I did the thing to do the thing

Well guys, guess who’s entered in an actual event?

um no I am retired, gimme cookie

I got to looking at the weather forecast and the temperatures actually look pretty promising for the MeadowCreek show in two weeks. Mid 80’s in Texas in June??? That’s just not a thing. Normally we’re at or near triple digits by now. But indeed the temperatures are supposed to be pretty good, so I was like hmm… Henry could go run around the Novice right? He isn’t the fit, svelte Prelim horse that he used to be, but he still gets ridden a lot and he’s definitely plenty fit for Novice. I mean… is he “tuned up” at this point? Not particularly. Has he worn a bit more than like 5 times in the past 2 years? No. Do I ride him in my dressage saddle at all anymore? Not really. Have we jumped a full course in the past like month and a half? Negative. But even if we’re mega rusty he’s still an experienced event horse, Novice should theoretically be a pretty easy hop-around for him (the after-the-fact benefit of all those years of hard work).

Of course, the reason that the temperatures are staying so mild is that it won’t quit freaking raining. Like for real. Every other day it pours buckets.

looking out my living room window on Friday. That one was BAD, the power was out for 10 hours.

Is there a chance of rain every single day in the 10 day forecast? Yup. But, ya know… worst case scenario the show gets rained out or if the footing is too muddy I can just scratch (Henry isn’t drilled and tapped these days, nor was he much of a mudder even when he was). This is clearly a very low key, low pressure affair. If we can go, great, if we can’t, oh well. We aren’t working towards anything, it’s purely just for fun.

But I did start to get a few things together. First, I ran my idea past my trainer who responded with a resounding “DO IT!”, and then I scheduled a jump lesson. It’s rained so much here that my jump field is just a soggy squishy overgrown jungle and that probably won’t change anytime in the near future. I had a jump set up in the dressage arena, but.. ya know… that doesn’t really mimic a jump course nor can you really jump at pace in a small arena. So we scheduled a jump lesson for Monday, come hell or (literal) high water.

Which meant that on Sunday, Henry got clipped.

I usually clip him every summer anyway, to help him deal with the heat, I just moved it up by a couple weeks. I used to be skeptical of the summer clipping thing until I realized just how much hair comes off some of these thicker-coated horses. It’s a lot more than you would think, especially over their back half. Henry always seems noticeably cooler after it’s all gone, so even if there’s nothing worse than clipping a horse while sweating profusely and getting it all completely stuck to you, it’s still totally worth it for him.

it’s a lot of hair

I can already tell that I’m cursing myself by even putting this much preparation and thought into it. The show is gonna rain out for sure now…

Anyway. After Friday night’s complete deluge (I haven’t seen rain like that in a very long time, it was INSANE) it was too wet/slick to ride all weekend so on Monday I loaded him up for our lesson with Henry having had two days off. Not a big deal at all, by age 14 he’s pretty much the same horse all the time anyway, with maybe just a little more dolphining in the canter depending on how wild he is. It was the first time I’ve hauled him anywhere in a while though, so there was some mournful screaming for the first few minutes before he settled into his hay.

My trainer’s place got a lot of rain too, so about half of her jump field was quite squishy. What I really needed though, was to jump some lines, and to just have more space to open the canter up to what it needed to be. We had two lines where the footing was good enough, a regular one and a bending, and enough space to get the pace, so it worked just fine. I warmed up, we popped a few singles while I tried to remember what the appropriate jumping pace was (it’s always more than I think, I’ll catch on to that eventually right? Probably not.), and then jumped each line twice. By the third line I remembered how to rev the engine in the corner, re-balance, and then maintain the canter out of it, and tada everything clicked back in. I will say though, I think it’s harder to see a good distance to a smaller fence – they were set Novice height – than it is a larger one. There are just so many tempting options, I want to sample them all. I swear it was easier when they were so big that your only choice was to just keep coming at it no matter what.

my only lesson media. Sorry, we failed.

Mission accomplished though, and hopefully it’ll dry at least enough to jump a little bit at home in the next couple weeks. If not, well… we’ll wing it.

I’m still waffling on what to do about the dressage part. I’m very tempted to just do it in his jump tack and not really worry about it, mostly because the few times I’ve sat in my dressage saddle lately I’ve just felt really displeased with it, like I’m fighting it a lot. I was never totally in love with how the block hit my thigh (I have a pretty long femur and prefer something more forward), but I think after taking so much time away from it it’s become even more obvious how it’s not really helping me out. Of course, the thought of buying a new dressage saddle for Henry is like… hilarious. Why bother. Granted, if I’m not going to use the one I have I should probably just sell it. All it’s really doing at this point is sitting in my tack room depreciating in value. Not that I want to deal with selling a saddle, which is about as fun as getting a root canal. Anybody want a Devoucoux Loreak? *cries in equestrian*

A Couple Things…

Hey y’all, hope everyone is having a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend! I’m on my way out the door to head to my first lesson in like… a year(?)… but I do have a couple things for sale that I wanted to toss up here real quick in case any of y’all are interested! You can contact me on my socials or through the Contact page on this site.

Alessandro Albanese Motionlite show coat, espresso size Medium. New with tags. $200

Winston Equestrian washable wool show coat, dark navy with golden yellow piping. Size 40T (french sizing) which is around a women’s 8ish – the bust is 36.5″. $150

I can send more photos of either if you’re interested!

Foal Friday: And Then There Were Four

First and foremost – Percy is doing really well. The laxity in his legs has rapidly improved, he’s graduated to a slightly larger turnout space, and he continues to be perky and happy and is eating well.

he has the best ears

He’s really started to figure out those limbs now and what was a very spidery canter is quickly turning into a pretty good little gallop. He definitely is still a little on the smaller side and needs to gain some weight, but there’s already marked improvement in his muscle tone even just since last weekend. He should continue to look a bit better (or more like a “normal” foal, really) week over week. He certainly doesn’t seem to know that he’s had any struggles though, judging by his spunk!

comin in hot!

It’ll be a while before Percy gets to join the other kiddos in the big pasture, but they did have a new addition to their crew – Teddy joined the party! As usual, Pippa was the first one interested in the new arrival, and the first one to try to approach to say hello. Stormie was not very interested in that.

the resident creeper

When attempting to approach by herself didn’t work, Pippa roped her mother into her scheme, maybe thinking that Stormie would be more accepting of a familiar mare.

Poor Peyton, this is Pippa’s world and she’s just living in it

Stormie, however, still wasn’t particularly interested in that. According to her she clearly has the best baby of the bunch and all the other mares are probably just trying to steal her. And why is Stormie so sure she has the best baby? Because Teddy is a total little Mini-Me. Stormie 2.0 but in Stormie’s original color.

the ego is strong with these two

They both have that “yeah we know we’re the best” attitude that ponies so often seem to possess, plus they’re mares, and now there’s TWO of them. Lord help the farm. Luckily Teddy is very snuggly and sweet to people, just like her dam, but they both feel like they’re the Queen Bees of the pasture. Teddy did eventually settle in and play with Pippa (after the camera left of course) so clearly she will deign to mix with the commoners when it suits her.

Pippa is pretty good at entertaining herself though, with her constant zoomies. I swear I could do an entire Foal Friday post every single week with just pictures of Pippa galloping. She’s gotta be fit enough to run around Kentucky by now.

you ordered an event horse, here I am!

Meanwhile the boys are… well… boys.

Dear sweet Patticakes, even when he’s in Bitey play mode, still isn’t that rough or mean. Mostly it’s just a lot of excitement which turns into bouncing which morphs into biting. Because colt. That’s what they do. Obi is a little bit of a terror so don’t feel sorry for him, he deserves anything Patrick dishes out. Exhibit A:

He spends a lot of time with his legs somewhere on or near Chanel’s head. Which is kind of her own fault, because she hasn’t put a stop to it. The kiddo is rowdy. He’d be like the kid in the restaurant running around to other tables with one shoe on, talking to random strangers and climbing up on the seats and writing on the wall with his crayons.

hi-yah! Look at me go!
oh crap
you saw NOTHING

I think Patrick is emerging as the popular kid of the pasture, able to get along with and play with anyone. He loves to antagonize his brother, of course, but he’s still Pippa’s playmate of choice too.

Paddy. Paddy wake up. Let’s go gallop.

It’s a hard job being everybody’s friend, but somebody’s got to do it.

his face is already graying so fast

As Teddy settles in more we’ll see how the dynamic changes. I’m convinced that her mother is her favorite (and vice versa) but she’ll definitely start playing and interacting more with the other babies. It’ll be interesting to see what she really thinks of Obi. I have a feeling she won’t tolerate any of that nonsense. There’s definitely a pasture full of cuteness out there now though!

An OCP a day…

You know when your phone rings early in the morning, especially on a weekend, and it’s the person who takes care of your horse? If you’re anything like me your reaction is “ah, fuck” and in the millisecond it takes to hit the button to take the call, you’ve already run through any and all possible scenarios including but not limited to: colic, broken leg, and struck by lightning.

That’s normal horse people behavior, right?

And while this particular scenario wasn’t any of those things (thank every diety, knock on wood, pick a four leaf clover, stuff a few crystals up your butt, whatever it takes…) this past Sunday Presto did have a fever. While he’d been totally normal the day before, that morning he was picking at his food and seemed uncharacteristically lethargic (any and all brands of lethargy are uncharacteristic for that one), so Megan took his temp. 104.7. Yeesh. She was calling me to tell me what was up and that she wanted to take him to the emergency vet down the road, which of course I agreed. Those symptoms immediately make you think viral and ain’t none of us messing around with that given recent happenings.

They got to the vet, did bloodwork, checked him over, etc. All of his bloodwork looked great, and he had no other symptoms whatsoever aside from the fever and lethargy. He got some Banamine and got monitored for a while. Soon the fever broke and he was back to eating at least, even if a bit more subdued than usual. He didn’t have anything terrible so he got to go back home, with instructions to give him more Banamine if the fever came back and monitor him for any other symptoms. When Presto doesn’t feel good he gets particularly mopey and cuddly (the only time in this horse’s life where he’s ever remotely cuddly) and honestly I’m starting to think he likes Megan better than me (which I am supremely offended by considering how much effort it’s taken me to keep him alive to this point) so of course he wants to cuddle her when he doesn’t feel good. Traitor.

hold mah head pls BetterMom

The next day he did get a little bit of a fever again, so he got more Banamine. He’s gradually gotten better though and he’s continued to eat, and he seems to be out of the woods now (thank every diety, knock on wood, pick a four leaf clover, stuff a few crystals up your butt, whatever it takes…).

And because Megan is the best and Presto has a way of working his goofiness under your skin, she went to the store and got him some Oatmeal Creme Pies as a special “feel better soon” snack while he was sick. Coincidence that they actually worked? I think not. OCP’s are magical. Facts. An OCP a day keeps the doctor away, or something like that. Pretty sure that’s how the saying goes.

taking his vitamins

Of course she’s been offering OCP’s to all of her horses too, because as soon as one of them sees a treat being dispensed you have to give a treat to all of them (horse rules, I didn’t make it up) and now they’re all addicted. Yet another new OCP Club inductee. I think Little Debbie at least owes me some swag by now, considering how many OCP sales my horses have generated.

Hopefully Presto is past this little bug and can get back into the swing of things! The struggles of being a baby horse…

WW: Epic Save

And this is why you get the athletic, flexible pro rider to take the baby horse around his first BN.

I have no idea how the HELL she even stuck that. It was a hell of a spook. She’s completely defying gravity.

leave it to Presto to spook towards a jump (“it’s safer over here, there’s demons in the bushes!”)

I’ve watched it approximately 250 times and still cannot stop laughing.

What I Learned at Texas Rose

I used to do these little “what I learned” posts after every horse trial, but uh… I haven’t done a horse trial in almost 2 years so… yeah those posts tapered off. And while I still technically still didn’t do one myself, I was just there to watch my horse go, I still came away feeling like I learned a few things.

Learning GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

First and foremost, I need myself a damn Cricket. Hillary got this mini golf cart that is FREAKING ADORABLE, fits in a spot in the horse trailer, and is a total lifesaver at weekend shows like that one where everything is approximately 45 miles apart. I am legit obsessed with it and now I need one in either black or blue so that I can then put rainbow glitter over top and have the most badass lil golf cart known to mankind. Plus there was one particular incident where Hillary and I were going down the big hill between the RV parking and the stabling and the brakes went out, and Hillary was yelling “I HAVE NO BRAKES” in terror while frantically pumping her foot on the pedal, and I’m over there laughing maniacally and having a grand time. There are two kinds of people in this world, y’all, and clearly I’m the kind that’s just a wee bit off. The best part was when she finally had to turn the key to stop it and the Cricket skidded dramatically to a halt like some kind of Tokyo Drift shit in miniature. Anyway, 10/10 would recommend. I may or may not have told the SO about the Cricket for so long that I’m pretty sure he’s at least mostly convinced that we need one, even if it’s just to get me to shut the hell up. Hey, annoying the shit out of someone until they give in is totally a valid strategy to get what you want.

2020 Black RX-5 Cricket Mini Golf Cart | Durham Trailer Ranch | Bloomer  Trailers and Living Quarter Horse Trailers in TX
I NEED IT

Speaking of Hillary, I also learned that there are few things more fun than watching friends figure out new horse. She’s got such a nice little horse in Lex, but boy is he very different from everything she’s ever had before. He’s quite an adjustment and there’s a big learning curve, but she’s been working hard at it, and it all really came together beautifully for her that weekend. It was so freaking fun to watch things click into place. She was riding better than I’ve ever seen, and on a horse that really has the potential to do everything she could possibly want. I am excited for her. Plus like, all I do is give Lex cookies and tell him how cute he is without demanding anything in return so he likes me more now. I have stolen the hony. Mine.

he also likes champagne

I also have to be honest, despite being away from the eventing horse show scene for almost 2 years, over that time I’ve struggled to feel like I really missed it. I think partly it was burnout… I have this tendency to go balls to the wall about things and burn myself out eventually, it’s a pattern I’ve repeated over and over throughout my life yet still can’t seem to break the cycle. But also it was partly because for so long we were working on getting Henry up the levels, always moving the bar higher, seeing what we could do, finding something else to reach for, etc etc. And then we found the upper limit of what was possible for him, and I ended up feeling a little aimless at that point. Honestly though, I really needed a break. I was mentally a bit tired and a bit over it. And then covid happened and gave me a really good excuse to take some time away and just enjoy horses again without any stipulations or expectations. Still though… as shows started happening again I just wasn’t feeling the FOMO the way I expected. And then I went to Texas Rose and over the course of the weekend I remembered why I really do love the sport, and the people, and why it’s worth the effort. I finally feel some of the fire returning, and I’m actually looking forward to getting back out there again now, whenever that may work out for me.

Another thing that really stuck out to me, and I’ve said this before on this blog I think, is how much I deeply enjoy being an owner. Like, no joke, I got just as much enjoyment out of watching Megan ride my horse than I would have if I’d been riding him myself (and uh, sometimes more, when he decided to be extra green – you’ll see tomorrow). Watching good riders ride your horse is freakin fun. Especially one you bred and are really invested in. If I had the kind of money it takes, I wouldn’t even hesitate for one second to get or breed a nice horse for a good pro just so I could go to shows and watch them ride it. New life goal for when I hit the lotto (note to self: start playing the lotto).

And last but not least, this was the first “public” thing I’ve done in over a year that didn’t require or really even necessitate masks. It was all outdoors and the showgrounds are huge, thus it was very easy to maintain plenty of distance from anyone who wasn’t in your friend group (yay for us already being vaccinated!) so we didn’t have to wear one. It was friggin weird that first day, y’all. WEIRD. It’s amazing how fast we acclimate to things, because I kept reaching for my mask or looking at someone’s naked face like AAAHHHH WHY CAN I SEE SO MUCH OF YOU (I definitely feel this way when I see people in the grocery store with no mask – thankfully they’re few and far between). But I have to admit, it was also really nice. The whole weekend almost felt like normal life again, as if 2020 had never really happened. I know I spent parts of last year wondering if life would ever feel normal again, and in a lot of ways it won’t (you definitely notice when someone from outside of your “pod” gets within 6′ of you and have that immediate instinct to move away), but getting a taste of it at the show definitely bolstered my spirits about the whole thing a little bit. I’m definitely still on the mask-wagon for anything indoors or crowded or where social distancing can’t be maintained, but it was nice to have a weekend outdoors without it while spending time doing something fun again. This is a long way from being over but I feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel at least. I’m glad that so many people (at least the ones that I know) are opting for the vaccine, and I hope that everyone who can have it is able to get it!

Percy’s Story

As promised last week, we’ve got a new WTW foal to introduce to you! This guy had a rough entrance into the world and had to spend his first few days at the clinic, but he’s home now and progressing really well, so I think we’re far enough along to share his ordeal.

This little dude was carried by Ginger, a surrogate mare, and the colt is by Utrillo out of Lissa. Being a loaner surrogate mare, Ginger was a bit of an unknown to us as far as what her normal pre-foaling patterns would be. She had milk for several days so she was being watched very closely, and then on Tuesday she was pacing, pacing, pacing up a storm. Clearly she was close and seemed a bit more distressed than what might be considered normal. Mid-afternoon she looked ready, her tail went up… and nothing. No water breaking. It seemed to be taking too long… something was off.

Michelle gloved up and stuck an arm in and felt a rough texture. This was the sign of an emergency. In a normal birth, the foal presents in a smooth whitish colored sac. But in about 1-2% of births the placenta separates prematurely and results in what’s called a red bag delivery. I’ll let the internet explain since they already wrote it up way better than I could:

Dr. Dorton explains that the premature separation of the placenta from the uterus creates a dire situation because it eliminates the foal’s source of oxygen. “Normally, the mare goes into labor, the placenta tears at the cervical star (where it opens into the birth canal), the amnion (the white sack that contains the foal) starts to protrude out of the mare, and the delivery proceeds normally,” Dr. Dorton says. “The foal comes out; then, in the next few minutes to few hours, the placenta releases from the uterus and is delivered.”

“In a red bag delivery, the placenta separates from the uterus quickly, before the foal is delivered. The first indication of labor is the red, velvet appearing placenta, the ‘red bag,’ which is presented first. This is a signal to the foaling personnel that the delivery is not proceeding as normal, and intervention is needed, since the foal is now without a source of oxygen supplied by the attachment of the placenta to the uterus.”

Basically once you know you have a red bag, you have to cut or rip the placenta and get that foal out ASAP. The longer it takes to get them out, the longer they’re without oxygen, and they can easily die or sustain neurological damage. Now, to add insult to injury, Percy wasn’t just a red bag, he was a red bag PLUS a dystocia – he was positioned upside down. The normal position for a foal in the birth canal is this:

The Foaling Mare

Percy was positioned like this:

Typically upside down isn’t too terrible (not as bad as some other wrong presentations, anyway) and if you give the mare some time, usually she will get up and down a couple times or maybe roll a bit and succeed in repositioning the foal on her own. The problem with the whole “wait it out” thing, obviously, was the red bag. That meant he had to come out ASAP, they couldn’t afford to wait for Ginger to reposition him on her own. This is where it’s so important to have experienced foaling attendants that know what they’re doing… things can go really bad really quickly.

Step 1 was to cut open the placenta. That done, they were able to get Ginger up and walk her around for a second, which helped moved the foal just enough for them to start to manually turn him. It took two people, turning him and pulling at the same time Ginger was pushing, to get him out as fast as possible. If not for their quick thinking and quick actions, there’s no doubt Percy wouldn’t have survived.

The good news is that he was breathing on his own and hadn’t seemed to aspirate much fluid, so he was fairly stable all things considered. The bad news is that he was slightly dysmature (“undercooked”-looking if you will, for a newborn). No time was wasted in hooking up the trailer, loading Ginger up and carrying him in, and hauling them to the clinic. He was there within an hour and half of birth.

Luckily he was fairly active and had a good suck reflex right from the very start – he definitely wanted to nurse. Often if they’ve been compromised from oxygen deprivation they just seem dull and uninterested in nursing, which is obviously really bad. Their quick thinking and getting him out in time prevented that, thank goodness. But being dysmature meant his legs were a bit floppy and unstable, thus he had a hard time balancing on his own to nurse and needed to be bottle fed for the first day or so to make sure he got enough. The clinic also got some plasma into him ASAP, along with some meds and fluids and antibiotics (another potential complication for red bag foals is pneumonia if they aspirate too much fluid, luckily he seemed fine in that regard), and ran some bloodwork.

He responded very quickly to treatment. After a couple days he was steady enough on his feet to nurse on his own, no more bottle assistance required, and he quickly started showing the normal foal spunkiness. His bloodwork improved by the day, he continued getting meds, and within a few days the IV catheter was able to come out. Other than looking a little underdeveloped, you would never know that anything had ever gone awry.

Hi there

It will probably take him a few weeks to catch up to what would be “normal” looking for a newborn, but other than that he’s doing well. His lax limbs are already starting to tighten up and straighten, and he’s put on some weight. He’s getting a little bit of “PT” and has to stay on a more restricted turnout schedule for while until his legs get a bit stronger. He’s plenty spunky though, and makes good use of the space he has. He’ll be segregated from the other foals for a little while until he’s filled out more, but knock on wood so far he appears to be no worse for wear. Heck of a birth story though, and probably took a few years off Michelle’s life! This is the really scary part about breeding that always freaks me out a bit. It’s terrifying when things go sideways.

did someone order EARS?

It took a few days to come up with a name for him but there’s really nothing better for him in a P naming year than Perseverance WTW, aka Percy. At not even a week old this kiddo has already been through the ringer and overcome a lot of challenges. Hopefully he’ll always keep that same tenacity.

Foal Friday: From Duo to Trio

Guess who made the transition into the big kid pasture?

hovercolt

Pippa and Patrick’s little friendship has now expanded by one, with Obi joining the group this week. And he was pretty excited to meet new friends.

HERE I COME
Obi, stop being so frickin cute

Naturally, the first one to notice his presence was Pippa, and she made a beeline for him. Chanel was a little protective of Obi at first, as all mares are, not letting him wander away from her (this is the part that Peyton failed so miserably at, she never had any say over Pippa or where she wandered and she still doesn’t) and Chanel wasn’t particularly interested in letting Pippa get too close either.

HI I’m Pippa!
Oh hell no, I’ve heard about you…

Pippa isn’t one to be deterred easily though, so first she tried stalking…

not creepy at all

And when that didn’t work she decided to go the mayhem route and start galloping and bucking around the pasture, trying to lure Obi to leave his mom and join in.

a master manipulator already
OBI COME HERE AND SEE HOW MUCH FUN I’M HAVING

While it didn’t immediately work on Obi, it did work on Patrick, who came boinging over like Tigger to join the party.

ARE WE DOING FUN THINGS?
I LIKE FUN THINGS
Oh, hi new friend

What Chanel failed to consider is just how annoying Obi is. See, where Pippa loves to gallop and Patticakes loves to bounce, Obi loves to CHOMP. He’s a baby shark. If it can go in his mouth, it will, and he’s very enthusiastic about it.

Poor Chanel’s ears have taken a beating these last couple weeks
I NOM YOU UP HIGH

Eventually Obi exceeded the limits of her patience and she let him go make friends, just so she could have some peace.

all three!

Pippa quickly got tired of him when all he wanted to do was bite her. She’s not so into that. You know who is, though? His brother Patrick. These two colts were fast friends.

The biting even morphed into mutual grooming sometimes (briefly) before returning to biting. It’s pretty cute to see the two full siblings hanging out together and making friends. They’re different in a lot of ways, but similar in others.

SO CUTE

All in all it was a pretty seamless introduction and Obi seems happy to have some friends to play with.

By this time next week we might have FOUR babies out in the pasture together. Pony girl Teddy continues to do really well and is looking darn cute, I have to say. She’s definitely grulla and is filling out nicely.

I think she’ll be an interesting addition to the dynamic. So far she doesn’t seem as mischievous as Ollie (could the world even handle a filly version of him?) but she’s very sweet and playful.

We did have a new WTW kiddo this week with Ginger finally having her foal, but he had a rough start and there’s a bit of an ongoing saga now, so he’ll get his own post next week to explain. He seems to be doing well at the moment, knock on wood, but continued good thoughts for Percy.

Happy Friday everyone!

Presto’s First Show: Cross Country

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay, the best phase! I was hoping that if I dragged the show recap out long enough I’d have the pro video by the time we got to this part, but yeah that was probably overly hopeful. Granted, now that I’m posting this I’ll probably get it like this afternoon. Whatever.

Presto definitely won the warmups all weekend

Presto had XC on Sunday around noon, and the morning seemed to take approximately 79 hours to pass. You know you’ve reached a whole new collective level of boredom when everyone is sitting around listening to Cardi B (supplied by me – it’s surprisingly good XC pump up music). When Megan went to put Presto’s bridle on she basically had to kneel on the ground to do it, he was so asleep. He swore he was exhausted. That’s a lie, he’s never been exhausted in his entire life. I didn’t trust it, and I was right, because as soon as he made the walk down to XC warmup, crested the hill, and came out into the big field, he perked right the heck up. The edge of the course at Texas Rose runs right along a major interstate, which I was a little concerned about, but he didn’t seem to give a crap about that. He did look a little excited though, especially the first time she cantered the little house in warmup and his body was up somewhere near the top of the freakin flags. It was one of those “YOU HAVE FUN WITH THAT, SEE YA LATER” moments where you’re 110% glad it’s the pro riding and not you, and I took my leave to head over to the bleachers at the second water where I would be able to see most of the course.

Course pics from Lorri Hart in the XC Course Walks group

I haven’t really looked at a BN course in a long time, and this one was interesting. First of all I’m pretty sure BN grew, because a couple of those tables were bigger or at least wider than I remember. Also I’ve never seen a BN course with two black flag options so that was something. The start box and the first two fences were pointing directly at the interstate, then you turned left along the fenceline, went over a little bridge, jumped a little house, went over another bridge in the treeline, then popped out into the big main XC field where pretty much everything is. Presto cruised over the first 3 just fine and was cantering along really nicely, so Megan relaxed a bit and just let him be. Then he popped out into the big field and didn’t get very far up the hill before he just slammed on the brakes and spun like a top. He was nowhere near a jump, and we aren’t quite sure exactly what he spooked at, but he disappeared out from under her in the blink of an eye. BIG spook. My only guess is that he finally got his eyes on the big field and everything in it (jump judges, umbrellas, videographers, vans, cars, golf carts, photographers, people, dogs, bleachers, EMTs, etc) and it shocked him for a second. I mean, in all fairness he’s been XC schooling a grand total of twice, and there’s never been anything out there but the jumps. It was a lot of new stuff to take in.

Poor Megan, bless her, was clinging to the side of his neck like a spider monkey. All credit to her, I’d have been on the ground for sure. Presto trotted a few steps with her on his neck and then stopped dead, which allowed her to clamber and climb and shimmy her way back into the saddle. It took a little while, but he stood quietly while she did it, and thank god she’s athletic and nimble. It was a truly great save. Naturally I was not yet videoing when all this occurred since it was still quite far away from where I was standing, so I’m majorly hoping the videographer got it. You can BET I’ll be posting that. Anyway, once her butt was back in the tack (to the chorus of many cheers from all of us in the bleachers) they picked the canter back up and resumed their course like nothing ever happened, heading easily over the table at 4 and around to the hanging log at 5.

Their first black flag option was at 6, where they came up a decent little hill and could either choose a teeny log or the bank up. It was kind of weird to me to have an option here for BN, that bank has always been on the BN course and it’s a totally appropriate BN question that has never been an issue, but whatever. She chose the bank, and it was definitely uneventful.

you can barely even tell he popped up anything lol

Then they passed by the first water, which wasn’t flagged for BN but she rode through anyway as a “free” opportunity to get his feet wet.

Then another little log thing a little ways past the water. He gave that one extra clearance.

byeeeeee

After that they cantered along the camber of the hill and then swung a left to the brush, which was the tallest fence on course. Especially if you’re Presto and don’t understand how to brush through the brush yet. No touchy, he says. If the photographer didn’t get a pic of this one I will legit cry.

I was really exceeding the max capacity of an iphone’s zoom capabilities at this point

From there they came to the second option on course, which was IMO kind of bizarre. They could either jump the teeny little intro log jump, or a weird half ditch thing. The ditch only had the front of it defined with a log, was dug out behind the log, and the hole filled with shavings. It looked bizarre to me. Why not just a real (shallow) ditch? Or at least define the back of the hole with another log? I wasn’t sure how horses would read it, and judging by all the skid marks and disturbed ground from the first BN divisions that had gone the day before, I’m not sure it was well-received. Megan didn’t like the question without a back rail to define the ditch, so she opted for the little intro jump. It made the approach to the next fence a little more meandering, but better than confusing a green horse with a weird ditch.

lil speed bump

Then she made the S-turn back around to what we ended up calling the fire pit – an A frame hanging log thing with a literal fire ring of bricks under it that were filled with mulch. It was an interesting way to make a ground line. None of the horses seemed to care though, Presto included.

Then they headed from the back of the field and turned toward the far fence line. There’s a lot going on over there – a big lake, lots of people, tons of upper level jumps, a field of horses, etc. I could see Presto’s tail (aka his freak flag) getting higher and higher as he approached that side. He was getting a little wild.

HIS TAIL THO HAHAHAHAHA

Megan sat her butt in the tack and brought him back to trot (where he did his best purebred arabian giraffe impression), and they hopped over his little baby “corner”

did he mention he’s green?

weaved through the upper level stuff, and headed to the brightest damn table I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know neon blue was a color until I saw that thing, and the contrast was painted hot pink. It looked like they went to the Oops paint aisle at Lowes and bought whatever was on sale. Presto got a little rude/rank to that one in that he just wanted to blast right over it without really listening to her (they were in the open field now and he reeeeaaaally wanted to yeehaw) but clearly horses don’t give a flying f about neon.

I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING

You could see that his little hamster was starting to fall off it’s wheel here… not from the jumps (I think he barely looked at any of those, they were mere distractions) but from everything else he was seeing. Baby brain overload. When they made the turn after the table to come to the big water he got an eyeful of bleachers, people, water, the videographer station van, along with a mess of jumps, and he shot sideways.

AHHHH WTF… oh, jk, I got it

As soon as he got close enough to register that it was water and he was supposed to go in it, his brain clicked back on and he went forward immediately, hopped in, cantered through, and carried on his way like no big deal. And it seemed to give him enough of a reality check to make him more rideable again. He was considerably more polite cantering away from the water than he’d been leading up to it.

bebe giraffe has been humbled

From there they just had two more Oops paint jumps, the lime green and blue one

you can see the interstate here

and then the last fence was the world’s teeniest little lavender rolltop, which I didn’t get because I was too busy running to the finish. Seriously, it was the smallest jump on the entire course. Barely a speed bump by that point. Not interesting.

He finished the course with no jumping faults but a handful of time due to the Big Spin and subsequent spider-monkeying back into the tack, and the various bits of gawking. I just wanted him to go around and have a positive experience – which he did – so I didn’t give one shit about the time faults. He’s shown us that he’s brave and finds the actual XC part of things quite easy, although his greenness definitely did show in other ways. Totally fair and to be expected, he saw a whole lot of new stuff that day. Overall I was pretty impressed with how he handled it. I liked that even when he had baby moments, he was able to quickly move on and keep going. That was A LOT to see and A LOT to do, and he did it! Megan did a wonderful job not just to stay with him but to keep him focused and keep him moving forward. I know without a doubt that having her riding him now is absolutely the right decision for him. You can see him learning and blossoming so much in such a short period of time.

I’m not crying, you’re crying

And with that completion, we officially have ourselves a bonafide event horse! It was pretty fun to pull up his name on the USEA website and see a record, not gonna lie. There’s really nothing you can complain about with that debut effort, especially at a big recognized show at a venue like this. Kid is a rock star. Kid also got a buttload of oatmeal creme pies (which he was into) and smooches (which he wasn’t).

Presto is getting a bit of a break this week and then it’ll be back to work to build on this effort and get ready for the next one!

Presto’s First Show: Showjumping

Yesterday we covered the dressage part of Presto’s first event, now let’s move on to something more fun: showjumping!

he’s so cute I almost freaking cannot

I realized when he was warming up that… I haven’t ever actually seen Presto jump a whole course before. I know he did a couple jumper rounds when he was in Ocala but I only got a short clip of that, so I really had no idea what he looked like over a full course of jumps. In the XC video from a month ago he was really still just figuring out his feet a lot, trotting most of the fences and trying to learn which parts go where and when. So I really had no idea what he’s got in the tank or what he jumps like or any of that. When Megan started jumping him in warmup I was like “Oh. Oooohhhhhh. Damn is that mine? Okay yeah this’ll do.”

He’s got hops in there, this kid. When he strings a bunch of jumps together you can definitely tell how green he is, he’s still learning to keep his shape to the base and adjust on the backside (sometimes he succeeds in those things, other times he does not) but considering he’s really just started cantering courses… it’s fun to see what exists in there naturally. These little ones are definitely very easy for him, even when he overjumps.

Once again he was pretty well behaved in warmup, although he definitely was more perked up than he’d been for dressage. Jompies are fun I guess. He’s not wrong. When it was finally his turn to go, he marched down to the ring, right into the in gate, picked up the canter, and off he went. Once again, I don’t think you would have known it was his first show. Did he look green? For sure. Definitely. But he also looked bold and confident, never batting an eye at any of the decor, the photographer, any jump fill, all the stuff outside the ring, etc. If anything he was maybe a little too bold sometimes.

Megan said that originally she had planned on trotting some of the course but he was going along so happily that she decided to just go with it. I joked that Presto didn’t want all the big kids thinking he was a baby that had to trot things. He even went so far as to throw in flying changes in the turns. Well ok then fancybritches.

He did have one rail, at the very last fence. It was a two stride combination where he jumped in a hair bold, and he’s just not that adjustable yet to compress his stride down and make the two fit better. He ticked the rail with a hind foot coming down and it teetered for a second before it fell. Simple green horse mistake, definitely not a big deal. It sure didn’t stop him from being quite proud of himself, either (when is he not?).

It was a big first show day for a little kiddo, but he was still plenty full of energy by the end. Cross country wasn’t until the next day though, so he got a bath and um, like 4 Oatmeal Creme Pies.

GIMME THE BEETUS

It’s really fun to be at the stage where you can start to see some of his quality shining through. I think it’s safe to say that he’s definitely got enough scope in there to suit my needs, and I absolutely LOVE how confident and bold he is about all of it. He never once wavered, wiggled, or even sucked back behind her leg at any fence he was pointed at. Presto’s got a “lemme at em” approach to the jumping, which is much better for me than one that’s more spooky or hesitant. We can work on polishing up all the stuff in between and adding the finesse and helping him learn to keep a lid on his enthusiasm, but it’s a lot harder to instill confidence and bravery where there isn’t any to start with. That part isn’t a problem for him. Bold, bold, bold, for sure, and pretty clever with his feet most of the time.

I am already DYING for the pro photog to post proofs, but they won’t be up for another couple weeks. I know she got a couple of his best jumps and you can bet I’ll be buying those. I did order the pro video too and they’re usually fairly quick, so hopefully soon we’ll have some better quality video than what my fairly crappy cell phone can manage.

Tomorrow we finally get to the best part: XC!