Omg y’all. This baby horse, he is too cute. I cannot handle it.
So, as I talked about in yesterday’s post, the real purpose of this trip was to be an XC school for Henry, dipping our toes back in for the first time since Chatt. But I brought Presto along too, which of course means two different sets of adventures – one for each horse. Since you already got to see Henry’s part, now it’s time for Presto’s! His is a little more… entertaining. More dramatic. Less professional.
My original intention was to leave Presto back at the stalls with some of the other horses, ride Henry, then come back and get Presto for a quick in-hand session with my trainer and a short pony around the field. Presto was not keen on that plan. As soon as we started leaving the barns he pitched a yearling tantrum and I was pretty sure that he was either going to climb up or jump over the little metal gate that serves as a stall door at this facility. Clearly he was Not Okay with being left with a 4yo OTTB as his babysitter, and those gates are not exactly a safe, solid barrier behind which you can let a baby horse work through his tantrum. This was not the appropriate time or place to address his anxiety, so, Plan B: take him out with us.
He walked and trotted next to Henry while we warmed up, then I pawned him off on whoever was available to hold him while Henry and I cantered and jumped. Presto was pretty concerned the first couple times I handed him off and then cantered away, but he got less and less anxious about it as the schooling wore on and he realized he wasn’t being abandoned.
Presto walked through the water (although there wasn’t much water in it – mostly pea gravel and puddles) with us, and then after everyone jumped through there we went over with the group to the ditches. Presto thought those were kinda scary. His first leap across was nothing short of hilarious.
The second attempt was still careful, but much less dramatic.
After the ditches we headed over to the bank complex and walked up and down the little bitty one. Those are no big deal, he seems to understand the concept of stepping up and stepping down pretty well. He might even be better at the stepping down part than Henry is. Of course, he did travel in a step-up trailer a lot when he was a baby, so that might be why he understands the concept so well. But at moments like this, I can get glimpses of his future, and it’s pretty exciting.
So he conquered water, ditches, and banks: the holy trinity of cross country. Check, check, and check.
After that I hopped off of Henry and had Trainer watch me trot Presto in hand. I’m trying to figure out what I need to do to help him get the best trot possible in the show ring. At his FEH show he was quite BLEH, trotting flat and quiet like a hunter and then just breaking to a disorganized canter. It helped that he was a little amped here, and I’ve been experimenting with running more “knee high” myself to get more of the same action from him. As soon as she had me shorten the lead rope and keep him closer to me, we got the last little bit of change that we needed. Such a small simple tweak, but this is why I needed eyes on the ground. Hard to handle the horse and see what he’s doing at the same time.
It’s definitely A LOT taking both of these doofuses to something like this. Many thanks to the ground people that held my baby horse for me, and for everyone else’s patience while we played with the baby. I hope he was entertaining at least. The extra great thing about this venue is that the stalls are at the front, near a semi-busy road, and the XC runs next to a railroad track. He got to hear traffic noise AND trains while we were there! Didn’t give a shit about either, btw, which is good because I’ve been on a couple horses that had absolute meltdowns about that train. It was certainly a productive day for his little brain, with all kinds of good “experience points”. Hopefully by the time he gets to his first real XC schooling, some of this stuff will be old hat!