Let me be clear: being a dressage judge is one of the toughest jobs on the planet. First, you're watching for tiny nuances of performance in a 1,000 pound animal, and then holding them up against a standard. I don't care if you're the best judge on the planet, you can't have your eyes on all the horse's body parts all at once. You're going to miss stuff, and you're only human, but everyone expects you to be ON IT, ALL THE TIME.
Michael often says that there are three kinds of riders: riders who make things happen, riders who hope things happen, and riders who wonder what the hell happened. He then adds a fourth category, riders who wait for things to happen.
At first blush, this waiting period seems like a passive process, just sitting around and wishing and praying that some opportunity will present itself, that some rich sponsor will come along, that someone will drop the next Totilas or Valegro into our laps. But that's not what he means.
I am a proud college graduate holding a degree in Liberal Arts, which is a bit like an English major, but even less useful, if you can imagine such a thing. I'm a lover of grammar and syntax, and have an extensive vocabulary in a couple of languages. But I need a new word, because "problem" and its various synonyms isn't cutting it.
Dressage At Lexington is always a big show for us. It's three days long, at one of our favorite venues; it's in the middle of July, after all the chaos of Spring qualifying things has calmed down. We always end up having quite a herd, and the original number was 10-12, with me showing two or three, and Allison showing two or three, and there we were. No big deal.
Tuesday, June 23, noon: Wahoo! Rocky is mine! I love him, he's perfect, he's wonderful, he feels like riding an octopus on roller skates and can't turn right with a gun to his head, but he's a genius and I love him and I can't wait to get him home. So I call a couple of transport companies, and because it's the off season, only one of them has a truck going up 95 with any regularity, but they assure me that he'll get on the van by the end of the week. They'll call me when they know when.
The end is, alas, nigh. This holiday weekend was the last of a three weekend tour of relative tranquility, a glorious quiet period after our insanity-inducing Spring tour of showing. I worked, of course, teaching lessons and riding like I normally do, but it was lovely to be at home on the weekends, to see my friends, to run a triathlon last weekend (faster on all three phases, especially my weakness, the bike; nailed it), to have the teensiest weeniest bit of a life.
I had dinner with three fellow young trainers one night at Gladstone. One of those trainers was Jeremy Steinberg, who recently resigned from his job as USEF Youth Coach. The four of us chatted about the trials and tribulations of being a young trainer, about horses, about our clients, about the things we struggle with. The conversation got around to the state of U.S. dressage, and our role in it.
Experience is the thing you get thirty seconds after you needed it. In order to get experience, you have to have experiences. We learn best from our mistakes. There are so many clever, witty and true quips about living life, about the process of going from here to There, wherever that is.
But there is no witticism that alleviates the frustration of having to watch kids go through it.
I was terribly excited for this year's Festival of Champions, the USEF National Dressage Championships. I was excited mostly because they're inherently exciting, but also because my team qualified four horses, with their three riders, for the various Youth championships, not to mention Michael's qualifying Ella for the WEG Selection Trials. I was also excited because I was taking advantage of being 20 minutes from Michael's to bring Fiero along for training, to get some lessons and have something to do.