By the time Thursday rolled around I was feeling pretty fried, especially since whatever few brain cells I had left were groping with the fact that I had to leave for Twin Rivers that evening with Kiki in tow for the event and felt neither packed nor prepared. On Thursday afternoon, however, I took a quick break from being stressed to have a very exciting dressage lesson with Heidi Gaian, who has been Rachel's instructor for years and years.
I had never seen Heidi teach before and so was happy to watch Rachel's lesson before I got on. Rachel was riding a very nice new client horse, and it was interesting to watch him improve over the hour. Heidi's style was very direct and to the point, which I liked but also found a little intimidating. She seemed to be asking a lot of hard questions and movements; what if I couldn't keep up with what she was asking?
When my lesson started I told her my score history and, upon hearing that I'd gotten some good scores at second level, she suggested we start working on some third level things. You know what that means: changes. Gulp. Ringo has beautiful changes but so far I've been mediocre at best at producing them cleanly and expressively on command (there are a lot of flying changes in our counter canter and a lot of late changes when I ask for them... perfect).
So, the first time she asked me to come across the diagonal and do a single change, my stomach was in knots. I really wanted to get it right the first try and make a good impression! I took a deep breath, set him up as squarely as I could, and asked as strongly as I know how. And... whee!! It worked! It was one of our better changes! I had a big sigh of relief and thought to myself, 'well, I've passed that test, now we'll probably move onto something else.'
Imagine my surprise, then, when I immediately heard her say to go across the next diagonal and do not one, but three changes! Yikes!! Ringo really had his dance shoes on because even though I was totally discombobulated from this request he still performed admirably and pulled off three lovely changes. We did it a few more times, sometimes more cleanly than others, but in general I was thrilled with him and Heidi, I think, was happy too.
At the end of our lesson as we were wrapping up she asked, 'So, when are we taking this horse Prix St Georges?' I gave her a sort of stunned look. I've been told that Ringo has PSG potential but always in a distant, nebulous, years-off kind of way. Heidi went on to say that we could have Ringo going PSG by the spring if we worked at it.
She finished by saying, 'Why not?' Why not, indeed. I think, despite Heidi's (seeming?) confidence, that it would be a pretty massive stretch to be going FEI by the spring, but I'd certainly like to keep trying! Though there are definitely still many many miles to go between here and there...