After Presto’s XC adventure a couple weeks ago, he had a little bit of a relaxed two weeks. He came in to get groomed a couple times, and I took him on a walk hack last weekend, but otherwise he’s been living his best feral kid life. He officially turned 3 1/2 last Wednesday, although I forgot his half birthday until Friday so please no one tell him.
Anyway, I’ve been wanting to work on his canter a bit more (he’s only cantered u/s maybe 5-6 times, I feel like the dressage arena at home is still just a little bit small of a space for how big/gawky/not-coordinated-enough-yet that he currently is – it’s a little challenging to keep moving at the canter in there), so yesterday I took him over to the barn down the street. It’s the same place where I’ve taken Henry a couple times to ride in their really big field, I bought a yearly pass back when Covid first hit and haven’t really taken advantage of it enough. They have a pretty big arena so I figured that would be perfect to work on Presto’s canter. It’s only maybe a mile away, but I didn’t think Presto was quite ready for a solo road hack involving speeding cars, so I stuck him on the trailer and we drove down.
And boy, he was really into the change of scenery. A brand new place, with lots to see in every direction. His head was on a swivel. No, scratch that, he has a giraffe neck. His head was on a periscope.
I lunged him for a bit before I got on, and he just couldn’t stop looking gawking at things. Not in a scared or spooky way, but in the way where he just wants to go check out and be involved in literally everything. Horse way over there in a field? Must go make friends! Tractor driving around behind the barn? Where’s he going, I wanna go too! The running commentary from him pretty much the entire time was WHAT IS THAT WHAT IS THIS WHO ARE YOU HI I IS PRESTO WHERE DIS WHAT DAT WHAT YOUR NAME WHERE YOU GO I GO WIFF. He’s an ADHD toddler that asks way too many questions. Like you know the ones that even follow their parents into the bathroom and continue talking without so much as pausing to take a breath? That’s him.
To his credit, despite being way too nosy about everything, he wasn’t naughty. He could have easily used it as an excuse to turn completely belligerent and he didn’t. His hamster stayed on it’s wheel. He still listened, and I had no qualms getting on him despite how unfocused he was. He was definitely very forward and distracted to start, but once I gave him something to do (figure 8’s seem to soothe his brain), he started to settle.
I mean, I’m not sure that he so much as flicked an ear back to me for the first 10 minutes, but he was still obedient enough. He did settle more and more as we went, though. I only rode him for 20 minutes, and once we cantered the first time he finally took a deep breath and everything after that was a bit more chill. The periscope slowly started to come down a bit. I didn’t ask him for anything in particular except to listen to me and keep some semblance of a rhythm, so I kept him on a lighter contact. No pressure, he’s allowed to be curious as long as he isn’t being rude in the process. He “sang the song of his people” a little bit, but nothing too bad. He’s still green enough to where he can’t really scream while also turning or cantering… too much multi-tasking. He can trot and scream though, that works just fine.
All things considered I was pretty pleased with him. This horse is definitely not a dead-head, he’s got some fire in him, but it’s not malicious. I trust that he’s not going to do anything completely stupid, at least, or totally come apart at the seams. He’s got plenty of enthusiasm, and a good work ethic, and I love that he’s so forward-thinking. I feel much safer on a horse like that, especially for eventing. There’s an eagerness to him that I really like to have. He will definitely require patience and a sense of humor, but if I can keep channeling the fire for good, positive things, it’ll be a great quality for him to have. Most of the time anyway.
I’m going to try to get him over to that place more often, it was definitely easier for him to canter in the bigger space and it’s good for him to see new places. I did realize that this is the first time I’ve ever actually asked him to go somewhere new and “work”… every other outing has been a trail ride, or pretty much just a hack with some friends. This time he was alone and had to do big horse things. All things considered I really can’t complain.
Left a scream in there for you. You’re welcome.