Fun is not the word

I was kind of hoping today would be a fun lesson recap, since I made it over to Steph’s on Wednesday for a jump lesson. And I mean, it can be a bit of a lesson recap I suppose. “Fun” is not the word I would use though.

In retrospect I’d call this my first clue

Presto is… an interesting animal. What I’ve discovered about him over the past few months is that while he’s actually great when he travels solo, he’s a complete idiot when he goes places with friends. He marries them in the trailer, dedicates his entire being to them, and legit cannot focus on anything else once we arrive at our destination. I know this about him. But that doesn’t mean that he can spend the rest of his life going places and doing things alone. It’s not realistic. We slowly but surely have to start chipping away at that particular issue. So when Hillary set up a lesson for Wednesday morning, I was offered the time right after it, and while there was a whole lot of internal groaning on my part, I took it. Can’t avoid the situation forever, and better to do it in a regular lesson environment vs xc schooling or at a horse show.

When I went to get him before the lesson he came galloping up to me like a lunatic, complete with a sliding stop about 2″ away from the gate. Cool cool. Presto with excess enthusiasm rarely bodes well but sure. We got the horses ready, loaded them up, and off we went. Hillary rode first, so while she was putting her bridle on I took Presto away to the other side of the barn where he wouldn’t be able to see Lex leave. That would create an instant meltdown. He wasn’t pleased when I took him away from his favorite hony, but he wasn’t too bad. After Lex was gone I took him back inside to the crossties, but then all the other horse slowly started leaving, and I knew that if we got to the point where he was the only one left in the barn that would be the spark that ignited a real problem. I can only take on so many problems in one day. So I put his bridle on, figuring I’d just go hack him around the back field for a while and then warm up a bit before our lesson.

He was fine walking out, and for the first few minutes, but then he started trying to make a break for it back toward the ring. Naughtiness ensued. Not constant, but enough to where I had to put him to work or else he was going to keep escalating. So we spent 40 minutes trotting, cantering, going back and forth toward and away from the ring, and doing whatever more complicated flatwork was necessary to keep his attention on me – with random bouts of spinning and napping punctuated throughout. He did finally settle, but by then we were both tired and annoyed.

The best thing about this pic is that you can tell how little fun any of us are having

By the time we walked into the ring for our lesson we really had nothing left in the tank, mentally or physically. And well… when we tried to start putting some jump exercises together, it went about as well as you’d imagine. I can say without a doubt that it was the worst jump lesson we’ve had yet. Presto is just a walking temper tantrum of feelings sometimes, and he had all of them that day. By that point he was just mad and told all of us to get fucked.

So ya know… we made an attempt at things. We went through the course a few times until he actually decided to put in some kind (ANY kind) of effort at paying attention and listening, and then we quit with that. There was really no point. He did stop being a turd long enough to make a decent-ish pass through, and some days that’s just the best you’re going to get. He’s not the type of horse you can just keep nagging away at when he’s in that frame of mind. Some days you have to accept any kind of try and let it go at that, because if you pick a fight he will absolutely throw down. If you make it a thing, it will become A Thing. If you make it just a day in the life, then that’s all it’ll be.

we both literally cannot

So ya know, that was… um… a time. Not a fun time. Or a good time. But such is life with horses. I think what we’re going to do for a while is every time Hillary has a lesson, Presto will come along and just go out to hack by himself while she’s having her lesson. He has to be able to go places with friends and not turn into a raging butthole. And clearly we are not at the point where he can handle doing that for lessons, but if he can just go hack out, do some trot sets, and work through his feelings… hopefully that will help him figure out that he still has to mind his own damn business even when a friend is present.

I have another lesson today (a dressage lesson, which I haven’t had a dressage lesson in months… whoops) that he is attending by himself, so hopefully we can actually do something productive this time.

9 thoughts on “Fun is not the word

  1. Confidence EQ. It is a horse pheromones. I have a VERY fractious mare. She actually loses her brain when she arrives at a new location. This stuff is the bomb. It comes in little one use packets and looks like snot. You rub it in their nostrils. You would apply it before putting Presto in the trailer because it is a short drive for you. He will have a very different attitude when you arrive at your destination. They offer a couple free samples on their website. I highly, highly recommend.


  2. I feel that struggle to a degree. My guy trailered a lot alone when his owner primarily rode him, and did a lot of things alone. He can get a tiny bit clingy with a friend but usually not that bad if he doesn’t know the horse very well. It was the worst when we went places with his owners previous mare who he knew very well and was paddock neighbors with. He’d pretty much leave his brain on the trailer and I’d have 20 minutes of a angsty green horse brain instead of a 22 yo seasoned horse brain before he got over it and moved on. Lots of lateral work to get the brain back online 😬 Now, no longer an issue as the the owner no longer has that mare, but I feel your struggle.


  3. Ugh, I have this exact same problem with my 5 yo. My bigger issues is that she has some pretty good moves in there and has gotten me off on multiple occasions and run back to her friends. So of course any time she now starts to act nappy or pull antics, I get really nervous. I’m sure Presto also pulls some impressive moves, but you’re probably a much better rider than me and better able to stick it lol. Maybe I’ll try some of the supplement mentioned above. It definitely make it harder that I don’t really have much of an opportunity to trailer her places with friends EXCEPT when going to shows or schoolings.


  4. My 10 year old mare did this to me at a little low key clinic the other day and I was so surprised by it and annoyed. She hasn’t done it in forever but she got married to my mom’s gelding on the trailer. No fun.


  5. When the warm-up ring steward calls you over to ask if your horse is ok, can you control him, and you say he’s fine, he will be more fine soon, he just has some opinions to work through and it takes the first 5 or 10 minutes to do that. Every time, every warm-up ring. That was my last horse.

    My last one was not attached to the other horses, he hated them. The stranger-horses swirling around warm-up offended him deeply. They were all idiots and he was the only sane one in this asylum, even though he was neighing and bucking a little and maybe sometimes rearing a little. Even keeping him to the outside lane of the chaos, I’m sure everyone thought that I was the idiot. If I tried to correct him too much he would blow his top entirely, bigger bucking and fussing. If I just worked with through it with him he would come out of it in a few minutes.

    He was older and more experienced, and once he had blasted everyone so they had heard all the names he was calling them he would settle down and go to work and ignore the other horses. We just had to live through those first few moments of exposure to OMG Other Horses.

    The memories that re-surfaced reading this blog post … have to laugh, I guess, maybe.


  6. A horse I leased earlier on in my riding had massive separation anxiety and it was a pain in the ass. At one show, I was hosing him off at the outdoor wash stalls, specifically having gone there because there were a lot of horses around. When I was halfway through hosing him down, though, all of the other riders left with their horses. My lease horse immediately started to have a meltdown so I gave up, unhooked him from the crossties, and was about to walk him back to the barn when he decided I was taking way too long and took off – but not before he dragged me through a massive fucking mud puddle. In my white breeches. (He was safe and was caught at the barn just 50ft away).

    My trainer asked me why I didn’t just let go before the puddle, which clued me in to the fact that she had vastly overestimated my reflexes on the ground 😂


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