How do I explain how relieved and lucky I feel? I think the first step is to first explain just how patient and non-goal oriented I have been with Cochlear… and then I think all of my joy becomes self evident.
Lear has never been that amazing prospect that is oozing potential. In fact, I really truly did not
think he could successfully do training level two years ago. He struggles with confidence and he is spookier than Freddy Kruger. He hates dressage and he is about as flexible as a brick. He was a wonderfully successful racehorse, and yet, I need to beg him to be enthusiastic about even a trail ride. Yet surprisingly, I can clearly see how this horse will move up to Intermediate soon, and probably easily as well.
First, let us revisit last year: it was bumpy.
Copper Meadows, Galway and Aspen Spring events were all mistake free. Confident and ready to kill the season! Then Inavale was a miss due to an accidental bandage bow by a working student. Rebecca Farm was successful as a finish, but not much for placing due to meh dressage. Aspen Fall event resulted in a cracked hoof as he spooked over a ditch and crushed his hoof capsule like a watermelon. DNF. No further fall events in order to heal the hoof. Then winter vacation.
This spring, my 2015 warm up included a clinic with Eric Smiley. Eric loved Lear, and after hearing the story of how he became an event horse, he summed it up so clearly. “Every day with him is like a gift, isn’t it?”. Yes, it sure is. I have learned to live with so many of Lear’s idiosyncrasies and now accept them for what they are. If I try to change them, Lear will not be who he is. And the road we have taken together would not be as sweet.
Lear placed 4th at the Aspen Farms CIC* this last weekend, which is what has inspired this blog. But it’s not the placing that matters to me, but rather how well he accepted this step up. From the very first ditch that I jumped this spring, Lear seemed like a different, more mature horse. My warm up Training level run at Twin Rivers felt like he was going novice. Preliminary at Fresno was blitzing fast and easy. From the very first jump at Aspen on Saturday, he bloomed higher than he ever has before and with better use of his shoulders. I looked around befuddled to ask someone if that jump was weird or strange. After he did the same bascule a third time, I started to run with it and believe it was not a fluke.
I am not above admitting that in May I might have told Jonathan Elliot that I would sponsor an entire jump/division or even the whole flippin show if he would forget to put Lear’s hoof cracking ditch on the CIC course. I even planned on naming my next tractor after him (we have no children). You will all be relieved to know that Jonathan is as pure as a 90 year old nun. He was unmoved by my tempting offer. The ditch was on the course, fence 7B, and Lear took a nanosecond look at that ditch and immediately knew/understood/attacked it with aplomb. We finished the course with a temp of 100.7 and respiration of 80, which left the vets looking at me with awe. My secret weapon?? Perhaps that is the next blog.