Hitting a Wall

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).

possibly biased but I’m still right

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.

24 thoughts on “Hitting a Wall

  1. When you get less busy at work haul him out for lessons. It might be the slower way to develop him but you will retain control of his environment and learning experiences. Or find a situation and a person you trust absolutely. Not easy to find in my experience.

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    1. I actually have someone in mind. Unfortunately hauling him for lessons is about 2 hours each way, not just a jaunt down the road, so it’s a pretty big undertaking if you want it to happen on the regular.

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  2. I 100 percent grasp the anxiety of letting him out of your sight! I would be the same way. But maybe a couple weeks somewhere close would help make sending him to camp this summer that much easier?

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  3. Ugh. I feel you. I was very much a helicopter mom when it came to Rio. And he wasn’t even a baby horse.
    I know things will work out and be fine for you guys no matter what you decide to do.
    Also, I had the same sloped ring problem when I had Jasper. It was fine for the older horses, but was definitely a big obstacle with that gangly green horse. I wound up having my ring leveled, but it was easier since it’s a small sand ring, and not part of an actual grass field.

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  4. I can 100% commiserate with this feeling. I sent my mare to training at the dressage trainer’s barn for 2 months this winter, and I was a ball of anxiety about it for weeks before she left. We’re one month in and I can definitely say that it was the right choice to send her, and my worry has eased (for the most part). It certainly helps that I get to see her multiple times a week and speak with the barn staff about how she’s doing every time I’m there. But it is so hard to relinquish control when you’ve had them at home and been totally in charge of their care. Obviously no one will take care of them the exact way you do, but the benefits can certainly outweigh the cons in the right situation.

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      1. And of course, after I made this comment I went out for a lesson last night only to find out that she had kicked the fence and sliced up her leg. Ugh, horses. Apparently it’s not a good idea to try to increase calories while simultaneously putting her in a smaller area than she’s used to and not giving her enough space to work out that energy. Back to the drawing board I guess. Good news is that the barn staff saw her do it and had her cleaned up and treated before I got there. I don’t have that option at home.

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  5. This post needs a joke—so, my perspective on this is you find a perfect trainer in a place that will put him in a horse-proof pasture along with, say, a hundred or so of those favorite balls he loves to trash, and—end of worries!

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  6. Don’t send him off just yet… How about just galloping him daily? You often say he is still in a wiggle stage. Help him find his body and condition him at the same time. It would be uncomplicated for the both of you. Keep him home. Ride him on grass/cross country environment. Give you and him another month of just the two of you. The jumping phase will find his way. He is already showing great jumping talent. He looks like it comes to him very naturally. He would not be going as well as he is if you were not giving him a good program to begin with. Keep that in mind. You have a lot to be proud of. Anyway… my two cents 🙂

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    1. There’s the part where I said I have a hard time fitting him in during the week at all… 😉 There’s def no way I have time to gallop him daily. Consistency, a better environment, and a more skilled rider would probably go a long way in a short time period.

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  7. You are in an interesting spot. It’s a bit like “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type thing. Presto is a very active young horse. Despite his growthy stage, giving him downtime would just make him bored, have him get even more “creative” with entertaining himself, and likely lead to an injury. Can you possibly send him out to the same Y.H. trainer that you were planning on sending him to for “Sleep Away Camp” in the summer? What about a session now, and a session later? Yes, it will be damned expensive, but I don’t think you would regret the investment. Alternatively what about sending him to the dressage trainer you have worked with in the past? They can add on a few buttons to his training tool box, and be local-ish so you can check on him regularly.

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    1. I actually have someone in mind that is relatively nearby (4 hours instead of 18, anyway) that I think would be good for him in a few different ways. I’ll talk more about it next week!

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  8. Oh boy, if this isn’t my experience with every green horse and baby ever. I am in the camp of “teach them young” – I would bet your instinct about him being on the cusp of really “getting it” is accurate – so getting him to someone who can install it now will pay off for both you and him in the long run. I know it’s hard to let him go, but I think it would probably take the stress off you, and would be good for his development. Plus it’s fun to go to someone’s facility on the weekend, marvel at the progress your horse has made and play owner every once in a while. Then go home and eat ramen.

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    1. I’m sure everyone is well intentioned but also not very good at reading for comprehension in any regard 😝. I’ve been thinking this over for a few weeks now, pretty much already ran through all the suggestions in my own head lol.

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  9. Honestly, it seems like you’re being a little too hard on yourself. Your situation sounds less like a wall and more like a fork in the road (or several). Presto is an incredibly happy looking young horse who appears to be right on track with his development under saddle. Whether you send him to a trainer now or later, he’s still going to grow into a fantastic mount. As for your anxieties over his care, just be gentle on yourself. I’m in a somewhat similar situation right now after losing my lease horse over the summer. It takes a lot of time and some new neural pathways lol

    Also I hope this doesn’t sound like advice. I don’t have enough experience to give advice, and I follow your posts mainly to see whatever wild shit Presto does every week.

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  10. I FEEL YOU. I’m not even in as tough a spot as you, and I’m already wondering what to do. I’m wanting to get my Rio going again. I do have access to an arena that is down the street, but the footing isn’t great, and there aren’t any lights. It’s impossible for me to ride him more then on the weekends at this point, and that’s not exactly an ideal schedule to rehab a horse. I can’t move him back to my show barn because training is included in the price, and I don’t want him to get training rides/be worked hard since he’s not ready. I would just eat the cost and not worry about it, but I also want him to have more turnout then they can provide, since he’s not working every day. SIGH. I’ll be following to see what you decide!!

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  11. Problems like this make me SO GLAD that I board with my absolutely favorite young/green horse trainer because i can say “please put some rides on my moose” on any given day and know she’s 100% ok without any additional work on my part. (Feeling your #1 real hard right now.)

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  12. You have only good options. You can back off Henry a little to allow for more Presto time, you can practice cantering in the field without jumping, you can work in the trot with just poles in the arena, you can let him wait for you, or you can send him away for a bit. Clearly you have weighed the pros and cons of each, and we look forward to hearing about his next adventures!

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