Poor Michelle. She’s never living this one down. I’ll make sure of it.
After everything that happened last year with Presto, anxiety was high this time around. I think she was so focused on getting and keeping a healthy foal that she never went back to verify her first cursory glance at the plumbing. And, in her defense, he IS a very pretty colt.
So imagine her surprise when she finally happened to catch him peeing, and well… there was a ween. Hence how Maddy is now Manny.
The new registered name options kept flowing all weekend, with such favorites as:
Mistaken Identity WTW
I have to be honest, she told me this on Friday and I’m STILL having random hysterical fits of laughter. To the point where I’m crying and can’t breathe. Like I laughed so much that first day, my abs hurt all weekend.
Again, poor Michelle. She wanted a filly so badly so that she could keep it. But I can guarantee that from now on she’ll not only check, double check, and triple check under the tail for the number of holes, she’ll be on definite lookout for dangly bits. It’s a good thing that she has such a good sense of humor about everything and can laugh at herself too, cuz I’m sure as hell laughing.
This does change the results of the baby bets contest though. The winner never actually contacted me to claim her prize, so I went back and re-calculated things and this bumped the runner-up into the winner’s spot. That works out.
And of course this makes Sadie 3 for 3 on colts, and means Presto has a little brother. So, uh, welcome Manny!
Oh, Horze. That company name, it’s so bad in the American market. But initial awkwardness aside, my experiences with the company’s products in the past have been a bit hit or miss. The prices were always right, but sometimes the quality left me wanting. I had only tried one pair of their breeches, and that was a couple years ago. The fit was weird on me and I didn’t like the fabric, so I sold them and that was the end of my Horze breeches experiment.
Lately I’ve noticed that it seems as though they’ve started upgrading the fabric on some of their basic models. The Horze Grand Prix breech, which used to be a cotton blend (which I hate with the burning passion of a thousand dumpster fires) was now showing as 93% polyamide, 7% elastane – very similar to a lot of my favorites. They also upgraded to a silicone knee patch, another favorite feature of mine. Ok Horze, you win… I’ll give you another shot.
The price for the Grand Prix breech is really reasonable at $99 from Riding Warehouse (or $89 each if you buy 2 or more) for the knee patch or $109 ($99 each if you buy 2 or more) for the full seat. Plus you can get 10% off those prices with coupon code FB10, or 15% off for USRider members with code USR15 (you have to supply your member number to use the USRider code!). Solidly in the under-$100 category! I went with the knee patch, because I’m always a bit worried about silicone full seats being TOO sticky for me, and a nice chocolate brown since it’s one of the few conservative colors I didn’t already have.
My first impression was that the fabric is VERY similar to the Romfh Sarafinas. It’s nice and stretchy, not too thick, not super thin, and quite comfortable. I like the fit a lot too, it’s more of a mid-rise and nicely tailored for the female figure – NO WAIST GAP. I got size 42, which they equate to a US 30, and the sizing is right on par with all of my other 30’s. At 5’5″ with a very average length inseam, the hem hits right above my ankle. Very short-legged riders might find them to be a touch long, but they could be a good option for those with a longer inseam. The breeches have a stretchy panel built into the bottom that allows them to be nicely fitted to the lower leg. Extra fabric on the lower leg is a huge pet peeve of mine, they absolutely must be smooth under the boot, and these are.
They have a euro seat, which is basically a must-have feature these days, and to my relief the branding is VERY subtle. There’s just a small flag looking tag under the waist on the back, a small metal tab on the front that says Grand Prix, and the metal buttons at the fly have a Z on them. Don’t worry, they don’t say Horze anywhere visible. The styling really makes them look a bit Pikeur-esque (ie more expensive than they are!).
I’ve been using and abusing these breeches A LOT, and they’re holding up remarkably well. They wash well, and the fabric helps them stay pretty clean between washes. They’re quite comfortable both in and out of the saddle, and they don’t sag or slide down or get funky in the crotch. So far they show zero wear.
I also like that the silicone knee patch is quite mild. It’s made up of a bunch of little dots of silicone, which makes the grip less intense than a larger strip of silicone. I doubt the full seats would be overly sticky. The grip on the knee patch version feels quite similar to a regular suede patch when you’re in the saddle.
If you’re in the market for a good budget breech, I’d definitely give these a shot. They’re not far off the price of something like the ever popular Piper breeches, but they are light years better in the quality and fit department. The fact that they come in white and tan make them a great low-budget show breech option as well. I definitely want to add a white pair to my collection next!
Well, a half sister anyway. How freakin cute is this little nugget?
Madeline WTW was born on Tuesday evening at the extremely reasonable hour of 6pm. That makes Sadie 3 for 3 with foaling during daylight hours! Clearly she isn’t reading the mare handbook, but it’s really convenient actually. Guess she wants to make extra sure that no one misses anything?
Last night they got to go out in the paddock and explore/stretch her legs. Sorry I couldn’t pick just one or two of my favorite pics of the ones Michelle sent, so here are… 8. Not sorry.
Not gonna lie, I have some serious “grandma” pride right now. Baby is ADORABLE. She definitely seems to have Diarado’s head for sure, and the same big sloping shoulder and super long legs as Presto. The rest we’ll have to see as she unfolds and fills out more. Michelle reports that she is very friendly and people-oriented, too. Typical for Sadie’s foals, they’ve all been comfortable with people from the very beginning. I love Madeline’s two little diagonal white socks and star, and those big fuzzy ears. This is the most white any of Sadie’s foals have had so far. She’s also very very bouncy. Like I’m not sure that she realizes she can actually canter without bucking. And yes, I spend way too much time watching them on the cameras.
Sadie as usual is being a fantastic mom. She was noshing on hay within minutes of giving birth (just like last year) and doesn’t mind all the humans coming in to mess with her baby. I think she’s got this broodmare thing down pat now. I love my “little” mare so much, and it makes me happy to see her enjoying her life and being so good at her job. She’s special to me, she’ll always be my first homebred and my best girl.
As for the Baby Bets contest, this year REALLY went down to the wire. After Laken’s foal, Amelia was way out in the lead with 15 points over the next closest competitor. But Anne B rallied hard with Sadie’s foal, guessing EVERYTHING correctly except for the foaling date – she was only one day off. That’s some mad skills right there. And no one actually guessed the foaling date correctly on this one, believe it or not.
So, we ended with Amelia and Anne in a tie, with 30 points each.
Edit – we’ve had a bit of a complication. Will update winner info later!
Many thanks again to Riding Warehouse for sponsoring this contest, can’t wait to do it again next year! And of course thanks to so many of you for participating. Baby horses are so fun.
Pretty bummed to be missing Not-Rolex (how long will it take my brain to reconcile the fact that it really ISN’T Rolex anymore? I dunno, years probably.) this year. For the American eventing community, this is basically like Christmas level of importance. But better, because there are horses and bourbon chicken. If you’re going, please note that I’m really jealous. Also if you see anything in the trade fair that I need, send it to me. No please don’t. But yes, definitely do.
But just because I won’t be there doesn’t mean I won’t be watching. I already had a USEF fan membership, so I’m geared up and ready for the USEF Network live stream, but if you don’t have one and want to watch, you can get a FREE fan membership with the code LRK3DE. Get it. Watch. It’s worth it. Then you can commiserate with me about how sad you are to not be there in person while still cheering on your favorites.
And even though I won’t be meandering through aisle upon aisle of vendors myself, I’ve still had my eye out for some specials and deals and must-visit vendors that will be happening over in the trade fair and sponsor village. Cuz ya know… it’s… applicable? I’m always interested in specials and deals. Especially when some of those specials and deals will also be available ONLINE for those of us who aren’t attending.
The first (and ok I’m biased – best) notable deal is from my friends over at Majyk Equipe. No I don’t work for them, no I’m not an ambassador or anything, I’ve just been a ME fan from the very beginning, love their products, and have yet to be disappointed by anything I’ve had from them. Just so happens that they always have some really awesome LRK3DE deals too! Majyk will be at 4 different booths: Horseloverz, Smartpak, One Stop Equine Shop, and Wise Choice Tack, and the promo stuff this year is awesome! Polo wraps or a boot organizer – both super useful.
They’ll have their new pad line available, too. Great opportunity to see the new products and get some useful free stuff (no dinky keychains here) with purchase. They’ll also have two raffles running this year – one for the boots that Boyd will be running XC in, and one for a Luxury saddle pad. LRK3DE goers, stay tuned to their Insta and facebook for details on those, as well as other giveaways and flash specials.
For those of us that are stuck at home, some of the same promo deals will be offered through online retailers as well, including Riding Warehouse. I’ll post details on those as soon as they’re available. Either way, don’t think your credit card is safe just because you aren’t going to LRK3DE. I’m here to make sure of that (if I’m going down, I’m taking all of you down with me).
One of my other favorite booths last year was Devoucoux. Not just because it smelled divine (ok that was mostly it) but also because Cambox was hiding in there. It’s still one of my favorite gadgets so if they’re there again, go check it out. I didn’t have enough in my spending budget last year to actually buy anything from Devoucoux though, which was too bad because they had an awesome prize wheel that you could spin to win additional stuff, and it looks like the prize wheel will be back again this year too! It’s kinda like crossing The Price is Right with a tack shop. I’m into it. Also the person who finds a Devoucoux jump pad for me is my new hero.
Ride Heels Down is giving away a free gift to anyone who shows up in their booth wearing RHD apparel. The owner of this company is a fellow amateur eventer, so it’s a really fun one to support. Her designs are cute and affordable, if you’re looking to do some lower budget shopping or pick up a gift for a friend. Don’t own anything from them yet? You can share their Insta post to get a free gift at the event, too!
For the thoroughbred lovers out there, the Retired Racehorse Project is having a 10% off sale in their booth. I picked up a couple shirts from them last year and still love them, plus it’s another cause/company that I really don’t mind giving my money to. You just gotta rep that OTTB pride sometimes, and even better if you can do that while also supporting RRP.
And last but certainly not least on my must-visit list, make sure you swing by and say hi to Pam at Mango Bay. Pam has always been a great supporter of my adventures, Presto, and this blog, and she’s always so incredibly generous with her time and donations to worthy causes. Plus – cute shirts and belts and shirts that are very affordable. What more do you need?
There are lots of other vendors having specials and giveaways and raffles, too. I’m sure there will be a million shopping guides on social media, I just really wanted to mention my favorites, especially the smaller companies, since they can kind of get lost amidst all the other chaos.
To everyone that’s going – have fun, take lots of pics, eat lots of food, and buy lots of stuff! Everyone that’s stuck at home like I am – enjoy the free live feed, and don’t think you’re escaping unscathed from this whole shopping extravaganza… I’m not done with you yet.
For me, it’s always seemed like making plans either results in fortune or folly. Usually folly, when it comes to horses. Sometimes things work out (like AEC’s, or the Classic 3-Day) but a lot of times they don’t. Horses don’t know anything about the plans, dreams, or agendas of humans. It’s simultaneously one of the best and worst things about them, IMO. As long as they’re fed and safe, they’re happy. There’s a beautiful simplicity in that, even if sometimes it can make them really frustrating creatures to the humans who laid grander plans upon their backs.
Despite having been a multiple-horse owner for the majority of my adult life, Henry has been a one man show for years. My brain is still re-adjusting to having more than one animal to train, consider, take care of, and plan for. And since my budget is pretty tight, it takes a little more thought. I can’t just do All The Things, so stuff has to be prioritized, which requires looking more at the long term big picture. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what I really WANT to do, and when those things have to be done.
The big unmoveable future thing is really Presto’s 4yo (ie horse show debut) year in 2021. Whether he’s mature enough to start a legit eventing career that year or not, he’ll still be under saddle and he’ll still need to start going to horse shows in some capacity. That’s a really important, must-happen thing. Of course, showing two horses at the same time will be financially pretty damn difficult for me, so it’s likely that either both of them will go to schooling shows, or one of them (ie Henry) won’t get to show. 2021 will be the year of Turning the Baby into a Show Horse.
From there we start working backwards. In his 3yo year (2020) I’d like to send Presto to my cowboy/colt starting guy for 2 months in the spring – the same guy that started his dam. He exposes them to a lot, which I like, and he’s been doing this FOREVER, which I also like, and he’s gotten pretty involved in the english world so he understands what we want from our horses. Of course, he’s expensive, so all of my extra money that spring would go toward that. No recognized shows for Henny.
Once Presto comes back from the breaker he’ll really just trail ride or hack out a few times a week during the summer. Of course, it’s too friggin hot here for me to show Henry in the summer, so either Henry isn’t showing or we’d have to go out of state. Unless my financial situation changes or I got pretty lucky, I don’t really see that happening. In the fall of Presto’s 3yo year I’d like to send him for a month or two of dressage training, then bring him home and give him the winter off before his 4yo “first season” starts. Sending him off for more training is more $$$, so let’s go ahead and write off any recognized shows for Henry for the remainder of that year too. 2020 will be the year of Baby Training.
When you look at it that way, that really leaves us with the remainder of 2018 and 2019 for the primary focus to remain on Henry. Just boarding two already puts a pretty significant dent in my show fund for him, but when Presto is actually in training or needing to go to lots of shows himself, the Henry show budget will be almost non-existent. I don’t really know what will happen once they’re both rideable and showable. Selling Henry is not on the docket ever, but would I lease him to someone? Would I just keep him and not show him? Or would I find a way to show them both, albeit very sparingly? I don’t know that part yet. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
But thinking about all these things did kind of make me feel like, if I have other things that I really want to accomplish with Henry, now is probably the time to lay it out. To be honest, I never had ideas for us beyond getting to Training level. And that was a huge, far-reaching idea that seemed more like a joke than an actual probability. So we got there, and it’s been great, and I’ve just kinda been like “Ok well here we are, achievement unlocked, ta-da!”.
Figuring out Presto’s grand plan and realizing just how little time I have left with Henry as my sole focus kind of prompted me to think… do I want to try to keep going? Do we ever want to make an attempt at Prelim, or do we just live at Training and have fun? Both are appealing to me in their own way. I didn’t start out ever wanting to do Prelim, to be honest. I feel like that’s the level where things start getting stupid, and more dangerous, and the difference between Training and Prelim is huge. My horse does not have endless scope, or easy speed. He’s Prelim-capable, but it really is nearing the the limit of his natural ability. Then again, we’ve schooled Prelim stuff and done a couple CT’s and both of us think it’s pretty damn fun. And I’d love for Presto to eventually be a 1* horse for me, so it’s obviously not like I’m saying I’ll never consider it. If Henry is sound and happy and fit, is there a real reason to NOT at least try to work towards it and see what happens?
In my mind there are kind of two Prelims… “Legit Prelim” and “Prelim Lite”. There are a couple venues where I feel like the courses are a lot easier for my particular horse, and the P wouldn’t be that much of a stretch for him from where we are now – Prelim Lite. Other venues have monster courses, less suited to my horse, and I just really don’t have much interest in running them on him ever – Legit Prelim. Prelim Lite seems reasonably doable, with a lot of work. And those venues even have some schooling shows. That would take away the pressure added by spending more money and having the results be on the horse’s USEA record, which in turn makes it sound like a more interesting proposition to me.
So after texting with Trainer, the plan is to spend the rest of this year cleaning up our showjumping, stretching the comfort zone, and getting more miles. We’ll see where that leads us. If things stack up to where Prelim Lite looks doable at some point in 2019, we’ll give it a go. If not, we’ll keep having fun rocking around Training and that’ll be that. If I can’t step my game up, or if Henry seems stretched beyond his ability, then we’ll stay where we’re at. That horse owes me absolutely nothing, and the most important thing is for me to feel like we’re doing right by him. As long as he’s happy, I’m happy. So we’ll let the horse dictate our future, and see where it takes us. It’ll be a lot of fun, either way.
You know what’s cuter than watching my two boys interact? Nothing. Literally nothing.
On Saturday I was in a hurry trying to beat the rain, so both boys just got worked separately and briefly. But Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day, so Henry did a conditioning ride first, then we went back up to the barn and grabbed Presto.
I wanted to revisit the ponying lesson that we had started the weekend before. I didn’t have time to work on it at all during the week, and it’s not something I want to feel like I have to rush, so I wanted to wait until we had plenty of time. I wasn’t sure if either of them would retain the lessons from the first session, or if it would be like starting over again. I didn’t have anyone around to hold Presto for me while I got on Henry, so challenge #1 was mounting one horse while holding the other (and not getting tangled or have either of them head in separate directions). Challenge #2 was getting them both through the gate, into the arena, and closing the arena gate behind us. Or at least I thought it would be a challenge. They both complied with no issue, like they’d actually been trained or something. How bout that.
I made a few laps of the arena, stopping and starting and turning, walking over the poles and between some narrowly placed barrels. It was all super easy. Both boys started out even better than we had ended the weekend before. So I figured hey, let’s just leave the arena and make a couple laps around the barn and see what happens. Answer: nothing. I opened the gate from Henry’s back, we walked out, and marched around the barn. Easy peasy. At that point I just kinda shrugged to myself, thought “well, why not”, and headed out to the field. I wasn’t planning on going out there until we had another ponying session or two under our belts, but they were both being great… may as well.
Presto LOVED it. He was looking around at everything, but in an interested “WOW THIS IS AMAZING” kind of way, not in a spooky way. In fact, he never spooked at anything. Not the rustling field of corn that we had to pass on the way, not the trees and bushes blowing in the wind, not the birds that always fly up out of the tall grass. He just calmly took it all in and stayed very well behaved. For a yearling I continue to be really impressed with his brain.
I have to give Henry a ton of credit, he is a great horse to pony off of. If Presto starts pushing into him or getting too far ahead of his shoulder, he pins his ears at him and puts him back in his place. A couple of times we halted and Presto didn’t notice for a few steps, which earned him a “PAY ATTENTION” nip from Henry as a correction. He’s the one teaching the kid to pony, I’m pretty much just holding the lead rope. Henry acts super grumpy about it all, but I think he actually really likes it. Being bossy is his favorite thing in the world.
We made a lap of the jump field, then walked around the edge of the pond through some scrub before heading back. I could have stayed out there forever, but I figured it would be wise to keep the first field adventure to a 20 minute max. On the last stretch before the barn, all the mares in the mare pasture decided to gallop up to the fence to see us as we passed, which was exciting for about 2 seconds before Henry and his grumpy ears put the kibosh on that nonsense from both sides. God I love him. If we hadn’t had Presto with us he would have been prancing and acting like a total idiot, but he absolutely knows the difference in those situations.
I tied Presto in Henry’s stall while I untacked Henry in the aisle, letting him supervise the “stand tied” lesson. If Presto moved, Henry pinned his ears at him. I stood there in the aisle giggling for a lot longer than I really should have. Man its a lot easier to outsource all this baby training.
Since Henry seems to be such a good influence on Presto, I took them both out to the washrack together. I hosed Henry off while Presto watched, and then hosed Presto. He wasn’t thrilled, but he didn’t protest.
They both seemed happy and chill, so I let them stand there and graze for a bit. Once they were outside of what I assume Henry deems “working conditions”, Henry was less grumpy towards Presto. I swear I think he knows that this is his little bro and it’s his responsibility to make sure Presto doesn’t end up a heathen. Probably because he doesn’t trust me to accomplish that on my own.
Everything went a lot better than I expected. Presto is proving that he’s got a good brain, and Henry is proving (once again) that he’s worth his weight in gold. That horse, he is one of kind.
A friend is going to let me borrow her Western saddle for a while, which should help make our ponying a little bit easier. Juggling that lead rope in an English saddle is certainly doable, but it would be really nice to have a saddle horn just in case. Plus I can’t wait to throw that thing up on Henry and take a bunch of pictures of him REALLY looking like a quarter horse.
Once we get some more ponying experience I’d like to haul them off property and do some trail riding, especially during the summer when it’s too miserably hot to do much else. These two are so much fun.
Between Presto, the cat, and my barnsitting charges, I have an extraordinarily high number of Floofs in my life right now. Not gonna lie, it’s awesome. I am a big fan of floofiness.
This is JB, aka Baby Floof, the new foal out at the barn where I barnsit regularly. It’s possible that the very first thing I did when I got there yesterday was go straight out to play with JB.
He’s going to be a super fancy dressage horse one day. His sire is Tolegro and his genetic dam (he was carried by a recipient mare) is a daughter of the resident black stallion Toni, who’s antics have made it to the blog several times before.
JB thinks he’s sneaky. He’s not. But he is VERY sassy, and 100% colt. It’s pretty cute, in that really naughty baby way. Especially since he’s not my colt and I’m not the one that’s going to have to teach him manners. You gotta watch your back around the Baby Floof, he’s quick and he’s armed at both ends.
Barnsitting also comes with what is really THE ULTIMATE FLOOF. This is Lola the Malamute.
Pictures don’t even accurately capture how floofy this floof is, y’all. SO FLOOFY. She’s got the super derpy personality to match, too. So much leaping and flopping and tongue lolling around sideways out of her mouth. Hence why she gets the title of Ultimate Floof.
And then there’s the floof that many of you have already noticed – Presto’s forelock. That thing is Grade A mustang quality. It’s enough forelock for at least 4 or 5 horses… I thought Henry had a decent forelock but this one is 4x as thick and really frizzy. A few of the longer strands almost reach the noseband of his halter when it’s brushed out. Every day I try to smash it down so that it looks a little less wild, but my smashing isn’t really working. I have no idea what I’m going to do with that thing when I actually have to braid it. It does give him a very Emo Floof look, though.
And then there’s Grem, the Princess Floof. She got a big fancy cat tower this week (because she is the most rotten cat in all the land) and is absolutely obsessed with it. She likes to sleep in the little hammock or perch at the very top and threaten to leap down on the dogs. Her reign of terror, ruling the house with an iron paw, is still very much in place. And we inadvertently enabled it by giving her a castle and a throne.
Hopefully by this time next week there will be yet another Floof in our lives. Sadie’s “due date” is Sunday, and she usually foals pretty close to that. Can’t wait to see Presto’s newest half brother or sister!
One of the most fun things about having Presto home for the past week and half has been getting to know him better. I mean yeah, I knew him before… I was there when he was born, after all. But aside from those couple weeks he spent at the hospital as a foal, I had yet to spend more than a couple days at a time with him. And most of those encounters were me watching him, or just hanging out with him, not really asking him to do a whole lot. You don’t learn that much about a horse until you start asking them to step outside of their comfort zone.
Having also bred and raised Presto’s mother, Sadie, it’s been really interesting to see the similarities and differences in their personalities and temperaments. They’re both very smart and pretty sensible and food motivated. Presto is a bit more willing, or shall we say, more inclined to acquiesce to something I’m asking him to do that he might not actually want to do. But maybe that’s the difference between a filly and a colt.
There are a few other definite differences though. Sadie had a severe aversion to black mats for THE LONGEST TIME as a young horse. We’re talking like she spent a solid year and half thinking they were a hole to hell, even seeing them daily. When Michele lived in Texas, Sadie actually boarded at her house for 6 months or so, and Michele’s barn had a black mat across the entrance. Sadie jumped over it every. single. time. Presto definitely notices a mat the first time he sees it, but he marches right up to it, gives it a snort, and then stomps it. He recovers from “scary” situations a lot faster too. I think he is a bit bolder than her, which is saying a lot because otherwise Sadie really has always been a pretty bold horse (um, black mats aside).
Despite a few irrational phobias, Sadie was always pretty sensible when it actually counted. When we moved from Michele’s barn to another barn up the road (by up the road I mean about a mile down the winding farm roads), my friend and I were trailer-less so we just led our baby horses down there. Sadie thought that was a pretty fun adventure, and was actually surprisingly good about the whole thing. I could see Presto reacting the same way in that situation. They seem to be naturally inclined to be inquisitive rather than fearful.
They can both scream though. Really loud. And Presto is more of a talker than she was. His first year or so of eventing might be a screamfest.
Of course, Sadie also threw some epic freaking tantrums about some of the most mundane things. She was STUBBORN, and if she didn’t want to do something your way, she was absolutely prepared to have a knock-down-drag-out fight about it. And once she was mad, she stayed mad. I was constantly trying to outsmart her, because you sure weren’t going to win a contest of strength or staying power. Presto might protest once or twice, but then he just kinda gives me the hairy eyeball, decides it’s easier to do it my way, heavy sighs, and it’s over. This definitely shows up in things like trailer loading (Sadie was not a good loader or traveler… partially because of her stupid black mat phobia and partly because I didn’t have access to a trailer to work with her on it).
When Sadie got older and became a riding horse, she turned into one of the easiest horses on the planet. I think she really thrived on having a job, and I always felt, looking back, that my biggest mistake with her was that I tried to go by the “teach them the basics but otherwise leave them alone” method of horse-raising. That method works well for a lot of horses, but for a horse like her, this wasn’t the right approach. She was too smart and too brazen and too inventive.
By the time she was 2 1/2 this had manifested in some undesirable behavior. I had been around a lot of foals and young horses, but I had never raised one myself before, so she was my guinea pig, for sure. A couple months at the cowboy helped turn her attitude around, and once she was under saddle and getting ridden regularly, she was a much happier and easier horse. She especially LOVED trail rides… exploring was fun to her. I’m interested to see what Presto thinks about hacking out in the fields. Judging by what I’ve seen so far, I think he’ll like it too.
To this day Sadie is not the most reliable about tying. I was always worried about her hurting herself, so I didn’t do enough of that in the first couple years. Once she learned she could break a halter or escape from a blocker tie ring, that was the end of her ever tying reliably. She does not forget things like that. Presto has been getting tying lessons since he was 3 months old. Not repeating that mistake!
These are the main reasons why I ultimately opted to bring Presto to my barn, where I could see him and do something with him pretty much every day. I want his brain to be occupied, and I want him to have expectations that he has to fulfill every single day. I want him to tie, crosstie, pony, see lots of commotion, load on trailers, go on adventures, get baths, get groomed and handled. He still gets 23 1/2 hours a day to himself in his pasture to go be a baby horse, but he also is expected to be civilized when I ask him to be. No “choose your own adventure”, semi-feral style of living happening over here. Some people might think it’s too much, or unnecessary, but I think it’s the best thing for him.
So far though, he’s been a bit easier than Sadie. Honestly, I think he really thrives on having something to do. He’s eager for the lessons and always seems happy to come in and figure out what’s on the docket for the day. That’s Sadie’s brain at work, which seems like such a thoroughbred trait. They both have a fantastic work ethic… Presto just has a stronger desire to please. Or maybe it’s just a stronger desire to avoid conflict. Either way, I’ll take it.
I’m really interested to see what other commonalities or differences start showing up in Presto as time goes on and we delve into more tasks. Discovering his personality has been really fun, but even more so since I know his dam so well. Raising horses is hard, but this is definitely one of the fun parts.
The re-introduction of the hackamore into Henry’s show wardrobe created a bit a predicament (ha, pun. stop groaning.) with my bridle lineup. All of my good bridles these days are monocrowns, which don’t actually work with a hackamore… there would be one extra strap with nothing on it, flap flap flapping around in the breeze.
Luckily I did have something it could go on: my old Royal Sports bridle that I had made for a hackamore several years ago. I hated that thing since the day I got it, and I still hate it, and it’s even uglier now than it used to be. I’ve just kept it around so I can ride in my sidepull sometimes without changing bridles around. I mean, the bridle technically does the job, but it’s hideous and I do not like using it in public, not to mention the fact that the crownpiece does not fit correctly around Henry’s ears. There’s no freaking way I can show up at a recognized event with that gross, flaking, orange-padded, ill-fitting nightmare. I’m pretty sure that counts as horse abuse or something. Granted, the hackamore that I picked up for cheap to use for this little non-bitting experiment is pretty ugly too.The only thing wrong with it is the color though (which ironically matches the hideous orange padding on the bridle perfectly), so my eyeballs were mildy less offended about that part than they are about the bridle itself.
If you like having cheekpieces in your horses eyes and a bridle that is more orange than brown, that setup is totally up your alley. (Fun fact from the above pics: it was so windy that day for the CT that none of the panels or gates could be put up in the cups lest they become airborne projectiles. Texas is great.)
If we’re going to use a hackamore for real, ie in public, I really wanted a true hackamore bridle with a jaw strap – like the Dy’on and PS of Sweden hackamore bridles have – to keep the cheekpieces out of his eyes and help stabilize the thing on his head a little bit. The problem is that those were the only two bridles I could find with that feature, and I didn’t want to spend that kind of money.
Ok that’s a lie, there’s this FRA bitless bridle thing that technically has the strap I want, but what the hell is up with that hideous “hook out” cheekpiece? It looks backwards. It’s making me twitchy. I cannot.
And there’s also the Barefoot Physio bridle, which would have worked, but the brown one has hideous orange padding just like my current bridle. That’s a NO. Bridle makers: STOP WITH THE ORANGE PADDING.
Hideousness is the theme here.
So the Dy’on and the PS were the only two pretty bridles I could find with that feature.
The Dy’on bridle would have worked, and it’s only $150 (sans hackamore and reins) if you buy it from Europe, which isn’t too awful. Of course, then I’d have wanted to put a nicer hack on it, like a Jin, which I could also get from the same shop in Europe for another $100 (then add $25ish for shipping to all that), or a Stubben or a Herm Sprenger. The only thing I didn’t like about the Dy’on is that Henry really needs the full size crown for the ear cutouts to fit, but the full size cheekpieces would put the jaw strap up high, above his eye. I much prefer that the strap sit lower, so that it’s level with or below the eye. The strap is fixed, though, so I wouldn’t have been able to move it to where I wanted unless I took it to a leather person and had them do it for me. That’s annoying for something that isn’t cheap to start with.
The one that I liked the design of the most, of course, was the PS of Sweden hackamore. It has the strap where I want it, and I love the wide padded crown. It comes with the matching (praise jesus) hackamore already on it, which is nice too. One purchase and you’re done. And it’s pretty (which matters a lot). But – there’s always a but – these went out of production a couple years ago, so there aren’t a lot left on the market in the size and color I want. The cheapest new one that I found from my preliminary search was around $315 including shipping.
I briefly considered trying to Frankenhack something together that would work, but that sure sounds like a royal pain in the ass to try to get everything to match.
So I tossed an ISO ad up on English Tack Trader on facebook, figuring it was worth a try but also thinking there was just no way I’d get that lucky. Next thing you know, low and behold, not only does someone have a brown full size PS hackamore, but it’s someone I actually know! She used to live near here and reads the blog and rode with my trainer a little bit. She offered it to me for a much more reasonable price than new, and I was sold. Done. Bam.
Everyone thank Teana for saving Henry from that hideous orange monstrosity that he’s been wearing. She’s done us all a big favor here.
And no one ask how many bridles I have now. Just don’t. A bridle for every bit, am I right???
Well, all of y’all that were excited for all the fun stories and fireworks that were bound to commence after Presto came home are about to be sorely disappointed by this first update after week one. I truly expected him to get here and be a total hellion, a whirling dervish of tiny hooves, crazy hair, and teenage angst. Clearly I’ve spent a lot of time around baby horses. They are shits. But so far, none of this has really been the case with Presto.
When we left off after his Day 1 update, I was kinda blown away by how well-behaved he was with the initial move to the boarding barn. I was suspicious. It’s like when a room full of little kids gets really quiet… that can’t be good. I thought maybe he was just a little shell-shocked and his behavior would deteriorate a bit as he settled in. So far, he’s actually gotten… better.
First of all, he comes up to me in the pasture. We’re not talking a Black Beauty moment where he sees me and comes running, but once I get about 40′ away he stops grazing and meets me halfway. Sometimes I give him an alfalfa pellet, sometimes not. I don’t want him getting mouthy and always looking for treats, but he’s pretty food motivated, like his mother, so I will absolutely use that to my advantage. Plus he’s a little “nose shy” in that he’s been very wary of what you’re trying to do to his nose/mouth ever since he had to wear the muzzle when he was a foal at the clinic. Now he’s letting me poke and pet and touch (and smooch) his muzzle with no real complaints. He used to take a couple steps back when you pulled the halter over his nose too, which has stopped. We played the “nose in halter = alfalfa pellet” game a couple days last week and that plus simple repetition seems to have done the trick.
He’s done a lot in his first week, really. I’ve brought him in every day for grooming and hoof picking and crosstie lessons. One day he was a little distracted by the horse in the stall next to the crossties and we had to have a discussion about the impropriety of swinging one’s haunches around all over the place while I’m asking him to pick up his feet, but for the most part he’s been good. I haven’t actually hooked him up to the crossties on both sides yet, just in case. I clip one side and use his lead rope looped through the stall grate on the other. Enough to keep him still, but not enough to keep him stuck if he does panic. He also definitely cannot be left unattended yet. I get about 6 feet away before he’s dancing around, wondering where I’m going and why he can’t come. We’ll build up, he’s just not there yet. He’s pretty confident in most things as long as I’m there next to him, but not so much once he feels like he’s alone.
We’ve also gotten some practice in the washrack, thanks to a little cut he got on his upper leg. I don’t think he’s ever actually had a bath before so I was prepared for a rodeo. The washrack in general is scary, a big patch of concrete with holey black mats, and several curled up hoses. Not to mention the actual water part. I let him walk up and snort at the mats, then asked him to step forward, and he did so without any hesitation whatsoever. In this way he’s very different from his mother, but I’ll talk about that more in another post. We did half of the cold hosing in the washrack itself, and the other half on the grass next to it where the water kind of puddles, to see what he thought about that. He thinks puddles are cool (yes, baby event horse!).
He gave a teeny flinching spook when I turned the hose on, and danced around for a few seconds when the water started touching his foot, but quickly settled. He just stood there for 10 minutes and let me cold hose that leg. I was pretty impressed by that. 10 minutes in normal time is like 2 hours in baby horse time. Everyone with babies knows I’m not even lying about THAT one.
He also wore boots for the first time. Once we’re ready to start ponying out in the fields I want him to at least have some kind of boot on, so I slapped some open fronts on him to see what he thought. He flicked an ear at the sound of the velcro, but that was the only reaction I got about the entire thing. Boots definitely fit him funny right now though… he’s got the cannon height of a normal horse (his legs are actually longer than Henry’s, which I find very comical), but like half of the bone. This age is so awkward.
On Saturday after I got back from the show with Henry, I decided it would be a good day for trailer loading lessons, since I was already hooked up. I REALLY REALLY thought that the only reason he loaded right into my trailer last week was because he was just caught off guard by it. I thought there would be much more resistance this time around. Yeah, no. On the first try he did wiggle to the left and step sideways off the ramp, but I just lined him back up and asked again, and he walked right in. He stood quietly, I rubbed his ears, and then we started the harder part: backing out. Again I have to give his brain so much credit, he definitely wanted to try to turn around, but I just kept backing him and guiding him, one step at a time, and he made it all the way down with no problem. We walked a circle, I loaded him again (walked right in), stood there and patted him for a minute, and then he backed out perfectly without much guidance needed from me. Boy genius right there.
On Sunday I figured I may as well start our first ponying lesson. The arena was empty and Henry was scheduled for a light day anyway. I tacked Henry up, went and grabbed Presto, and led them out together. Sometimes the young ones are a little startled to see a human above them for the first time but Presto was just kinda like “oh hey cool, you’re attached to that horse, that’s neat, can you rub my ears better from up there?” Okay then. Off we went. The first few minutes were a little bit of a circus. I couldn’t get Henry and Presto on the same page. One of them would go one way and the other one would go the other. I was like omg this is what parents of human children must feel like.
So to make things easier I put them both on a small circle, Henry on the outside, and we just spiraled around for a few minutes. Neither of them could really resist, since we were were always turning, but Henry got the idea of being the leader, and Presto got the idea of moving himself in accordance with what the other horse was doing. I slowly made the circle bigger and ta-da, we had it. Henry still wasn’t really thrilled about it, but he sure did step right into the role. “OMG kid, walk faster. I don’t have all day!“. Pretty sure I heard him mumbling something about how in his day he used to have to pony uphill in the snow both ways, kids these days, get off my lawn, blah blah blah. We walked around the ring for about 15 minutes, practicing stopping and turning, and then walked over some poles.
If Presto wanted to get a little too friendly or wasn’t moving away from him appropriately, Henry would pin his ears at him for emphasis but he never once even considered kicking. That grump ass, bossy older brother, tough love persona sure does fit him to a T. We’ll do some more ponying in the ring before we move it outside, and I’d like to borrow a western saddle for the first outdoor excursion, but we’re off to a solid start.
Presto is smart. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes he has an OMG or a NO moment and starts screaming and dancing and being a dumb baby horse, but every time I give him a real task to do, he applies himself and uses his brain and figures it out. He’s a thinking horse, much more than a reactive horse. I keep expecting him to have one of those “checked out” moments, but so far he hasn’t. The barn owner and one of the workers have both come up to me separately and raved about his temperament. Apparently one day they were doing road work, which involved heavy machinery, lots of scraping, and several loads of gravel being dumped and grated right next to his turnout. They said Presto just stood there next to the fence the whole time, watching for hours like it was some kind of very interesting movie.
We’ll keep chipping away at the mundane things and slowly start adding in fun stuff as Presto gets a more solid foundation. It’s going pretty well so far, though! At least for me and Presto. Henry thinks this is some real bullshit.