Y’all know about alignment charts? You’ve probably seen them as memes, I think we all have by now, and that’s probably how most of us know of the concept.
I didn’t know until later that it’s a thing from role-playing games and it’s like A Thing and there are even Buzzfeed quizzes about it, so… must be legit right?
Anyway, it occurred to me the other day that Presto is definitely in the Chaotic category. Usually solidly in Chaotic Good, described as: “A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations.”. Although sometimes dipping into Neutral (when he’s being a cantankerous child) or even once in a while into Evil (if you’re asking his far-too-submissive 2yo pasture mate JB). Always 100% in the chaotic category though, that much is certain. Rules and regulations are not his bag.
I was musing over all of this on Sunday after I rode him, because he’s just so distractible he can’t even help himself. A great example: I had forgotten put on my gloves before I mounted, so, as I often do with Henry, I asked Presto to just walk off around the arena while I pulled them on. OMG. He could not handle that level of personal responsibility. He bee-lined for a pile of poop, reaching down to sniff it. I finally got him booted away from that and he wandered drunkenly down the long side, with me trying to semi-steer and semi-pull my gloves on, while accomplishing neither. Presto stopped suddenly at one of the letters that was leaning over and tried to grab it. I again booted him on and he zig-zagged his way around the short side, again stopping abruptly at a letter to try to nudge it over. At that point I’d still only managed to put one glove on so I halted him, facing him toward the wall of the arena, and tried to pull the other one on.
And I almost succeeded before, once his 3 second attention span was up, he tried to walk right over the wall of the arena. Very narrowly managed to pull him away before it happened.
Looking at the Pivo footage later, it took us 2 minutes to make that first lap around the ring with me trying to put my gloves on and him weaving around and investigating everything. I had to laugh at it, because it’s just so very typically Presto. He can’t help himself.
And for as much handling and groundwork as he’s had, he’s certainly not the most perfectly behaved animal. He knows about personal space, he’s known about it for years, the rules on that front have never changed. But it’s like he just can’t help himself from being like “HI WHAT YOU DOING?” and then you remind him to remove himself from your space and he’s like “Oh right, whoops…” two seconds later: “HI WHAT YOU DOING?”. He’s never rude or pushy about it, he just genuinely forgets himself and your silly rules. Like the labrador puppy that can’t contain his enthusiasm and curiosity. Riding him isn’t much different.
I also entered him in his first ridden show this weekend, and knowing all these things about him shaped my strategy as far as what to enter. It’s at the small venue close to us where I take Henry to do jumper classes sometimes, and where Presto did his in-hand trail class a while ago. They’ve limited entries due to covid protocol so I think it’s the perfect opportunity to dip his hoof into the show horse thing. Originally I was thinking of doing the most basic w-t dressage test, but when I thought about this venue and how his brain works, I didn’t think that was the best idea for his first time. Their dressage ring is in the middle of EVERYTHING, with lots going on around it, and usually a little pop up tent for the judges and big flower pots at all the letters. I think that would be a lot of outside stimulus with only some w-t work and a couple circles to attempt to keep his focus.
So instead we entered “Pile of Poles” jumper classes. The jumper ring has a lot around it too, but 1) knowing how his brain works, I think it’ll be less overwhelming to him 2) I think it’ll be easier to keep his brain occupied by trotting a course of poles rather than having to follow a more precise flatwork pattern. If I need to circle or do a transition or leg yield or stop and pat him, no big deal. Poles require more of his attention and focus, and a jumper class gives me more leeway with how I ride him. So we entered two poles classes HC, since all I’m really there for is to get him in the ring and ride around. We’ll see how it goes. I plan on getting there early so he can have a little lunge first and stand around taking in the atmosphere before I get on him. Maybe after his poles classes I can take him over to the dressage arena and let him check it out in a less formal way.
He’s starting to fill out again, as he does every fall, and he’s losing the gross sun-bleached look really quickly, thank goodness. Maybe we’ll make a show horse out of this ADHD giramoose yet.