Our First Preliminary

Our first Preliminary was a learning experience.

The lucky belt was located.

Jesha and Marly in stadium at Encore.

Marly and I on course during the stadium portion at Encore.

The counter-canter loops were respectable.  (In fact, the whole test earned a 35.9 – not a bad score for Marly’s weaker phase and it was a new test for us!)

The white saddle pads were also very white.  Thank you.

The experience needed to kick on in the moment and get the job done when jumps came up faster and require more technique, however, was not quite there.

This minor setback has, naturally, established a stronger game plan for our next attempt.  Bill has been fantastically helpful in determining exactly what needs to be fixed and we are on a steady and relentless mission for improvement.

Jesha and Marly on stadium at Encore, the sequel.

One more stadium picture from Encore. Marly is a work in progress and I'm very proud of him!

Even when a weekend doesn’t go exactly like planned, though, I’m never upset for very long.  Driving the ten hours back to Tennessee, I got thinking again about how far Marly has come.  This is a horse who had a supposedly career- and possibly life-ending, injury three years ago.  He somehow came back, sound and eager to begin training.  He has a muscular disorder.  He underwent surgery this past November to cure his “roaring,” a respiratory defect.  And despite all of this, he is sound, happy, healthy, and (most of all!), loves his job.  He truly enjoys early morning gallop sets, jump schools, and even the occasional winter foxhunt.  A bad day doesn’t do much to dampen the excitement of a horse that has really fought the odds and is doing what he does because he lives for it.

And speaking of horses that love their jobs…

I have to take a moment to brag a little bit about Shevy.  He’s my little superstar.  While Marly and I were at the event over the weekend, Bill and Becca took some of their young horses and a number of students to a dressage show.  Shevy went with an adult amateur who hadn’t showed in years and years and discovered (upon trotting around the dressage arena, ready to begin!) just how nervous she was.

Shevy and Jesha

This is a picture of Shevy and I from way back - I think I was 14 or 15. (And no, I don't remember why we were parked in the water jump.)

Shevy, however, was up for the task at hand.  The test went well, they won their class, and she was incredibly excited to go home with a blue ribbon and a dressage test full of positive comments.

Getting that phone call at the end of a not-so-perfect day with Marly?  Priceless.

The next day, watching Shevy jump around a 3-foot jumper course one minute and then turn around and teach a worried 8-year-old how to canter?  Even better.

He may still be short, pudgy, and not built for really anything, but he’s really a special horse.  Both of my guys are.

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