Well that was definitely an adventure! And one that went about as well as I could have possibly ever hoped.
Presto got a mega deep clean scrubby bath on Saturday, which seemed to annoy both of us equally. I’m so glad he only has one tiny white sock. Obviously it’s been a while since I’ve had a show horse with any leg white, because I forgot how freaking annoying it is to scrub socks and try to keep them clean. Plain bays forever. But I got him clean, brushed all the burrs out of his forelock (OMG the debris that thing can hold, it’s like a big puffy tangle of velcro) and told him not to get too dirty overnight.
Sunday morning I was out at the barn by 6am, and managed to get him fed, hitch up the trailer, check and put air in my trailer tires, load my stuff, bring him in, groom him, braid him (the Quick Knot did AMAZING – stayed in perfectly for all 8 hours of our day and were so quick and easy to put in/take out with a wiggly baby), get after his orange tail with some black spray, and get him loaded, all in under an hour. There was some initial screaming but by the time I got on the highway he was settled and munching hay, which he did the entire rest of the 2.5 hour drive. Thank you kiddo for being a good hauler.
The trip was delightfully uneventful, and we got to the facility, parked, I went to check in, and then unloaded. Presto took a quick look around, let his presence be known with a trumpeting neigh (like, really though, my eardrums), and went straight to grazing. Pretty crazy, this baby horse.
We arrived with about an hour to kill until our class time, so I just let him hang out and graze until about 20 minutes before. Then it was back to the trailer for another quick brush off, a halter change, some hoof oil, and I grabbed my whip and helmet.
But everything was running a bit behind, so we went back to the real serious business: NOMS.
Finally it was our turn in the ring, by which point I was dripping sweat. Thankfully Presto was pretty well behaved. A little wiggly at times for all the standing parts, but nothing too dramatic. Of course, by the time he’d stood out in the baking sand ring in the midday Texas summer sun for a while, he didn’t have much fire in him for the walk and trot. He did his best impression of a pokey hunter. Which would be great if they weren’t looking for uphill dressage type gaits with impulsion.
After we were done I went and tied him to the trailer again and then watched some of the older horses go while we waited for scores. At one point while I was standing next to the ring I caught part of a conversation between the judge and the organizer, with him telling her not to think he’d lost his mind with the scoring, that at a show a few weeks ago he’d scored only one or two in the 70’s, with the rest in the 60’s. My heart kind of sank at that, interpreting it to mean that the scores were really low. I didn’t go to the show expecting a qualifying score (which is 72 or higher), in fact I actually didn’t think Presto would get one, but, ya know… hope springs eternal? The judge was Peter Gray, one of the Championship judges from last year and will be again this year as well, so I know he’s legit and can be tough. I also knew that my yearling definitely looked gawkier and less developed than everyone else’s did. In a sea of Irish babies, a mostly-TB-with-a-little-warmblood definitely looks… different. Legs twice as long, body half the mass.
So I was pretty floored when I got his score sheet and saw that he’d scored a 75.95 (at what point do we get to round up to 76?). He was last of the 4 yearlings, of course, I knew he would be, but they were all within a few points of each other and had some good scores. The judge said the overall quality of the group was very good.
Looking at the score sheet and the comments, I agree with all of it. Presto’s biggest strength is definitely his type, he LOOKS like an event horse, but he’s pretty awkward right now development-wise, especially in his topline (or lack thereof) and that showed up in his frame score. That part just might not come until he’s older, honestly. And despite not really showing his gaits as well as I know he can, he scored decently enough there, and then got a nice score for general impression too.
I can’t complain about that. For one of the Championship judges to give him a good enough score to essentially stamp Presto’s ticket, it’s a compliment. It means he thinks the horse is good enough to want to see him again in September, and he will. FEH Championships, here we come!
Really though, the way Presto handled the whole day was just as exciting as getting a qualifying score. He hauled great both ways, loaded easily both ways (I did all of this ALONE, btw), drank well, ate all of his hay, and stood at the trailer like a champ. That’s really what it’s all about.