Hey, who can argue with any of this shit. Sounds like me alright.
And hey - let's be honest here - I bet Coach Ritenau was feeling the same way. When I told her that I was moving on, I am sure she went home, cracked open a nice bottle of red, and slid into a hot tub, thinking to herself "ahh... never again do I have to try to solve the problems of that nutty horse and her hopeless rider...All signs are pointing to exciting new students... "
I have been fired from a job or two in my day, and no matter how much you hate the job, packing your bags and walking away from money is never easy. However - the sigh of relief you feel when someone puts their foot to your ass and pushes you out the door is oh, so satisfying. I bet the Coach felt this "ahhhh...hhhh...hhhh" big time when I broke the news.
I did attempt to present the parting to her somewhat diplomatically - first, I asked her what her plans were for her students once she left Lana Acres we all became coachless waifs (no plans...nice, nice...that made things easy). Next, I said that I understood where she was coming from with respect to life being easier for me with a new horse - but even if the two of us were destined to be together without Ms. V, I felt that a second opinion was warranted. I would be moving to a new coach for at least a few months to get some fresh input.
As I recall, she took this all in perfect stride. (Again, a pretty strong sign she was already dreaming of that Valpolicella and bubble bath).
|Ahhh... now let's see - Chapter 1. How to find students that are not insane..|
I am pretty sure that at the time, she thought I would pack my bags, head out to a big ticket trainer, her assessment of our potential to go on would be validated, Ms. V would be sold, and I would continue on with another horse.
Which, as you know, is not how things shook out.
And if you are wondering.. yes, Coach Ritenau is also fully aware that this is not how things went down. The horse community is small. I saw the Coach many times after we parted ways and Ms. V and I continued to struggle our way up our lopsided and pathetic pyramid. Our interactions were always cordial but not cozy (but really, our interactions were always pretty much like this, even at our very closest times) so I liked to think that she had shrugged, said "huh - guess I called that wrong", moved on, and that was the end of that.
Which would have been fine. And not weird. But then...
At my last show ever, one of Coach Ritenau's students who I knew from the Lana Acres Epoch approached me early in the day to let me know that the Coach and her students would be on the sidelines with their popcorn to watch me attempt to show PSG later that day.
It was an awkward moment - I wasn't sure how to take this news.
If Ritenau intended to make a point to watch my ride (and really, who makes a point to watch Adult Amateur PSG? Parents, and judges and coaches who are being paid to do so - no one else. Maybe masochists I guess.) she could have, at any moment in time, put down her hose or pitchfork (I could see her across the yard at that very moment, going about her horse prepping business) and wandered over to shoot the breeze, congratulate me on making it to PSG, said she was going to be on the sidelines to cheer me on...any or all of this would have been normal. Hearing second hand that she planned to watch my test in a stalker-like fashion - with her students - was weird. Actually - it really bugged me.
No worries Curmudgeon, I told myself. She probably doesn't want to make you nervous. Once you complete the test, I am sure she will come by and congratulate you. Or exhibit some other behavior that is similarly professional and classy in nature. You are being paranoid.
And so, I went in, saw her sitting in the stands, rode my test, got 4's on horribly ridden tempis as usual and had a few other bobbles here and there but had an otherwise sane, sensible and unremarkable test - (got a score of 57%)..came out to the cheers of a huge crowd of 4 stablemates - with Coach Ritenau nowhere to be seen.
She vanished. Without a word.
You are probably also wondering if Coach Ritenau really had the skills to get any horse to PSG, and if the combo of me and V was just an unfortunate outlier that didn't fall within her area of expertise. Well, it is difficult to stalk how someone's students are doing, so for all I know she has stableload of up and coming stars and I just don't know their names, having been out of the loop now for a solid year or more.
However - stalking her own results on Equine Canada - since we parted ways in 2006 or whenever it was, she has done a kickass job of bringing several horses as far as First or Second level, and a few further than that - but has not had personal success in returning to Grand Prix or even PSG.
This could be due to many factors, as we all know, that have nothing to do with her riding ability. Horse soundness is a huge one, and I know she has had some tough breaks in this department. Time, money, inherent talent of the horses that are sound... all tough hurdles to overcome.
All of the same hurdles that I would have had to overcome, had I given up on Ms. V as per her recommendation. As a trainer, she has had several shots at it with client horses and STILL not found the magical combo to get her up to being competitive at FEI levels again.
Which just goes to show how the deck would have been stacked against me.
Anyways... putting that all behind us... let's carry on, as things do begin to get even more interesting now. The next few chapters in the story will be difficult to write, as those of you who know me in real life will understand (and yes, you will all understand eventually...) but let me see what I can do.