Will he ever learn to love dressage?

Johnny in his happy mode: jumping

The kid is sleeping, the hubs is fishing, and Johnny has the day off. That means I get to blog! Whew, where to start? This is an ongoing theme, starting my blogs with, “I know it’s been awhile…” I’ve been really lucky to have a month filled with teaching students, training horses for others, and working with my own. And to cap off all this month’s hard work, Johnny and I are entered in the May Daze at the Park Horse Trials this weekend. Yes, dear reader, I will finally join the ranks of the thousands of famous and non-famous riders who can say, “I have ridden cross-country at the Kentucky Horse Park.” It’s been a dream of mine ever since I first ventured to the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event in 2001. Granted, I’ll not be jumping the infamous ducks or even going into the ‘Head of the Lake’ complex, but just to be galloping on the same bluegrass hills as previous Rolex riders is prestigious enough for this gal right now. I must admit, I still hold onto the glimmer of hope that I might one day be entered in the Rolex, but there are many horse trials ahead of me before that can happen, so I’ll try and keep my feet on the ground for a few years!

Yesterday my friend and I trailered our horses out to Walnut Trace Farms in Nashville, TN to school their cross country course. As we closed the ramp to the trailer before setting off, I mentioned to Elisabeth how hot it was going to be galloping around out in the field and that we needed to be sure to offer the boys lots of water. It was already in the low 80’s, and the sun was blazing. Once we arrived, met up with our trainer, paid our schooling fee, and got back to the trailer, we set about tacking up. The boys were relaxed, and all looked well for a good ride. Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, a black cloud appeared literally out of nowhere. And, no, I’m not speaking metaphorically. Not yet anyway. It didn’t look too terribly ominous, though, so we set off down the road, headed toward the jumps. It grew darker as we hit the low ground, and a distant rumble of thunder made me a little wary, but we are eventers, and come rain or shine, we ride. And, come rain it did! In a matter of seconds, we were soaked to the core. The boys were shoeless–the farrier is coming tomorrow–so I worried about us slipping around in the wet grass, but they gamely trotted and galloped up to solid fences, jumping cleanly out of stride. Only when we attempted a solid trakehener did Johnny hesitate–it was rather slippery, and I could feel him rethinking the situation, but he put on his big boy pants and took it on the re-try. We even jumped a rather imposing coffin combination that was actually a training level obstacle. By this time, all of us had water sloshing in our boots, and I have never been so grateful for rubber-lined reins. We schooled in the pouring rain, slick grass, and soggy mud for over an hour, and the boys couldn’t have been happier. Johnny was relaxed and moving confidently–slowing down as I rated him for the approach, and galloping on afterwards. Who would’ve guessed such miserable weather would have made for such great riding? It was especially heartening for me to see him so happy. The past few weeks have been a constant battle to attempt to get him relaxed and working happily. Our dressage has made little to no progress, and I’m firmly convinced there is a physical problem. We have a lesson tomorrow with Emily, so if he does poorly at her barn, my next step is to have him re-vetted–though he does not appear to have any soreness or tender spots. I have a theory that his performance is related to his current boarding situation. He’s pasture-boarded, which is great, but he does get worried every time we leave his girlfriends. Has my level-headed boy become pasture-bound?? It’s frustrating to say the least.



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