I remember this one day. It was the summer of 2010. Midge was 8. And I got on, and I picked up the reins, and there he was. He was connected to my hand, hind legs, withers, bridle. He was balanced and organized. He was just THERE. He felt like an expensive FEI horse, and while he still made mistakes, still needed to develop in his strength and timing and coordination, still wouldn’t do his first Grand Prix for two years, all of a sudden, he was there.
One of the things that’s toughest about training horses is that training is cumulative. If Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, then horse training is insanity: you pick away at things, address the same little nuances, ask the horse to try and carry himself over and over and over and then, all of a sudden, he can.
Ella and Cleo and Fender didn’t have “That One Day.” They just kept developing, bit by little bit. But for Midge and, last week, for Fiero, the years they’ve logged all came to a head in one beautiful moment.
For Fiero, it was, magically enough, at the show two weekends ago. (What timing, right?) I hopped on, picked up the reins, and there he was. Fiero is also 8.
Like Midge was at the same time, he’s doing the Prix St. Georges, but there’s still pieces of strength and balance and organization that are ongoing in their development. Of course he’s not finished. But That Day, and every day since, he’s given me the kind of feeling I think he’ll give for the rest of his life—up in the bridle, long in the neck, connected and organized, even on the days when he’s tired.
It’s a really incredible feeling, and not just because riding horses that feel like that is pretty dang fun. It’s an incredible feeling because I know I played a role in him, and in Midge, feeling like that, that through diligent and meticulous (and sometimes exhausting and frustrating and backbreaking) work, I helped them find it.
That Day makes all the other days—the days when it stinks, when it’s not so easy, when you swear up and down that you’re doing everything right and you can’t get it right anyway—all worthwhile!