I’ve been a bad blogger again. So here’s a recap of what’s been going on.
A few weeks ago I got really dispirited about my ever-present lack of talent (mostly ability to ‘feel’ what the horse is doing) and questioned the sanity of spending so much of my time and money on a sport for which I have no natural talent and for what mostly feels like such an unattainable goal. It does not help that I’ve had less time (and energy) to ride, and Faeryn and Faxx have definitely suffered the most for it.
And even Fling, who I’ve always put #1 on the agenda, seemed to have hit a wall of sorts. And I think, “Ok, so we have a shot at getting our USDF Silver medal (Fourth – PSG) but then what?” I cannot see any way we could ever compete successfully at Grand Prix. She could with a different rider, I have no doubt. She’d probably already be there with a professional. The flying changes which are the source of so much angst for me, would be a piece of cake for a professional. Because the problem is ME, not Fling. She is already schooling half steps pretty well, so I know she will be able to piaffe. Marie has seen enough of her to say with confidence that whe will be able to do passage. She is already schooling canter pirouettes and she will be able to do those pretty well. But then there’s the elephant in the room. The 15 flying changes of lead – or the dreaded “one tempis.” In my wildest dreams I can never see me being able to do those.
And, since I am a goal-oriented person, I think ahead and wonder – if there is no way for us to advance beyond PSG – (and how much more money I have to throw at it to get there) what is the point of training every day? Yes, I enjoy the journey, but I at least want a destination in mind. So that has been worrying at me.
I also periodically wonder if I should sell Faxx. He is a very talented horse and he’s mostly going to waste, getting ridden too sporadically to even really be ready to show First again, much less Second level. He’s doing turns on the haunches, and his half pass to the left is ‘show ready’ but he has a big mental/physical block about half pass to the right. We’re chipping away at it by doing lots of haunches in ,and it’s slowly getting better. But still…
And then I think, well, I need three horses anyway because when Mike takes his somewhere, if I only had two the one left at home periodically would go nuts. And I know Faxx (and that goes for almost any horse) has no higher ambitions than his next meal. He won’t be crushed if he never shows again ever.
I can’t even think about selling Faeryn (even tho she is in the same boat as Faxx as far as recent training progress) because she is Sonnys Mona Lisa’s last offspring, and if you haven’t read this long enough to know who she is, you need to search some past blogs to know why Lisa’s children have a home for life. Period.
But, fortunately, most funks are dispelled by a few good rides or a minor breakthrough and this one was no different.
The key to everything at third and up, IMHO, is the quality of the canter and the horse’s ability, or willingness, to carry more and more weight on the hind legs. And since Fling has spent the last several years avoiding that on the right hind since she was having some pain issues, progress has been slow. And now that we’ve hopefully, for now, fixed the pain problem, I am still at square one with fixing a problem that’s been dogging us for a few years now.Because now it is an ingrained habit.
But we had a breakthrough last weekend in our lesson. Marie had me do a serpentine of squares, and ask her to do a turn on the haunches at each 90 degree turn (instead of a half circle). Then, at the centerline on each short side, I did a flying change. Wow. What a difference. They weren’t perfect but they were very clean and CALM – if not perfectly straight. Not only that, I could immediately tell the difference in the quality of her canter and its rideability. My other exercise is to do shoulder fore at the canter and really make her take weight on the inside hind and not let her step out – esp. to the right – like she has learned to do. Wow. I actually am starting to believe we might both live long enough to see FEI. 😉
I will end this with a bit of a teaser. Faeryn is now “beach broke.” We’ll cover that in the next chapter!