I was, in retrospect, a bit conservative with Presto’s workload leading up to this show, for a few reasons. First, my division ran on Thursday, and everything with Gemma happened on Monday. Kinda threw things off track a bit in many ways. Second, it was a really windy and dusty week, and there was a shitton of pollen in the air… Presto is always a bit affected by air quality. Third, it was going to be hot on show day, and all of our phases were within 2.5 hours of each other. I (stupidly) thought “maybe I should go a bit light on him this week so he’s fresher on Thursday”. Lol. Loooollllllllll. Go ahead and engrave that on my tombstone.
Its possible that he was perhaps slightly feral. To his credit he is not good at Long Game Feral, his tends to be released in small bursts. So he warmed up quite well for dressage, and went in feeling good. The test started off great, with a string of 7 and 7.5’s. And then when we turned right after the free walk in the middle of the test, he got an eyeful of the horses running cross country. And theeeeeen things got a little western. As soon as I picked up the trot to the right and made my half circle, I was like “oh dear”. He was now significantly more tense than he’d been. That movement had scored a 7.5 on the other side – this one got a 6. Then we got back to the rail and picked up the left lead canter. It was tense and tight. Another 6. Then we did our circle and I asked for the lengthening. And, well… we went to the rodeo.
I wish the original video had picked up the squeals he let out with every bounce. It was iconic. I mean, the judge didn’t think so, she gave it a score of 3 with a comment of “disobedient”. It probably says a lot about me that I started laughing so hard that I almost forgot the next movement (the transition back to trot at X, which he thought was very stupid, and also got a 6). If you don’t have a sense of humor this isn’t the horse for you.
Presto did come back to me for the rest of it and we finished up fine, but uh… the damage to our score had kinda already been done. What had been trending as upper 20’s before he had The Sight ended up a 33.6. It do be like that with enthusiastic young horses sometimes. To be fair, the judge and scribe were also laughing when I finished and I asked if I could get extra credit for the airs above the ground (apparently that’s not a thing).
After dressage I got off and handed the Noodle over to Hillary so Steph and I could walk stadium. It was kind of interesting in that it started with a bending line, and when I stood there and watched a few horses go after we walked, everyone did a different number of strides in every line. Cool cool. That’s fine. It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure. Finally Lauren Nicholson went in and did it how it had walked, so I was like alright that’s all I needed to see.
I will say – I chose to enter the 6yo Training division at this show for a couple reasons. Mostly because any time organizers offer age divisions and they actually work out for me, I want to support that. But also because it ran as a Thursday one-day and if there’s anything I love it’s getting in there and getting done as quickly as possible, not having to make the drive a second time, and not being there when it’s mega crowded. I will be entering the pro divisions all season to avoid the worst of the crowds. There were 650 horses entered at this show. SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY. That is called a hard pass. Most go on the weekend, so by doing the Thursday divisions where really only one ran at a time, it was nice and quiet and peaceful.
Which is good because my horse was not.
Well, ok. We went up to SJ warmup like 10 minutes before my time (remember, we have learned by now that he knows exactly which phase he’s warming up for and when, and he has chosen SJ warmup as his designated ABSOLUTE MORON time). When I got up there I found that they were running early and there were only two horses left to jump, so I trotted a bit each way and then moved to canter. At which point he decided that he had never seen the logs outside one end of the arena before (they have always been there) and spun like a top, following it up with a big ol’ hi ho silver. He stood up and waved his arms in the air like this.
Which was right when Hillary happened to look over. The look on her face was priceless.
I booted him back to canter and was like “I think we need to jump something!” and we came around and popped over the vertical, which immediately plugged his brain back in. Presto is really convinced he’s there to party until you show him that he actually has a job to do. Then he’s fantastic. We jumped the oxer a few times, making it progressively bigger, then went to the ring.
We had a nice first bending line, but I didn’t really keep the balance up through his shoulders through the tight turn back to 3, and he ticked that rail. After that he went into No Touchie mode (see above photo) and was really good. I had a couple deep distances but he’s getting better at jumping out of those and keeping his balance up, which is what we’ve been working on for a while. There is not a world that exists in which I will always get him to a perfect distance, so how he jumps out of a less than ideal one matters, and he’s figuring it out. It’s hard for a big lanky horse, but it’s important because the long one or the weak one can’t be the default on a horse that has to jump solid things for a living.
After that we put his boots and my vest on and off we went to cross country warmup!
4 thoughts on “Ocala Winter 1 – Dressage and SJ”
I am so sorry about Gemma, these animals are so hard to love sometimes. BUT, it is really a joy to watch you and Presto out there kicking ass. You’ve done such a good job with him.
Party on, Presto 🎉🎉🎉
Gotta say I laughed out loud at the Hi Ho Silver comment. And the squealing. He is such a nice horse and you are doing such a good job with him but he is a handful for sure. Mileage and time are going to give you the horse of your dreams though.
You definitely need to come north and sit on Al. His shenanigans are definitely smaller than Presto’s but I think they may share a brain.
You two look great though, even with antics thrown in there. Ha!
Never change Presto.