When we left off yesterday, our intrepid baby Noodle had delivered a personal best dressage test for both of us and left all the rails in the cups to sit us comfortably in first place after day 1. All that was left was cross country. No pressure.
I do happen to be sat on a brave horse that loves cross country, so I felt pretty confident that as long as I rode to plan and didn’t do anything too stupid, we’d be good. The course was pretty much as you would expect for the level. There were a few combinations: a down bank with 6 bending strides to a roll top, a jump a couple strides in front of the water, and a couple of ramps that you could either angle or jump more as a bending line. There was also a ditch with a 90 degree left hand turn to a rolltop that wasn’t numbered as an A/B but rode as a combination since they were so close together.
The jumps themselves though – I didn’t see anything that gave me any real concern. I did actually remember to do a Course Walk with photos, which you can see here (except I forgot to take a pic of the last jump because I spotted the horse chiro and started chatting with her).
We got to the show about an hour before my start time, which gave me some time to just sit and hang out for a bit and for Presto to stand at the trailer and relax before I had to get ready. I got on him about 20 minutes before my time, went to warmup, and got to work. Really it was just getting him moving, making sure I could open and close and open and close the gallop, and popping over a few jumps straight and on an angle. He was a little amped, and VERY interested in watching all the horses that were on course, but he kept it together. Then it was over to the box for our countdown and away we went.
My mission for the first few fences was to make sure he was straight and thinking forward and focused on the task at hand. Heading out of the box you had warmup to the right and all the trailer parking to the left, so there was some possibility that he might be a little fussy or distracted about leaving all that. No worries though, I came out and said “alright sir, get in front of my leg and lets do this” and he went “Hell yeah lets go!”. Not even so much as an ear flicker in any direction but forward.
With combinations and some twisting/turning through the woods later in the course, I wanted to use to beginning to 1) get him jumping out of stride, 2) get a little bit up on the time. The speed was 400mpm, which is max speed for Novice, but really if we’re looking at a moveup then I wanted to try to get on the quicker end of the time allowed, closer to the speed fault time, which was calculated at 450mpm. He’s gotta start learning how to add a little more speed in there.
Presto popped over the first 3 very easily, which were all pretty basic.. little house, coop with a bit of a downhill landing, bench. Then it was the first max table, which came up out of stride too. Next was a little dark bench with some bright flowers in the middle… again, he just loped over. After that was the first combo on course, the down bank to the roll. I brought him back to a quiet canter for the bank, and he popped right off and over the rolltop easy peasy. Pretty sure he was just having fun.
From there we headed to the water. He always peeks and hops into water as if there’s a jump on the edge, but he didn’t do it as flamboyantly here as he’d done at the FHP show. He’s going in, he’s just gotta do it with flair.
From there we had a few gallop fences…
A little house at 8, and a brush fence at 9. I opened him up again and asked him to keep coming forward to jump out of stride rather than me rebalancing him so much before each one. He needs to start being responsible for some of that himself.
After that we had an S-line from the feeder, right turn inside the tree to the ditch, left turn to the rolltop.
He didn’t blink at any of that either, just popped right through.
Then it was the corner, which at this size really just jumps like a table, to the steps, to another round-faced table. I was pretty much spot on where I wanted to be with my minute markers by that point.
The path between 15 and the combo at 16 was interesting… they did that thing again where a tree was directly in the middle of the straight route, so you had to decide which way you wanted to come into that bending line. I chose to come in from the right side, angling the first jump to line up more with the second jump. To take the right side you kind of had to duck under a tree, and I got a face full of Spanish Moss, but no biggie. Presto was on auto pilot by this point.
After that we had another table
at which point I checked my watch and saw that I might end up a hair too fast (I had a few points in hand so it wouldn’t have mattered, but ya know… I wanted double clear), so I slowed down a bit and loped over the last.
We came in at 4:56, two seconds inside the time and pretty darn close to where I was aiming (5 mins). Most importantly, it felt very very easy. Presto is so happy out there, and you can feel him thinking and learning as he goes. Super fun.
I only had two real bits of feedback to Steph – 1) We need to work a little more on him keeping his own balance up to the base of the gallop fences. He still really wants/expects me to help him, but at some point that’s his responsibility. He wants to get a little flat off the ground there, so he needs to get better about keeping a good shape off the ground from a more open gallop. Granted, he got better about it even just as we went around the course and I made him take a little more responsibility for himself. 2) I might need just a hair more bit. Not much, but just a “hello sir I’m still here and I meant now” so that I don’t have to get quite as loud with the half-halts in the tighter combinations.
Our double clear meant that we kept our spot, leading the division from start to finish! I had no expectations for placing or scores coming into the weekend, I just wanted to have a run that felt easy. So to win here, in Ocala, in an Open division, filled with pros and imports, on a score like that… not gonna lie, it was pretty fucking cool.
I love Presto of course, but for him to be able to not just hold his own in this kind of company, but to come out on top – that feels pretty great, not gonna lie. A US bred with an amateur rider. It’s a bit of validation, not just in the horse I bred (and we ALL raised) but also in the fact that this partnership could actually be something someday. It took a good 12-24 hours to sink in but man. I’m just so fucking proud of him. It was one thing to see him do well last year with a pro in the irons, but it’s another thing entirely to do it myself. This is it… this is my dream boy, out here doing the thing we’ve dreamed of for so long. I’ve giving myself permission to enjoy that feeling for a few days before we go back to work mode.
I had a couple lessons last week that I had full intention of writing about on Friday, but… just completely ran out of time. So, very short version: flat lesson on Wednesday to ride through parts of our test for the weekend, and work on Presto’s bend and balance through all the turns. Thursday we jumped a couple courses, kept it brief, but made sure he was locked and loaded and feeling ready to go.
On Friday Presto got a bath (which is not a fun experience for either of us, because it doesn’t matter how old he gets or how many baths he’s had in his life, he still acts like you’re melting his skin off with acid. It’s a lot of flailing limbs and angst.) and then I turned him back out in his fly sheet in an attempt to keep him clean overnight. Which he had a massive temper tantrum about. This went on for half an hour until I threw him some alfalfa to distract him. Two things he hates the most – being clean and wearing clothes when he doesn’t technically need to be wearing clothes.
On Saturday my dressage wasn’t until 11:30, so I had plenty of time to pack the trailer and braid him in the morning. Granted, he is a massive toolbag to braid. I got knocked off the stool with his head and/or his feet 3 times. I got like 2 braids in before I was like “fuck this absolute shit” and just proceeded to throw in some big fat ugly braids. I did not have it in me to argue with him on that one. Thank goodness for the Quick Knots though, I was able to roll them up pretty quickly. He sure does know how to make himself deeply unpleasant sometimes.
But hey… he was braided. Beggars can’t be choosers. I figured if anyone didn’t like my braids they were more than welcome to braid this rage demon themselves.
We rolled into Rocking Horse about mid-morning, got everything unloaded, and I went up to get my packet. Hillary put the BEMER on Presto while I was gone and I came back to a snoozing Doodle with his eyes half closed. It’s been a while since we pulled out the BEMER, I forgot how much he really does like it.
He warmed up for dressage pretty well. I have to give him credit, he is full of Fuckery 95% of the time but usually when you’re like “Ok for real, time to do your job” he says yes ma’am. It’s not so much that he’s naughty as it is that he’s really easily bored and has a busy busy brain, thus invents things to entertain himself… and those things are generally not the best. But once he’s working, he’s usually good.
In warmup we focused again on getting him to really bend through his body. He’s such a big horse that in a small ring like this, if he’s not really laterally supple and bending THROUGH his rib cage, he has a hard time navigating the turns and keeping his balance. Especially in Novice Test A where you come up centerline, turn left, and immediately cross the diagonal. We had worked on that on Wednesday, and to his credit, he is a very fast learner. Once something clicks for him he’s like “Oh yeah, got it.” and that’s that. If there was one thing I wanted to really nail, it was that first turn.
We came in bright and energetic, made our turn, and bam – we got it. I swear that one turn made all the difference in keeping him balanced and forward for the rest of the test. There were a few places where we left some points on the table… a couple places where I still just didn’t quite keep enough bend, the down transitions from canter he can get a little braced, and he took one canter step at the very beginning of his stretch circle (which was otherwise fantastic and still got a 7 but I feel like otherwise could have been an 8 or 9).
But it was a very consistent and overall correct test, he was forward and relaxed, and it was accurate. Definitely the best dressage test I’ve had to date, on any horse.
The judge really liked him, and we got a 23.6 – my personal best dressage score ever. Y’all know I love Henry to the ends of the earth and would absolutely die for him, but a dressage horse he is not. It makes a difference coming into the ring on a horse that’s immediately in the 8 range vs one that starts at a 6 and goes up or down from there.
All of our scores were between 7 and 8 (I think we got a little bit of charity a couple times, but I’ll take it) including a Harmony score of 8. It’s amazing how just a couple little tweaks in one lesson can make a massive difference.
That score put us first in a division full of pros and very nice horses (I’m not eligible for Novice Rider, which was kind of a bummer to realize… the Open divisions in Ocala are intimidating).
I didn’t showjump until 4, so we had a lot of time after dressage to eat lunch, check out the SJ course, and walk XC. I missed a drag break for the course walk so we went over to watch a few rounds of the Modified to see how the course was riding. Which… the Modified didn’t even look that big to my eye. Me: looking at the jumps, looking at Steph. Looking at the jumps, looking at Steph. “This is how big we jump at home”. Steph: “hahahaha yep!” Evil woman.
To her credit, we get to the show and the courses always look small and simple.
After that I went and walked XC with Steph, and then walked it one more time on my own so I could confirm my plan with my brain. Plus I’ve never been to Rocking Horse before and didn’t want to get lost, and Presto had never been there before either, so I wanted to make sure that I scoped out not only the jumps and the terrain, but also anything that might potentially pull his focus or instigate Fuckery. He’s highly susceptible to that stuff.
By the time SJ finally rolled around I think we were all a little tired of being there. Presto especially was on his last thread of patience (there are not many threads to begin with). By the time I got on he was a bit wired for sound, and pranced his way into the warmup a little sideways. He proceeded to go airborne a few times (with some squeals for good measure) and made himself That Horse. Wouldn’t be a whole entire horse show without him making himself That Horse at least once, right?
I ended up giving my spurs to Steph, and we jumped a few jumps and then just got him out of the warmup. It’s too much commotion and winds him up, staying longer and jumping more isn’t beneficial. If I can spend 10mins in there, that seems to be the sweet spot. We learn a little more at every show.
Once we got in the ring he was still a little bit jazzed up, but reasonably rideable. I got him a bit tight to fence 1 because I was too busy listening to the announcer say that this was my first recognized show on my second generation homebred (she knows me and has the inside scoop) and I was like aw that’s so cute and then turned slightly late. Whoops. He popped over it no big deal though, and that plugged my brain in. Self, you should probably ride.
The round was relatively uneventful. I did jump in bold to one of the lines that was riding a little quiet and I knew as soon as I landed that there was a zero percent chance we’d be able to fit the number in there nicely, so I just let him roll down and leave it out. He stayed balanced, so he pinged off the ground great and it worked out fine. He did rattle the rail coming out of the 2 stride because he was too busy staring at the tent and drifted to the right, but we got away with it. Otherwise it was a “confident clear round” (so said the announcer) and we maintained our lead.
The whole reason Steph really wanted me to do Rocking Horse before we move up is because of the stadium. Don’t tell anyone, but I think I actually prefer the smaller/tighter ring. Less time for Presto to commit Fuckery and less time for me to make lots of bad decisions. When the jumps come up super fast, you don’t have much option but to just keep the balance upright and keep coming forward. I’m better with fewer options.
Two phases down, one more to go! We’ll get to the good part tomorrow.
(Patrons – you have the full dressage and SJ videos on your dashboard! Working on uploading all the XC footage I have, too.)
Is he what dreams are made of or is he an absolute menace to society? The answer is both.
On Sunday I took Presto over to Majestic Oaks for a jumper show. I was kind of looking forward to it, because it was going to be his first 3’3″ class – it was time to check our progress. Hillary was also taking Lex, but 1) her classes were a little earlier 2) I really did not want a repeat of his behavior when we went for a lesson with Lex and Presto lost his last shiny little marble. He’s chill and easy alone. He’s completely terrible with friends.
So Hillary left earlier than I did, with Lex in her trailer. I was hoping they just wouldn’t know the other was there. That dream lasted for all of about 30 minutes. And once Presto did figure out that Lex was there, that was the end of us having a fun easy happy day. Much chaos ensued. He spent the next couple hours screaming non-stop, punctuated with periods of flailing his front feet in the air or trying to dig a hole to China.
It was not the most fun I’ve ever had.
I did finally get him to settle a bit as we got closer to the start of our division, mostly by letting root around the tack room of my trailer and make a mess of things, but I was on the last bit of my sanity by that point. I had started the day tired, and he used up every available ounce of my brain power and emotional energy with his theatrics.
Luckily once he has a job to focus on, he’s an entirely different animal.
When I finally got on he was LIT, and jigged his way over to warmup. I immediately starting bending him left and right, getting him to move his rib cage and accept my leg without yeehawing away from it. That plugged his brain in, and after a few laps we were able to get to work like normal. He actually warmed up great, and was less worried about the other horses than he was the last time we were in that ring. Once he jumped his first jump he was game on, mind on the job, and he was the wonderful animal I know and love. I do appreciate that part of him – for all his theatrics, he does do his job like a trooper once you give him one.
We did two classes – a 3′ and a 3’3″. The 3′ was fine… I was a bit of a space cadet and cantered right past the last jump. Everyone was like “ahem… there’s another one”. Oh right. Pick up the canter again, jump the last one. My brain was mega-fried by this point after having a horse screaming in my ear and flailing in my face all morning. My response to that is to just go real dead inside, and perhaps I went a little too dead.
Then we had the 3’3″, which was also fine. By this point he had thoroughly worn himself out, so he was getting a bit behind my leg, which my dead brain was a little too slow to fix, which led to a couple awkward distances. What I do appreciate is that Presto really gives no shits where you get him, he’s gonna jump the jump. Also neither of us were intimidated at all by the increase in height. Nothing we’ve jumped yet looks big on this horse, and he’s still mostly just loping over them. It’s a cool feeling, to have not even come anywhere near to approaching his limit. I think we’ve barely even poked a toe into “trying” territory.
Ideally the perfectionist side of me would have loved to do one more class and smooth things out a bit, but we were both out of quarters at that point. We’d done what we came to do, and despite Presto’s naughtiness all morning, I appreciated that once I got on and said “sir, you have a job” he got down to business and said “yes ma’am, let’s do it”. I love this horse both because of and despite his chaos… some days it just tests my resolve more than others.
I think the best moment of the day was when I saw a bit of a bigger distance into the oxer-to-vertical one stride. The Presto of a couple months ago would have been totally incapable of jumping big into that, compacting himself into the one stride, and jumping up and around the vertical – he’d have just punched that rail right out with his hind feet. I think every rail he had last year was coming out of a combination. But even with me jumping in a bit big, he landed, sat himself on his butt, and jumped the vertical fantastic. When I get little peeks of his true ability like that, it’s kind of exciting. It most definitely is in there. The harder it gets, the better he gets.
So really, mission accomplished? It was an annoying day, with all of his screaming and theatrics, and it’s possible that the hearing in my right ear might never be the same…
But we did get to jump around the 3’3″ and it was no big deal, so… we’ll call it a win?
It’s a bit earlier than I normally start this, but the sales this year have been starting earlier too. Welcome to everyone’s favorite online shopping time of year!
Here we go with the usual spiel: some of these sales are already active, others won’t be live until later in the week. I’ve included date info where I can, but if you’re not seeing the sale yet, just try their page again later. What I’m publishing today (Tuesday) is very much just the tip of the iceberg – I’m tracking dozens of different sales that will be releasing their info later in the week. Keep checking back here, new ones will be posted AT THE BOTTOM BY DATE ADDED so they don’t get lost in the mix. Happy Shopping! Buy me something pretty.
Riding Warehouse – sale starting 11/25 up to 30% off – build your cart now so it’s ready to go on Friday!
Ride iQ – 30% off either the monthly or annual membership (applies to the first payment – this takes $74 off the annual membership!) with code TGIF30 through 11/28. If you’re looking for a great gift for someone, this is my 5-star pick! I can’t even tell you how life-changing this app is.
Struck Breeches – orders under $100 get a $10 Gift Card, $100- $250 get a $25 Gift Card. Buy 50 Series breeches, get a $50 Gift Card, buy 55 Series breeches, get a $55 Gift Card, buy 60 Series get a $60 Gift Card, buy 80 Series get an $80 Gift Card, and purchases Over $400 get a $100 Gift Card. First 50 orders will receive a FREE Struck toque!
When we left off last week, some particular noodle had been an absolute wretch for our jump lesson on Wednesday.
On Friday (aside from being a bit on his toes because it was BRISK out there for Florida) he brought his best kiddo behavior. Well I mean did he jig off the trailer and into the barn? Maybe. Was he a moving target while I tried to put his bridle on? Yes. Did we snort the whole way out to the ring? Indeed. Did a horse get loose and come galloping out towards the ring while I was walking and did I just choose to jump off and hold my spinning noodle until that horse was caught rather than potentially add another loose horse to the mix? Yes. But I mean once the lesson started, he was all business.
It’s been a hot minute since I had a dressage lesson (ok months, it’s been months… jumping took priority) so it was definitely needed. I feel like he’s made a lot of progress as far as getting more adjustable in his gaits (Steph agreed), more consistently into the outside rein (Steph agreed) and his canter has gotten stronger (Steph agreed). But ya know, good professional eyes on the ground with the flatwork are so important, because I can take the homework I’m given and plug away at it pretty well, but I’m not always the best at pushing on to the next step.
So what we did a lot in this lesson was push the boundaries and ask him for more. More trot, starting to play with the medium and get him lifting his front end up more/coming through his knee and shoulder. This is hard for him, he’s lazier in front than he is behind., but he did give us some solid efforts.
We also worked on being able to move his shoulders a bit more, which is kind of a constant with him since he loves to get stuck in the base of his neck/shoulders. And then when we moved to canter she was like ok this definitely looks way stronger/better but now he needs to do it more on his own with less help from you. Turns out I’m helping him every single step, which of course I know that but also at no point did my brain go “maybe it’s time you stop holding his hand and ask him to do more of this on his own”.
So that’s what we did. We’d get the canter forward, get his back swinging, and then I’d slowly stop helping him as much and ask him to do more on his own, letting my leg hang more passive. To the right it wasn’t too bad, he broke once or twice out of confusion (she stopped holding me up, that’s weird) but to the left, his weaker direction, he def wanted to fall apart more as soon as I wasn’t actively holding it together. There is some homework involving all of that, for sure. Which is good… that’s the whole point.
On Saturday I spent all day jump judging at the classic 3-Day here in town. It was such a cool event, with a whole week of various clinics/demos and lots of educational content from top pros. They did a great job with the course design too, everything looked fantastic, with good challenges but also some softer options for the people that needed them. For personal reasons I’d love it if they moved it to a different venue – then I’d 100% put it on my bucket list.
What did blow my mind, as someone from Texas where people do not drive vehicles onto courses and if you’re jump judging you basically just have to walk your happy ass and your lawn chair out to whatever far reaches of the earth you’ve been assigned to, was that we could just drive out to our jumps and stay in our vehicles. When everybody got in their cars and drove right out onto the course my brain exploded a little, I think I amused all the Florida people. Wait, you mean I don’t have to hike 3 miles and sit in a chair in the sun being miserable/cold/hot/wet/sunburned all day? Not that 8 hours in my car is comfortable but it beats the hell out of a lawn chair. That was like a VIP jump judging experience compared to every other I’ve ever had. It was fun watching everyone with the classic format though, I love that they offered Starter through Training.
Yesterday was disgusting by Florida standards: 48 and drizzly rain all day. Hard pass. Hard hard pass. Today it’s sunny and 70 so… I don’t have to suffer thanks. Our barn group went to brunch instead, and then Hillary and I recorded a podcast (the first of hopefully many) with Steph for our Patreon people. I’m pretty excited about this one, she’s so interesting with her teaching philosophy and how she approaches coaching different people/personalities.
I’m also now full throttle into Black Friday mode, getting the first version of the list ready to post (hopefully tomorrow, but if I can’t make that happen, Wednesday for sure). So many places have started their sales early, so it looks like my list will need to start earlier too. My mission this year is new blankets for Presto, since his lil butt is now hanging quite a ways out the back of his old clothes. Which makes me sad, because they’re great. If you see great deals on any fun prints in an 81/82 (I think, I need to measure him today) , send them my way!
I was kind of hoping today would be a fun lesson recap, since I made it over to Steph’s on Wednesday for a jump lesson. And I mean, it can be a bit of a lesson recap I suppose. “Fun” is not the word I would use though.
Presto is… an interesting animal. What I’ve discovered about him over the past few months is that while he’s actually great when he travels solo, he’s a complete idiot when he goes places with friends. He marries them in the trailer, dedicates his entire being to them, and legit cannot focus on anything else once we arrive at our destination. I know this about him. But that doesn’t mean that he can spend the rest of his life going places and doing things alone. It’s not realistic. We slowly but surely have to start chipping away at that particular issue. So when Hillary set up a lesson for Wednesday morning, I was offered the time right after it, and while there was a whole lot of internal groaning on my part, I took it. Can’t avoid the situation forever, and better to do it in a regular lesson environment vs xc schooling or at a horse show.
When I went to get him before the lesson he came galloping up to me like a lunatic, complete with a sliding stop about 2″ away from the gate. Cool cool. Presto with excess enthusiasm rarely bodes well but sure. We got the horses ready, loaded them up, and off we went. Hillary rode first, so while she was putting her bridle on I took Presto away to the other side of the barn where he wouldn’t be able to see Lex leave. That would create an instant meltdown. He wasn’t pleased when I took him away from his favorite hony, but he wasn’t too bad. After Lex was gone I took him back inside to the crossties, but then all the other horse slowly started leaving, and I knew that if we got to the point where he was the only one left in the barn that would be the spark that ignited a real problem. I can only take on so many problems in one day. So I put his bridle on, figuring I’d just go hack him around the back field for a while and then warm up a bit before our lesson.
He was fine walking out, and for the first few minutes, but then he started trying to make a break for it back toward the ring. Naughtiness ensued. Not constant, but enough to where I had to put him to work or else he was going to keep escalating. So we spent 40 minutes trotting, cantering, going back and forth toward and away from the ring, and doing whatever more complicated flatwork was necessary to keep his attention on me – with random bouts of spinning and napping punctuated throughout. He did finally settle, but by then we were both tired and annoyed.
By the time we walked into the ring for our lesson we really had nothing left in the tank, mentally or physically. And well… when we tried to start putting some jump exercises together, it went about as well as you’d imagine. I can say without a doubt that it was the worst jump lesson we’ve had yet. Presto is just a walking temper tantrum of feelings sometimes, and he had all of them that day. By that point he was just mad and told all of us to get fucked.
So ya know… we made an attempt at things. We went through the course a few times until he actually decided to put in some kind (ANY kind) of effort at paying attention and listening, and then we quit with that. There was really no point. He did stop being a turd long enough to make a decent-ish pass through, and some days that’s just the best you’re going to get. He’s not the type of horse you can just keep nagging away at when he’s in that frame of mind. Some days you have to accept any kind of try and let it go at that, because if you pick a fight he will absolutely throw down. If you make it a thing, it will become A Thing. If you make it just a day in the life, then that’s all it’ll be.
So ya know, that was… um… a time. Not a fun time. Or a good time. But such is life with horses. I think what we’re going to do for a while is every time Hillary has a lesson, Presto will come along and just go out to hack by himself while she’s having her lesson. He has to be able to go places with friends and not turn into a raging butthole. And clearly we are not at the point where he can handle doing that for lessons, but if he can just go hack out, do some trot sets, and work through his feelings… hopefully that will help him figure out that he still has to mind his own damn business even when a friend is present.
I have another lesson today (a dressage lesson, which I haven’t had a dressage lesson in months… whoops) that he is attending by himself, so hopefully we can actually do something productive this time.
I always have intentions of Monday posts to recap the previous week. Those posts do not always happen these days.
As already mentioned, last week was spent working in the Luxe EQ trailer at WEC. I forgot how mentally exhausting retail is, even when it’s not busy. It takes all of my little introverted brain cells. These November shows at WEC are pretty small – there’s supposed to be double the number of horses in December – and for that I was kind of grateful. I mean, not the best thing for business, but whew. It’s been years since I did this.
I did have fun perusing everything in the trailer though, and trying on like… dozens of things. I discovered that Samshield clothing seems to fit me like a dream (naturally, because it’s effing expensive) and that no matter how hard I try or how badly I want it, Kask helmets don’t fit my head. Which is probably good for my wallet, because I looooved this one:
On Saturday night I stayed after close and had dinner with some barnmates, and got to snuggle what is now I suppose my emotional support weiner, Olive. She also helped me make a TikTok for the shop, because this is definitely a dog worthy of social media fame.
I was still able to ride Presto during those days, by getting up extra early so I could be done with him by 8am and then jet off to WEC. He has been pretty darn good lately, and is filling out a ton. You can tell that 6yo year is just around the corner – he’s a different horse now than he was in May. We’ve got a jump lesson today and then a dressage lesson on Friday, trying to get in all the prep and tune-ups before we hit all the shows in December. I can’t believe we’re already halfway through November. What the actual heck.
This week I’ve been making videos for clients, prepping the breeding data for the live stream of the PetersonSmith Barnstaple Educational 3 Day Event (I hope y’all have heard about this, it’s SO COOL), and getting a couple breeding consultations prepped. Also Megan is at the Goresbridge sale this week and she’s been sending me some of her favorites to get my thoughts on their pedigrees. I have some peak FOMO about Ireland at the moment.
I did get myself these super glittery spur straps though, which def helped me feel better.
One other thing – massive shoutout to Bobby who absolutely SLAYED at Nationals with Carlson. National Champion 2nd Freestyle AA, Reserve Champion 2nd AA, Reserve Champion 3rd AA, and 3rd place 3rd level Freestyle AA. He’s a pain in the ass but he’s my pain in the ass, and I’m so happy to see him doing well with this horse.
I’ll be back later this week with more updates, when I have a little more time. Hope everyone is having a good week!
Yes it is indeed Friday night when I’m writing this. Or rather, when I’m finishing writing this. It was Wednesday when I started. That’s just kind of how things have gone this week.
On Monday I clipped Henry. Which was not at all my intention for the morning, but he was hot and I did that thing where I was like “I’ll just clip part of him for now” which I don’t know why I tell myself those kinds of lies because that’s never what actually happens. I did everything but the very bottom of his belly, which is currently still hairy because I haven’t had time yet to finish him. It’s a look. He’s much happier though, so that’s all that matters.
I had plans for Wednesday through Sunday, so I had to squeeze a jump lesson in earlier in the week than usual. Luckily Trainer had time on Tuesday, so we went on over. I actually hadn’t jumped Presto since the POP show a week and a half prior, but much credit to this horse – he’s showing more and more maturity lately by just getting right to work and doing the things. It’s very sus sometimes.
But since we have now actually penciled in (very much penciled) a potential move-up, Trainer ain’t playing. A few warm-up jumps and up they went to height (with a few a bit over). Which, the good thing is, my eyeballs are getting used to the jumps being a little bigger again. I have no hesitation about anything looking big. It also helps that Presto is still just absolutely loping over these with minimal effort. I’m not sure at what point he’ll have to start trying, but we haven’t found it yet.
Perhaps the most exciting part about the lesson (to me) was when I absolutely biffed the distance to the Swedish oxer off of the short turn and he just pretzeled himself over it like “weird choice mom but okey dokey”. He is so non-plussed and does not get rattled by mistakes. The natural self-confidence level of this horse is really high. Very different from Henry… I always had to be very aware of keeping him confident and willing to put up with my mistakes, and he can get offended by them sometimes.
Presto on the other hand legit could not care less. He doesn’t really get rattled, he’s not worried about what I do or don’t do or what happened or why… it’s interesting. I mean, yes he might spook at a rock and drop me on my ass at any given moment, but he’s super reliable in other ways. I still keeping learning more and more about this horse of mine, week in and week out. He’s kind of fucking cool, y’all.
So I entered Rocking Horse, which will be our first recognized event and possibly our last Novice. We’ll see how it goes. Apparently their showjumping is known for being tricky, so goal is not dying. Of course, as soon as I entered I remembered that recognized means I have to do things like wear a coat (not so bad, I’ve been looking for a reason to debut my light blue one anyway) and braid my horse. Ugh, BRAIDING. This horse is the actual least fun to braid, 0% looking forward to that. I also only have one pair of white breeches (this is a two day show) and never did buy a white shirt to go under that light blue coat, so… cool. That’s fine. I’ll just… I dunno. Whatever. I can’t brain about it right now.
And then yesterday we had another hurricane pass through. Honestly this one brought more wind and rain to our area than Ian did, even though it was just a weak Cat 1 when it made landfall. It was WINDY. Not really a big deal though luckily, just lots of little branches and limbs down, but no loss of power or anything major. The horses just hung out in their stalls and ate their hay. Rough life for them.
This week/weekend I’m also working at WEC in the Luxe EQ mobile shop. That’s always a fun time for me, although it was perhaps less fun to get everything battened down for a hurricane. It survived though, and I was back out there today. Things are a bit slow, seems like a smaller show, but if you’re around, come say hi! It’s the tan trailer in the vendor area next to the hotel, closest to the patisserie.
I also made the mistake of trying on a bunch of Samshield clothes in there, which might solve my lack of horse show clothes problem, but at the extreme detriment of my wallet. Send help.
In other news, BRC has donated a pedigree report to EN’s 12 days of Christmas giveaways, so make sure you’re following them in preparation for that! I’ve also already started gathering info for Black Friday sales (can’t believe it’s that time again, omg) so if your business is doing something, feel free to drop me a message so I can add you.
Oh and best of luck to Bobbert and Carlson this week at USDF Finals!
I was going to call this “Monday Feels” and then I realized it’s Tuesday. That about sums things up.
Instead I’m going to pivot and talk about goals and plans and expectations… or the lack thereof. Or how my view of all those things has changed so much in the past 5 or so years.
Long-time readers of this blog have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride. First I didn’t compete much, then I did EVERYTHING and went REAL HARD and always had my eye on the next goal. and then now for the past few years I haven’t done a whole lot at all. I’ve talked a lot over the years about my journey with mindset, and how much of a struggle it’s been for me, and how much work I’ve had to put into it. Honestly, I needed the time away from the competitive side of things to help give me more perspective, and let all of that sink in. Time and hindsight are excellent teachers. But sticking my toe back into that world again, and this time doing it in a healthy way… that’s the road I currently find myself standing on.
Trainer is a big ol’ Planner (enneagram 3, if you know you know) which is probably good to counteract me, who dodges commitment and goal-setting with riding stuff like it’s my actual damn job. It’s funny because in other aspects of life I am extremely schedule and plan obsessed. I have an itinerary for literally everything and every day of my life is planned out. But I think I got so wrapped up in competing there for a while with Henry that now I’ve scared myself away from making too many plans thus ending up a) disappointed or b) so consumed by a goal that I don’t enjoy the journey. I have that obsessive, one-track type of brain that makes it really easy to slip into that. In an effort to not make that mistake again, I think I went from one extreme to the other. It’s probably good to have someone like Trainer to add a little balance back into things, otherwise I’d probably still just be trotting circles out in the field with Presto. I know I’m in a much better place mindset-wise with Presto than I was for so many of those years with Henry, but ya know… the process of learning about yourself and how you think/cope/react is never-ending, and I just don’t want to make the same mistakes. I can see now that it has gone so far the other direction that it’s become a bit of a “paralysis by analysis” thing, so… having her to push me back out of that is probably a good thing.
All of this to say that she’s been planning out my fall and winter season. I’m over here like “yeah sure as long as it doesn’t cause mental/financial anguish” because I have to be deliberately casual about it. First and foremost this is supposed to be fun, and no one can suck the fun out of something faster than my brain on Goals.
It does help that it feels different with this horse. I don’t know why it always seemed to me like I had something to prove with Henry but I don’t feel that way with Presto. If anything you’d think it should have been the opposite. Overall healthier mental state now vs then, maybe? It feels easier to enjoy every single little bit of progress with this horse, and be able to appreciate the journey no matter what it looks like. After all, how many times did all of this come precariously close to never happening? I never forget that. Not for a single day.
I also have no end goal in mind. There isn’t a particular level I want to hit, or a competition that is a “must”. I’m just here to enjoy the horse that I made, learn from him, and see what we can do together. If that looks like 10 years of Novice, that’s fine with me. If it looks like something bigger, then ok… we’ll cross that road when we come to it. I just want to get better and have fun with a horse that I already get so much enjoyment from, no matter what that looks like.
But I can also recognize the fact that being TOO nonchalant about that stuff does lead to the paralysis by analysis thing on my part. Taking a few years off from showing means I’ve settled into a bit of a comfort zone that could probably go on forever if I let it. And the truth is that I do actually enjoy competing. I’m not a super competitive person these days, and I don’t want to horse show like all the time (that is exhausting), but I do genuinely like it. Or at least I do now. There for a while I think I really didn’t, and I wasn’t totally sure that I would again.
But what I’m noticing now (that we’ve got a grand total of two shows under our belt… I know, things are getting serious…) is that the horse shows help give me a little bit of push and direction. Both important things if your priority with your horse is the journey. Apparently this new phase of life is going to be learning to actually go Do The Things but also without taking it too far and imploding my brain, because then I’ll just run away again back into my little brain cocoon.
The very loose “plan” is to do a recognized Novice at the beginning of December and, if that goes well, a schooling Training a couple weeks later. The show season here in Florida is really Jan through April, so things are gonna start to kick off hot and heavy in a couple months. How much or how little I want to participate in that will depend on a lot of things, but… I didn’t move all the way to Ocala to hide in the bushes, did I? I didn’t breed and raise my dream horse to not get out there and do the thing I bred him to do, did I?
I trust Trainer’s judgment implicitly, so I’m happy to go along with her whatever her plan is. I don’t have the best track record for plans, after all.
Both of the last two shows have been the best my mindset has ever been in competition so hopefully that’s a sign of growth. They’ve been fun, and no pressure, and I haven’t lain awake at night stressing about shit that’s completely beyond my control. There are a lot of things helping contribute to that, I think. But it does feel fun again, and I do find myself coming home from the shows and looking forward to the next one. It’s a work in progress but maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to find the middle ground.
And when I say supervisors I mostly just mean the extremely unhelpful onlookers that tended to just stir the pot even more (ahem Presto).
These guys all thought the weaning process was VERY interesting. To be fair, nothing that interesting ever happens here, so it was the most entertainment they’ve had in a while. Except for the entertainment that Presto produces for himself on a daily basis.
Naturally Gemma was the one who just kind of stood there and watched, whereas all the boys were inserting their assistance in the form of yeehaws.
Her version of standing and watching is VERY vigilant. Like… perhaps borderline stalkery.
And then there was Blue, one of the surrogate mares. She was the least impressed.
This is, unfortunately, the last *planned* Foal Friday that I have for the year. I’m not ruling out anything, because you never know, but… this is it folks. No more bebe’s until spring. Maybe I need to do a post about all the foals expected next year? I don’t think I’ve done that yet…