Last night, Tris had a massage scheduled (or re-scheduled, I should say, as it was meant to happen on the day his hives blew up, but thankfully that is in the past). My friend was running a bit late so I groomed him and then took the opportunity to wander into the ring to watch a lesson.
I've always loved sitting and watching lessons when I have some downtime, whether it's friends, strangers, or the trainer him/herself. It's a good bonding experience with others who are watching and I always come away feeling inspired by something I've seen.
Last night was a doozy. R. was giving a local eventing trainer a lesson in flying changes on one of her schoolmasters, a beautiful gray Lusitano who has been there, done that, and whose specialty is the freestyle. He's a wonderful, kind soul that everyone adores.
Watching R. teach the trainer - who will be clinicing at the barn over the winter while she's in Florida, and is my pick to re-start Tris and I over fences - was absolutely amazing. He is already an extraordinary rider, and watching him adapt his talents to a much higher dressage level than he was used to was amazing. R. walked him through Otelo's gaits and had him collecting from his seat and then turned them loose to try a few single flying changes down the diagonal.
I'd never seen a lesson in flying changes before, not the dressage ones anyway, and watching her work him through the singles, then up to two tempis and critique the quality of each one and the way he rode them was breathtaking.
I don't know if Tris will ever have a flying change, not from the aids anyway (he pops them sometimes when jumping or galloping), but watching the preparation to get there - the collection, the rocking back, the lift in front of the withers, the core strength and stillness to create a space to communicate: all of that will stay with me for a long time.
(Tris's massage went well, he is feeling great all over save for some small tightness in his right shoulder but that has been slowly decreasing over the months and will hopefully disappear entirely when his foot finishes growing out.)