The 2020 foals are taking a bit of a break this week from being quite so actively adorable, given the latest heat wave and triple digit temps. And since breeding season is pretty much over, I figured now would be the perfect time to introduce the expected class of 2021! We’ve got SIX confirmed (with the possibility of one more), making it the biggest expected foal crop yet.
The first is beautiful TB mare Peyton (Remi’s dam) in foal to 5* eventing stallion Leprince des Bois.
We were able to see Leprince in person at the Burghley Stallion Show last year and he was a really lovely horse. Leprince had quite a career, starting out with a bang early by placing in the top 5 in the French Eventing Championships as both a 5yo and a 6yo. From there he worked his way up to the 5* level with German rider Kai Ruder, competing at Badminton, Burghley, Pau, and Luhmuhlen. After he stepped down from 5* he was a young rider’s horse, winning the German Junior Eventing Championships, and in his retirement to stud he’s still sound enough to be ridden regularly at age 21. This foal will be 82% blood.
We also have a couple of full siblings en route (thanks to embryo transfer) with two foals from Chanel Z by Faustino de Tili.
After a couple years of battling various breeding issues these will be the first WTW foals for Chanel! She jumped through the 1.40m Grand Prix level herself and has two offspring in Europe competing up to 1.45 as well. Faustino de Tili, also known as Frosty (which I think is ridiculously adorable – COTH did a “Behind the Stall Door” column with him if you’d like to read more about him), has been tearing up the GP circuit the past few years and has jumped through 1.60m level. It should be fun to see these two full siblings and how they compare!
There’s also one other embryo transfer foal on the way, this one by Utrillo van de Heffinck out of Lasilissa.
Utrillo is a very well known stallion who jumped through the 1.60m level and has produced the same. He is an excellent, very proven producer of top showjumpers through the highest levels. Lissa herself competed through 1.50m, so this should be a really nice one! We got to see some Utrillo foals at his home farm in France last year and they were lovely and intelligent looking horses.
And last but not least, I hope y’all like Oakley and Ollie, because they’ve both got full siblings coming in 2021! Daisy and Stormie are back in foal to French sportpony phenom Usandro Tilia Derlenn.
Maybe Michelle will finally get her grulla (well… one that won’t turn gray *ahem OLLIE*) this time?
Fingers crossed – there should be a little bit of everything in 2021!
It finally happened. I finally felt the twinge of disappointment and sadness about not showing this season. Well, let me clarify. I’m still not sure that I miss the actual showing aspect (aside from XC, of course), but I sure do miss Coconino itself and my two week summer escape/vacation/adult summer camp. All year in my facebook memories, old pics of lots of different horse shows have been popping up. My reactions to them have ranged somewhere from “oh yeah that was a fun one” to “god that was hot and humid and miserable, never again” (looking at you, Chatt). And then the Coconino memories started popping up this month and I felt my first true sense of longing. I had really wanted to take both boys this year, Henry to show and Presto to just hack around. They ultimately had to cancel their summer shows, which eased the FOMO, but it didn’t really make me any less sad about it. I absolutely love that place.
It’s nice to know I’m not totally broken though. I was starting to wonder. I have to admit that I thought that there was a big silver lining to the horse world’s forced covid break from showing. For the first time I saw lots of pros posting on social media about trail riding, or riding bareback, or doing other fun/silly things with their horses. The same seemed to be true of everyone who was able to keep riding and accessing their horses during that time. It was almost like we all took one big collective deep breath and there, for a hot minute, we were all back to being plugged in to what made us fall in love with the sport in the first place. For the sake of riding and training progress, maybe the forced break wasn’t great, but for horse and rider mental heath… I don’t think it was a bad thing.
I also think that a big part of not missing it as much as I felt like I should is because I’ve admittedly become a bit disillusioned with upper level horse sports in general over the past several years, and like it or not, it’s trickled down a bit. Looking back I think it really started with a big name rider/trainer/coach saying that the USA has to “be prepared to win at all costs”. That comment latched on to my brain and dug in deep. It still makes me feel queasy.
It got hammered down a bit more after listening to some interviews with top level riders that, while they spoke kindly of their horses, definitely gave off a “horse as a means to an end” type of vibe. I know there is a huge difference in people who are trying to make it as a top rider in the sport vs people who just have a horse or two or three that they deeply love and are committed to having fun with. We want different things out of it, and that’s okay. I used to be the former and have kind of morphed into the latter so I see both sides.
In my head I think of it as “horse oriented” vs “goal oriented”. The former buys the horse and if necessary adjusts their dreams/goals in accordance to what that horse needs/wants, whereas the latter has very specific goals for themselves and buys/sells the horses that will or won’t get them to said goals. And there’s nothing wrong with either, in my mind. It’s 1000% fine to have clear cut goals for yourself in your athletic endeavors. I don’t think everyone has to keep a horse forever, not by any means, or stick with a situation that makes them unhappy. We don’t all have to approach or enjoy the sport the same way. But I do think that everyone has a responsibility to the horse, and it admittedly bothers me to hear them talked about as if they’re a piece of equipment vs a living breathing animal. Used up, pushed to the limit, and spat out. Putting bandaids on physical issues to try to eke out one more show or season, or resorting to some barbaric methods just to gain some advantage. Not everyone does that, of course, it’s just a small percentage, but now that I’m really listening for it… I hear it and see it more than I’d like in the show world.
Most recently was the Andy Kocher debacle with his electrified spurs. I kinda feel like at this point nothing surprises me anymore (especially from that guy, whose list of horse welfare offenses could fill up a CVS receipt). It’s infuriating to think about how long he’s been getting away with this. It’s infuriating that he was still winning. It’s infuriating to think that people around him KNOW what’s going on, likely including some of the owners, and they felt it was permissible. It’s infuriating that even now, in the face of a mountain of photographic evidence, people are still defending it (god if there’s one thing the last year has taught me it’s that no matter what the atrocity, there will always be people waiting to defend it). And it’s especially heartbreaking to see a top level judge/official say things like “you would be surprised at how many top level riders use these”.
Ugh. It’s disgusting.
It’s all been weighing on me a lot a lot over the past year or so especially, and I’m still grappling with how to get my brain around it. I love horse sports. I always will. The things horses will do for us is amazing. But there’s a dark side to it, too, and I don’t know how to (nor do I want to) compartmentalize that. It has made me think long and hard about my own motivations and decisions though, that’s for damn sure. I don’t want to be someone that uses a horse up, or ekes every last bit of “usefulness” out of them. I don’t want to become willing to slap bandaids over physical issues or resort to questionable training tactics. No competition is worth that to me. It’s repulsive, and it’s stained my view of everything.
So it kind of makes sense that the first memory in my feed that really made me remember what’s so great about horse showing was Coconino. That’s the show where I get to live 40′ away from my horse’s stall for 2 weeks straight, able to see him any time of day or night. That’s the show where we get to hack through the pine trees before or after our rides, and just unplug from the world and enjoy the view. That’s the show where the cool weather and crisp mornings make him happy and comfortable. That’s the show where I sit outside of his stall every morning before anyone else wakes up and share breakfast with him. That’s the show where I’ve always felt most connected to my horse, no matter the outcome. That’s the show where I’ve inevitably driven home bursting with pride for my horse and all that he’s done for me, whether we had a ribbon or not.
That’s the epitome of what I love about horse showing, and that’s why I do it. I remember now.
Honestly if you want to make me buy things, just create a “swear words” collection of horse stuff and make normal boring items completely inappropriate by slathering them with various 4 letter words. I am like a moth to a flame and I can’t even help it. Especially in 2020… what better to sum up the status quo than a bunch of expletives?
I found my way to this collection completely by chance, while looking for a fun flymask for Henry. We’re past the worst of fly season here now, but they’ll be back in the fall, and somehow neither of the fly masks I own fit either of my horses. Presto can’t wear one, he’ll just pull it off, but Henry generally seems to appreciate having one. I’d also like one that I could ride in during gnat season. Who wants a boring fly mask though? So I stumbled across the above Swear Words fly mask, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything so perfectly suited for Henry in my life. He is the king curmudgeon, and I’m pretty sure he says “for fuck’s sake” to me more often than anything else. Well ok it might be a tie with “bitch please”. Either way, this mask has all of Henry’s favorite expressions covered.
But naturally… it’s in Australia. WTF is up with y’all down under? Why is ALL THE COOLEST STUFF from Australia? Punk Ponies, Sweet Iron Co, Valentine Equine, Black Horse Clothing, Emcee, Hufglocken…. I could keep going. Seriously, it’s ridiculous. And the prices are always great too. But ya know, if I’m gonna ship a fly mask from Australia I may as well see what else they’ve got too, right? And boy… they have a lot. They even knew how to speak directly to my soul via pompoms.
I was rolling. There are even fly bonnets and saddle pads and tail bags. They also have a whole bunch of non-sweary stuff too I guess but like… pffft who’s even interested in that?
In the end I settled on this particular gem, which seemed to cover pretty much everything. It can be my schooling helmet cover. Of course, it’s the style meant to go over a brimmed helmet rather than a skull cap, but I can do some quick DIY surgery on it at home and convert it. I had to have it, it was too good.
It said at the top of their website that international shipping was temporarily suspended but it let me place the order and the next day I got a shipping notification and a tracking number, so… we’ll see how long it takes this particular Australia package to catch a plane. I won’t need the fly mask for a few more months probably anyway so it’s fine, I can wait.
I also had to order Henry a new leather halter (thank god I found one I liked in the US, small miracle). His old one had really been battered severely, and finally a few weeks ago he broke one of the cheekpieces just by trying to bite at a fly in the crossties. The leather was getting really rotted and it had sustained plenty of various damage over the years. It was past time to retire it.
I wanted something a little bit more unique for his new one and started off looking at colored ones and padded ones and anatomical ones and all that stuff before I finally searched for braided ones. That led me to this one at Fritt’s Tack.
I really liked the style, it was different but still super classy and I thought it might be flattering on Henry’s slightly boxy head. Plus the price was good. I really didn’t want to drop $100+ on a new halter.
It is super pretty in person, I like it a lot. It doesn’t look like a relatively inexpensive halter. I also think it suits his head really nicely. This might be my new favorite! It does run a bit big though, if you’re thinking of ordering one. I got the full but easily could have gotten the cob. Still, two thumbs up.
I also won an Instagram contest for a Halter Ego gift card. Or rather, the video of Henry annihilating an Oatmeal Cream Pie won a gift card. Naturally, I gravitated directly to their page of bridles. Yeah I know, I already have too many bridles. But wouldn’t this one look really cute on Presto…
with the Punk Rock browband he already has?
Yes it would. You know I’m right.
And in my defense, I really don’t have a plain brown bridle for him to show in. I have a hunt bridle, a figure eight, a bitless, his green bridle, a hunter bridle that I’m giving away because it’s way too red-toned and looks so terrible on him that it hurts my eyeballs, the cob one that he grew out of a year ago, and a hackamore. No plain brown bridles that fit Presto. And while I love the green one, I don’t think I want to show him in that. So theoretically he does need a show-worthy brown bridle for next year. Tooootally justifiable.
Plus it’s a gift card, leave me alone. I can feel you judging me from here. It’ll look cute on him, trust me.
But that does kind of bring me to my next issue: I have A LOT of shit to sell. Like a lot. I’m gonna give away a good chunk of things to friends, but that still leaves lots of horse stuff that needs to go before the tiny house happens. Like I could probably have my own tack swap just with my stuff alone. But considering that there’s the covid thing going on right now… how are you guys selling stuff? I really don’t want to make a bunch of trips to the post office (edited to add: and I don’t have a printer at home so i can’t print my own labels). I also don’t want randos coming to my house, nor do I want to meet people somewhere because of the massive covid surge in the city and I just don’t love the idea of deliberately coming into direct contact with people I don’t know (will they be one of those nutjob anti-maskers? WHO KNOWS.). I thought maybe I could just send one big package off to a consignment place but 1) I dunno if they’d want all my various shit, I’ve got clothes and tack and blankets and books and electronics and just… all kinds of stuff. Some of it is worth decent money, but some of it isn’t really worth much at all. 2) I don’t know which place to send it to since I’ve never done anything via consignment.
So what are y’all doing right now with your sale stuff right now when “hanging on to it” isn’t really an option? Just thinking about how to get rid of the excess sends me right into swear words territory.
Presto’s weekly rides are quickly becoming my favorite day of the week. Maybe I’m some kind of masochist but I think green baby horses are just incredibly fun, even if the rides are really short or you never move above a walk. Everything is new and exciting and all the “little things” are actually big things.
I didn’t do anything with Presto all last week (on Wednesday, his usual light lunge day, it was just hot and gross and he looked so content standing under the shade trees that I didn’t have the heart to interrupt him) and when I got him out this weekend I could officially no longer deny that he’s grown. Looking at only Henry all week, and then looking at Presto… he’s tall. I’ve tried really hard to just not make eye contact with his withers for the past few months (which isn’t too hard since they’re above my head) but I finally broke down and got curious and put a stick on him… and he’s 16.3h. Dammit Presto, we agreed that 16.3h was going to be your finished height. I don’t think he’s gonna hold up his end of that particular bargain. Since the 16.3h delusion clearly isn’t happening, I’m gonna start pretending that he definitely won’t top 17h.
So, as I’ve said before, since the Spring was really all about just getting him broke enough to hack and trail ride for the summer, our focus has now begun to shift. For this ride I started him out in the ring, just for about 10 minutes. Enough to make sure he’s focused and hasn’t forgotten anything he’s learned thus far, but not enough to be much actual work. We make sure the brakes are ok and make sure the gas pedal isn’t stuck. At this point I don’t usually lunge him before I get on him anymore, so those few minutes in the ring are my way to gauge what I’m sitting on that day.
I could kinda tell that he’d missed his mid-week lunge, not because he was wild or anything (kid isn’t really the wild type, so far) but because he was fussier with the bit again. No problem though, we just trotted each way, made some changes of direction, and cantered like half a circle.
Presto gave me a couple really good circles after a few minutes, so we quickly called it quits with that. I wanted to move on to the REAL objective of the day – his first solo hack around the property! He’s sort of been out to the back of the property once before, with another horse. They just walked to the middle together and walked back, basically. He hadn’t been around the whole perimeter trail yet under saddle, although he did pony it with Henry a couple times last year. Presto can be very herd-minded so I really wasn’t sure if he’d have a meltdown about going out there alone, especially since you really can’t see any other horses. Only one way to find out!
He was pretty bold marching out down the alley, and first we swung a left into an unused pasture. That’s the one where I have a couple of small log jumps, and there’s a natural sorta-ditch in a low spot between two little hills. He walked around there, over the little ditch, and made a lap of that field.
He seemed cool with that, so we came out of that pasture and kept going to the back to the hacking trail. Entering that field is where you lose all the other horses from sight and sometimes you’ll stumble across some deer or something since it’s further away from houses/people. He was alert but interested, and never once spooked. He got a little high-headed and looky at the bushes the deer usually like to hide behind, so I just asked him to halt and we stood for a few seconds to let him think about it before I asked him to move forward again. I want him to trust me, and part of that is being fair and giving him time to feel confident about what I’m asking rather than always just forcing him forward. We made a whole lap with absolutely no drama (except when he wanted to trot down the hill, which is kind of unnerving on a horse that’s wide as a fence post and generally not always aware of the fact that he has 4 feet… had to put the kibosh on that) and ambled back up to the barn.
I was so pleased with him for his first time out there alone. It’s a big step for a baby horse to conquer the wilderness without any horse friends for moral support, and I’m really delighted with how confident he was about it. Especially since that back pasture is where our little hills are, and I think it’ll do him a lot of good to walk the hills for these next few months. He needs some strength and topline, and now I feel like we can take advantage of them.
Overall a successful ride #17. Honestly I almost feel like I’m waiting for someone to notice that I’m totally unqualified for a young horse this nice. He’s one of those that is so much nicer under saddle than you might think from just seeing him in the pasture. He gives you a really good feeling that’s hard to even put into words. I just somehow have to not mess him up? But I did tell Michelle she needs to breed Sadie back to Mighty Magic next year… I think the world needs another one of these (and if it’s a filly I call dibs).
He is really really chonky. Like… heckin chonker status. Or maybe even Oh lawd he comin.
It’s been quite a while since he’s been this chonky. Not since I first got him and he was fresh off of one year of pasture rest. And, I mean, he’s still getting ridden 5 days a week, so it’s not due to lack of work. The rides are definitely not as hard as when he was Prelim fit, but it’s not like he’s totally idle or unfit. He’s eating less grain now than he ever has, which I’m pleased about (not just because his grain is $32 a bag but because the less grain I have to give them, the better). I think the real difference is the grass and the quality of his pasture. For July in Texas things are still very green, and I’m not sure that he’s ever had this much pasture that was this nice and this plentiful for such a good portion of the year. Good pasture isn’t that easy to come by in these parts.
He also seems really happy with is life in general. He is spoiled, every single person in his life is wrapped around his little hoof, and he is 110% catered to. Just the way he likes it! There have still been absolutely zero signs of any ulcer symptoms in the 9+ months since he’s moved out to this barn, and I’m really hoping we’re done with that now. Even his annual “all of my hair is gonna fall off in the summer” thing isn’t nearly as bad as usual.
He’s also just feeling really good in general. I think having a year off from competing and all that it entails (the extra fitness work, all the traveling, the mental pressure, etc) has been really good for him. He’s such a well behaved traveler that I think I do tend to forget how much he just internalizes that stress.
The temperatures have also been a bit more mild than usual so far, we’re just now starting to hit the triple digits. He still has his heat intolerance issues that we have to contend with, but even on hot days it hasn’t been enough to take the extreme sass out of him. He turns into a dolphin at least once every single ride. Sometimes he even adds some squealing for dramatic effect. And on Saturday I rode him over to the big property across the street for a canter and He Was A Nut. Just about pulled my arms right out of their sockets. There’s no doubt that he feels really good, despite his chonk status, which is what led me to his new nickname – The Spicy Meata-ball. He earned it on Friday when he decided that morphing into a dolphin a few strides before a jump was a great idea (it was not, although he did still manage to make it over the jump just fine, albeit with me yelling “UM HELLO COULD YOU JUST NOT???”) and he couldn’t walk without jigging because OMGJOMPIES.
I did body clip him to try to help him out with the heat a bit. I’ve gotten to where I do that every year, and it does seem to help. His coat isn’t particularly long but it’s dense, especially over his back/haunches where he already doesn’t sweat very well. I use a T-10 so it’s nice and short and that seems to get him through the summer.
And I think, since he’s feeling so good and mentally fresh, it’s probably time that we start doing some dressage again. I mean, we’ve still been doing flatwork obviously, but not as often and 1) it had been 5 months since I sat in my dressage saddle 2) it had been just as long if not longer since he’d had an actual bit in his mouth. So last week I rode in my dressage saddle, which didn’t feel as bad/foreign as I thought it might. Probably since I’d ridden in my bareback pad the day before (I really love that thing).
Then yesterday I put his actual bridle/bit back on him. Which he wasn’t a fan of. He glared at me like he was being abused and proceeded to chomp and squeak the bit through our entire hack. That’s… typical for him though. I’ll give him a couple more rides to get used to wearing it again before we really go to work. I’m pretty sure he thought he was retired from all that dressage business. Can we just do bareback and bitless “dressage” forever please? We’d both prefer that.
But, ya know… other than this rekindled dressage bullshit, I think he’s the happiest he’s ever been. That makes me happy too.
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!