Ocala Summer 1: Cross Countrryyyy

Sometimes I think my XC recaps are the only posts of mine that anyone reads anymore. Honestly, I don’t blame you… this is the fun part, is it not?

Of course it is

We walked the XC course on Friday afternoon before the show, since it was a one day affair and all my ride times were in the first half of the day. Also poor Steph had her first ride of the day set for 8:30 and her last for 6:15. Did not envy that.

course map

After the International Festival in April, which is considered kind of peak difficulty, the courses at the Florida Horse Park tend to go back down and then rebuild in intensity again through the second half of the year. We knew this one would be pretty inviting for this venue (which is generally one of the more difficult ones here) and it definitely was. The jumps were to size for what you’d expect at the level, with a lot of tables, but there was nothing particularly hard or technical. The coffin and the big bank complex weren’t on the course, but they did utilize both waters.

It started out friendly with a wide gallopy ramp, then a smaller rolltop, then the first table. The rolltop was set a little bit angled on the path, so if you wanted to jump it straight-on you’d be weaving a bit to do it… we planned to just jump it on the angle. The first combo was at 4AB, a slightly bending 6 strides from house to house. The approach was a bit short, through some trees, but otherwise quite straightforward.

After that there was another table (which again, the more direct route would take you over it at a bit of an angle) and then the next combo down in the basin where there was another rampy house thing, and then 8 or 9 strides up through the gap and right over a corner. A pretty legit corner, and you only got a couple strides of straight approach, so that was a good question. We’ve seen similar (but smaller) at Training, and he’s schooled harder, so I wasn’t worried about it but you would def need to be deliberate about your path and ride positive to it.

Then we had another table (a collapsible one – fun to see the frangible technology) before the next combo, a smaller table, 7 strides to a skinny brush wedge. Again, a question to take seriously, but we’ve seen harder. Then it was another table before we got to the first water, a skinny house, 7 bending strides on a 90 degree turn to a rolltop heading into the water, and then a skinny table out of the water. The hardest part of this IMO was the fact that this was RIGHT next to the road, which is where the barns and all the trailer parking are. It would be very easy for them to get distracted there and blow past something.

After the water we had a MIM oxer, then a log ramp, then another table. Pretty basic. Then you got to the second water, which was a (you’ll never guess) table a couple strides before the water, then a skinnyish rolltop in the water. After that you were home free over a log box and a log table. There was plenty to do of course, but nothing that was particularly concerning.

away we go!

To add a little spice to things, the FHP just started building this big bridge complex for their combined driving course, and it was just behind the first jump. Honestly I was more concerned with that than anything else, because it had never been there before and Presto can be weird about random non-jump-related things. He didn’t care though. He came out of the box all business and marched down to the first jump like a damn professional. What a difference a season makes.

Fences 2 and 3 went by without any problem (and I was kinda proud of him at 2, because there was an SUV with the back open sitting under a tree RIGHT THERE by the jump, and he put his eye it for a few strides but never waivered from his jump or balked in any way. Again… maturity at work?

Out here having the audacity to look bored

He got a little crooked coming through the trees to 4AB, looking off into the brush, but it rode easy. Then it was over the table and off to the next combo, the corner. He pinged over the house, marched up the more direct route in 8, and hopped over the corner like he was out for a Sunday stroll. He put his eye on the corner as soon as it popped into his line of sight and went straight to it. Hunting the flags? Check.

“what, like it’s hard?” he says

Then it was over another table before the next combo, the smaller table to the brush wedge. Again, easy peasy, he had his eye on the brush from the second he jumped the A and marched straight down to it.

he’s still not really trying

Then it was the peach table, which I saw a flyer to from a mile out and he did a super job of moving up to it but also keeping his balance up. Six months ago he was struggling with that still – not anymore. I did have to really get him back quickly after that to make the turn for the bending line into the water, but he was very rideable and made that one easy. Not even so much as a waiver of his focus.

ok there kid

We hopped out of the water over the table, then over to the MIM oxer, the log stack, and the blue table. Just like that we were already at the second water. I gave him a very positive and encouraging ride in here since we had a jump in the water, but it was never a question. Eyes on the jump and away he went.

“mum, why you clucking?”

Then it was to the log box, which I angled because it was easier, and badabing badaboom, over the log oxer and through the finish.


Overall? It felt easy for him. He never once waivered from his rhythm, and the course was so flowy and galloping that I didn’t really have to do all that much. He’s focused, he’s figuring out the questions, and his balance and gallop get better and better every time out. He felt very well within himself in every way.

he cruises now!

We finished well within the time allowed, 14 seconds to spare without really even pushing, just letting him cruise. We didn’t move up any, but we didn’t move down either, and finishing on our dressage score was good enough to secure us 3rd place (one measly point away from the win – damn my brain fart in dressage!) behind two 5* riders.

Once again, this kiddo is proving his class. If I’d entered the Rider division he’d have won by a mile, but I’m endlessly proud of how well he’s been holding his own in these Open divisions with some top riders and really good horses. After all, he’s only 6, is being brought along by his amateur, and lives in what is essentially my front yard. He gets extra credit for that! Finishing on his dressage score in his second Modified… what a dude. The best part though? He still finds this all very easy. He’s getting better and better as things get harder.

those finish line feels

We’ve got 2.5 weeks now til we head up to Aiken for Stable View, which will probably be the most stout and technical course he’s seen yet, plus will be our first out of town show together. Then he’ll get his summer vacay and we’ll start making a plan for the fall! It’s hard not to feel excited with a horse like this one… what a dream come true he is.

Ocala Summer 1: Dressage and Stadium

I was hoping that show photos would be up by now but no such luck, so we’re gonna have to do this with the media I’ve got.

It is very majestic media

The Ocala Summer 1 show at the Florida Horse Park this past weekend marked our second Modified. The good thing about shows here once everyone leaves after season is that they get considerably more casual. Especially if ride times start early or it’s a one day, a lot of people don’t braid and don’t wear a coat. Which… generally if possible I’ll always opt to braid and wear a coat, but this time I didn’t. It felt weird, but also my dressage ride was at 8:20, my finger is still pissed as hell, and it was hot. Summer casual, it is.

We were on the road to the Horse Park by 6:40, got parked by 7:30, and I was on Presto and headed to warmup at 8. The ring was very full, which was 99% fine because it was almost all pros and Modified/Intermediate, but I will say there’s one pro here that just has a real hard time steering. Every time I’m in warmup with him he’s running people over left and right, and has gotten me twice. Steer, man. STEER. I tried to avoid him like the plague. Also, entirely unrelated, but at one point I looked over and saw Off The Record exiting the warmup and a few minutes later in comes Tight Lines. Look at you kiddo, warming up with the 5* horses. LOL.

Thinks he is big deal, needs cookies

Anyway – Presto was actually really stellar in warmup and I was like “ok maybe this is the time I actually pull out a good one”. And then I went in the ring, did 3 movements, and promptly went entirely blank. Like my brain just went eeee-errrrrr-pssshhhhh and blue-screened. I had to stop and ask the judge what the next movement was. Fucks sake. That hasn’t happened in a really long time. So, ya know… it was not my best work.

Still we were tied for 4th after dressage out of 11 horses on a score of 34. The judge was scoring everyone high, but she did so across the board, so although painful it was fair. We did manage an 8 for our entrance and an 8.5 for our final centerline and halt, so… there were good scores in there. One of these days I’ll actually put it all together consistently, not just like every 4th or 5th show.

After dressage I had a few hours before show jumping, most of which I spent grazing Presto next to the ring so I could watch the Intermediate and some of the Prelim. I also walked the course while they were setting for Prelim, with me going “I feel like these oxers should look smaller than they do considering Modified is only a hole lower…”. I never really stand next to the things we jump, and they always look considerably smaller from on top of a 17.1h Presto.

got to debut our new EN pad!

Also while I was grazing him there was a western drill team practicing in another ring and when they pulled out their flags Presto thought they’d morphed into dragons. That was fun.

By the time I got on and headed to warmup the day was turning warmer and swampier by the minute. Again though, Presto warmed up great (he considered shenanigans briefly but was convinced to abandon the mission) and we just popped over a handful of oxers. If he’s jumping well there’s no point in boring him or making him tired, so we tend to take the “as much as necessary but as little as possible” approach.

He went in the ring and jumped like he had springs for feet. Well okay… the first jump was great, a single oxer off the rail. I saw a bit of a quiet one to the vertical at 2, then made the rollback to 3 and saw another quiet one. As I turned to 4 I was a little behind where I needed to be and thought “If I try to micromanage this whole round instead of just sending him forward, we’re gonna have no flow whatsoever” so I closed my leg and rode him up to 4. He went “YES THIS IS THE WAY” and absolutely pinged over it. It’s not very often that this horse actually gives a lot of effort so when he does I’m like oh dang, he really can jump.


That was what we needed, just a bit more forward of a ride, and once I clicked that in, the rest of the round was super.

He jumped great, everything came up out of stride, and I swear I think he was having a good time.

still not challenged by the height tho
casual hops

Almost too good of a time at one point, because when I tried to steer him inside of jump 2 to make the turn to the one stride, he momentarily locked onto that one again, which, bro, if I was actually aiming at that we would have jumped the standard on a most impossible angle, but I do appreciate your dedication. I had to be like “NO NOT THAT ONE”. Bless him.

Patreon folks, you have the full video on your dashboard!

It was a good round though, much better than I rode at Majestic. The clear round (one of only 4 clears out of the 18 horses in both Modified divisions!) moved us up to 3rd, just one point off the leader. No pressure for XC.

Also many thanks to Hannah who was the patron saint of media this show, since Hillary and I had conflicting ride times. Thanks Hannah!

The Mondayest Thursday

Well ok I’m willing to admit that my beginning of the week update is perhaps running a wee bit late this time considering it’s now Thursday. Don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything too exciting.

Dr Bess ❤

Last Friday the horses all got their teeth done. We’re lucky to have an amazing dentist here in Ocala that has a super cool, specially modified dental trailer. It works amazing, so convenient and a great set-up. She came and did everyone last year too, so this was their second visit from her. No one had anything particularly crazy going on, just kind of the usual stuff for each of them, and they were all well-behaved. It was quick and easy!

I also had her check the fit of my bits and bridles while she was there, just to make sure everything was sitting well in Presto’s mouth and not potentially causing any issues. He’s got particularly fleshy lips so it can make him harder to fit and more prone to pinching and discomfort, so I just wanted to check and make sure she was happy with everything and how it sat/was adjusted. She raised my dressage bit one hole (his canines sit a little high in his mouth) but otherwise all good.

Henny ears

Presto got Saturday off, but the weather was divine so Henry and Lex went for a road hack. I’ve been able to get on Henry a few times over the last week to start trying to build some his topline back up and get him back in some kind of shape. He mostly seems happy to be getting more cookies again.

On Sunday we took Presto and Lex over to Sweet Dixie to hack the hills. Typically that would have been our gallop day but Presto was at the end of his shoeing cycle and I wasn’t loving how long his hind toes were looking, so we just opted for some trot sets on the hills. Again the weather was beautiful, so it was a nice morning out.

Presto ears

Presto spent the rest of his day partaking in some serious naps, during which I served as Pillow for long enough to make my leg fall completely asleep. These horses and their tough tough lives.

boops for the snoozy snoot

The farrier was here on Tuesday, and yesterday morning Presto had a chiro appointment (for those who are keeping track, yes the past week has been just as $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ as it sounds). He was a bit sore in his lower lumbar, my guess is most likely from those long toes he’d been sporting there for the previous week, and needed a bit of extra work on his poll area too. His feet are looking superb now though, much better with a fresh set. He’s on a 5 week cycle but if he gets that long again this time we might move to 4 weeks for the summer. The horses seem to be growing a ton of foot right now for whatever reason.

I also had the farrier pull Henry’s hind shoes. We’ll see how he does. I’d really prefer for him to be barefoot behind in case he finds himself babysitting/ponying any of the babies, but I’m not totally convinced his feet will stay together. The farrier felt pretty optimistic that it would be ok so we figured it was worth a shot. So far Henry hasn’t shown any discomfort or anything so fingers crossed (and Keratex activated) that it works out. He was barefoot when I got him but the ground in Texas was so rocky and hard that it destroyed his feet and he’s been shod on all 4 the whole time I’ve owned him. Florida’s ground is much more forgiving.


Yesterday we had a jump lesson, just a quick pop around a few things since we’re showing this weekend. Presto was a righteously egotistical turd for like 75% of it (HE KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING), so that’s cool. Hopefully he decides to be a good child this weekend.

Hope everyone else is having a good (although perhaps slightly less expensive) week!

Foal Friday: Andrew Maxwell Dwyer

Fans of the show Parks and Rec will immediately get the reference in the title – it’s the name of one of the main characters of the show. Loveable, goofy, and perhaps a bit of a derp, Andy is one of my favorite characters ever on TV. And there’s a reason why Randell WTW went from his nickname of Randy to quickly having his barn name morph to Andy instead… he is 100% Andy Dwyer.

He’s so incredibly sweet, but he does have a penchant for getting himself into a bit of a pickle. Like the time he took a nap and woke up on the wrong side of the fence. Or the time he fell face first into his water trough. Or the time he took a nap like an upside down turtle up against the stall wall and was baffled when he couldn’t get up. Luckily his response to such things is “Huh… what a conundrum” as he waits patiently for assistance.

Yep, that’s me.

He also LOVES people. It’s hard to even get pictures of Andy because most of them end up like this.


We are the very best of friends and he would prefer to be glued to me 24/7. I absolutely adore him. But getting far enough away from him to actually take pictures where his whole body is in the frame… that is a challenge.

one of my best early attempts

I resorted to sneaking into his paddock while he was taking a nap in his stall and then waited for him to come outside.

omg Hoomon, where did you come from?
you come to say hi to me?

There is nothing subtle about this child. He is unapologetically Andy, he lifts his leg up like a dog when you scratch his inner thigh, he would come sleep in your house if you let him, and just wants to do whatever you want to do. His mom has a very hands-off approach to parenting (she feeds him and makes sure he’s safe, but she also won’t let him near her food and does not tolerate any hint of shenanigans in her vicinity) which has made him very people-oriented. It’s great.

But on top of that, he’s also a really nice colt.


Even though he’s butt high right now, he’s such a nice type. Leggy and tall. I have a feeling he’ll be quite awkward in his early years (just like another certain kiddo we all know and love) but he’s going to be really lovely I think. He’s very much my type!

I mean look at him

His new mom came to meet him last weekend and they instantly loved each other, so I think it’s gonna be a great match. This kiddo is special, and I’m only like 98.2% biased. How could you not love Andy?

Happy Friday!

“That’s always been there” and other lies

It’s going to have to be a quick one today because I have too much to do and not enough time to do it, but I figured I should at least pop in and do a quick update on what’s happening here. Which is a whole lot but also not much. You know what I mean? Like when you’re very busy with a lot of things but none of them are particularly noteworthy or exciting?

Night check selfies with Andy are exciting

The 2yo’s got gelded last week so between all their daily care and doing all the stuff with the babies, it’s time consuming but also kind of mundane. Groom Lead Medicate Cold hose Walk Clean etc etc etc. We’ve also officially entered summertime rainy season, so there’s a lot more shuffling horses in and out of stalls during storms, thus more stall cleaning. If I’m not doing that I’m probably working on pedigree reports or writing something. I’m assuming y’all probably don’t want a whole blog post about any of that, but the truth is that that’s most of my time at the moment. My finger is definitely still janky and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be swollen forever, but the good news is that I’ve become quite adept at just not using it.

Lucy the llama

A few other things have been going on though. Andy’s new owner came out this weekend to meet him and they both loved each other, which is awesome. I am particularly partial to him because he reminds me a lot of baby Presto (with a touch less chaos and mayhem) so I was hoping he would win her over too, and he definitely did. I also finally got his DNA kit yesterday so today I’ll be pulling some hairs to send off so we can finally find out which one is his baby daddy. If I had to bet my money is on Lingo, but I could still kind of see it either way. He’s tall (Araldik is taller at almost 17h) but he’s very leggy and rectangular (like Lingo), but he’s got Vee’s face so it’s hard to get any clues from that. So in summary, who knows. I guess we’ll find out for sure soon.

I haven’t jumped since the show, but Presto did get a ramped up conditioning day this past weekend when we went to gallop at Majestic. Where he proceeded to spook at basically everything he jumped the weekend before. He looked at the keyhole like WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS and denied having ever seen it in his life. He went sideways past the steps and the corner. He also had a spinning heart attack about an auto waterer near the last jump, which was also definitely there the week before because indeed, as I told him, “THAT’S ALWAYS BEEN THERE!”. Event horses, y’all. They don’t make sense.

lies, these all sound like lies

I’m also trying to leg Henry back up a bit as I have time. He’s woefully out of shape and has lost most of his topline, which sucks. It’s light by 6am now so I’m able to start my days earlier, so I’m hoping to be able to squeeze in at least a few rides a week on him.

Teeny ear boy

On Friday we’ve got the dentist coming for the horses, which I’m looking forward to. Dr. Bess is great and I’m curious to see what’s going on in their mouths.

Hopefully I’ll have a jump lesson later this week. I did submit my entries for our last two shows before summer break, Ocala and Stable View. I have already settled into my Ocala Privilege thoroughly enough that I’m feeling whiny about the extra effort that Stable View will require with hauling (its about 6 hours) and stabling and all that, but also it’ll be good to get out somewhere new that we haven’t been yet. I love our local facilities but we’ve seen a whole lot of them lately and a change of scenery will be nice!

Foal Friday: When Rhett met Lucy

There were some big happenings here this week in Babyland, with two of our younger kiddos getting to be turned out together for the first time!

Peyton and Lucy, and Chanel and Rhett

Chanel and Peyton are great friends and both go out of their way to avoid conflict, so they were the best choice for the first mingling of babies.

The real question was, which of the foals would be the more socially bold? It might be easy to think it would be Rhett… he’s 100% colt and full of swagger. Lucy on the other hand is a little more cautious with a good sense of self-preservation.

But, Rhett made a big mistake the second we let Peyton and Lucy into his turnout. He came at Peyton all Hell On Wheels the way he does to his mother, on his hind feet. Peyton immediately said “ABSOLUTELY NOT, WE DO NOT BEHAVE LIKE THAT HERE” and got him with her teeth. Rhett was shocked. Pretty sure that was the first time he’d ever been disciplined by another horse in his life. He had it coming. He turned tail immediately and went and hid behind Chanel and stayed there. Eventually it was Lucy who’s curiosity finally got the best of her, and she approached Rhett first.

The first approach

Which Rhett, who’s world had been turned completely upside down by Peyton telling him no, found to be a little terrifying.

Lucy: Where are you going? Rhett: STRANGER DANGER

He promptly went and hid behind Chanel.

Lucy: come back here!

Rhett was deeply curious about her, that’s for sure. He kept watching her, but he didn’t summon the courage to leave the safety of Chanel in order to go to Lucy. Eventually, Lucy approached him again.

Hey you… chunky kid… come here

And this time Rhett was a little more bold, and walked the last few feet to meet her. They made it almost to the point of touching noses.


But then Chanel noticed an intruder approaching her Perfect Angel Boy and immediately put the kibosh on that.

Chanel says absolutely not

Lucy very smartly retreated.

That didn’t stop her from trying to tempt him into playing, though. And it didn’t stop Rhett from staring at her with laser focus.

he’s a bit of a stalker

As soon as the moms relax their rules a little bit, I’m sure these two will be playing more. They’re definitely very interested in each other, and have been running around together a little bit more. It’s hard making your first friend!

Presto’s First Modified: Cross Country!

Woot woot, the best part!

I walked the cross country course with Steph on Friday afternoon. This was the first time that Majestic Oaks was offering a Modified division, but the venue is known for being a more friendly one, thus it was chosen to be our move-up location on purpose. Still, since they’d never run the level before we weren’t 100% sure what it would look like.

They had the start box in a brand new location, back near the barns and past the treeline behind the showjumping ring. It’s normally closer to where jump 2 was or across the road sort of between the finish and fence 3. It was still a nice quick walk from SJ to XC warmup, although Presto was a little wide-eyed at the new giant XC warmup area. The facility just started leasing a big chunk of land back there and it’s stunning, with a legit hill (for Ocala anyway). Can’t wait to see what all they do with it.

Anyway, to the course (some of these are my pics and some are from the course walk group on facebook, because mine kind of sucked).

The overall impression after walking was that there were definitely some big jumps (3 and 4 were quite wide, and the white MIM oxer and the last very square table were as max as max could be) but the combinations were very friendly. I felt like it was a bigger Training, for the most part, which is a nice first Modified. My two areas of concern were 1) the keyhole – Presto has never seen anything like that before, but the part I didn’t like was that it’s right next to the busy road with oncoming traffic, and 2) the Palisade. Presto had also never jumped anything like that, and the times we’ve schooled at this venue he’s been really spooky just cantering past it. Definitely a weird, old-school jump that you don’t see much anymore. It’s a large U-shaped monstrosity with a faux ditch in front and a steep downhill dropoff on the landing side. I planned to just ride very proactively up to those jumps in particular.

I did make a point of not walking all the way up to the oxer or the last table on foot (don’t need to know just how big those are in relation to my body, thanks) but then Steph did as she was talking, and let me tell you, having a small Steph for scale next to XC jumps is not the vibe I’m after. Gotta make her walk at least 10-20′ away from them.

Presto left the start box a little wiggly but jumped the first one well, then I landed and really sent him out in front of my leg and said “Come on kiddo, let’s go do this.”. He hopped over two easily, and I opened him up to gallop a bit on the long stretch to 3. That got his attention.


I knew I’d have to slow down in the middle of the course for the more technical questions so I was trying to get a little bit ahead of time in the beginning. Fence 3 was super, and I actually found the nice deep distance to the base of 4 that Steph told me to get (“jump it like a triple bar”).

The first combo at 5AB rode easy peasy, as did the trakehner. Immediately after that I swung right and put him down along the fenceline, so he’d have as much time as possible to see the road/traffic before we got to the keyhole. Bless him, he did not even so much as blink at any of it, he popped right through the keyhole, down the bending line to the brush like it was all very normal. He got a big “GOOD BOY” and a pat for that.

Then it was up the slope to the log roll, with 9 bending strides to the big giant oxer. It had a downhill landing so it was like WHEEEEEE WE’RE FLYING. I am deeply sad that there were no pics of that jump because he jumped it freaking phenomenal. Did I mention it was giant? It was giant.

Then we had the brush roll before turning left to the coffin. After some of the coffins he’s seen at FHP this one was an easy breezy walk in the park, rolltop two strides, ditch, two (short) strides to another rolltop. Presto loped over that like it was a fun little warmup exercise.


After that we had a simple ramp before looping back around to the right to the ditch wall. I feel like I’m starting to maybe hate ditch walls a little less. Presto sure doesn’t give a crap about them whatsoever. Then we hopped over the A-frame

he’s so deeply not impressed

before heading down to the line at the water. There was a smaller (Novice height) coop set 7 bending strides before a skinny rolltop on the edge of the water. Nice of the designer to use a small simple jump to give us something to help set us up well for the jump in. It rode nicely.

if you’re looking for nonchalance, he’s your guy. I carry all the chalance in our relationship when it comes to cross country.

We jumped into the water, hung a left out of it, and jumped the corner. Presto has seen plenty of corners by now, and definitely in closer proximity to other jumps/on harder angles, so this question was easy, he said.

so mature looking sometimes

And just like that we were only two from home! Heading to the palisade I gave him a little tap behind my leg, mostly to say “Hi hello we’re not done yet and the next one is a little scary, get in front of me and pay attention”. No worries there, he jumped it no problem and seemed to enjoy the fact that the ground sloped away quickly on landing.

disappearing rapidly behind the car

He got a gallop stretch (he was still quite within himself at that point, happy to gallop and ears perked) before I had to get him back and set him up for the last table. It was really quite square so Steph had said to just make sure he was uphill and paying attention there, not coming in too hot or flat. He was very rideable to it and jumped it super.

so civilized

Another clear round for the Doodle kid! We ended up 5 seconds over time, which I was totally fine with. I wanted to make sure that I still kept the rideability with the bigger jumps and higher speed, so I definitely slowed down a lot earlier to some of the combinations than I really had to. That’s the round I wanted though, so I’ll happily take my 2 time penalties. That did drop us from 3rd to tied for 4th, and I lost that tie because the other person was closer to optimum, so we ended up 5th. What a freakin good boy though, only adding 2 time to his dressage score at his first Modified!

I’m glad and relieved to have the first one under our belt, and excited to go back out next time and try to improve on some of the things I could have done better. Really though I walked away feeling like this horse is still very well within his ability (honestly he still isn’t trying very hard and is the least impressed with this) and feels really confident in his job. I’m very happy with his progression and I think Modified will be really good for him for a while so he can start learning more Big Boy things but still have it all be pretty easy for him. We’ve got two more shows on the calendar before his summer vacation, so hopefully we can make the most of them!

Presto’s First Modified! Part 1 – Dressage and SJ

Technically this was also my first Modified, since the level did not exist anywhere near Texas back when I was competing Henry. Hence part of why we spent two years at Training before moving to Prelim… there’s a massive difference and Modified was a brilliant addition. I desperately wanted access to Modified back then, and I still think it really would have been Henry’s “sweet spot” level. Those days are bygone though, and I’m really pumped to now be in an area where Modified is so plentiful and readily available for Presto and I as our partnership evolves. We’re definitely going to take full advantage of it!

Since winter season is over and everyone that isn’t local has evacuated Florida, the shows are much smaller. Hence Majestic was able to run their May show as a one day, which pleased me greatly. My times worked out so that I dressaged a bit before 9, showjumped a couple hours later, and then went straight to XC after that. Badabing, badaboom, done before lunch.

Starting early did mean that it was easier to just pop over to Majestic on Friday afternoon to walk SJ and XC and pick up my packet, since it’s only about 15 minutes from here. Hillary stayed behind so that she could braid Presto for me, since my swollen zombie finger wasn’t really up for that particular job. A lot of people here don’t braid for the summer shows, but something about doing a National level at a recognized show and not braiding just made me feel all kinds of physically uncomfortable. More power to those who didn’t, I don’t blame you. But I just… couldn’t not. Presto is a massive PITA to braid though and his neck is 900 feet long, so… Hillary really is a hero for doing that for me, it’s not a quick or fun job in the least.

The stepladder isn’t really adequate

On Saturday morning we got there about an hour before my ride time and I slowly got ready. The worst part of this venue is the footing for dressage and dressage warmup (it’s grass, and it’s not very flat, and there’s a lot of random sandy bits or torn up areas in both the rings and the warmup)… some of you may remember that Presto and I did his first Novice here last October and he legit almost fell on his ass three times. Lesson learned, we studded up.

how is he so stunning these days

He was mostly a good boy for our test… as we circled the ring he was relatively mortified to see cows just through the treed fenceline behind the judge. It was almost a Big Thing, but I managed to divert his attention and stop it before it spiraled. Still though, he had one eye on the cows for the entire test so there were areas of tension, a late response canter transition, and some general lack of focus. It was fine, but we’ve definitely done better. I don’t love Test A for him quite as much as Test B… B is busier and has more happening more quickly, which is better suited to Presto. The less that’s happening in the test, the more he dreams about all the fun things he could make happen.

We didn’t get any 8’s this time, which was kind of disappointing, but he did get a 7.5 for the leg yield left, which is his harder direction, and 7’s on both of the canter lengthenings, which are definitely a challenge with him still when they’re on a 20m circle like this, so we’ll call it a small win. We scored a 32.8, which put us tied for 5th. He was the youngest horse in the division, so… I’m not upset about it.

Braiding was worth the “beautiful turnout” comment

Presto got to chill at the trailer for a bit while I went over to watch some showjumping. The course was not my personal favorite, the lines had so many strides in them and the approaches were long as well, which is just like an invitation for me to completely malfunction and change my mind a hundred times en route to something. Like there were literally a couple lines that walked in 8, one that walked 10, jumps way out of the corner, etc. Pack that shit in there and give me no options, please, it’s better for me that way.

While we were sitting there I saw very few people do the same number of strides anywhere. The 6 was a 5 or a 6 or a 7, the 10 was an 8 or a 10 or an 11, the 8 was a 6 or an 8 or a 9. There were a lot of options and most of them worked. I was hoping that watching the Prelim would help but it did not, it just confirmed there wasn’t one right/best way. Cool. Cool. Love that for me.

Presto warmed up great. He had one moment where he considered doing his favorite wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man impression, but it was fleeting. The jumps were coming up well out of stride and he was jumping well through his body. His shape in the air has definitely improved this year. He’s still not putting forth a lot of effort and most of the time still is just loping over these, but he’s getting stronger in how he does it.

Fence 1 was set to where an approach off the right lead was the obvious choice, but it was quite a ways out of the corner and I didn’t love that. Steph suggested that coming to it off the left might be better, since the turn would help balance, make me keep riding forward through the corner, and give me less time to mess with my rhythm. Plus 1 to 2 was a bending line to the left, so it made sense to me to approach off the left lead. When we had watched the Prelim only a couple people came off the left, but it did seem to work well for them.

We got to fence 1 nicely and Presto jumped it well, if not a little big (“mom, these grew a little”) and the first line jumped great. So did the second line, in it’s 10 strides. Then I slightly overshot the turn to 5 and got there tight. Presto didn’t care. We got down the next bending line fine and he jumped through the one stride super. The whole way to the next one all I knew is that I was not seeing anything, and I got him to that one tight too. He ticked the rail (righty so) but it didn’t come down. I had to land and step it up to make it down the line in 6, but he’s a good dude so he jumped the liverpool great.

Into the triple

Then we had another bending line to an oxer, which was fine, and then the triple up the outside – oxer two strides to vertical, one stride to another vertical. He jumped all that super. I mean, he’d already decided by fence 3 that these actually weren’t that big after all, and by the triple he was mega unimpressed, but he was a good boy and jumped a clear round, even with my mistakes. It moved us up from 5th to 3rd.

Casually loping over 3’5″ like he’s not 6 and this isn’t his first Modified and he wasn’t just running Novice 7 months ago

I don’t think you can ask for more than that from a young horse at his first Modified. He’s really starting to be a mature boy sometimes and do his job taking care of his mother when I need the assist. As much as I loathe making mistakes, I do place a lot of value on building the kind of partnership where my horse is confident enough in himself and me and his job to help me out when I’m wrong, just like I try to do my best to help him out when he needs it.

With SJ done we put on his boots and my vest and headed out to XC… more on that tomorrow!

It’s not supposed to point that way

Maybe I should start titling my posts the way a lot of emo bands title their songs.

You know what I mean

Take the above highlighted song and replace “toe” with “finger” and it fits. Since I seem to be unable to go any period of time without injuring myself in some ridiculous way, last week I dislocated a finger. The left ring finger, at the middle knuckle, to be exact.

look man, my nails are always dirty

‘Anyway, when it happened I looked down and saw the top of my finger pointing 45 degrees to the left and said to Hillary “I think my finger is broken” and then I moved it and PING it popped back in and I said “Oh, good, it was just dislocated”. Dislocated is better than broken. Theoretically anyway. Still hurts like a mofo, stupid finger. Luckily the damage is really on the inside of that finger and not the outside where reins sit. It’s mostly annoying for carrying things or picking up anything heavy. Which is, ya know… totally fine at a horse farm. FYI the finger DOES NOT LIKE lifting bales of hay.

I had a lesson a couple hours after it happened and was very relieved to find that it still worked ok and I didn’t really notice it when I was riding. Thank goodness my horse isn’t particularly heavy in the hand because if a stupid dislocated finger caused me to have to scratch our Modified move-up, I would have been extremely the most annoyed.

Presto out here not being impressed by things I’m impressed by, aka how it always is

The next day was Presto’s day off, which worked out well since I spent a lot of time icing and BEMERing and slathering Voltaren on my finger. Hillary took him for a pony for me (he gets so bored on his days off), which was comical. Or at least most of us found it comical. Lex did not. Presto has a few too many shenanigans.

Poor Lex

We got a good bit of rain last week too, which we really needed, but it did mean the horses had so spend some time inside. This also meant the final death blow to Presto’s poor little monkey stuffed animal. It was missing an eye, both arms, and had been 80% decapitated. He also murdered his glittery soccer ball that Auntie Michelle got him. All in a day’s work, ya know? So much violence. This whole post is violence.

Sorry about your fate, Monkey

I managed to get through the rest of the week without damaging myself any further, and we did indeed make it to the horse show. Which I will post about ASAP… I was kind of stalling hoping that the photogs would get some pictures up so that I have something more than screen shots. Spoiler alert:

more of Presto not being impressed when I’m impressed

This week I’ve got some writing projects due and some pedigree reports to get cracking on, along with all the usual farm stuff. Rhett and Lucy are now turned out together so I should definitely have some cute Foal Friday fodder for you, too. Happy Monday!