Well guys, things are getting pret-ty serious around here. Presto trotted his first course of poles yesterday.
I set up a very basic little course of four poles in the dressage arena (I have to be honest, I don’t always trust his steering well enough yet to be sure that I won’t be decapitated by a tree out in the jump field), two making an outside line and then two singles set diagonally. He also got the additional challenge of “skinnies” since one pole is 8′ long but the other poles were only 6′ long. It’s what I had as spares without taking poles off my jumps, so… it was fine. He may as well get used to that stuff from the beginning.
He was in rare Presto form while tacking up, really antsy and non-stop putting stuff in his mouth. Some days he’s not just 3, he’s like… extra 3. But I got on and he went right to “work” with no dramatics. We started out by walking over the poles, making a little course. I want him to learn that the game is to go to and over the sticks, so right away we just starting going from pole to pole. After he’d been around them all a few times at the walk, we picked up the trot.
We did a couple of simple courses to start with, then I dialed it up a little bit by angling some of the poles and making (generously sized) rollbacks. He thought that was great fun, and definitely seemed to understand that the objective was to go to the pole. He didn’t miss a single one, and the “harder” I made it, the more engaged he seemed to get. At one point he was so proud of himself he just needed to canter after one of them, and I briefly considered having him keep going and try to canter the poles, but for his first time I wanted to keep it super uncomplicated and easy. That’s a small ring for him to try to be cantering poles in, at this point in his training. Big horse, small space. No need to get greedy.
We only rode for about 15 minutes, but I think it was short and sweet and to the point. He understood, and he was willing, so… mission accomplished. It will be many months still before I actually start jumping him at all, but doing some work with poles like this is really good for him I think. Not only does it help his steering, but it’s also introducing the idea of skinnies and angles and lines and all that stuff that’ll be relevant once he starts jumping. Plus it’s something different and fun. I need to go pick up some flowers and brush and convert a few of my poles into flower/brush rails, to give them a little something more interesting. I’ve been meaning to do that for months.
So ya know, Presto is basically ready for Grand Prix, as long as someone can find me a GP at ground pole height. He’s could totally dominate the heck out of those up-down pony kids.
When we were walking out afterward he still kept homing in on the poles and walking over them, even on the buckle.
Smart kid. I like it. That’s what I’m after. Many pats and good boys for finding them on his own. Once we were done in the ring I walked him a lap around the outside, where he showed off his giraffe skills for the Pivo.
I swear, no tree is safe if it comes within 6′ of his face. Growing boys need their snacks I guess.
That was ride number 21, if we’re still counting. Go ahead and add Pole Trotting Champion to his resume. He catches on to things so quickly that I’m gonna have to start getting creative to keep his brain occupied with fun stuff. I do want to try to get him out on another trail ride soon, hopefully in the next couple weeks.
So far he’s really just a lot of fun to ride and train. I can’t complain about this one.