Last week Henry got some annual vet maintenance, which meant a short vacation for him. That left me with plenty of extra time to
torture dedicate to Presto!
First up was revisiting his ground driving/long lining skills. We’ve dabbled with this once before, very informally, with a couple of lunge lines on his rope halter. This time we upgraded slightly, as in this time I actually used real long lines. Still clipped to the halter though, because he’s just not quite ready yet to have them clipped on a bit. His outfit is a little goofy… he has to wear his very short little girth on the surcingle, otherwise it’s too big. And he’s also so freaking narrow and awkward that nothing stays in place, so the square pad is strapped to the surcingle, and then he’s wearing a cob size elastic breastplate to keep everything from sliding right off the back. Don’t ask questions, just go with it.
We started off with a little bit of long lining at the walk, just to remind him about the lines. He gave precisely zero shits. I moved around back to the ground driving position and flopped the lines around, tossed them up and down and over his back, and around his legs. Again, no shits given.
We stood under the covered for a few minutes while Hillary finished up with Inca, then ventured out to meander around and test the steering/brakes. A halter is obviously not ideal for steering, but he knows “whoa” so well by now that honestly he stops better from a voice command than he does from pressure on his nose. We walked around the arena, made some circles, changed directions, and walked over a pole. As long as he wanted to go where I was asking him to go, he steered great. Other times… well… not so much. If anything he is a little TOO sensitive, so once he started turning he’d basically just spiral back on himself. I had to get him used to the idea of turning for just a couple steps, or making a gradual continuous turn. For a big lanky baby, he is surprisingly agile.
We did succeed in making a few good smooth circles, and some successful passes over the pole, so we called it quits with that.
A couple days later was a jump day for Hillary and Inca, so I decided to tote Presto along to the jump field with us. The plan was to maybe lunge him for a couple minutes in the field, then have him stand there and be patient while Inca schooled and I set jumps. So far I’ve only lunged him in the ring (and when I say “lunge” with this horse, please keep in mind that I mean walk and trot for maybe 5 minutes), so I thought a little change of scenery would be nice, and he needs to learn how to put himself in park while I’m busy and/or while horses are working around him. I put his bridle on (this has been happening a lot lately and he is none too pleased with that particular development), put his rope halter on over it, clipped on a lunge line, and walked him out to field.
Once we got out there, Hillary went off to warm up and I put Presto on a circle around me. He was a little distracted worrying about where Inca went, so I asked for a lot of walk-trot transitions and changes of direction to keep him occupied. Then I realized that our little warmup gymnastic was totally something I could lunge Presto over, with a few changes. I moved a couple poles, put up some guide rails, brought the bounce in to make a little oxer, and decided to just try it and see what happened.
I’ve always bought horses that have never jumped before, so that feeling of not knowing how they’re going to do with it always makes me a little nervous. It’s like unwrapping a package and not knowing what’s inside. You just don’t really know how one will take to it, and how they will jump, until you point them at one. I mean… I know Presto’s parents, and I know he’s bred for this job, and I know his conformation gives him the ability to be correct, but STILL. As they’re going up to their first jump you’re always like “Oh god, please don’t suck at this. Please don’t jump like crap.”. I live in perpetual fear of the talentless or the knee-hanger.
Luckily Presto did not disappoint. He’s a little blase and ho-hum about it (that’s his general MO about most things) but I liked how he used his body over the little jump, and that he was tidy with his knees and smart with his feet. His natural instincts were good, he was very chill about it, and he seemed to understand the game. I was very pleased with both his aptitude and his attitude. Thank goodness!
So now we know how he moves and how he jumps, in it’s most raw, unpolished, uneducated form. I’m pretty excited about it, because I think all the raw material shows a lot of promise and ticks all the boxes. If anyone needs me I’ll just be over here impatiently waiting for him to grow up so we can polish everything up and get to the real fun stuff. Is he 4 yet?