I used to joke that everyone should have more then one horse. Why? Because it’s fun (who doesn’t love twice the poverty?), and if something happens to pony #1, you have pony #2 to enjoy. While Garth is silently swearing about rehab and giggling at the useless effects of sedatives, Deszi stepped forward with a smile and said “My turn!”
Garth and Deszi could not be more different: Hanoverian versus Thoroughbred, raging bull versus casual elegance, egotistical frat-boy versus the demur grace of old money. Riding them is like night and day.
Moving up to Preliminary was in the cards for Deszi’s 2015 season from the start. Garth’s minor pasture accident provided a clear path for her progression. Originally aiming for the spring GMHA, I chose Hitching Post for her debut at the level due to their inviting fences, pleasant atmosphere, and consistent quality of competition. I have competed there for nearly 30 years, and I feel comfortable at that farm.
Deszi requires a surprising amount of leg (in all phases). If she had the choice, I imagine she would rather be lounging beneath a shade tree, with a carrot scone and a young stud fanning her dappled coat. She would do well in a life of luxury. However, her causal attitude and appreciation for the day should not be misconstrued as lazy, disrespectful or without conviction.
Deszi is a diligent mare, with an exceptionally calm demeanor and the wit to take everything in stride without losing focus. She is a wonderful, reliable partner.
Saturday’s competition reiterated my experience with Garth at Pine Top, just from a different angle. With Garth, it is now time to trust that I can ride him to the cross country fences out of stride: the power and ability are there, and I must trust what we have developed together. With Deszi, I must trust myself to kick her to the jump and know that with a moment of patience, our distance is perfect — but I must keep her engine engaged.
Her dressage test was focused, clear, and consistent with area for improvement. She scored a 26.8 to tie for 2nd place in a division of 18. Cross-Country was deceiving: I thought we started with a forward canter, and progressed into a gallop, however the video shows a lovely, hunter-style canter progressing into a forward canter. Her stride is relaxed and powerful, and it is easy to fall into a comfortable, quiet canter that feels bigger then it is.
Though frustrating in my difficulty to rate her ground cover, it is nice to know there is a lot more gallop in her. Over the fences, she was keen, focused, and ready to play without an ounce of hesitation. She cantered through the finish flags with a smile and easy attitude. In show jumping, I ordered one rail at fence three with a side of backward riding. Deszi handed it to me with discontent. Aside from my poor execution, I was pleased with our ride.
Last year at this time, Deszi was beginning her eventing career at Novice. I was uncertain of her ability and was not confident that she would be capable of anything beyond Training level. As her strength and suppleness continues to improve, she offers me new insight into her abilities. I think there is a lot more to Deszi than I originally thought – and perhaps that is exactly how she wanted it to be.