trip to the local hospital for a CAT scan.
Normally I stay in Florida until around April 1. It gets me home a week or so before the first horse show at Morven Park, so I can see the riders heading to that show once or twice before we go. Usually by then the weather has cheered up in Virginia, and while that's mostly about me not wanting to freeze my ass off, it is also a little bit about wanting the transition to be less awful on the horses. A 40* temperature change is bound to happen either way, but waiting until 4/1 usually means going from 90* in Florida to 50* at home, which isn't so bad.
I keep my horses in the White Fences subdivision, a dressage-focused enclave in Loxahatchee, Fla., Wellington's northwestern neighbor, for a couple of reasons. The most obvious is that Michael's farm is here - in fact, this year I was at the farm right next-door, and I hope to return here next season. White Fences is also safe and quiet, a lovely reprieve from the hustle and chaos of Wellington proper. We can take the horses out for a quiet hack around the circle and not be worried about traffic or road crossings.
It felt a bit like pushing a wet noodle up a hill. He's a terribly ghastly color, between his old icky winter coat and his new shiny black one. When he was body clipped, we missed and took off a thin strip of mane, which has grown in at a very irritating and useless length. He was a bit impressed by the environment on Day 1, and a bit exhausted on Day 2.
But damnit, Fender made his FEI debut this weekend, and put in two perfectly presentable Prix St. Georges tests, making him the third (of three) of my own horses that I trained myself to go from baby to FEI. How 'bout dem apples?
I lived in New Hampshire for a summer, a working student for Pam Goodrich, 21 years old and having the time of my life. New Hampshire is the one state in the union where seatbelts are not law, and I always just found it odd, the adamance and passion people would use to defend their choice not to wear one.
"They don't guarantee my safety!"
"There are lots of accidents where seatbelts leave you worse off. They can even kill!"
I have been so lucky as to have some phenomenal horses in my life, including the three that I've trained up the levels from youngsters—Ella, Midgey and, on his way up, Fender. I often get asked what I'm looking for when I pick a young horse. How do I "know" what they'll become?
Why we show horses in general is a subject for much deeper study. Why do we want to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars taking a 1200-pound prey animal to a scary environment all so that someone in a little box can tell us why we're not perfect at it, and maybe earn a few bucks' worth of ribbon and, maybe, if we're lucky, some delightful GMO glassware? An excellent question, and certainly one that proves the Equestrian Psychosis.
There was a bit of a black cloud over my head by the end of last year. It was just one of those years, where nothing really worked out the way I'd planned, much less hoped, and to top it all off a bunch of my closest friends had funk-inducing years, so we were all collectively a bit mopey.
Last year Kristin, then aged 12, and Bellinger, then aged 21, won just about everything they tried their hand at, including several awards at the Lendon Youth Dressage Festival. One of those awards garnered her a very handsome plaque, which I told her I'd be happy to hang in the barn when it was done being engraved. Apparently Billy (now 22) overheard this conversation, and this morning, he asked Kristin (now 13) to pass me this note.
It's not just the weather (though yes, that's really very lovely.) It's the training. It's getting at least one, if not two, lessons a day. It's getting to catch up with my friends from all over the country. And more than anything it's feeling like I'm moving forward.