Presto has had TWO rides in the past week, bringing us up to a grand total of 7 in the last month and a half. So, ya know…
Just kidding, there’s nothing really serious about it. I ride him when it works out time-wise and weather-wise, but since I have the luxury of not having to do a “first 30 days” or “first 60 days” type of training scenario, I can take time between rides and it’s not a problem. He retains everything just fine even if a week goes by in between, and his body can have more time to adjust to all this new stuff.
Ride #6 was on Sunday, and by the time I got to him it was really hot and sticky outside. That’s fine baby-riding weather though, less likely to incite shenanigans and our rides have only been 10-15 minutes long, so no one would be dying of heat stroke. I did our usual routine of tack up, lead him to the ring, lunge him with lots of transitions for a couple minutes (I’m not trying to make him tired or take the edge off with lunging, I’m trying to focus his brain – hence transitions), then get on. And in the beginning, all was fine.
Then all 3 of the other horses completely disappeared from his line of sight and he Did Not Like That. To be fair, he didn’t get scared or worried or lose his mind. No, he just got mad. He threw a bit of a tantrum where he only wanted to go the direction he wanted to go (towards where the other horses had gone), and at the speed he wanted to go there (real fast). He flipped me the bird like an angry mare. Which, joke is on him, angry mares are my specialty. So, ya know… we discussed it. Not in a mean or domineering way, but basically my theory was if you really think you want to go in that corner then ok, we shall go to that corner and work, and when you decide you’re ready to go where I want you to go like a civilized creature, then you can rest. It didn’t take him long to get the concept, and he decided maybe it was better to just play my game because his corner wasn’t really that fun after all.
While he was temporarily possessed by a demon in the beginning, we ended the ride on a good note, and instead of dismounting in the ring like I usually do, I decided to ride him back through the field and around to the barn. It was his first time hacking back, and as soon as we left the arena he did a little “I’M FREE” head toss/scoot (newsflash, he was not free) and then settled down and walked back like a good boy.
But since he was kind of an angsty teen on Sunday, I didn’t want to wait a week in between rides. If it was going to be a continuing problem I wanted to nip it in the bud sooner rather than later. On Tuesday I got Presto out and repeated our usual program: groom, tack, walk to arena, lunge for a couple minutes with lots of transitions, then get on.
Whatever evil spirit took up residence in his soul on Sunday was completely exorcised, and he was really really good. Not one single naughty moment. We walked for a while, working on some little half turns off the rail, circles, baby leg yields, etc. Then we picked up the trot, doing some circles here and there but mostly working on regulating his tempo and rhythm. The go/whoa/turn is working pretty well now so we can start to focus on the foundation of his gaits a little bit more.
Once we trotted both ways and did some transitions I went ahead and cantered. I cantered him a little bit back on ride 5 – like literally 3/4 of a circle one direction – but this time we cantered a couple big circles each way. Then I brought him back down to trot, crossed the diagonal making a big figure 8, halted, and ta-da, done. Twelve minutes. Good boys have easier lives.
Here’s a one minute condensation of clips if you want more than GIFs. I’ll have more footage on his next vlog. Maybe even some that’s not from my phone propped up on a tripod.
Now that Presto’s not just a super drunken noodle I’m starting to see and feel some of his natural quality. Even at an awkward, growthy age, his natural balance is quite good. He’s not a dressage horse, but for one that’s bred to gallop and jump, it’s definitely not a bad starting point. He covers so much more ground than Henry, and is much lighter in his front end and across the ground. For his second time cantering under saddle, and in a dressage ring no less, I was pretty impressed with how well he was able to keep himself together. Right now the only real criticism I can give him is that he’s pretty busy in the mouth and tries to get his tongue over the bit, but… we’re 7 rides in. He’ll figure it out.
He’s also really started to bloom in the last few weeks, rounding out a bit and physically he just looks so much stronger and more mature. It’s pretty exciting to see him start coming together into a real horse. And, of course, to ride him. I’m not disappointed.