I would tell you the complete tale of my OTTB, Cochlear, but I have already done that way back in the spring. This Blog summed it up pretty well, but it doesn’t have how the 2012 season finished for him. So here is an abbreviated story:
I finally found the right place to move Lear up to Training level. It took a while, and I wish that I had done it sooner. He was ready to move up at Rebecca – but I am hesitant to move ANY horse up there. The atmosphere is big, and the show jumping is intimidating compared to other events that we have in VII. Next, at YR Benefit Horse Trials, I used up all my begging trainer Karma when I asked on Thursday afternoon if I could move up my working student, Kiera, from novice to training. Given that there is no internet or cell reception way back there in the corner of Lincoln Creek, the secretaries are slightly haggared by the request. I decided Kiera was more important than Lear (you are welcome Special K!) and we tripped around the novice way too boldly!
Finally, Lear did manage to move up successfully at Caber and at Aspen. I actually cant remember being more excited after XC in the last 5 years than I was after Caber. But a little background to explain: at home, Lear cant even trot by a ditch without dropping a shoulder and snorting. Trot sets that enter the outer ring orbit of a jump cause him to gasp, literally! He loses his breath and bugs his eyes out. Sometimes we find ourselves facing a different direction. In July, I started introducing Lear to more complicated ditch scenarios… and it frightened him. A plain ditch got his heart pumping, and if you added a log before or after it, he was downright terrified. He is not the sort of horse that takes pressure well, so it was time and patience to help mend his little shakey soul. You can then imagine my heart sank a little when I saw the proper big coffin with black boxes and black ditch at Caber. And that combination is directly followed by the Weldon’s wall. I forgot that John made a decent course! And I hoped that I was not going to dent Lear’s delicate confidence.
Apparently, Lear has an alter ego that he reserves for the competitions. At home, he is Clark Kent with his dorky glasses and a goofy whistling noise comes out of his nose that is not manly at all. He takes his workouts way too seriously at home and likes a schedule tighter than a Swiss clock.
But at shows he rips open his dull grey suit, winks at the swooning girls while he skips around XC with panache. I got off him at Aspen and wondered what horse I was on? Where did that Superman cape come from?
I am very excited about his upcoming year. He is enjoying more time off than Boogie and Dino partly because he had a bigger year, but also because he is easier to train than either of them. They need to continue doing homework throughout the winter while he can resume his training in earnest in January. I am hoping to continue him next year at training level until Rebecca and then decide whether he will do the Training 3 day, or move up to Preliminary. I think that I am most appreciating him for his true Throroughbredness – that tough cookie who loves to gallop, looks through the bridle at a challenge and jumps because his heart is in it. Its so refreshing after the warmblood quirkyness that the other horses have!