I admittedly feel like I’m hitting a wall with Presto right now. Now because of anything HE is doing, he’s continued to be a Good Baby Horse and also the cutest even when he’s causing trouble (which is always).
The problem right now is really threefold. 1) Q1 is really really busy for me at work, and we’ve got some other things going down at the moment that just pile on top of that. I’m struggling to get consistent time to work two horses during the week, and when I do I’m often rushing or not 100% focused on the ride. This is obviously not the situation you want when you’re riding a neon green baby horse. 2) I absolutely love my grass jump field with it’s beautiful trees, but it’s a very challenging space for trying to teach a big gawky horse the basics of jumping. I’ve about knocked my block off on branches at least 4 times, and not because he was doing anything bad, but just because he’s wiggly and green and not necessarily precise about steering through and around trees while also trying to jump. Plus it’s on a bit of a slope, which adds to the struggle. I can’t really ride him the way he needs to be ridden right now when we’re constantly dodging trees or having to balance down a hill. 3) His canter balance is still a bit of a struggle in general. In the dressage arena he struggles because his stride is big and gangly and kind of all over the place for a space that small. But then we go out in the field and we have the issue with the slope. Plus like, let’s be totally honest, I’m a capable enough rider but I’m far from great, so I’m 100% certain there’s something I could be doing to help him more. It’s one of those things where he feels so so so close to finally “getting it”, but I think he needs someone who rides better than me to help him click that last piece into place.
Plus there are a few other finishing touches I want him to have with his groundwork training that aren’t 100% there. I want him to self-load, because I’m always alone and my horses need that skill. He’s about 50/50 on that, and last time when he backed off the trailer he fell and kind of scared himself a bit, so a re-visit of trailer training would be good I think. I also need for him to be better at standing for the farrier than he currently is. He’s not BAD, but he’s just not patient enough for that and is wiggly and annoying. He’s about to get his first set of shoes next time and really needs to be better with his patience and keeping his foot on the stand (or not flailing it around for fun).
The way I see it, I have a few options. One, I could just put him on the back burner until work slows down. That doesn’t really help with my #2 issue, and it’s not really what I want to do at the moment given #3 – I do feel like he’s incredibly close to nailing down some major fundamentals and stopping now feels like the wrong thing. Plus I want to get the groundwork things ironed out fully before we really start diving into his “career”. I thought about finding someone local to haul him to for rides, but that becomes problematic due to item #1 – I have no idea when I’d find the time. The third option is that I could send him off for a month or so of training, to someone that has a nice big jump ring to ride him in and some cross country jumps and can help him put the pieces together without the additional challenges I have here at home, plus has the bandwidth to work on the groundwork things as well.
The thought of sending him off kind of makes me want to vomit, if I’m being honest. To be fair, even some kind of fantasy scenario with guaranteed rainbows and butterflies would still make me want to vomit. The latent trauma I still have from this horse’s early life is real and I am very weird about letting him out of my sight or my care. I’m also particular that he be in a relatively safe, Presto-proof environment, because if there’s potential for trouble he will find it. He puts his feet in fences and buckets. If you leave something within his reach, it WILL become a toy and you WON’T like what he does to it. That’s just who he is, so he has to live somewhere where the potential for injury is at least minimized. He also requires a lot of turnout, the more the better. And, let’s be honest, someone who understands a personality like his (monkey, he’s a monkey) and knows how to deal with it. Some would find him… really freaking annoying. Sense of humor is required as is a good understanding of NH type groundwork.
While the thought of him not being just outside my window sends me spiraling into a pit of anxiety, the practical side of me knows it’s something that will happen sooner or later. I also can’t shelter him forever – it would probably be good for him to be exposed to a busier environment and someone who might do things a little differently than I would. I’m also the only one that’s ridden him, and I actually don’t think that’s a great thing. He needs to experience other riders, and any of my own weaknesses that I may be transmitting to him should be addressed early. I am definitely not the kind of person that wants to hoard the horse or is hesitant to get him pro rides. I just have to… cut the cord. I was planning on sending him off for a little while in the summer anyway, so it’s not like this is a new idea. And I really really really want to get the trailer loading and farrier skills at 100% ASAP, so that he’s fully prepared for his life moving forward.
I’m letting the thought percolate in my mind a bit, but I already know what my options are and have thought about it extensively. This is more of me venting/explaining than looking for ideas. My gut says it’s the right thing, even if it’s just for a month to help get us over the current hump, but I think my internal helicopter mom needs to finish coming to terms with the idea.