While I opted to end Henry’s horse show early, Presto was still having himself a grand time. He had about 4 hours between dressage and stadium, and he was the last of Megan’s 4 rides (or I guess 8 rides for the day, with dressage and stadium for each horse) to go. The morning hadn’t been TOO terrible with the cloud cover – humid AF but not that unbearably hot. As soon as the sun came out though, it got absolutely miserable pretty much immediately. Luckily Presto copes with the heat really well, and seemed more than happy to come back out and warm up for some jompies.
By this point the ride times had kind of devolved into a “sorta numerical order but also sorta whoever is just there and wants to go” type of thing, and he ended up having to wait for a bit after a larger group. Then there was a short hold when a horse slipped and fell in the muddiest corner, pancaking himself and his rider to the ground. It took her a while to get up but they were ok thank goodness. I have to admit that up until then I felt like maybe I’d been a little silly to scratch Henry, but when I saw that I was like nope I definitely made the right decision for him, I know he’d have been struggling in the corners. Plus like, if I’d been sitting on him in warmup when that happened I’d have been like nah fam, I’m out. Really don’t need a repeat of Coconino stadium where he slid through a fence, thanks. After she got up they came and put a load of sand in that corner, which seemed to help a little.
Of course, PestoPasta was still having zero issues with the footing at all. He had yet to slip or stumble or look at all unsure of any footfall. After the slight delay Megan went back to warmup to do some rapid fire transitions to make sure she had some rideability, then they went in for their round.
The course was set on the softer side for sure, it looked a little small and nothing was particularly spooky or difficult. It was a bit loopy though, with lots of turns and bends. Presto naturally didn’t look twice at anything and the round was pretty steady, aside from the outside 5 stride to 2 stride line that he REALLY thought he wanted to do in a 4 but Megan insisted that he must do in 5. Party pooper (Presto’s words). He lightly tapped a couple rails but nothing came down… I think his shape in the air is getting a little better.
He did have time penalties though, as did literally everyone except 3 people. Yes, that’s correct, only 3 people made the time out of dozens of rounds. I was standing there for a while during a few different divisions and even people who made pretty freakin tidy turns and left out strides were getting time penalties, and we’re talking an average of around 15 seconds over – not a small amount. I have a strong suspicion that it was either wheeled incorrectly or the math was incorrect, because there’s no way that a tidy round with appropriate pace should be that far over time. I personally felt like the time should have been adjusted early on in the day when it was first realized that no one was getting it (because, ya know, the last thing we should want to do at a schooling show on muddy ground is potentially encourage people to try to make tighter turns and go faster), but it was what it was. Presto’s round was very appropriately ridden, both pace-wise and path-wise. He was happy and eager to jump around and looked plenty confident and forward-thinking, so you can’t be unhappy about that.
After stadium I hosed him off, let him graze for a bit, and then he went back to his stall and fan to get away from the heat.
They didn’t finalize the XC course maps until later in the afternoon, because they were still out there checking the footing and deciding which fences needed to be taken off. The entire far field was extremely wet, along with patches all along basically the first half of the course. In the end 6 jumps were removed from the Novice (2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12) leaving them with 13 efforts. There were definitely still some really boggy areas on the course, especially around the water and the stretch in between 5 and 8, but it all seemed manageable enough for Presto. All the jumps looked totally fine for him too, pretty straightforward, and I didn’t anticipate that he’d have issues with any of it. Which is… kind of a nice feeling to have at a horse’s second event and first Novice. I figured if anything he might spook a bit at the bridge crossings between the fields, which are narrow and dropped off on each side about 10-15 feet down to a creek. Those bridge crossings scare even some of the most veteran horses sometimes. By this point he’d seen them a couple times though, and they had to cross one even just going to and from the barn, so hopefully by Sunday morning it would be moot.
Sunday morning went by quick juggling Megan’s four horses, since she had two in the Prelim and two in the Novice. It was also extremely hot and sticky and just disgusting outside… watching her get on horse after horse was making ME hot. But we shuffled through them all pretty quickly, and Presto was the last of her group to go, just before 10am. He’d had to wait by XC warmup in his bridle so we could switch her saddle over to him after she got off the other Novice horse (something he had to do all weekend, which is good for him). We were standing sort of near the water while we waited and every time a horse came through he watched them very intently. I think if he could talk there would have been a lot of very enthusiastic Buddy The Elf type of cheerful feedback from Presto “Look at you, running and jomping! You look amazing! That’s incredible! WOW! You’re so fast!” while he watched the other horses go.
By the time Megan got on him I think the searing sun had baked any possible wildness out of him, because he went straight to business. She spent all of about 5 minutes w/t/c, jumped two jumps, and went straight to the start box.
We couldn’t see the first few jumps in the other field, but soon enough he popped out of the trees on his way to 8. He jumped the house, cantered through the water (like a big kid!), through the swamp and over the ramp at 11, then the little hanging log at 13. That all looked very easy. Hillary and I jumped on her golf cart to follow him over to the next field (it was too bouncy to try to video but it was kinda fun to follow along with him from a distance). There was a nice galloping stretch between 13 and 14AB, and you could see him starting to click into his gallop a little bit. He jumped the combination at 14AB beautifully out of stride, swung around to 15 which also jumped great, and then disappeared from view again into the trees. He popped back out pretty quickly though, having no trouble with 16 or 17, and cantered easily over the little ramp at the last. It was a really easy and very smooth round – quite professional!
He had a double clear round, finishing in 4th place. Most importantly though, he again put together three solid phases, and managed to make some clear improvements over his first show despite not having worked much in between. He’s in that phase where he’s learning so fast, and his confidence in his job is very evident. The XC especially seems to be his strongest phase, he just eats it right up.
With that we’ve got ourselves a Novice pony! Next up Presto is heading to Chatt (knock on wood that he doesn’t do anything dumb between now and then anyway) in Georgia for the first two weekends in July to tackle his first YEH class and run the Novice there. I get to go with him, so I can’t wait!