The Second Generation

One of the most fun things about having Presto home for the past week and half has been getting to know him better. I mean yeah, I knew him before… I was there when he was born, after all. But aside from those couple weeks he spent at the hospital as a foal, I had yet to spend more than a couple days at a time with him. And most of those encounters were me watching him, or just hanging out with him, not really asking him to do a whole lot. You don’t learn that much about a horse until you start asking them to step outside of their comfort zone.

Having also bred and raised Presto’s mother, Sadie, it’s been really interesting to see the similarities and differences in their personalities and temperaments. They’re both very smart and pretty sensible and food motivated. Presto is a bit more willing, or shall we say, more inclined to acquiesce to something I’m asking him to do that he might not actually want to do. But maybe that’s the difference between a filly and a colt.

There are a few other definite differences though. Sadie had a severe aversion to black mats for THE LONGEST TIME as a young horse. We’re talking like she spent a solid year and half thinking they were a hole to hell, even seeing them daily. When Michele lived in Texas, Sadie actually boarded at her house for 6 months or so, and Michele’s barn had a black mat across the entrance. Sadie jumped over it every. single. time. Presto definitely notices a mat the first time he sees it, but he marches right up to it, gives it a snort, and then stomps it. He recovers from “scary” situations a lot faster too. I think he is a bit bolder than her, which is saying a lot because otherwise Sadie really has always been a pretty bold horse (um, black mats aside).

Sadieflowers
Sadie checking out the flowers. Not scary. Maybe tasty?

Despite a few irrational phobias, Sadie was always pretty sensible when it actually counted. When we moved from Michele’s barn to another barn up the road (by up the road I mean about a mile down the winding farm roads), my friend and I were trailer-less so we just led our baby horses down there. Sadie thought that was a pretty fun adventure, and was actually surprisingly good about the whole thing. I could see Presto reacting the same way in that situation. They seem to be naturally inclined to be inquisitive rather than fearful.

They can both scream though. Really loud. And Presto is more of a talker than she was. His first year or so of eventing might be a screamfest.

sadiesaddle1
Sadie’s first time wearing a saddle and first time lunging. Took all of 2 minutes for her to get it.

Of course, Sadie also threw some epic freaking tantrums about some of the most mundane things. She was STUBBORN, and if she didn’t want to do something your way, she was absolutely prepared to have a knock-down-drag-out fight about it. And once she was mad, she stayed mad. I was constantly trying to outsmart her, because you sure weren’t going to win a contest of strength or staying power. Presto might protest once or twice, but then he just kinda gives me the hairy eyeball, decides it’s easier to do it my way, heavy sighs, and it’s over. This definitely shows up in things like trailer loading (Sadie was not a good loader or traveler… partially because of her stupid black mat phobia and partly because I didn’t have access to a trailer to work with her on it).

img_5643
Definitely working on it a lot with this one!

When Sadie got older and became a riding horse, she turned into one of the easiest horses on the planet. I think she really thrived on having a job, and I always felt, looking back, that my biggest mistake with her was that I tried to go by the “teach them the basics but otherwise leave them alone” method of horse-raising. That method works well for a lot of horses, but for a horse like her, this wasn’t the right approach. She was too smart and too brazen and too inventive.

By the time she was 2 1/2 this had manifested in some undesirable behavior. I had been around a lot of foals and young horses, but I had never raised one myself before, so she was my guinea pig, for sure. A couple months at the cowboy helped turn her attitude around, and once she was under saddle and getting ridden regularly, she was a much happier and easier horse. She especially LOVED trail rides… exploring was fun to her. I’m interested to see what Presto thinks about hacking out in the fields. Judging by what I’ve seen so far, I think he’ll like it too.

sadietrail
Leaving the trailers for Sadie’s first off-property trail ride as a 3yo. She’s the one way out in the front.

To this day Sadie is not the most reliable about tying. I was always worried about her hurting herself, so I didn’t do enough of that in the first couple years. Once she learned she could break a halter or escape from a blocker tie ring, that was the end of her ever tying reliably. She does not forget things like that. Presto has been getting tying lessons since he was 3 months old. Not repeating that mistake!

These are the main reasons why I ultimately opted to bring Presto to my barn, where I could see him and do something with him pretty much every day. I want his brain to be occupied, and I want him to have expectations that he has to fulfill every single day. I want him to tie, crosstie, pony, see lots of commotion, load on trailers, go on adventures, get baths, get groomed and handled. He still gets 23 1/2 hours a day to himself in his pasture to go be a baby horse, but he also is expected to be civilized when I ask him to be. No “choose your own adventure”, semi-feral style of living happening over here. Some people might think it’s too much, or unnecessary, but I think it’s the best thing for him.

Presto is the Crosstying and Boot-Wearing World Champion

So far though, he’s been a bit easier than Sadie. Honestly, I think he really thrives on having something to do. He’s eager for the lessons and always seems happy to come in and figure out what’s on the docket for the day. That’s Sadie’s brain at work, which seems like such a thoroughbred trait. They both have a fantastic work ethic… Presto just has a stronger desire to please. Or maybe it’s just a stronger desire to avoid conflict. Either way, I’ll take it.

I’m really interested to see what other commonalities or differences start showing up in Presto as time goes on and we delve into more tasks. Discovering his personality has been really fun, but even more so since I know his dam so well. Raising horses is hard, but this is definitely one of the fun parts.

14 thoughts on “The Second Generation

  1. I love that you have him close by now and can interact with him more. I love seeing him in action (what a good boy he is). I FORGOT how Sadie was scared of the mats going into the barn. Funny how that all brings back memories. LOL

    She really was a goof about them. But she was such a good egg otherwise (I also forgot how she didnt like being tied). I think Presto will have his challenges but I do think his personality might be a bit mellower than Sadie (Not that Sadie is not mellow too). But as you say boys and girls might just be different.

    And he looks ADORABLE in those boots. HA HA HA

    I also wonder if Presto’s desire to please came from so much intensive care as a baby. he got no chance to be wild. Poor guy what a start. I am still so excited to see how he turns out and so happy we all get to watch as he does grow up!!

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    1. Everybody comments on the handling he got as a foal, but none of it was actually POSITIVE handling. He got caught and held (often forcefully) so that he could be stabbed, probed, prodded, and get stuff shoved into his mouth. Usually that kind of thing has the opposite effect, and they end up a bit put off by the whole thing. He definitely has shades of that sometimes, or used to anyway, but he seems to have put it behind him for the most part. So on one hand, yeah he had a lot done with him and he was too sick to be wild about it, but on the other hand none of the things that were done to him were good lol. It might have taken some of the stubbornness out of him though.

      He actually didn’t even wear a halter until he was a month old, because of all that stuff happening. And his first haltering experience was to be muzzled. Poor freakin kid. He was behind the curve.

      It’s definitely hard to guess what he would have been like without that happening though. Maybe he would be better. Maybe he would be worse. Who knows.

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  2. I love your approach! A half hour a day to make Presto a respectful, pleasant member of society will never come back to haunt you! We used to get these wild, feral babies in at the track and it just made everything SO much harder.

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  3. He is the boot wearing and cross-ties champion! He looks like he definitely enjoys a job and exploring and giving you the hairy eyeball lol. But I think part of his mellowness or willingness comes from Mighty Magic. Sure he was handled as a foal, but as you mentioned it wasn’t positive. So personally, from what you’ve described of MM’s babies, it seems that he’s got a lot of those kind but bold traits from MM. Can’t wait to continue following his progress ๐Ÿ™‚

    Amber ties really reliably now, but only after she broke 3 halters and a weak link on a chain. It was probably good I didn’t own her at that time because I would’ve given up after the first broken halter but now she ties like a champ. So, I second the tying lessons for Presto LOL. He seems really acquiescent about that too!

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  4. I freaking love Presto more with every post you write about him. And it’s SO cool how you can compare him so much to his mom after doing the same things with her. His personality sounds SO much like Griffin’s and I had a similar approach with Grif training-wise at that age. Nothing crazy and nothing for more than 30 minutes for a really long time – unless you start including the time he spent getting scritches lol – but damn did he ever love those little things we did. Makes me want to get every future horse as that much of a youngster and do it all again. But I really, really enjoy it, too, so there’s that.

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  5. I love the ability to work with multiple generations and note similarities and differences! I didn’t breed Cinna’s dam, but I did buy her barely halterbroke so I definitely got to see how she dealt with training, and Cinna is similar (although maybe slightly more sensible?). I definitely should have done more with Cinna when she was younger, but unfortunately that was a tricky time in my life, and I can’t go back and change things. It’s cool that you learned from raising Sadie and that Presto will get to benefit ๐Ÿ™‚ hopefully down the line if I breed Cinna I can also improve on my baby raising skills, haha ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    Side note, Presto in boots ๐Ÿ˜ and that forelock!

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  6. You are doing the right thing to get him the worldly experience he needs now. Itโ€™s much easier on him than doing a lot of corrective training later on, when โ€˜noโ€™ is a harder first-time concept. This early experience will serve him well! And you! : )

    Presto is so good looking! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. I’ve never raised a baby horse before, but I think I’d do it just like you are doing with Presto. I’d definitely want to instill all that lessons/manners possible when they are still young. Seems like it would make for a much easier transition once he’s under saddle. Love following your journey with him, he definitely sounds like he has a great brain!

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  8. I think you are super smart to do all you are doing with Presto now. I would have done the same with my young horse had I bought her earlier than five. She pretty much just lived in a huge field with her granddam, dam, and siblings/cousins all her life on the breeding farm. While that is nice and all and she did have some basic handling and training, it would have served her well to not be soooo green about so much in life as she is right now. Some of the things I work through with her now feels like it should have been addressed earlier, but oh well haha.

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  9. I’ve always thought/experienced that the smart mares always have an excellent work ethic. They like being challenged, getting stuff done, working, etc. Smart boys? Not as good of a work ethic. Love the attention, but Actual riding work? Bah! Unless it’s “fun” work like trail riding or stuff outside the arena

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    1. I don’t think that any of my geldings have had quite as good a work ethic as my mares in general, regardless of smarts. I have yet to own a TB that didn’t love to work though, regardless of gender, so I’m hoping all of Presto’s TB blood gives him that same quality!

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  10. I work with a trio of two-year-olds and I have come to have such a deep appreciation of what early handling can do for a horse. I can see myriad ways that quality early handling — even just “teach them the basics and let them be” style — would have made a fundamental difference to Murray’s current coping skills and behavior on the ground.

    Watching the kids learn week by week is so fun and so cool!

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