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January 18, 2017

You Actually Can Fix Stupid

Photo by Susan J. Stickle.

I was making my list of goals for 2017, and on the list (along with “eat like an adult,” “sleep past 4 a.m.” and “take a cooking class to improve my knife skills”) is to get a 7 or better on the canter half-pass zig-zag in a CDI Grand Prix. I understand the movement, I teach others how to ride the movement… and I myself, on Ella, can’t seem to ride the movement in the ring. I get the count right, I get 6 or 6.5, and it’s fine.

It just can be so much better, and it really needs to be better, to get the scores I want.

I get a lesson on Ella almost every day, and I mentioned this to Michael in the middle of last week. He told me to go show him what I was doing. I did. And then he said, “You’re straightening on step 3, and that’s too early. It’s taking too long. Don’t straighten until step 5. Now go do it again.”

So I did. And it was lovely. And at the end, I stopped, dropped the reins, threw up my hands, and cried out: “I am SO DUMB!”

But then I corrected myself: no, I’m not dumb. But in regards to the zig-zag, for the last nearly-two-years, I have been quite stupid.

Dumb is a state of being. It’s a constant, and it’s virtually impossible to cure. Stupid is curable, no matter what the great American philosopher Ron White says. (warning: audio NSFW) Smart people get stupid all the time, like, for example, when the thing that’s been plaguing their Grand Prix tests for two years gets fixed in one afternoon.

Or, for example, when Danny has been LAUNCHING through the flying changes, or changing a stride after I ask, and otherwise making the learning of the ones a real pickle, and Michael offers a thought: why don’t you work on making individual changes, on a serpentine line, until they’re really easy and reliable and boring, and only then put them together to try some ones? And boom, there’s three ones. That’s really stupid. But fortunately, that’s not dumb.

The first few weeks in Florida are always a little magical, because I have lessons every day, as opposed to the twice-a-month-give-or-take approach I get the other nine months of the year, and we clear through the stupid stuff really fast. Then we run out of stupid stuff to address in my lessons, and we get down to brass tacks, and progress plateaus a little bit. 

But until that point, I’m cheerfully working on my stupid. And on sleeping past 4 a.m.

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