While Presto is, on the whole, a very easy and well-behaved little baby colt, he’s still… well… a baby colt.
He goes through phases where he thinks it might be fun to test the boundaries a bit, or attempt to discreetly break rules that he definitely knows exist. Kid has a mouth on him, and he likes to explore with it. He quickly remembered why that was a bad idea, when he tried to explore ME with that mouth, and he almost lost his face. That won’t stop him from trying again in a few weeks though, whenever he manages to rebuild the courage and/or forget what happened the last time he tried. He also knows that he’s expected to stand in the MIDDLE of the crossties, not swing his butt around to the side until he’s as parallel as possible and gawking at the horse in the stall next to him. That doesn’t stop him from doing it the SECOND I get out of sight. Last week he waited until I disappeared into the tack room then swung his butt all the way over to the bridle hooks (he’s so flexible, it’s like Gumby) and pooped on my lovely new Horseware jacket. He claims it was an accident but I don’t believe him.
He’s solidly in that teenage phase where he enjoys toeing the line a bit. Part of it is the coltishness finally finding it’s way to the surface. For an almost 2yo intact male he’s about as quiet and non-studdish as they come, but I think his hormones just show in the form of mouthiness and being easily distracted. Then again he’s also (almost) 2, and those are common traits of 2yo’s anyway. But those little jewels are set to come off whenever the weather cooperates, IF it ever cooperates. I need a good 5 day span of cold temps but no rain.
He’s still on a lighter training schedule than he was earlier in the year, when I was really trying to solidly establish manners and tying and desensitization and all of that stuff. We’re holding steady at one “working” session every week or so, where I just check in and make sure he hasn’t forgotten what he’s learned, and remind him that his life does indeed have expectations attached. Lately this has entailed wearing a saddle, spending 5 minutes walking, trotting, and halting on the lunge with voice commands, and then standing at the mounting block. It’s a very easy existence.
He seems kind of bored though, and when I’m in the barn doing stuff with Henry I often look out and see Presto standing at his gate, staring at me intently. He craves attention, and he loves coming into the barn. For that reason, I think it’s important to keep doing enough with him to keep his brain engaged and check in with how he’s retaining his basics.
Since his sessions have become less frequent, sometimes he forgets little things like… the shape of a freaking circle. Or that whoa doesn’t mean stop and turn your shoulders in. Or that I exist. Sometimes I have to remind him that when we’re leading, if I take steps backward, he has to back up too. The rule when we’re leading is for his shoulder to stay at my shoulder, unless or until I say otherwise, no matter which direction I go, without me having to touch the lead rope. Sometimes he has temporary amnesia. Especially when the mares in the field next to the arena start chasing each other around because it’s dinner time, a circumstance under which he is NOT exempt from my rules.
He’s worn his saddle for two sessions now, both of which were a non-event. He gives zero shits. Since that went so well, our focus now will be returning to the bridle. I haven’t really asked him to wear one since the summer, and it’s time to revisit the concept a little more thoroughly. The other day I put it on and took it off a few times, until he figured out to lower his head when I asked and open his mouth when he felt the bit on his lips. He’s not much of a fan though, so I think that’s something we’ll have to continuously work on for a while. After that we’ll revisit ground driving, and eventually work our way to ground driving with the lines attached to the bit.
But first… nut removal. I owe him one for pooping on my jacket.