Originally Henry was supposed to go to a little jumper show this past weekend, but it got cancelled due to the rise in covid cases. They did, however, replace it with a $5 open schooling day (very limited numbers of people and by appointment only) so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to take Presto out instead. I asked Hillary if she wanted to meet me there so that we’d have a buddy, made an appointment for mid-afternoon, and off we went.
We ended up being the only two people in our time slot, so it worked out perfectly. I didn’t really even think about it but I hadn’t ridden Presto the day before, nor did I bother putting him on the lunge line when we got there. He’s not quiet, he’s got monkeys in his brains for sure, but he’s not completely stupid either. Plus, ya know…. I had a neck strap. I felt fine to just get on.
Since we essentially had the entire property to ourselves (jumping arena, cross country field, trail obstacle course, and dressage arena), and there were no more appointments after ours, we made a plan to meander around and briefly hit all of them. More bang for our buck. Since I was on a silly 3yo and it was mega windy, we decided to hit the jumping arena first. When I first picked up the trot to start warming up Presto just couldn’t quite contain his glee and wanted to canter, so that was fine, we cantered a few laps each way before he settled into a very giraffey trot for a few more minutes. He’s just like a kid in a candy store sometimes – so much to see, so much to do. As long as he’s not rude or malicious about it I tend to just wait it out, because he does inevitably settle within a few minutes. This ride was no exception.
When the barn owner saw which horses we pulled out of the trailers (aka KIDDOS) she was kind enough to put some of the jumps down for us. There were a few crossrails and some small verticals and oxers. When I brought Presto I honestly had no plan for what exactly I wanted to do with him, I just wanted to bring him and let him see everything. Hillary jumped a few things with Luna and I was like well why the heck not let’s just see what he thinks. He has yet to actually start jumping yet, the only thing he’s jumped under saddle were those few little logs the last time I took him to Pine Hill. But, ya know, when in Rome. This is a better space than I have at home and the jumps were already there and waiting for us. I figured he wouldn’t have any issue with the little crossrails, so I pointed him at one to see what happened. And, well, he basically just did the world’s tiniest, most bored little hop over it.
So I strung a few crossrails together. Yeah same thing. Big yawn from him.
Ok then, I pointed him at a vertical. Same reaction.
May as well up the ante then right? How about a line of verticals with flowers and fill, trotting in and cantering out. MEH, he says. WhAt, LiKe It’S sUpPoSeD tO bE hArD oR sOmEtHiNg?
Sometimes I think he’s mocking me.
We barely even canter much at home yet but alright then. Guess he jumps. Not bad for a first effort. Honestly I feel like I probably could have just done the whole course that was in the ring if I really wanted to, but I figured that was a great place to call it quits since we were still at the beginning of our journey around the property.
From there we wandered out to the XC course to find their baby banks/ditches/water. I’ve been exposing him to the holy trinity of eventing on the ground since he was a yearling, so it’s nice how now that he’s under saddle these things aren’t totally new concepts to him. Different, being under saddle instead of in hand, but not new. He understands the elements at least.
First we walked up and down the little mounds, then walked up and down the tiniest bank. No problem, ma. Easy peasy. So then I trotted him up and trotted him down. Aside from almost continuing on and jumping off the big side (ok there kid, reel it in), he was perfect. I just grabbed my neck strap, gave him a loose rein, and let him go. It’s really fun to feel his brain actually focus for once, when it’s got something worth thinking about. Those focused moments are rare. I think it feels like a game to him, so he’s into it.
I’ll post the whole video at the end, you have to watch his little hops up and down. It’s adorable, and I’m definitely not biased.
Then we went over to the little ditches, which he just trotted over with zero fanfare, so we didn’t linger for long. Then it was over to the water. But in order to get to the water, we first had to pass by this adorable dude:
Which both horses were initially a bit horrified by. Presto’s horror very quickly morphed into a desire to play with it (naturally), so he was first to approach and make friends. Luna remained relatively befuddled by the “abomination” (her word) and maintained her distance.
Once we succeeded in getting past the donkey, we walked together through the water. Honestly I thought he might balk more about going into it, their water is narrow and dark and a lot of horses are spooky about it, but after putting their noses down to take a sniff they wandered right in. Good babies.
We took turns trotting back and forth through it, but it was pretty uneventful. Except the time Presto thought he might want to take a canter step into it, splashed water right up his nose, and thought he was dying. He took two steps out the other side and stopped dead to cough and sneeze. I didn’t even have to do anything, he waterboarded himself.
I’ve noticed his tail is an indicator of impending tomfoolery. Too bad I can’t actually see it when I’m riding.
After the water we walked through the little trail/obstacle course, and I couldn’t resist walking him over a little bridge thingy and through the pool noodles. He’s seen stuff like that in hand, too, and didn’t care much about it under saddle.
We capped everything off with a walk around the dressage arena, stopping to sniff (ok, lick, he licked it) the judge’s table before heading back to the trailers.
There’s more video of his day here:
Overall I was incredibly pleased with him. I can’t really express how neon-green he still is, our rides at this point are like twice a week and 98% walk/trot. He’s only got about 40 rides total at this point, all by me, probably at least a third of which are just hacking. Mostly we spend 10-15 minutes working on response to the aids, moving off the leg and seat, and steering. We’ve not really branched out beyond that at home yet, so for him to go off property and take on whatever I point him at, I can’t really complain. He’s definitely not a super easy quiet horse, not by any means. He’s very easily distracted. He’s got a motor. He’s squirrelly. Sometimes he spooks for fun. Sometimes the power steering goes out. Sometimes (a lot of the time) it’s like riding a drunk noodle. The neck strap is my best friend. BUT – I really enjoy riding him. He’s forward-thinking and willing, he learns fast, and he loves a challenge. That makes him super fun to ride, in my book. Is he a monkey? You bet. Does he make me excited about the horse I’ve got for the future? Also yes. There are moments of brilliance amidst all the shenanigans, and he’s so smart and brave. Things come very easily to him, especially the cross country – he just GETS it like it makes sense.
I’ve always been a baby/green horse person, so I’m loving this stage. They’re little sponges and it’s really rewarding, especially when you have one that feels special like Presto does.
Many thanks to Scissortail for having us and to Hillary for coming along with us and getting media! It was a great baby day.