Presto’s First Modified: Cross Country!

Woot woot, the best part!

I walked the cross country course with Steph on Friday afternoon. This was the first time that Majestic Oaks was offering a Modified division, but the venue is known for being a more friendly one, thus it was chosen to be our move-up location on purpose. Still, since they’d never run the level before we weren’t 100% sure what it would look like.

They had the start box in a brand new location, back near the barns and past the treeline behind the showjumping ring. It’s normally closer to where jump 2 was or across the road sort of between the finish and fence 3. It was still a nice quick walk from SJ to XC warmup, although Presto was a little wide-eyed at the new giant XC warmup area. The facility just started leasing a big chunk of land back there and it’s stunning, with a legit hill (for Ocala anyway). Can’t wait to see what all they do with it.

Anyway, to the course (some of these are my pics and some are from the course walk group on facebook, because mine kind of sucked).

The overall impression after walking was that there were definitely some big jumps (3 and 4 were quite wide, and the white MIM oxer and the last very square table were as max as max could be) but the combinations were very friendly. I felt like it was a bigger Training, for the most part, which is a nice first Modified. My two areas of concern were 1) the keyhole – Presto has never seen anything like that before, but the part I didn’t like was that it’s right next to the busy road with oncoming traffic, and 2) the Palisade. Presto had also never jumped anything like that, and the times we’ve schooled at this venue he’s been really spooky just cantering past it. Definitely a weird, old-school jump that you don’t see much anymore. It’s a large U-shaped monstrosity with a faux ditch in front and a steep downhill dropoff on the landing side. I planned to just ride very proactively up to those jumps in particular.

I did make a point of not walking all the way up to the oxer or the last table on foot (don’t need to know just how big those are in relation to my body, thanks) but then Steph did as she was talking, and let me tell you, having a small Steph for scale next to XC jumps is not the vibe I’m after. Gotta make her walk at least 10-20′ away from them.

Presto left the start box a little wiggly but jumped the first one well, then I landed and really sent him out in front of my leg and said “Come on kiddo, let’s go do this.”. He hopped over two easily, and I opened him up to gallop a bit on the long stretch to 3. That got his attention.


I knew I’d have to slow down in the middle of the course for the more technical questions so I was trying to get a little bit ahead of time in the beginning. Fence 3 was super, and I actually found the nice deep distance to the base of 4 that Steph told me to get (“jump it like a triple bar”).

The first combo at 5AB rode easy peasy, as did the trakehner. Immediately after that I swung right and put him down along the fenceline, so he’d have as much time as possible to see the road/traffic before we got to the keyhole. Bless him, he did not even so much as blink at any of it, he popped right through the keyhole, down the bending line to the brush like it was all very normal. He got a big “GOOD BOY” and a pat for that.

Then it was up the slope to the log roll, with 9 bending strides to the big giant oxer. It had a downhill landing so it was like WHEEEEEE WE’RE FLYING. I am deeply sad that there were no pics of that jump because he jumped it freaking phenomenal. Did I mention it was giant? It was giant.

Then we had the brush roll before turning left to the coffin. After some of the coffins he’s seen at FHP this one was an easy breezy walk in the park, rolltop two strides, ditch, two (short) strides to another rolltop. Presto loped over that like it was a fun little warmup exercise.


After that we had a simple ramp before looping back around to the right to the ditch wall. I feel like I’m starting to maybe hate ditch walls a little less. Presto sure doesn’t give a crap about them whatsoever. Then we hopped over the A-frame

he’s so deeply not impressed

before heading down to the line at the water. There was a smaller (Novice height) coop set 7 bending strides before a skinny rolltop on the edge of the water. Nice of the designer to use a small simple jump to give us something to help set us up well for the jump in. It rode nicely.

if you’re looking for nonchalance, he’s your guy. I carry all the chalance in our relationship when it comes to cross country.

We jumped into the water, hung a left out of it, and jumped the corner. Presto has seen plenty of corners by now, and definitely in closer proximity to other jumps/on harder angles, so this question was easy, he said.

so mature looking sometimes

And just like that we were only two from home! Heading to the palisade I gave him a little tap behind my leg, mostly to say “Hi hello we’re not done yet and the next one is a little scary, get in front of me and pay attention”. No worries there, he jumped it no problem and seemed to enjoy the fact that the ground sloped away quickly on landing.

disappearing rapidly behind the car

He got a gallop stretch (he was still quite within himself at that point, happy to gallop and ears perked) before I had to get him back and set him up for the last table. It was really quite square so Steph had said to just make sure he was uphill and paying attention there, not coming in too hot or flat. He was very rideable to it and jumped it super.

so civilized

Another clear round for the Doodle kid! We ended up 5 seconds over time, which I was totally fine with. I wanted to make sure that I still kept the rideability with the bigger jumps and higher speed, so I definitely slowed down a lot earlier to some of the combinations than I really had to. That’s the round I wanted though, so I’ll happily take my 2 time penalties. That did drop us from 3rd to tied for 4th, and I lost that tie because the other person was closer to optimum, so we ended up 5th. What a freakin good boy though, only adding 2 time to his dressage score at his first Modified!

I’m glad and relieved to have the first one under our belt, and excited to go back out next time and try to improve on some of the things I could have done better. Really though I walked away feeling like this horse is still very well within his ability (honestly he still isn’t trying very hard and is the least impressed with this) and feels really confident in his job. I’m very happy with his progression and I think Modified will be really good for him for a while so he can start learning more Big Boy things but still have it all be pretty easy for him. We’ve got two more shows on the calendar before his summer vacation, so hopefully we can make the most of them!

8 thoughts on “Presto’s First Modified: Cross Country!

  1. He make it look so easy! Is it really that easy ??? lol

    Congrats to you & Presto on another job well done !!! 🙂


  2. Dang! I would be sh(*ing my britches at those jumps and your boy wonder just hops right over them. You guys make it look easy.


  3. That keyhole makes me want to hurl…
    You two are amazing! Look how far you’ve come just in this one season! Congrats on a great first modified!


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