Guess who I got to ride this weekend???
Megan came down to the area for a clinic weekend and graciously offered to bring Presto along with her so I could get some more lessons on him. The good news is, we had two great rides. The bad news is, I accidentally deleted the entire video from Saturday’s flat lesson while I was attempting to download it from the Pivo gallery. Gah. I was so upset, because I thought we definitely made good progress from the first couple lessons. I’m starting to figure him out and be able to feel the things Megan is talking about, everything was clicking pretty well I think. Would be great to have the video to look back on but nooooo. I can’t believe I did that.
So, uh… here’s your Saturday media of Presto and Hillary’s horse Lex hanging out. They’re two peas in a pod. A very very chaotic and ridiculous pod.
Luckily on Sunday Hillary was able to stick around to get video, so we do have real legit extensive media for that. Except I’m kind of mad at her because while I was tacking up she went and got the measuring stick out of the tack room. Like… do I want to know how big this giraffe is now? No. As far as I was concerned I could just never stick him again and therefore he’d remain 16.3 3/4 forever since there was no actual proof otherwise. But nooooo, she went and did it. And cackled about it. A lot.
So um yeah, he’s almost 17.1h. The stick said 17.0 3/4 officially, which means he’s grown a full inch since I last sticked him in February before he left for training. What the actual hell, bro. That’s enough. You’re tall enough. He’s now outgrown both parents as well as what he string-tested to finish at. Thank god he’s still super narrow, it at least makes him not feel as big to ride. Size wise at the moment he actually feels pretty perfect for me, I’ve always preferred taller/narrower over shorter/wider. I mean he feels long for sure, especially compared to short and compact Henry, and his stride is friggin massive, but now I’m thinking I don’t actually want him to ever fill out after all. That’s enough in all regards, thanks. Let’s just stay like this, yes?
Anyway, Sunday was kind of a big occasion because it was my first actual jumping lesson on him. Really it was my first time jumping him at all. Yes we trotted over various teeny things last winter, but 1) he’s not the same horse now as he was then, not by a long shot, 2) cantering courses is a lot different from trotting teeny stuff.
And boy, my god, is he ever different from Henry over fences. Ok they’re opposites in every way, but especially to jump. The adjustment period is gonna be real. First of all, Presto covers twice as much ground. Stuff comes up really fast even when he’s traveling slowly. He also uses his body completely different – Henry really uses a lot of neck and rounds his front end a ton, but doesn’t really have much follow-through behind. Presto comes off the ground more upright in his neck, fairly minimalist in front, and then really comes all the way through his hind end. Honestly sometimes it feels like his hind end overpowers his front end a little, when he jumps more extravagant. That quality will serve him well later when the jumps get bigger and he’s stronger, but it’s just extremely different than what I’m used to, for sure. I thought I might get jumped right off the front end a couple times.
We started out hopping over a little cavaletti each way, then moving to a bigger vertical. Megan was saying that he’s hard to see a distance on so the best thing to do is just focus on the canter rhythm and keep his front end up so he can jump well no matter where you get him. He’s also still a bit of a different horse on each side – to the left he tends to want to get crooked and go more up and down with that inside hind, so you have to ride him a little differently each way depending on which lead you’re approaching from. Mostly though he wants me to be more active and constantly engaging with him than Henry does – constantly suppling, half-halting, balancing, etc. The last couple strides before the jumps though he needs you to soften the hand, otherwise he’ll fight the contact a bit and want to get hollow at the base. Especially when the jumps are smaller like this and don’t hold him off.
So, ya know… a lot of instructions to take in. Which is great, please give me ALL the info. This is the huge benefit of Megan having brought him along this year, she knows him inside and out and can tell me exactly what he’s gonna do before he even does it, and how to best ride it. But it does feel a little bit like trying to drink from a firehose at first. I was trying to ride him well but also not interfere too badly, and it’s strange jumping another horse after so long with the same one. For the first time jumping him though, I was pretty happy with how it went.
Presto, to all his credit, was really freaking good. We strung some fences together, a few singles and a line, and then did an angled figure 8 exercise over two oxers. A couple times I didn’t keep good enough control of his shoulders through the turn and got him real crooked to the single across the middle of the ring, but he could not have possibly cared less. I got the impression that if I get him remotely in the same zip code of the jump then he’s going, no questions asked. Another time I really bungled the ride down the line and epically fumbled at the oxer out and he just went right on through anyway, like “well that was a choice, human, but whatever I’m still having fun!”. Stopping never even crossed his mind, and he cantered away as if it never even happened. Nothing that happens at the jumps bothers him, he doesn’t get upset, and he really really wants to jump them no matter what. He’s so confident and content in what he’s doing. I’m not sure I could ask for anything more than that, especially from a 4 year old.
I do really need to figure out what I’m gonna do for him for saddles. My jump saddle will never be the right shape for him, and I really didn’t like how it rode on him anyway. I need something smaller and… different. Plus a dressage saddle, because I think the right one will really help me able to sit his canter better. I need me some blocks in the right places instead of the wrong ones. I also need a lot more money to make any of this happen. And a fitter that actually calls me back. Details.
Lookit that kiddo though. Gosh I’m so proud of him. I can’t even describe the feeling he gives you under saddle and to the jumps, like there’s WAY more in the tank waiting to be tapped into once he gets stronger and more developed. It’s really freaking cool. And it’s really a credit to the job Megan has done with him that he can go jump around that well the first time with his bumbling ammy owner. He’s everything I was hoping he’d be and more.