Its been about 2 years since I wrote about Cochlear. The last blog was describing just how spooky and curious this little horse is, as he rose into his first training level event. The bottom-line is that at nearly every single level (except BN) I thought that Lear had probably reached his maximum ability. I thought that he was restricted by his confidence at novice level, and at training level I was sure he was restricted by ditches and show jumping nerves. And yet, he would compete every event successfully. After he had reached a given number of clear rounds… I would be forced to believe that he is ready to move up to the next level.
Last fall, I came to that conclusion about Lear at Training level. He successfully moved up to Preliminary at Aspen in September 2013. And has done fantastic all season long at Prelim, and now I am forced, once again, to start contemplating his move up to Intermediate. And yes, this has my insides in a tailspin.
Unlike so many upper level horses, Lear was not a horse that oozed that kind of ability from the get go. He has always been a horse who has difficulty trotting around my cross country course without spooking and losing a shoe in the process. He struggles with dressage daily, and I’m required to ride a fine balance between stressing him out with pressure and also him progressing to a higher and higher quality of workout. It has not been easy to find that balance. Often I err on the side of less dressage in order to keep his ears up and happy in a workout. I find creative ways to practice the movements while on a trot set or on a hill climb, and that seems to be helpful.
With regards to Lear moving up to intermediate? I think that my best course will be to move up next spring at Aspen. God willing, we will have a chance to once again prove his superman abilities and leave that flannel suit back in the telephone booth.