Ocala Winter 1 – Cross Country

If you missed the dressage and showjumping recap from yesterday, you can find it here if you must. Alright, on to the good part.

First and foremost, my new favorite cross country picture ever. You’ll prob see this one a lot so ya know… sorry not sorry. Look how flippin cute that lil horse horse, doing big boy things.

Ok, now that we’ve got that most important part out of the way, on to business. First and foremost, the course.

What I love about the shows at the Florida Horse Park is that the courses are always so different. This was my 3rd time showing there and everything was moved around to an entirely different place, new start box location and everything, so it felt entirely new. I dig it. All the shows here are good about that. It’s also becoming clear that this is never a particularly soft venue. There were 6 combinations on course, with the first one coming at fence 4. The first water was at 6 and came out swinging with a jump a few strides before it, a jump IN the water, and then a bending line to a jump up a small mound out of the water. There was also a full coffin with a big ditch set down into a depression and the last element on an angle. Nothing looks particularly big at the level anymore but the technical aspects give us plenty to do.

I wasn’t super worried about anything, but there were two places I knew I’d probably have to work a bit: the first water and the coffin. Mostly because these were brand new questions to him, he’d never seen anything quite like them. Presto had quite literally never jumped a jump IN the water before, and he’s never seen a spooky, real legit coffin like that.

In warmup he was still a bit feral to start out with. I got down there just a few minutes after showjumping and had several horses in front of me waiting to start, so I let him just walk for a bit before picking up the canter. I opened and closed his step a few times, pointed him at a jump, and he wanted to be speedy and rude. I jumped another one and he strongly considered galloping off into the sunset, so I halted him and had him quietly canter around to the next one. That seemed to re-establish his manners, and we jumped one on an angle and then a skinny before heading to the box. The starter counted us down and away we went.

when you’re trying to do zoomies but you’re also staring at the scary camera equipment on top of the mound

He popped happily over 1 and galloped on when I asked him to open up a bit. Then he saw all the people and cameras and vehicles on top of the mound and stuck his head up in the air like a giraffe. BUT – he kept going and jumped fence 2 (right next to all the scary shit) just fine. Then it was over fence 3 nicely out of stride and just like that we were at our first combo, the wagon to skinnyish house thing.

This one had kind of a short, blind approach to it… you turned right and it was behind the combined driving stuff/a mound and you’d likely be on the left lead coming into it given everything you’d just done. So it was mostly important to jump in and get their eye on the B element as quickly as possible. Presto was great here, even though the distance walked and rode a bit tight.

From there it was over a rolltop in the treeline…


And off to the first water. I was most concerned about this one, of anything on course. First we had a jump coming in, which was small and fine, not a big deal, but we know that he loves to jump over the edge of the water as if that too is a jump. I wasn’t sure he’d get his eye on the actual jump in the water so soon after, especially since he’s never seen that question.

And, well…. it’s like I was psychic. He jumped the first jump fine, hopped into the edge of the water, and… did not even register that there might be something else in the water for him to do. I swear I think he put his eye up on the mound instead and then got to the base of the house in the water like WHAT???

Bless him, he legit flopped over it. Honestly it was impressive how he yanked his feet up at the last second and managed to get us over in one piece. They talk about good event horses having a fifth leg and this horse certainly does. It was a green mistake on his part (one I don’t think he’ll make again) but to his credit, he also bailed us out of it.

Granted, he just about rocketed me right off the side of him in the process. I lost both my stirrups and had to yank myself back to the middle with the neck strap of my martingale. I also found out later that he pulled his left hind shoe off.

not today, water

What I like most about that picture is that he’s already got his ears up looking for the next jump anyway. Did we almost just eat shit? Yes. Am I legit coming off the side? Also yes. Yet there he is, galloping on to the next one already like he’s totally unfazed by that.

theres still one more jump in here, buddy, we’re not done

I managed to pull myself back to the center and find our way to the jump out, which I hopped over with no stirrups. There was absolutely nothing textbook about it but we got it done, and Presto cantered happily away as if nothing had ever gone wrong.

From there we had the big log oxer to put ourselves back together, and then just like that we were already at the next tough combo, the coffin. I rode around the turn to it very pleased with myself for my execution of the instructions we had discussed during the course walk… I stayed out a bit to give us enough space before the turn, he came right back into a lovely coffin canter, I had him really straight between hand and leg… and I looked up at the A and realized my dumb ass had lined us up with the Modified jump in, not the Training. FML.

So 4 strides out I course corrected to the left, jumped the A of the Training line definitely not straight, but kicked out over the ditch and then the brush in what ended up kind of being a bending line, making that question even harder. Presto was really good there, gave zero fucks. Can’t believe I almost TE’d myself like a total idiot.

Then we had the bench, which he jumped fantastic, and then yet another combo (this shit was kind of rapid-fire) with the spooky mulch ramp, 4 strides to the skinny wedge. That was easy peasy. He’s getting good at starting to look for skinnies in combinations – much improved in the past couple shows.

the ramp in – already turning
and the wedge out

After that we had a little bit of a gallop stretch so I opened him back up again and he jumped the next table nicely out of stride. Then we were to – you guessed it – another combination. The hanging log down into the crater, through the bottom of it, and back up the edge to a corner on the top. He was super game here and jumped through that line great.

We kept galloping to the steeplechase and he jumped it nicely out of stride too. Presto has really gotten that part down pat in the last couple shows, he’s jumping a lot better without needing help to keep his shoulders up to the base.

Sorry not sorry for posting it again, I warned you.

After that it was back around to the second water, which just had a jump a couple strides before and then a jump a couple strides after. He clearly learned his lesson at the first water because he entered the water here MUCH more carefully, looking at what was in front of him and where he was putting his feet. Not backed off, but very aware. Smart kid.


Is it just me or are the comments always the best part of videos #equestrian #eventer #eventing #ocalaflorida #horses

♬ original sound – breed.ride.event

Then we just had a table and the log ramp, which were both great, and we were done!

We finished with time to spare (18 seconds under OT) which speaks to how much better he’s jumping out of stride, and gave us our first double clear at the level. Second recognized Training is in the books!

It definitely wasn’t a picture perfect round, but I do think it was a really educational one. Aside from genuinely not understanding the water, he was super “game on” and bold and smart about everything. We were able to find a schooling venue that has a jump in the water right now, so we’re gonna take him later this week to school that and make sure he’s got it. A lot of his education at this point is just about learning to focus and pay attention, and he’s getting better about that every time out. He definitely needs to keep seeing the harder and more technical questions at this level, but he feels really confident and happy out there… even when it goes a bit sideways. Every time out he feels a bit more educated than the last.

Overall we finished 7th in the division, just adding the rail to his dressage score. Another purple ribbon for the collection.

Next up we’ve got Rocking Horse again in 2 weeks. I feel like Presto is at a point right now where we need to keep going to shows and doing the thing and building on what he’s learned to get him confirmed at the level and keep the momentum going. Tis the season in Ocala.

9 thoughts on “Ocala Winter 1 – Cross Country

  1. It’s definitely telling to see the difference in effort between Henry’s eventing photo in the banner and that first Presto photo! Bless Henry’s heart and try, but I’m guessing you’re also blessing Presto’s build 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Presto looks super fit and definitely all grown up in that first picture!
    And OMG his face in that water picture 😂😂 Like: Mommmmmm!! Wtf?!


  3. Absolutely terrific! GOSH, Presto has a beautiful jump. In that last video the one coming out of the water is *chef’s kiss!* I continue to be so delighted for you that your baby is doing so well at what you bred him to do. I can only imagine how gratifying that is!

    Also, I know absolutely nothing about producing an eventer (and never will) so it’s super-interesting when you explain how he’s beginning to understand questions. I know you can’t just take any old horse and go bomb around a XC course, even a tiny one, but it’s really fun to read about Presto’s education and how he processes experiences and knows what to do next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know how you jump those things… But man, you guys are killing it! Even if you almost went swimming. Almost doesn’t count! Nice work hanging on, and keeping on. Presto really seems to love this job. I’m so excited that what you dreamed of is actually coming to fruition. So exciting to follow along!


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