Saturday, January 5, 2008

Encounter with a Dressage Diva

I am at a fix-a-test clinic with Harvey, my OTTB. We are riding in the warmup ring with a number of other riders. Among them is a slender, forty-something woman, sans helmet, in full makeup, and clad in a form-fitting white shirt and plaid breeches. All the trappings are there, and I apply a mental hang-tag: Diva. Diva's old-style warmblood has huge gaits and from the looks of it, upper level training. She is chatting amiably with another rider, and the conversation is loud enough that anyone could listen in. I overhear Diva tell someone his name is Gauguin de something-I-can't-hear. It turns out Gaugin de Something's sire is Gauguin de Lully, a bronze medal-winner at the Seoul Olympics.

Diva is trotting Gaugin De Something through a series of cavaletti. After a few times, she cools him out and then dismounts. As I ride past, she raises her hand to me and catches my eye. For a split second, I wonder if she will inquire after Harvey, who is, after all, a nice horse.

Diva: "Would you like me to move the poles closer together for your horse?"

Me: [Confused] "No, thanks."

Diva: [as if talking to a child] "These poles are set for my horse to do a lengthening. Your horse will trip over them."

Me: "Think we'll be okay."

My face is frozen in a smile, an instinctive teeth-bearing grimace that any New Guinea tribesman would take as a warning.

Not this lady.

Diva: [Smiles brightly, gestures to my friend Pam at ringside] "Okay, I guess you can have your groom do it."

She did not just say that.

Pam is hispanic. She is also a microbiologist. She speaks before I can stammer out a correction.

Pam: "Stacey, take him over the poles."

Something in Pam's tone alarms me a little, and I don't want to cross her. We pick up a trot and I glance at the poles. Geez, they are far apart. I start a big circle, attempt a half halt, and add leg. Harvey responds, but like a sewing machine he's trotting faster faster, not longer longer. My heart sinks as we head toward the cavaletti. Leg. Breathe. Sit back. Harv relaxes, collects himself, and floats over effortlessly. It feels great. "Did you see that?" I think loudly to everyone present. And Harvey has no gold medal relations!

Oh, that I ever doubted you Harv.

After the cavaletti, Harv returns to his normal trot, and he is clearly pleased with himself. I pat him and I look over to Diva, but now her back is to me. She is leaving, chatting with to another rider. I consider saying something to her, a mock cheerful remark that the poles were no big deal, but decide against it. Our test is coming up, and I want to show what Harvey can do.


  1. Ha ha! Your post made my day. Luvs me those OTTBs! You're now on my blogroll. Now I'm going to go hunt your blog for pictures of this marvelous Harvey.

    Sarah Reschly

  2. To see a few of the many, many pictures of Harvey, you can go to:

    Thanks so much!!

  3. Wow!!! Go Harvey!! You sure showed that Diva!!! How did you get on in your test that day?
    Good luck with everything & your blog is fantastic!! Harvey is gorgeous!
    Char x
    Feel free to visit my site and sign the guestbook if you want to! I'll keep checking your blog!


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