I will forever believe that you have to be one part masochist and one part batshit in order to want to breed and raise your own horse. I feel like I can say this for certain, having done it more than once. I definitely wonder what’s wrong with me (the possibilities are endless) on a pretty regular basis. BUT, I also have to admit that watching a horse grow and develop – even if it feels like it’s happening at a glacial pace – is also really fun. Well, maybe less fun when they’re hideous, which is like 80% of the time. But when they hit those good phases, which are albeit short-lived, and you see glimpses of the horse they’re going to be when they’re mature… those moments are pretty great. You remember why you’re doing this.
I think the first two years are the worst. You know what’s hideous? A weanling. You know what else is hideous? A yearling. There’s nothing quite so horrifying as when it looks like someone’s put their neck on upside down. The 2yo year is still not great, but I think the attractive phases start to last a bit longer at least. Especially as you get closer to 3 and further away from 2. Presto officially crossed the 2.5 mark a week ago, and he’s looking more and more like a real horse every day.
We’ve been on a mission to get him as attractive as possible before Championships. I mean, there’s nothing you can do about what phase of growth they decide to be in on the day, but you can make some effort to pretty them up a bit. Presto grows so much and so constantly that he can put away hay like nothing I’ve ever seen but still be the scrawniest horse on the farm. It’s like that 6′ tall teenage kid that eats an entire pizza every day for lunch and still weighs a buck ten soaking wet. So he’s been getting pretty much all the hay he can eat (which is a lot), and we started giving him some Amplify, which has actually succeeded in filling him out a little bit.
I’ve also been ponying him again, and doing little bits of walk and trot up the little hill in the back pasture. He’s always been pretty balanced by nature, but like any horse he definitely does move and look better when he’s a bit stronger. But he’s also a baby, so I’m not willing to do any real “work” with him. We keep it fun and short and light, a couple days a week either ponying on the hill or lunging with lots of transitions for 15 or so minutes, and even just that little bit has been enough to add some topline and butt. If we had real hills and giant pastures here I probably wouldn’t have to do anything at all, but alas… Texas. Raising horses here is a bit different.
I’m really pleased with how he handles heat, too. Having one horse that is an absolute puddle of sadness in the heat (poor Henry) has made me acutely aware of just how opposite Presto is. It takes a lot to make that horse hot, and he has no trouble “working” in the heat at all. He actually seems to like it. Which is good, considering where he lives.
At this 2.5yr mark I remain pretty pleased with how Presto is developing (aside from the fact that he’s 16.1h already, which I am choosing to ignore). His right front still turns out a little bit and he’s still got a small roach back, but both of those things have continued to improve over time and I don’t think either will ultimately matter. He’s not a 4* or 5* type of horse (thank god, I don’t need one of those) but from what I’m seeing so far I think there’s more than enough natural talent for what I could ever possibly want to do. He’s an athlete, for sure, certainly better designed for the job than Henry is. I’m so excited to start riding him a little bit next year and start peeling back more layers to figure out what else we’ve got. The ability is there… will the brain and the heart be there too? Time will tell.
I’m pretty freaking exciting that we’ve managed to secure an appointment at his sire’s farm in France while we’re over there in a couple weeks. I reaaaaally want to see Mighty Magic in person to see how he and Presto compare. Many props to my French friend (and Presto’s spirit animal) Mimi for helping us make all these farm appointments around the Normandy region. Between Burghley’s stallion parade and just day one of the France leg, we’ve already got lots of stallions to see, including but not limited to: Leprince des Bois, Grafenstolz, Jaguar Mail, Quite Easy, Future Gravitas, Ulgar Mail, Namelus R, Cassitano, and Utrillo. I’ve even made plans to kidnap Mimi for the first day we’re in France so she can
babysit come with us.
Presto’s Championships entry will go in the mail next week, and then it’ll be a game of trying to keep him looking as nice as we can until the end of September. Hopefully that’s possible…