Oh, hey, hello there. Turns out I got totally buried under all the stuff I had to do for Pratoni and am just now finding my way out (temporarily anyway). Here I am, once again, later than promised.
This is what happens when you go on multiple quests to find missing data from various horses’ pedigrees. I was successful with most of them, at least. Just that one pesky Dutch horse… we’ll see if the current conversation I’m having on WhatsApp with a breeder in the Netherlands actually yields any results. At least I tried.
Anyway, as I was saying on Monday, we had some visitors here over the weekend! Our friends Julie and Kate were in Ocala to try some horses, and so naturally they were required to come over and play. Kate hasn’t been jumping much, so before she was set to go try horses on Saturday, they came over and she rode Henry. He is the ultimate confidence builder, this is his dream job, and Kate rode him great. He got about 9000 cookies (so ya know, basically a normal day for him).
It had been a long day of traveling for them, and they still had to get a hotel and all that stuff, so we quit with that and made plans for them to come back the next morning so we could ride more. Both Julie and Kate really wanted to ride Lex (I mean he’s adorable, who wouldn’t) and I wanted to see what they both thought of Presto. I have yet to successfully come up with a way to accurately describe what he feels like to ride (to me anyway) so I just keep shoving my friends on him and being like HERE, FEEL THE NOODLE.
Since Julie hasn’t really ridden in forever (like almost a friggin YEAR?) she chose Henry instead of Gemma (yep, that makes sense), Kate grabbed Lex, and I got Presto. We each got on and warmed up a bit, and then the horse trading began.
I thought Kate was going to try to stuff Lex into the back of their SUV and take him home. He’s a really good little pony dude, I think everyone who rides him loves him. I mean he’s so cute, how could you not?
Then we started playing musical horses. Or, rather, I got on Henry and sat and watched both of them take turns with Presto and Lex. Julie is a very tiny human so she was particularly interested to see what Lex was like to ride, thinking he’s very much her type. She was right. Also, major props to her for getting on two young horses and riding them so well when she hasn’t ridden in so long. I don’t think I could have done that.
Meanwhile Kate got on Presto and immediately you could see all of her good basics and riding skill coming back to the surface. He’s similar to the type of horse she was used to, and she had him figured out pretty quickly.
Then we made Julie get on Presto (ok there was like zero arm-twisting for that to happen), which I really wanted to see since she’s the most dressagey of us. She got along with him really well too and liked him a lot. I value her opinion so that was definitely nice to hear. Although now she’s yet another person asking me if I’m going to dabble in some actual USDF dressage now that I have one that’s so good on the flat. Y’all are killing me.
Also massive props to the noodle for being a good kiddo about our game of musical riders and just going along with it, and for being a good boy for all three of us. Signs of maturity?
Then Kate went to try the most stunning gentleman of a horse (related to Presto, actually, they both have Heraldik xx) and fell in love with him. Productive weekend in Ocala, I’d say.
On Sunday I hauled Presto over to Steph’s for another jump lesson. He’s continued to be super good for the last few weeks, very minimal Fuckery in general (aside from continuously pulling his shoes) which I still feel very suspicious about but also I’m not going to question this particular gift from the gods.
It’s kind of funny – Presto has very obviously figured out what Steph’s place is all about. We go there, we warm up, we talk to Steph, we do jompies, we go home. It’s not exciting anymore. He’s gotten to the point where after we warm up he parks himself in the shade while we talk, and falls asleep. Like, pony club kicking is not enough to wake him up to get him back out on the rail, I have to smack him to convince him that he does indeed have to come alive again. It’s a very school horse type of maneuver from a horse who is never actually hot or tired. He’s just learned what the deal is now and is not in any particular hurry to expend extra energy. I can respect that. Another sign of maturity?
New exercises had been set since our last lesson and let’s just say it’s a course of a thousand canters. It’s got a circle of death, lines set on different striding, a million different options…. the ability to change and shape the canter are crucial to getting any of it right. Cool, cool. That’s fine. Just on a giant baby horse over here who’s still building strength and sometimes thinks my ideas are just suggestions. Really though, this kind of stuff is what he needs. Doing all of these gymnasticy-type exercises over the past couple months has made a huge difference in both his rideability and the way he’s using his body off the ground and in the air. It forces him to be a bit more responsible for himself, and he’s definitely figuring things out.
I’m learning how to create all the different canters, and he’s learning how to use himself better and how to think faster. The way he’s coming off the ground feels a lot different, a lot better, and he’s really starting to jump well from the close distance as well. I think he ultimately will be a really rideable horse, once he’s older and stronger and more seasoned. We just gotta keep doing the work now and laying down the groundwork for later. I’m really happy with his progress. I mean, his rider really needs to learn to keep her fucking hands down, but… baby steps.