We’ve officially got our second Ocala lesson in the books now! Yesterday I took Presto over to Steph’s for a dressage lesson – all of 5 minutes away, which has yet to stop blowing my mind. I don’t miss anything about Texas, including the amount of time I always had to spend hauling to literally anything.
Steph of course is willing to come to me like she did last time, but I wanted to take Presto on his own solo off-property adventure. He was a little stuck and herd bound and nappy on his last couple adventures with friends (better the second time, but still) so I wanted to load him up and take him somewhere alone. He actually was super good about it – loaded right up, stood tied to the trailer while I threw tack on him, and walked down to the arena with no real issues. He neighed a couple times and was a little wide-eyed at a few things, but that’s perfectly fine. This horse is really quite well-traveled for his age, he should be pretty good about this stuff by this point. I think he’s better alone than he is with friends.
He did make a few new horse friends as a group was finishing up their jump lesson before us, and after a stop to say hello to them we headed into the dressage arena. I thought he might have a bit of a tantrum when they all finished up and left, and Presto definitely did notice that he’d been abandoned, but I put him to work and he decided against any theatrics. He gave the hairy eyeball to the big arena sprinklers and the rubber mats by the entrance, but after a few serpentines to click him into work mode he decided none of it was really that interesting.
Soon Steph came out with her CeeCoach, we got everything hooked up, and away we went. Right away she said she was pleased with how much better he was starting out than the first time she saw him the week before. I spent that time in between really getting him thinking more forward again, responding quicker to the aids, trying to get him softening more through his ribcage, starting to step under more with the inside hind, etc. Now that he’s stopped getting so mad at me for wanting more contact and weight in the reins (that was a few weeks of some animated discussion) he’s becoming a lot more rideable.
He still isn’t totally convinced that he has to give me 100%, and sometimes I swear he spends more effort insisting that he doesn’t want to do something than he would if he just did it. That’s like… every 5 year old that has ever existed. He’s a naturally more uphill horse but he still finds it easier to plop his weight down into his shoulders and try to curl behind the vertical, rather than shift his weight back, hind end under, and bring his shoulder and poll up. We’re working on that. He’s BIG, work is hard, and he had like 7 months off so he’s still weak. Plus I’m still learning him, and he’s still learning me. It’ll take some time. It’s great to have some eyes on the ground again though, I do feel like we have made a lot of progress even just in the last week and I feel like we’re finally on the same page and the right track. Steph’s helped add some direction, and I’m able to work on those things in between lessons.
The more time I spend riding Presto, the more I really like him. He’s definitely different than my other two, but I think he’s really fun. Not always particularly easy (I feel like I’m in pretty good shape right now and my core/thighs were screaming by the end of the lesson) and he’s got an army of orangutans in his brain, but he’s smart, and he does have moments of WOW where you can feel how nice he’s going to be. They’re short and fleeting right now, but they’re in there. It makes him exciting, I think. He’s just my type of horse in pretty much every way. Which, uh… I guess that’s a good thing, considering the substantial amount of time and money I’ve got into him at this point.
After we were done I untacked, put him back in the trailer, and we were home again by lunch time. Granted he did scream the whole way home because he was convinced he’d fallen in love with one of the lesson ponies and didn’t understand why she couldn’t come with him. He’d forgotten about her by the time I unloaded him though, so I guess the orangutans reached the limit of their short term memory.
Also, MVP award to the exceptionally kind lady who sat through my entire lesson and took like 7 minutes worth of video clips for me even though she’d never met me before in her life. Patrons got the whole video with all of Steph’s commentary, but I pulled some GIF’s for here on the blog too.
All in all it was a great outing for him. I thought he handled everything better than I expected, we got some positive feedback, and some stuff to take home and work on until next time. It’s definitely nice to feel like we’re finally getting back in the swing of things, too. For the first time in a long time I find myself actually interested in looking at what shows are on the calendar, and starting to consider which horse might be able to do what. It’s been a few years since I felt any kind of motivation like that. Being here in Ocala where it’s possible to do so much more, and there are so many more options for things to do… that’s a big part of it.