Happy 4th of July from the babies of Willow Tree Warmbloods!
It’s hard to pass up a holiday edition of Foal Friday, especially when there are outfits and decorations involved. ALL the babies got into the holiday spirit.
Granted, one of them in particular was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more into playing dress-up than the others were. Any guesses as to who that might be?
Ollie absolutely LOVED it. Still though, fun and games were had by everyone.
Well ok maybe not Remi so much. He’s always worried about his street cred.
While it may seem a little bit silly, it’s also really good for the babies to see and be exposed to all this “scary” stuff in a playful, relaxed setting. They got braver and more confident about everything flapping around or making weird noises. Cute pictures AND good exposure… win-win.
And of course, there were plenty of outtakes too…
Happy Friday y’all, and have a great holiday weekend!
Look at me being so punctual with a vlog episode! Don’t get used to it. Although it IS a lot easier to motivate myself to make a vlog when I have some decent quality video footage (thanks Pivo – you may not be perfect but it’s a hell of a lot better). I held back on you guys in some of the regular Presto blog posts so I could save the footage for his monthly vlogs. June was a big month for him!
On this one I also answered a couple questions that people submitted after the last vlog, which I’m always happy to do. Just drop a question in the comments or if you’d rather send it to me privately, DM me on Insta or send me a message on my facebook. Hope you enjoy the June recap!
Well guys, shocker of all shockers, Texas is not doing so well with this whole covid thing. We have massively bombed that particular test, and I doubt anyone is surprised.
Our city isn’t looking great either.
I kind of figured this would happen once restrictions were lifted, which is why I’ve changed basically nothing about my own behavior. A few horse shows have taken place but I’ve not heard particularly promising reports/seen particularly promising pictures from most of them with regards to compliance with the covid guidelines. Down here in the land of extreme freedumb people don’t like being told to wear masks or not congregate in groups. And they can be reaaaaaaal vehement about it. I have friends that are organizers and volunteers and show staff and the common observation among them is that telling people to put a mask on (and keep a mask on) is now a full time and very controversial job at horse shows.
Of course, I have taken Presto on a couple outings. Ones that were chosen quite judiciously and with an abundance of caution. For both of his trips off property we worked completely out of the trailer, and didn’t have close contact with any other people (except for Hillary for our trail ride, and she’s been largely self-quarantined herself). I wear my mask if I have to go inside anywhere or if I think I might come in contact with other people, and I wipe down the gas pump and keypad before and after I use it. Naturally, this behavior earned me the comment of “fuckin’ libtard” at a gas station in one particularly delightful small town this past weekend. Sigh.
Some of the horse facilities are handling things pretty well though. The place we went XC schooling is limited to small groups and there is no actual contact or interaction required. I’ve never been there before when there were so few people. But outings like that, I’m pretty comfortable with right now. Since I’m not actually coming into contact with people and it’s an outside activity of an hour or so max… I feel like the risk is extremely low. I greatly appreciate the facilities that are being smart with their restrictions.
I’m glad I decided to wait and see how things went with the reopening and with shows, because to me… they’re not going well. I think it’s safe to say that horse shows are off the table for a while. This whole thing feels like a boulder barreling downhill. And since all the governor has done is roll back a few restrictions (inside seating at restaurants went from 75% capacity to 50% capacity. wow.) and encourage people to stay home when they can (that’s clearly working), I don’t see this improving significantly anytime soon. The numbers are bonkers. And that’s with many testing sites still turning away asymptomatic people due to a shortage of tests. Plus there are different restrictions and mandates and closures, city by city and county by county that generally just makes things feel really confusing and chaotic.
Luckily everyone in my particular little sphere is handling it responsibly and taking smart precautions. My office was supposed to start bringing some work from home people back in starting in July, but that’s been pushed to mid-August now at the earliest. I’m grateful for that, for sure. Even if I kind of hate being at my house. Being stuck on the farm was awesome. Dream life. Being stuck in a house in the city is kind of my worst nightmare, I never actually realized how much I hate living here until now. It’s loud, it’s annoying, and there are way too many people outside all the time. But it’s still better than having to go into the office and increase the risk by being around lots of people in a small space, and I’m still getting out to the barn 5 days a week, so… everything could definitely be a lot worse.
For now I’m just gonna keep staying hunkered down and waiting it out. It doesn’t look like things will be getting much better anytime soon. How is all the covid stuff going in your neck of the woods? Anyone been to any shows?
As we talked about a few months ago, there aren’t too many things I’m superstitious about. I’m not one of those people that always has to put my left boot on first or thinks it’s bad luck to change a horse’s name. But if there’s one thing I do firmly believe in when it comes to riding “luck”, and that’s the importance of the right socks, particularly for XC. I swear they carry at least a little bit of juju.
Like with Henry for instance. First we had “Carpe the Fuck out of this Diem” socks, which were perfect for those years when we were going like gangbusters trying to qualify for championships and awards and stuff. And then during the move-up year to Training I replaced them with “Thou Hast Balls” socks, to supplement my courage. And then I bought the custom ones with his crazy XC face on it, which have been my go-to ever since. They’re a great reminder that the horse loves his job, I just have to trust him and let him do it.
Ok yes maybe I’m reading way too much into a pair of socks. But it’s my thing and I like my mystical sock juju, so… that’s just how it is. Don’t try to deny me this.
So naturally, I’ve kind of had an eye out for some Presto socks. He’s a long way from leaving the start box, but 1) it’s always good to be prepared 2) lucky XC sock juju carries good juju for other occasions too. It’s never too early for good juju socks. I wasn’t really sure what kind of socks I wanted for him though. Magic themed? Buddy the Elf? Something cheeky? Perhaps motivational? I’m still learning what he’s like under saddle. But I’ve kept one eye open, figuring something would come along.
Trying to pick out socks for his first XC adventure this past weekend was embarrassingly difficult. He couldn’t wear Henry’s XC socks, those are Henry’s juju. I went back and forth between the Bob Ross Happy Clouds socks, a pair with anchors, and my french socks that I got in France. Eventually I decided on the French ones in an attempt to channel his dad’s boldness and badassery, but whew… it was a tough decision. When I got home I decided to get a little bit more serious about looking for some lucky/XC socks to wear for those kinds of occasions.
I scrolled for a while, especially after I fell deep down a rabbit hole looking at magic-themed socks. Nothing really jumped out and grabbed me. Then on a whim I googled “Presto socks”.
Y’all. I did not know that there is an Australian brand of cycling apparel called Presto. And I certainly did not know that they made socks.
The fact that some of them say “hey presto” also makes me laugh, because HEY is probably the word I say to Presto the most. Like “HEY quit it!” or “HEY let go!” or “HEY pay attention!”. That’s just kind of how it goes when you’ve got a 16.2h baby labrador with ADHD.
I like that they’re crew height, which is my preference, and they’re that nice lightweight knit with meshy parts for breathability. Normally I don’t really even take sock quality into account when it comes to my lucky socks, but… it certainly is a perk. Of course, the company is also in Australia (NATURALLY) so if I was going to order socks, I figured I might as well make it worth my while. In for a penny, in for a pound? So I got 3.
Technically justifiable, I threw away a whole bunch of sad and semi-holy socks a couple weeks ago. And these literally say Presto on them so I don’t really feel like I really have to explain myself.
Plus I got a chuckle out of the confirmation email.
I did try to order a shirt too but they were out of my size. Sadness. It’s a good thing I’m not really cycling so much anymore or I probably would have also been buying a new kit. Their logo is cute, you have to admit. The lightning bolt is like BAM, PRESTO IN DA HOUSE.
These will fit the bill perfectly until he’s older and earns his way into a more unique pair of socks befitting his XC personality, whatever that may be. I never in a million years thought that socks existed with his name on them. Now I can appropriately label my feet every time I ride him (here’s where I admit that I never wear my “Ringmaster of the Shitshow” or “This meeting is bullshit” socks when I ride him, lest he live up to that particular juju).
So really, if you do nothing else today, I urge you to google “your horse’s name socks”. You never know what you might find if you’re prepared to do some digging.
I definitely can’t call this a “xc school” because, ya know… Presto is 3 and didn’t actually jump anything. But it was his very first time being ridden at a XC facility, so we’ll go with “adventure”. He’s been to Pine Hill a couple times before – once ponying with Henry and once just me leading him around. I figured it would be a good place for his next off property ride, and since Trainer only had a couple other folks meeting there for a quick school, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to join.
This was a little bit different than his trail ride outing a few weeks ago in that this time he was flying solo, we weren’t picking up a buddy along the way. Once again he made life easy though – I got to the barn, loaded up my tack, pulled him out of his pasture, and put him right in the trailer by myself. That’s what I was working towards by taking him places those first couple years so I’m delighted that so far, so good. As someone who often goes places alone, I can’t appreciate that quality about him enough.
When we got there and unloaded he definitely perked up and was wide-eyed taking it all in. Not in a nervous way, but in a baby horse “OOOO THERE IS STIMULUS AND I AM THREE DID YOU KNOW I’M THREE?” kind of way. The facility was emptier and quieter than I’ve ever seen it (thanks covid restrictions!) which I figured could also work in our favor. Less to gawk at.
I opted to just tack him up and lead him down to the XC field to mount up along with the other two folks. Sure he hadn’t been ridden in a week and sure he’s 3 and sure we walked out into a great expanse of open space, but… I didn’t want to lunge him unless I absolutely had to. 1) all lunging really does is warm him up (like I use lunging at home to make him think more forward/sharp/focused) 2) I honest to god HATE having to “lunge them down” any time they think something is exciting or new, so I don’t want him thinking that’s a thing he gets to/has to do when he goes places. I want him to be able to do his job like a Big Horse, so I’m going to treat him like one unless there’s an actual safety issue that prevents it.
I mounted up with no problem and we stood for a few minutes waiting for the others. He was a bit wiggly, but mostly he was interested in meeting the other two horses and telling them his life story. He likes to just march right up into their personal space like “HI I’M PRESTO I’M THREE THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE WHO ARE YOU ARE WE BESS FRIENDS WHATS THAT”. You could pretty much see the older, more mature horses like “oh jesus, can someone get this kid a Ritalin?”. But once the introductions were made we headed out, with Presto leading the charge.
We pretty much just stood around or walked circles while the other horses warmed up. I mostly wanted him to stand on a loose rein, but if he just couldn’t keep his feet still, that was fine, we’d walk for a couple minutes and then I’d ask him to stand again. And largely, he just stood. We did go trot a few circles away from the group, because I wanted to see what he’d do if I asked him to go away from them. He went just fine so we came back and resumed our standing. Presto took an instant shine to the thoroughbred in the group, and was REALLY INTENT on watching him jump. Presto was very impressed by his athletic prowess.
We tagged along around the course while the others jumped. The group worked our way through the front field and into the woods, around the back to where the big mound is. I had him climb up it and watch from higher up, which he wasn’t super impressed by. Mostly I was just glad he stayed on his feet, because, ya know… baby horse. I’m not always convinced that he’s going to stay upright.
He was really good back in the woods (better than Henry, who does not like the woods and is pretty convinced he’s gonna get murdered back there some day) although he was a little bit looky about sudden footing changes. I thought that was kind of funny, because never before in his life has he noticed or cared about random sandy or dark spots on the ground. If that was his version of being spooky or wild then… ok. He still went, he just peeked at them first, so no harm no foul.
Mostly though, we alternated between walking to the next jump and standing there looking bored.
It was relatively uneventful until we got to everyone’s favorite: the water. Yaaaasssssss. This is why we came. We can’t really do anything else very interesting at this point, but he can DEFINITELY go in the water. And go in he did. We walked back and forth across the shorter way a couple times, then (once I was sure he wasn’t going to try to lay down in it) we walked back and forth across the long way too.
Once we conquered that, I wanted to trot across it. Because now that he was confident about where his feet were going, I wanted him to go forward across it rather than stare down into it.
And because splashing is fun. I’m an eventer, after all.
He trotted right across, although it took him the whole first pass to figure out how to trot through it well. I don’t think he was expecting all the resistance from the water, so his first attempt was a little stuttery and awkward. Heading back across the second time was better. You could almost hear him thinking “whew dat was harder than I thought it would be!” as he came out the second time. For instant butt workout, just add water jump.
After a little bit more ambling through the woods (well… the others jumped, I ambled) we all called it a day. He was still bright and interested but he had definitely settled more as we went around. And he never did anything dumb or bad.
I thought he might have a little bit of a meltdown when we “ungrouped” and went our separate ways to our trailers. And he did neigh a couple times, and wiggle around looking for his new BFF, but he didn’t get belligerent about it. I untacked him, took him to the washrack to hose him off, let him graze for a few minutes, then loaded him up and off we went back home. He slept most of the way.
Overall it was another successful outing. His first time getting ridden off property without having brought a buddy with him, and he handled it really well. For anyone who’s still keeping track, that was ride #16. Now we just have to decide where we’re gonna go next!
So, uh, it’s possible that I procrastinated a little bit with this one. I would like to say that it won’t happen again but we all know that’s probably a lie. A lot of little milestones happened in those two months, though… the beginning is always a little bit more exciting because everything is new and seems to happen quickly. We started April at ride #5 and finished May at ride #12, plus he ventured outside of the arena for the first time. Obviously since I’m riding him so infrequently the progress is slow, but… I think you can see it?
The good news is, this one’s not as long as the other two! I’m slowly figuring out this vlog thing… hopefully now with the Pivo I’ll actually have decent video for the next one.
Let me know if there are any questions you want me to answer in June’s vlog or if there’s anything else you want to see!
There seems to be something about airing ones frustrations to the world that somehow makes a difference. As you already know, my Pivo finally came last week, but so did everything else I’d been waiting on.
So the PSoS/Horselet fiasco, which has consumed far too much of my time and probably done terrible things to my blood pressure, is finally resolved. I think so, anyway. After the Swedish UPS rep telling me last week that the package had been delivered to me (it hadn’t, it was delivered to a UPS warehouse in Kansas City) he completely ghosted me and never responded again. But PSoS did get back to me and when I showed them what had happened, they just gave up on getting UPS to fix this and sent me a whole new package. Two days later I had my quarter sheet from Sweden, no problems at all, and they tossed in some leather cleaner as an apology for all the trouble (and, to be fair, they were quite apologetic via email too).
As for the original package… who knows. Guess it’s just gonna be lost in a warehouse in Kansas City forever? That makes me sad to think about. Maybe someday they’ll figure it out. I was concerned that since that original package hadn’t really been resolved that UPS would somehow still try to keep me on the hook for the freight fees associated with it, but as of right now nothing is showing as due on my account anymore. I will probably lose my last shred of sanity if UPS tries to collect from me again.
So the summary of that story? PSoS/Horselet made an honest mistake, kinda took a long time to figure it out, UPS was absolutely useless in helping resolve it which made it take even longer, but PSoS made it right in the end. Knowing what happened and that they’ve fixed it, I would order from Horselet again in the future. UPS, however, stays on my shit list.
The Smartpak box also arrived, so now the only outstanding thing I have left is the mega-super-backordered bitless bridle that I ordered 3 months ago and have no idea when I’ll actually get it. That’s a supply chain issue with the manufacturer, so it’s not as frustrating to me as one that’s trapped in shipping purgatory or something that’s marked as in stock taking over a week to leave the warehouse.
I also wanted to update and say that I’ve FINALLY found some tights that I love, thanks to y’all. After many tries (like… eight?) and several that were aaaalmost right but not quite it, I took the recommendation of a few readers who recommended the Ariat Eos tights on my last post. I was a little grumpy about spending that much on tights, but… damn y’all were right these are perfect. Perfect fit, perfect fabric, lots of pockets, love the waistband, so comfortable, they’re exactly what I was looking for.
The only bummer is that the colors are kind of limited, and RW only carries two of the colors. I opted for gray since I don’t really like the red stitching on the navy “team” color. I emailed them a couple days ago to see if they could special order the black camo ones for me, because those are straight fire, but haven’t heard back yet. Fingers crossed. I’d like to get one or two more pair of those and sell all the rest of the tights I tried and didn’t love. The search is over. Ariat please make these in more colors (like hunter green and burgundy specifically? K thanks.).
It’s kind of a nice feeling to not have any packages in weird shipping limbo for the first time in a while. First world problems, I know. All’s well that ends well? Now that I’m officially out of distractions and excuses maybe I can finally finish Presto’s April/May vlog today…
Yay, FINALLY four weeks after ordering it, my Pivo arrived! The plus side of it having taken a while to get here is that I had a lot of time to peruse the Pivo facebook group, which helped me learn a lot about how it works and gave me some good tips in advance. If you have a Pivo or are thinking about purchasing one, join this group and spend some time looking at other people’s videos and troubleshooting. I would not have had nearly as much success with mine right off the bat if I hadn’t. Knowing how the technology works is SO IMPORTANT.
So what is a Pivo? It’s a relatively simple device, really, just a little rotating pod that your phone sets on top of. The pod syncs via Bluetooth to the Pivo App on your phone, and the app and the pod work together to make their magic. The app records the videos on your phone and saves them to your gallery. There are currently two Pivo pod options – the original Red Pivo and the newer Silver Pivo. The only difference is that the Silver can move twice as fast as the Red. It’s a little bit more expensive, but I opted for the Silver and I’m already glad I did. Originally the Pivo didn’t have any zoom capability, only turning, and the Red could keep up with a horse just fine in canter. But as of last week the new software update includes a brand spanking new Auto Zoom feature, and people with Silvers are having fewer problems especially at the canter. Sometimes the Red can’t quite keep up when it’s zooming at speed.
Before I get into my own thoughts on the Pivo’s performance, let’s talk about how the actual software works.
There is no “tag” or tracker that the pod is syncing with in order to follow you, it’s tracking capability is completely software based. The software is looking for two main things in particular: shape and contrast. There are 3 shooting modes for the Pivo: face, body, and horse… obviously the horse mode was designed for horse tracking, and when it’s in this mode it’s basically looking for the rectangular shape of a horse. In order to find and successfully track said rectangular shape, first it needs to be able to clearly see it. This means that you need some contrast. Take into account your arena color, background color, and horse color. If everything is light, you need to add some kind of contrast, maybe a colored or dark pad/boots. If everything is dark, think about adding something bright or light to contrast, like a white pad or white boots (the Pivo also seems to really like high-viz neon pink). Important item #1: the software has to be able to clearly see you in order to track you.
As for the shape, as I said it’s looking for that rectangular horse shape. Because of this, Pivo recommends placing the pod in the center of the arena (ie at X). When the horse is coming directly towards or traveling directly away from the camera, it’s no longer in that rectangular shape that it recognizes as being a horse, and the software is more likely to lose you in those moments, especially if they’re prolonged for more than a few seconds. Same goes for if you get too close – it can lose the shape. In the facebook group some people have had success with placing their Pivo’s at E or B, just outside of the arena, but it’s definitely a little bit more finicky with that placement. There is also some distance limitation here: it will lose you once the horse is less than about 10% of the screen, so it’s really meant for an area more like dressage arena size or maybe up to 60m x 60m square. It’s probably going to struggle to see you beyond that distance.
Also keep in mind that due to how the software works, it will have problems staying locked on you if there are multiple horses in the ring. Sometimes it seems to struggle if you have a lot of jumps in the ring or a lot of varied lighting (lots of shadows/bright spots/trees) as well. If you think of it from the software’s perspective with regards to what it’s looking for – shape and contrast – that makes sense. So, 1) understand the software, 2) keep your environment in mind.
This isn’t a $1,000 SoloShot or Pixio, it’s a $100-140 pod that syncs with your phone and follows you around as best it can. If you’re expecting SoloShot or Pixio performance, you’ll likely be disappointed. But if you want a budget friendly gadget with quick and easy set-up that will help you get some video for training purposes or for social media, your expectations are in the right place.
With all of these things in mind, before I even got my Pivo I knew that I should put some light colored stuff on me/Presto. Our arena footing is fairly light, but in some places the background is bright whereas in other places it’s dark. In the bright areas Presto himself would be good contrast, but in the dark areas I wanted to make sure there was something bright for it to “see”, so I wore a white shirt, put on his white saddle pad, and borrowed Henry’s white cross country boots. I placed the Pivo at X in our dressage arena on a tripod. You can set it on a barrel or a jump standard as well, plenty of people seem to have success with that, but a tripod is what’s recommended due to the height and stability. You can get one on amazon (even with a built-in level if you wanna get fancy) for under $20, so not a big deal to buy one. Pivo recommends that the pod be at the same height as the horse, not too low to the ground. Again, this has to do with the software reading the shape of the horse.
Ok, SO… how did it work? As you saw from yesterdays post, pretty darn well for a first try.
I would recommend actually reading through the app’s initial tutorial (don’t just swipe it away) so you understand how to access all the screens and settings. I also think its a good idea to sync it up and play with it a little bit at home first to familiarize yourself with the settings and how to change them before you’re standing in an arena holding a horse and trying to squint at the screen to figure it out.
As for actual usage, it was very quick and easy to set up. Put the tripod at X, put the Pivo on top, turn it on, pair the app to the Pivo, select my settings, put the phone in the pod, and voila. It took all of a minute, which is a big selling point to me with a young distractable wiggly horse. I did make a couple of mistakes out of the box, though. 1. I underestimated how tall Presto and I are together. I had the tripod at about stirrup height, but in reality I think it would be better at saddle pad height. The Pivo doesn’t have an “up/down” tilt or pivot ability, only left/right. Having it a bit too low put me in the very top of the shot the entire time, so it’s something I need to be more aware of next time and raise it probably 6″ or so. 2. I also need to make sure the tripod itself is totally level. Admittedly I didn’t check this, and I think that’s also contributing to my framing issue.
Otherwise I didn’t really have any major problems. At no point did the Pivo lose me completely, I was never totally out of the frame during the entire 20 minute ride. There were times when I changed directions or circled and Presto ended up “head on” or “butt on” with the camera and it lost the rectangular shape for a few seconds, but it always recognized him again as soon as we got more parallel and before we left the frame.
As I mentioned, the auto zoom is a totally new feature in it’s first release, and I think it needs a little bit more tweaking. I’m REALLY excited to have it at all, it’s already a huge improvement from before with no automatic zooming capability, but it does seem a bit slow to zoom back out once it’s zoomed all the way in. I think they already know this and are working on it.
I’m pretty excited about this little gadget and think it will be invaluable in getting footage of Presto both for my own purposes and for his vlogs. That’s what I wanted it for and my first impression is that it’ll suit that purpose just fine One ride in and I’ve already got GIF’s and screenshots for the blog and sent some video to my trainer.
So overall, here’s what I would say so far if you’re thinking about buying:
Have realistic expectations. Know what the Pivo can do and what it can’t do. Figure out if it will suit your needs.
If you order one, I definitely recommend the Silver. The Red seems to do just fine, but with some of the updates they have planned I think the Silver is going to perform better overall in the long run.
Please for the love of all that is holy, join the facebook group. I can’t stress this enough. There are a lot of people on there with great advice that have already been using theirs for a while, you can learn from other people’s trials and tribulations. There’s even an actual Pivo rep in there helping with troubleshooting. If you have any issues you can upload a video of the problem and they’ll help. This is some of the best support I’ve seen for ANY gadget. There are also a lot of good videos on youtube that talk about the different settings so you can see what other people are using.
Take some time to learn how the software works and how it “sees”. This will set you up for success instead of frustration.
Right now I would say that if you’re looking for something that can reliably shoot an entire dressage test from C for virtual shows, this is not your tool. You probably need a SoloShot. Pivo is working towards that goal in the future, but it’s not there yet. It might work somehow for lessons, I know they’ve added a Live Stream feature recently but I haven’t paid much attention to that. I would check the group for more details on if/how well that works if it’s a need for you. If you want something to record a full jump course, I also don’t think this is your tool yet either. People have had success recording a couple of fences (with the horse traveling parallel to the Pivo, so like if you just jumped in a circle or oval it would probably be fine) but it’s just not realistic to expect it to shoot a full jump course the way a human being does. However, if you’re someone who is often riding alone and wants something that can be your “eyes on the ground” and provide social media content… the Pivo could definitely suit your needs.
The big benefit of the Pivo being software based is that it means with every release you get the latest and greatest updates, you don’t have to go buy a newer fancier unit to get newer fancier functionality. Pivo also seems actively dedicated to improving the performance of the pod specifically for equestrian use, releasing new features pretty regularly. They are listening to the feedback.
I took some clips from Sunday’s ride and kind of talked through how the software was working in a few different places and with different things. Keep in mind these are mostly the more “problematic” areas of the entire video, so you’re seeing the worst things it did and why I think they happened based on what I’ve learned so far.
As you can see, even with a few little issues (and my own setup mistakes) it still did a really good job. 20 minutes of footage with my horse easily visible in the frame is a hell of an improvement from what we had before without the Pivo. Next time I’ll raise and fix my tripod and hopefully that’ll make it even better. First impression though? Really positive! The reviews and experiences in the facebook group are pretty mixed, so admittedly my expectations were not that of perfection. The software can definitely be a little particular and how you need to use it can vary depending on your own particular circumstances or even different conditions from day to day. But if you’re willing to do a little bit of learning and keep your expectations appropriate for the price point, I think it could be a great tool to have in your toolbox. I’m pretty excited about it!
My favorite thing about baby horses is that there’s never a dull moment. That’s especially true of Presto, who certainly isn’t lacking in personality or opinions.
We’ve been continuing our Wednesday/Saturday lunge and Sunday ride routine. I’ve been really pleased with how he’s started to figure out the balancing reins the past few weeks, I think they’re definitely helping make things click a little bit for him. Both of his weekly lunge sessions with them are generally very short, maybe 10 minutes if that. Partly because on Wednesdays I’m rushing to get back to my computer, and partly because I just don’t think he needs to go any longer than that to get the message.
But he’s a baby horse, so sometimes he chooses an evil path and his fate changes. On Wednesday I went out with his stuff to lunge him out in his field. I’ve lunged him in there before several times, no problem. I tossed his equipment on and walked out to flat clear space and sent him out. He trotted a few circles before he decided to give in to Satan’s demands and he just BOLTED. Luckily he’s never subtle when he’s naughty so I saw it coming and braced myself. He hit the end of the lunge line and flopped around like an angry fish before we repeated that over and over for the next 20 minutes. I never even got the chance to put the balancing reins on, that was an aborted mission. Instead I waited until he could give me some polite w/t and listen to the voice commands for a few minutes without being a turd, and then put him away. Some days they’re just dumbabies and that’s fine.
On Saturday we tried again.
He was back to normal, totally workmanlike and listening. He wasn’t super thrilled when it started raining on him, or when all the other horses bolted for cover, but he wasn’t naughty at all. And in fact I was quite pleased with how he’s continuing to show improvement in his carriage. He’s not fighting the bit anymore, his mouth is a little less fussy, and he has moments where he’s really coming from behind really nicely. He’s even starting to show a little bit of a desire to stretch.
It’s pretty quick progress, all things considered. I think he really just needed to figure it out on his own terms. He’s still very inconsistent of course, but the good moments are getting longer and more frequent. I also think he’s starting to get a bit stronger in his hind end and topline, which obviously helps too.
Our Pivo finally arrived on Saturday, just in the nick of time for me to use it for Sunday’s ride. I’ll talk more in depth about my initial impressions of it tomorrow.
As I was setting up the Pivo and the tripod a little group of deer decided that was the perfect time to hang out in the woods at the far end of the arena just behind C. Great. Super. Presto spotted them too and reaaaaaaaaaaaally wanted to stare. I thought I might have a real problem on my hands but decided to just carry on as if they weren’t there and see if he would settle. They stayed up there the whole ride but other than causing him some distraction at that end (ok at times it was more than “some”) and one little spook it wasn’t a problem. I was proud of him for that. Henry probably would have lost his mind. I did find myself wishing I had remembered my whip a couple times though, when he got a little too focused on looking for the deer and forgot I was there. While distractions like deer can seem really annoying at the time, I’m also really glad for them. Learning how to handle things like that are all part of the process.
Despite all that he was overall quite well-behaved. Right now these once a week rides are really fun because I can get on every week and feel a clear improvement from the ride before. Now that he’s stopped wanting to fight the bit, everything is obviously a lot easier. I can actually ride him. He’s in that phase where he hasn’t quite figured out this contact thing yet, so he bounces back and forth from a little heavy/braced to a little bit BTV, with some correct steps in between. I’m trying to really reward him when he gets it right and just keep asking him to come forward with a steady rhythm the rest of the time. He’ll figure out the middle ground eventually.
He naturally wants to be uphill, even at this awkward age, and the feeling he has in those moments when he does get it right are pretty exciting. We had a few moments in particular yesterday (of maybe 5-6 steps each) where he really stepped up with that hind leg and swung through his back and I was like DIS HORSE OMG. It’s REALLY fun to see the natural aptitude come through. I love Henry to death, of course, he’s my best boy and tries really hard, but in 6 years of work I don’t think he’s ever been as uphill as this horse is on ride 15. If Presto can be as good as Henry about the XC I’ll be mega-thrilled.
Next weekend we’re going to try to go on another adventure, this time to an XC schooling venue to just hang out and walk around and see the sights. And tomorrow we’ll talk more about the Pivo!