Presto’s First Modified! Part 1 – Dressage and SJ

Technically this was also my first Modified, since the level did not exist anywhere near Texas back when I was competing Henry. Hence part of why we spent two years at Training before moving to Prelim… there’s a massive difference and Modified was a brilliant addition. I desperately wanted access to Modified back then, and I still think it really would have been Henry’s “sweet spot” level. Those days are bygone though, and I’m really pumped to now be in an area where Modified is so plentiful and readily available for Presto and I as our partnership evolves. We’re definitely going to take full advantage of it!

Since winter season is over and everyone that isn’t local has evacuated Florida, the shows are much smaller. Hence Majestic was able to run their May show as a one day, which pleased me greatly. My times worked out so that I dressaged a bit before 9, showjumped a couple hours later, and then went straight to XC after that. Badabing, badaboom, done before lunch.

Starting early did mean that it was easier to just pop over to Majestic on Friday afternoon to walk SJ and XC and pick up my packet, since it’s only about 15 minutes from here. Hillary stayed behind so that she could braid Presto for me, since my swollen zombie finger wasn’t really up for that particular job. A lot of people here don’t braid for the summer shows, but something about doing a National level at a recognized show and not braiding just made me feel all kinds of physically uncomfortable. More power to those who didn’t, I don’t blame you. But I just… couldn’t not. Presto is a massive PITA to braid though and his neck is 900 feet long, so… Hillary really is a hero for doing that for me, it’s not a quick or fun job in the least.

The stepladder isn’t really adequate

On Saturday morning we got there about an hour before my ride time and I slowly got ready. The worst part of this venue is the footing for dressage and dressage warmup (it’s grass, and it’s not very flat, and there’s a lot of random sandy bits or torn up areas in both the rings and the warmup)… some of you may remember that Presto and I did his first Novice here last October and he legit almost fell on his ass three times. Lesson learned, we studded up.

how is he so stunning these days

He was mostly a good boy for our test… as we circled the ring he was relatively mortified to see cows just through the treed fenceline behind the judge. It was almost a Big Thing, but I managed to divert his attention and stop it before it spiraled. Still though, he had one eye on the cows for the entire test so there were areas of tension, a late response canter transition, and some general lack of focus. It was fine, but we’ve definitely done better. I don’t love Test A for him quite as much as Test B… B is busier and has more happening more quickly, which is better suited to Presto. The less that’s happening in the test, the more he dreams about all the fun things he could make happen.

We didn’t get any 8’s this time, which was kind of disappointing, but he did get a 7.5 for the leg yield left, which is his harder direction, and 7’s on both of the canter lengthenings, which are definitely a challenge with him still when they’re on a 20m circle like this, so we’ll call it a small win. We scored a 32.8, which put us tied for 5th. He was the youngest horse in the division, so… I’m not upset about it.

Braiding was worth the “beautiful turnout” comment

Presto got to chill at the trailer for a bit while I went over to watch some showjumping. The course was not my personal favorite, the lines had so many strides in them and the approaches were long as well, which is just like an invitation for me to completely malfunction and change my mind a hundred times en route to something. Like there were literally a couple lines that walked in 8, one that walked 10, jumps way out of the corner, etc. Pack that shit in there and give me no options, please, it’s better for me that way.

While we were sitting there I saw very few people do the same number of strides anywhere. The 6 was a 5 or a 6 or a 7, the 10 was an 8 or a 10 or an 11, the 8 was a 6 or an 8 or a 9. There were a lot of options and most of them worked. I was hoping that watching the Prelim would help but it did not, it just confirmed there wasn’t one right/best way. Cool. Cool. Love that for me.

Presto warmed up great. He had one moment where he considered doing his favorite wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man impression, but it was fleeting. The jumps were coming up well out of stride and he was jumping well through his body. His shape in the air has definitely improved this year. He’s still not putting forth a lot of effort and most of the time still is just loping over these, but he’s getting stronger in how he does it.

Fence 1 was set to where an approach off the right lead was the obvious choice, but it was quite a ways out of the corner and I didn’t love that. Steph suggested that coming to it off the left might be better, since the turn would help balance, make me keep riding forward through the corner, and give me less time to mess with my rhythm. Plus 1 to 2 was a bending line to the left, so it made sense to me to approach off the left lead. When we had watched the Prelim only a couple people came off the left, but it did seem to work well for them.

We got to fence 1 nicely and Presto jumped it well, if not a little big (“mom, these grew a little”) and the first line jumped great. So did the second line, in it’s 10 strides. Then I slightly overshot the turn to 5 and got there tight. Presto didn’t care. We got down the next bending line fine and he jumped through the one stride super. The whole way to the next one all I knew is that I was not seeing anything, and I got him to that one tight too. He ticked the rail (righty so) but it didn’t come down. I had to land and step it up to make it down the line in 6, but he’s a good dude so he jumped the liverpool great.

Into the triple

Then we had another bending line to an oxer, which was fine, and then the triple up the outside – oxer two strides to vertical, one stride to another vertical. He jumped all that super. I mean, he’d already decided by fence 3 that these actually weren’t that big after all, and by the triple he was mega unimpressed, but he was a good boy and jumped a clear round, even with my mistakes. It moved us up from 5th to 3rd.

Casually loping over 3’5″ like he’s not 6 and this isn’t his first Modified and he wasn’t just running Novice 7 months ago

I don’t think you can ask for more than that from a young horse at his first Modified. He’s really starting to be a mature boy sometimes and do his job taking care of his mother when I need the assist. As much as I loathe making mistakes, I do place a lot of value on building the kind of partnership where my horse is confident enough in himself and me and his job to help me out when I’m wrong, just like I try to do my best to help him out when he needs it.

With SJ done we put on his boots and my vest and headed out to XC… more on that tomorrow!

4 thoughts on “Presto’s First Modified! Part 1 – Dressage and SJ

  1. Look at that real boy! All grown up! I honestly think that being raised by an amateur makes for a better horse. They aren’t afraid of mistakes, and don’t take offense at a questionable distance. You are doing an amazing job with Presto; I hope you’re as proud of yourself as you are of him!


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