First of all, thank you so much for all the wonderful comments on my last post! I'm sorry I've been quiet for a while since last writing; it's turned out to be quite a lot to process, and I've just been trying to let the reality of everything soak in. I'm still SO UNBELIEVABLY EXCITED!!
(Ringo and I in the epic sunrise we had a few days ago)
On the more bittersweet side, however, my acceptance to Oxford does mean that, come September, my time as a rider will come to a close (for now, at least). We've begun the process of starting to find new homes for Ringo, Ky, and Kiki, and while I'm very sad to have to be separated from my horses, I know that it's the right decision for this time in my life.
(Ringo and Audge loving on each other)
Obviously, both paths have pros and cons: I've never qualified for a USDF championships before, and it would be fun and gratifying to compete at the NEDA festival, which is one of the biggest and most prestigious dressage shows on the east coast. However, with that prestige also comes the caveat that I would be putting a lot of emotional investment in probably one championship ride, against the best (and fanciest) horses and riders in the greater New England area (and while Ringo is a wonderful dressage partner, a massively fancy worldbeater über-warmblood he is not). On the other hand, if I was going for a PSG debut, I could aim for a number of classes at a number of smaller, lower-pressure fall shows, giving me a higher chance of some good test experiences. Plus, I want to wear my shadbelly again!! The downside is obviously that PSG is the harder goal from a technical standpoint, and there are some big hurdles still in our way before we're ready for it (heck, there are a lot of days where I still feel green around the gills thinking about 4th level!).
In the end, Kim and I decided that, for now anyway (obviously with horses, to write a goal in stone is essentially to beg the universe to strike you down in a fiery bolt of karmic justice), the aim should be PSG. I'm very happy with this goal... but was quickly brought back to earth when we got down to work in the lesson itself. There's a lot of hard work between here and cantering down the centerline with that shadbelly on!
(The pretty sunrise sprucing up the otherwise currently dreary, muddy pastures)
After trotting, we moved on to working on the canter pirouettes, which still loom large as the biggest hurdle facing us and moving up. Coming into this winter, Ringo barely had an acceptable 3rd level collected canter, let alone a collected canter of the quality to start making pirouettes out of. After about a million canter-walk-canter transitions (give or take a few) over the past 6 months we've come a long way, but we're still a little behind the curve compared to the levels we're aiming at.
Today we worked on a new pirouette exercise that was essentially a big diamond: going from A to B to C to E and back to A in canter, making regular shallow turns at E and B and working pirouettes at A and C. The first direction we worked on, we did great! Like, way above expectations! It was awesome to feel the work I've been putting in is paying off, where even a month ago we couldn't produce anything approaching something that could be considered a pirouette.
But then, to the right... the wheels sort of came off. I got a little tired, Ringo got a little tired, and the exercise was hard enough that we simply could not do it when we weren't firing on all cylinders. It was a big reminder of how difficult this hurdle is. To even contemplate showing, we need to be able to perform well even on significantly less than full energy and concentration (because let's face it; I'm no professional, and chances are low that we'll be at our absolute best in the ring!). And, this isn't even the full movement! We were probably just over a quarter pirouette, instead of the half pirouette that we'll eventually need. There's a LOT left to do.
But still, I'm really pleased. Ringo felt great, and I had a blast working on these new skills. I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful partner and friend :)
(Meanwhile, Kiki is getting geared up for Morven this weekend - looking good, Piggy!)
(Ky says 'don't forget about meeeeee!' Despite his absence from the blog of late, the little dude is doing great and I'm feeling like we're on the verge of a breakthrough)