Am I going to milk Presto’s first event for all it’s worth when it comes to recap posts? Hell yeah I am. There was A LOT that happened, and I know y’all want all the details so I’m gonna be as thorough as possible and cover as much as I can. Plus I’m like super ridiculously mega proud of him and I’m a wordy bitch on the best of days, so like… no one should be shocked.
I ended up riding up to the show with Hillary (who had a fantastic weekend with her new superhony Lex, btw, who I may or may not be madly in love with) on Friday, and we got there just after lunch. Megan was already there because she had a dressage test that afternoon on her Prelim mare (the mare’s first Prelim and she won – super nice young horse!) so by the time we unloaded everything and got Lex settled, Megan had finished her test and a schooling ride on another horse, and it was time to get the nugget kid out.
Presto’s trailering issue that popped up after Ocala seems to be pretty much resolved now after all the groundwork they’ve done, she said he rode up to the show really well and he arrived in good shape. He was pretty relaxed in his stall too, other than some neighing when one of his neighbors left. Still, I think we all thought he would need a lunge or something before she got on to school, because baby 4yo at his first show. He looked pretty chill though by the time she’d tacked up so she opted to just get on and see what she had, and what do you know, he marched right out of the barn, across the road, up the hill to the schooling rings, and went right to work like that stuff happens to him every day.
Since he was so settled she didn’t have to stay on him very long, and he was happy to stand there on a loose rein at the end for a few minutes while we chatted. Then he went back to the barn, got a bath (still hates those, no change on that front) and got to graze for a while before going back to his stall for dinner. All in all, a really good schooling day for him, definitely far less dramatic than I was expecting – in that I was expecting dramatics for sure and there were zero to be had. Texas Rose is such a big, expansive facility with a lot to see in every direction, a lot of horses (there were two shows happening there at the same time, so literally hundreds of horses). There’s road noise, golf carts, loud children, dogs, bikes, scooters, water trucks, trailers constantly coming and going… you name it. It’s A LOT to throw at a young horse, for sure, and even Henry takes a while to settle in there sometimes. Presto was interested in all of it but wasn’t reactive to any of it.
On Saturday his dressage wasn’t until 11, so he just hung out and stuffed his face with hay (kid can pack away some hay, where does it all go?). I debated getting him out and taking him for a walk or letting him hang out by the rings but he seemed so quiet and content in his stall, I didn’t want to disturb his zen. Megan tacked up and got right on him again, and he walked up towards the now much busier rings. They run 4 dressage rings at once and have one big arena for warmup, all of which are at the top of a hill. He had more pep in his step headed up there this time for sure, but once again he settled right into warmup really quickly. Once he has something to do he’s pretty much golden. There was a little gawking while he was in warmup but for the most part Megan kept his feet moving and just kept him focused on what she was asking. He got his first set of shoes a couple weeks ago and I have to say, you can tell a difference. He’s moving more confidently across the ground and has a little more elevation to his gaits. He has good feet but it was definitely time to put some shoes on him.
For the four dressage arenas at Texas Rose, they have two that are each in their own arenas, and then two that are together in one larger arena. Presto’s was one of the ones in the larger arena, so his dressage ring was right next to another dressage ring. I couldn’t decide if this was to his advantage or not. On one hand, he wouldn’t be alone. On the other hand… he wouldn’t be alone. He still gets distracted pretty easily (4 years old = 4 second attention span). Plus he’d never been in that ring yet, has only been in an actual white board dressage court once before, and definitely never seen a judge’s booth or any of that stuff. Would he lose his shit when he had to go in there? I wasn’t sure.
He went in and Megan immediately put him to work, trotting around the ring. He didn’t even hesitate, he marched right on in, past the letters, around past the judge’s booth, no big deal. Didn’t even bat an eye. Like he does this every day. It felt like the judge took forever to ring the bell for them to start, but once she did Megan turned a circle and made her entrance. Presto’s first time entering the ring at A!
And y’all… he was so good. Did he want to gawk at the horse in the ring next to him a couple times? Yes. Did he immediately put his head back down and refocus when Megan closed her fingers and her leg? Also yes. He didn’t get wound up, he wasn’t tense or anticipating, he was actually quite obedient. He even managed to score a couple 8’s, one for a canter circle (can’t remember where the other one was, I didn’t bring the test home).
His only “bad” score was a 5.5 for his free walk, which was fair. He hasn’t quite figured out how to stretch down and swing through the free walk yet and was a little short and tense at the beginning. Give him a break, he’s only been in actual training for a few months. He had a few moments that the judge noted as “fussy”, generally when he wanted to stick his head up and look at the other horse (“HI FRENN, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I’M PRESTO!”), or when he lost his hind end a little bit a few times (it’s a long way from his brain to his feet). Overall though it was a very solid test, much much better than I expected him to put in on his first try. When Megan halted and gave him the reins he just stood there for a good 10 seconds – I wish I’d kept videoing – like “whoa that was a lot, oh man whew, I was good boy for SO LONG”. It was cute.
He scored a 31.8 and got some really nice comments about his quality. Hard not to be thrilled with that on a very first attempt! Once the free walk clicks in and with a little more focus, he’ll easily be in the 20’s. I was really impressed, Megan has gotten a lot accomplished in such a short period of time. And mega props to Presto for being such a good kid about it. He WAY exceeded my expectations. It’s really amazing to see how much he’s matured mentally in the time he’s been away in a program. This was definitely 110% the right decision for him and I think it really shows just how much all this exposure and quality training he’s been getting has already started building the foundation that will better set him up for success in the future. I’m just floored by how far he’s come already and how good he looks. It’s a testament to Megan and her program, for sure.
After his test he got hosed off and had a little graze before he went back to his stall to wait for showjumping… which was 5 more hours away. Omg. I forgot how the days can really drag at the recognized shows for BN. But we’ll cover that phase tomorrow!