Presto’s weekly rides are quickly becoming my favorite day of the week. Maybe I’m some kind of masochist but I think green baby horses are just incredibly fun, even if the rides are really short or you never move above a walk. Everything is new and exciting and all the “little things” are actually big things.
I didn’t do anything with Presto all last week (on Wednesday, his usual light lunge day, it was just hot and gross and he looked so content standing under the shade trees that I didn’t have the heart to interrupt him) and when I got him out this weekend I could officially no longer deny that he’s grown. Looking at only Henry all week, and then looking at Presto… he’s tall. I’ve tried really hard to just not make eye contact with his withers for the past few months (which isn’t too hard since they’re above my head) but I finally broke down and got curious and put a stick on him… and he’s 16.3h. Dammit Presto, we agreed that 16.3h was going to be your finished height. I don’t think he’s gonna hold up his end of that particular bargain. Since the 16.3h delusion clearly isn’t happening, I’m gonna start pretending that he definitely won’t top 17h.
So, as I’ve said before, since the Spring was really all about just getting him broke enough to hack and trail ride for the summer, our focus has now begun to shift. For this ride I started him out in the ring, just for about 10 minutes. Enough to make sure he’s focused and hasn’t forgotten anything he’s learned thus far, but not enough to be much actual work. We make sure the brakes are ok and make sure the gas pedal isn’t stuck. At this point I don’t usually lunge him before I get on him anymore, so those few minutes in the ring are my way to gauge what I’m sitting on that day.
I could kinda tell that he’d missed his mid-week lunge, not because he was wild or anything (kid isn’t really the wild type, so far) but because he was fussier with the bit again. No problem though, we just trotted each way, made some changes of direction, and cantered like half a circle.
Presto gave me a couple really good circles after a few minutes, so we quickly called it quits with that. I wanted to move on to the REAL objective of the day – his first solo hack around the property! He’s sort of been out to the back of the property once before, with another horse. They just walked to the middle together and walked back, basically. He hadn’t been around the whole perimeter trail yet under saddle, although he did pony it with Henry a couple times last year. Presto can be very herd-minded so I really wasn’t sure if he’d have a meltdown about going out there alone, especially since you really can’t see any other horses. Only one way to find out!
He was pretty bold marching out down the alley, and first we swung a left into an unused pasture. That’s the one where I have a couple of small log jumps, and there’s a natural sorta-ditch in a low spot between two little hills. He walked around there, over the little ditch, and made a lap of that field.
He seemed cool with that, so we came out of that pasture and kept going to the back to the hacking trail. Entering that field is where you lose all the other horses from sight and sometimes you’ll stumble across some deer or something since it’s further away from houses/people. He was alert but interested, and never once spooked. He got a little high-headed and looky at the bushes the deer usually like to hide behind, so I just asked him to halt and we stood for a few seconds to let him think about it before I asked him to move forward again. I want him to trust me, and part of that is being fair and giving him time to feel confident about what I’m asking rather than always just forcing him forward. We made a whole lap with absolutely no drama (except when he wanted to trot down the hill, which is kind of unnerving on a horse that’s wide as a fence post and generally not always aware of the fact that he has 4 feet… had to put the kibosh on that) and ambled back up to the barn.
I was so pleased with him for his first time out there alone. It’s a big step for a baby horse to conquer the wilderness without any horse friends for moral support, and I’m really delighted with how confident he was about it. Especially since that back pasture is where our little hills are, and I think it’ll do him a lot of good to walk the hills for these next few months. He needs some strength and topline, and now I feel like we can take advantage of them.
Overall a successful ride #17. Honestly I almost feel like I’m waiting for someone to notice that I’m totally unqualified for a young horse this nice. He’s one of those that is so much nicer under saddle than you might think from just seeing him in the pasture. He gives you a really good feeling that’s hard to even put into words. I just somehow have to not mess him up? But I did tell Michelle she needs to breed Sadie back to Mighty Magic next year… I think the world needs another one of these (and if it’s a filly I call dibs).