Because I am a glutton for punishment, er, Serious Professional Athlete, I signed up for a 10-mile race with my best friend. Unfortunately, getting runs in post-Florida has been a challenge, between weather, long teaching days and busy horse show weekends. But at a recent VADA/Nova show at Morven Park (where, it should be said, all my students rode brilliantly and won everything), we were blessed with a late start on Saturday, which left me with a few hours to get one of my last long training runs in before this weekend's race.
A while back I took a few lessons from a trainer who, when he was on, was ON. Those lessons were fantastic, just the right amount of butt kicking, and inspiring as all get-out. I came away from those lessons with great exercises to work on, and a sense of the path that laid before me.
But when he wasn't on, he was Uncle Fluffy. And Uncle Fluffy sucked.
It started a show weekend like any other. We drove to Williamston, no muss, no fuss. Horses worked great. We won a bunch of stuff (Pony Team, Pony Individual, Junior Individual, Junior Freestyle, Young Rider Team, Young Rider Individual, and two rounds of Developing Prix St. Georges, including a 70.588% in the USEF Qualifier, so yay Fender and yay Team Sprieser girls, woohoo!). It rained, even though when we'd checked the weather on Thursday morning it was calling for a gorgeous weekend. But we dodged raindrops, loaded up, and hit the road.
My last week in Florida was a blur. I showed Fender at the lovely little White Fences show right around the corner from our winter home, where he had one Rather Naughty moment on the first day, and then was Quite Spectacular With Unlucky Mistakes on the second, and on the whole I'm pleased as punch that a) my not-yet-8-year-old is fancy, and that b) my not-yet-8-year-old is still just a bit wicked. It means there's a spicy international horse in there. I like it.
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!"