I've spent so much time at the Day's Inn in Leesburg, Va., that it's beginning to feel like home. (For the record: they have GREAT pillows.)
Yes, we're back at Morven Park yet again, the last of a three-weekends-in-a-row tour of insanity. This is the last shot for Fender, who's 12th right now in the 4-year-old standings and going great, and Midge, who needs a 68.5 to get back in the ballpark, and even then there's no guarantees. Yikes.
It's been a long road into one of the USEF High Performance Training Sessions for me. I got on the Developing Rider list, one of the lists that has access to the sessions, at the end of 2008, right as Klaus Balkenhol was stepping down, and we found ourselves without a Team Coach. The Team hired Anne only to change the criteria for access to the Training Sessions, and I was out of luck again.
But I'm on the "Invite List" now, so I got the call about Kyra Kyrklund's training session at the Hassler's farm in northern Maryland, and I got to bring not just one horse, but two. Wahoo!
There's a first time for everything, and Sunday I had an interesting first—the first time I've ever been excused for disobedience in the ring.
Poor Midgey. It was monsooning, and Morven Park's indoor is older and loud and leaky and creaky, so he was a bit up anyway. Then, not five minutes into our warm-up, another competitor comes flying into us sideways, her stallion bucking and kicking, and puts Midge in a corner. I spend the whole rest of our warm-up trying to get his confidence back, unsuccessfully, but he feels OK, so in we go.
Back to the show ring we go, after a nice long break. Fortunately, six weeks wasn't so long that we all forgot how to do what we do, and I had some very good rides.
The worst of the day was Ella, who led things off by being way too relaxed for her first Young Rider Grand Prix test. Just blah, and nothing about Ella should be blah. Everything was 6s and 7s except for an out-of-character bungle in the first extended trot (duh!), and the piaffe, which can't happen out of big, open, swimmy passage, something I thought I was done with. Bollucks.
It's not all bad news, though, at Sprieser Sporthorse. The last few weeks have been a little dark—Cleo, a staffing crisis, sale horse drama, and the general chaos that comes with being Boss of the Applesauce times about a kajillion—but this week, I've got something to celebrate, too. Billy, my wonderful Trakehner, the man who started it all, turned 18 on Tuesday. (I was going to buy him an Equus to celebrate, but the centerfold just isn't that great this issue.)
Life with horses is a roller coaster. For every horse you have that exceeds your wildest expectations, you'll have one that never measures up. For every horse that you take to the top, you'll have at least one who gets almost all the way there, only to be felled by something unseen.
I've gotten several notes about Cleo's rather conspicuous absence from my blog over the last few months. That's because I'm still a little heartbroken about it all and have found it very hard to write about. She's the One That Got Away.
You know that scene in Finding Nemo where Crush the turtle describes hero Marlin's run through the jellyfish forest? "First, you were like, whoa! And then we were like, WHOA! And then you were like, whoa."
I feel, like, whoa.
I spent the weekend with five students on seven horses at a recognized show run by CDCTA, one of our great local GMOs. Normally this show is typical spring weather, which is to say that we never know what it's going to be—hot, cold, wet, dry, whatever. This year, The Weather Gods chose hot. Like, HOT.
Everything in the last 10 days is a blur—showing, clinics, lots of teaching, travelling, sales. I'm in dire need of some R&R, but there's none in sight, so onward and upward.
My mom and I went to Florida last weekend for a whirlwind 24-hour trip—to see some horses for her and some barns available for the winter season. Found great options for both. I still need more research on barns, but we just finished vetting her horse, and all is well, so he'll hit the road tomorrow and be here by this weekend. He is TOO CUTE. More on that later.