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.
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.
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.
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.