Greetings from Long Valley, N.J., where Ella, Tres and I have come for our monthly dose of Michael. Putting Tres on the van was a relatively last-minute decision, one marking the end of a three-week period of mental twistiness.
Team Sprieser went to its first show of the 2011 season this weekend, a little recognized show at Morven Park run by CDCTA, the Commonwealth Dressage & Combined Training Association. I love the CDCTA shows; something about their management versus the dressage-only GMOs keeps things much more low-key and real.
I took Tres to show myself, as well as one of my dearest clients on her hot little Thoroughbred-cross. The fates must not have known I was showing because it didn't rain—a true miracle.
I've spent most of my friendship with my saddle fitter buddy, Colleen Meyer, hearing about how great event rider Corinne Ashton is. And that's true. Corinne trained Dobbin, her Thoroughbred, to tremendous success at the upper levels of eventing, including USEA Horse of the Year at advanced in 2008 and two tours around Rolex Kentucky.
The dressage world lost and gained this week. The loss was Howard Nelson, who, along with his longtime partner Lisa Froelig, ran Silverwood Farm in Wisconsin. Silverwood played a huge role in my life as a young dressage competitor in the Midwest. It's an amazing facility, and Howard's ceaseless dedication to it took it from just another facility to one of the best around, home to countless shows including qualifiers for the NAYRC, young horse championships and national championships.
I've found there are two places in a warmblood's life where, if he's going to be a wee bit naughty, he does so. One is the 5-year-old year. Like their two-legged, 15-year-old counterparts, 5 seems to be the year for warmbloods to push boundaries, especially 5-year-old boy horses.
The other place is the place somewhere between first-ish and second-ish level, when the half-halt has to become less of a subtle rebalancing and more of a SIT DOWN NOW, when the croup really has to lower, when the hocks and stifles really have to go to work.
I had this swell plan for an absurd April Fool's Day blog post, something where I decided on my drive home to give up dressage to raise alpacas, or to adopt a baby from Nigeria, or something else harebrained.
Instead, I've had a few distractions over the last few days.
First, I realized in packing the trailer that I'd forgotten hay bags. So off to the store I go, where my only options are haynets. My trailer's just not easily set up for haynets, so I end up jerry-rigging them up, complete with bailing twine and duct tape.