I’m not sure there is any better group of people on the internet than Presto supporters. A lot of y’all have been with him since he was just an idea in a blog post, so in a way it feels a bit like he belongs to all of us and not just to me. The support he gets and the sheer number of people that are standing in his corner is really amazing. And extra shout out to Kathleen for today’s post – when I asked on Monday if anyone could get out to Majestic Oaks in Ocala early on Tuesday morning to video him, she volunteered. And she wasn’t even the only one! But Kathleen got a ton of great video, and I’m eternally grateful for her because it was a really important occasion – Presto’s first big boy cross country school. He’s been a couple times with me last year of course, just puttering through the water and trotting over very teeny logs and banks (like… very very teeny), but this was his first legit official school as a Real Boy, the first one with Megan, and the first one since he’s been in pro training.
He’s been busy learning to jump courses and getting a grip on his general enthusiasm about life. He thinks things in Ocala are VERY EXCITING (shocker, right?) which is really the whole reason why I sent him. Life experience like he’s getting there is exactly what he needed to help him grow up a bit. He needed to be a little wide-eyed and figure out how to handle it. But Megan finally deemed him ready to get out and try his hand (hoof?) at some of the fun stuff, and well… I think he proved what phase he was really bred for.
They started small, trotting some of the smaller stuff.
As he started to get more comfortable (and rideable), she pointed him at a fewslightly bigger jumps. These are the first over-2’6″ fences I’ve ever seen him jump and I’m pretty delighted with what he’s got in the tank. There’s definitely some scope in there, and he’s pretty quick and clever with his feet. Megan said she thought he had really good instincts, and I think you can see that. I thought he jumped well and safely no matter how he got to the fence, which is super important to me, and his balance is quite nice for a just turned 4yo.
a better view of the Novice table from that GIF, which is a little spooky with it’s cutout:
They strung a few of them together to make little courses. I think she did an exceptional job of waiting and supporting him without overriding or pushing him – if he wanted to come back to trot that was fine, as long as he stayed straight and kept going. She let him figure out his feet and his body even if it meant slowing down to do so, and as a result he really got better and better as he went, and never really looked unbalanced or concerned in any way.
Next was ditches. Presto has seen a couple of little ones in his life, in hand, but these are the first ones he’s met under saddle. No problem though, he popped over it each way, did the BN ditch bending line to box, then came around and did the N half coffin. Check that off the list.
Then it was on to the water, trotting through and jumping the BN table on the other side, which he did wiggle and peek at the first time. Figures that the only jumps of the day he really looked at were the smaller ones, he’s taking a page out of Henry’s book there. The table was white and blue and airy underneath, though, so that’s fair. He popped back over it the other way with no issue. Then he came back through doing a jump, water, jump a couple of times to string some things together. And then they capped off the holy trinity of cross country (ditches, water, banks) with popping up and down the smaller bank out of the water (which was on the N course), and finished by hopping down the T bank into water and cantering out over the little blue and white table again. He seemed quite pleased with himself at the water, and no hesitation to any of it. I think he had fun!
Here’s the full video if anyone wants to watch it. I left all the jumps in, just edited out some of the long canter stretches so it wasn’t quite as lengthy.
You can see a couple that he peeked and wiggled at, and the progression from the smaller questions to the bigger ones and how Megan strung things together. I left a few seconds of warmup in there too so you can see how he’s looking. Kiddo is growing up!
He has been deemed ready for his first event, so we’ll just have to see what fits into the schedule. She’s got a lot going on with her upper level horses in the next few weeks, understandably. I definitely have no regrets about spending all my money to send him to Ocala, I think it’s done him a world of good and I’m delighted with his progress. We’re finally starting to get a real true glimpse of what he’s really made of, and it’s hard not to be excited by what I see. He’s still got a lot of maturing to do, obviously, but from what he’s showing us so far I think he’s got all the qualities I wanted. It’s always a little iffy when you breed your own – you never quite know what you’ve got until you start asking the questions and seeing how they answer them. So far so good though, he’s really stepping up. Can’t wait to get to Ocala in a couple weeks and see him with my own two eyeballs!