Choose Wisely

Today’s post has yet another movie reference.  After enjoying some barn time this morning and then spending most of the afternoon water proofing the deck (yippee for me), my husband and I rotted in the A/C and watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  It is the installment where Indiana and his father played by Sean Connery go in search of The Holy Grail.  In one of the final scenes, the Holy Grail has to be chosen from a miriad of choices.  The elderly knight tells Indiana and the Nazis to “Choose wisely.”  The Nazi chose the flashy gold Chalice and was told after his body aged, “he chose poorly.”  The Holy Grail was actually the plainest of all the choices, but was the one that offered eternal life.

I tell that story to tell the story of selecting Ike as my next dressage mount.  I spent countless hours combing the internet looking at available horses.  Virginia Equestrian (, Warmbloods for Sale (, Dressage Star (, and various private farm website were trolled looking for a horse that would meet my needs and my budget.  It was overwhelming and I hadn’t even left the house or put a foot in a stirrup.  Make the wrong choice, and I end up with a horse whose trot I cannot sit or a horse that is too much for my meager skill set.  I also wanted sanity, yes, sanity was a very important attribute.  My trainer knew of a sales barn in Wellington, Florida after finding one of her horses there.  Berktold Dressage ( ended up being the perfect place for me to find a horse.  I had four horses to try that all were close to meeting my criteria.  Two were knocked out of the running because poor Flash’s trot had so much movement that I could not even do a decent rising trot; Gloria was a phenomenal mare, but I would have been overfaced with her powerful movement.  The two remaining choices were Ike and a mare named Dona.  Both were sane and rideable.  Dona had proven show experience.  Ike had only been under saddle for 4 weeks or so when I rode him, but there was just something about him that I liked.  Well, you already know who I picked.

Our ride today was 40 minutes of goodness.  We did some practice tests and schooled haunches in and a tiny bit of leg yield to help Ike get his weight in the correct place for canter.  I have a video that will need some editing since it is almost 10 minutes long and I’m not always in the frame.  I started the filming before I mounted and left the camera sitting on the fence for the first part of my ride.

It could be said that for dressage riders, reaching the FEI levels could be considered The Holy Grail.  It is what we all wish we could do at least once before retiring from the sport.  While I may never get there with Ike, and he might not be the flashiest mover or the horse with the most chrome, the longer Ike is part of the family, the more I realize that I “Chose Wisely.”


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