Reignition

If I thought Noodle was being good the week before last, he did a real “hold my beer” last week and was… even better?

Yes, we’re all surprised

In the last lesson we worked a lot on getting his hind end under him and getting him to unlock his neck and lumbar, especially in the canter. He gave it a good ol college try, and ya know… about half of the canter was pretty decent. It was as if he went home and used his day off to think about it though, because I got on him for the next ride and it was just… there. Instead of 50% of it being good, 90% of it was good. And throughout the week every ride we got a little more and a little more. He wasn’t bracing against my hand, or trying to root me out of the tack, or flopping onto his shoulder, or swinging his butt around to avoid using it. He just… cantered, like a broke and civilized animal. Well alright then, kiddo.

Steph and I had planned for him to have a training ride next, because I feel like it always helps a lot if whoever is giving me lessons has actually sat on the horse. They can feel what I feel, and play around with some things to help me figure stuff out. So on Saturday I hauled him over and Steph rode him.

a few sprinkles

Which, poor dude, it started raining like the second she got on, and got increasingly more torrential as she went. I thought Presto might have a bit of a meltdown but to his credit he didn’t, he stayed on task and they had a quick but productive ride. Steph immediately remarked that he already was going better than he had last week (I can execute homework, that’s one of my few talents). She played around with a few things to see what was most effective for him and was definitely able to feel even more than she had seen. Plus she really liked him, which of course it’s always nice when a professional thinks your horse has a lot of potential.

aaaaaand they’re soaked

The next day I took him back over for a lesson, because I wanted to take advantage of the training ride still being very fresh in both Steph and Presto’s minds. And aside from the fact that he thought the poodles were going to kill him

DA FUQ IS THOSE FLUFFY THINGS OVER THERE

He was yet again really good. We were there at midday so it was a bit hot and he’d been ridden 5 days in a row so with those two things combined he was definitely feeling a little tired. Still though, he showed up and he tried for me, and we were able to build even more on everything from the week before. His trot is definitely getting looser, he’s starting to step under more with his hind end, and his canter is like night and day… he can (and will) actually carry himself again.

fancy horse who dis?
I see you kiddo ❤

He is a lot of work, don’t get me wrong. Timing is so crucial, he requires a lot of core strength, and even just changing something by a millimeter can make a massive difference in how he goes. I have to be a little quicker with my aids and not be hesitant to keep asking for a bit more and a bit more… he’ll step things up if you ask, but he’s not going to just volunteer it, and he’s got plenty more quality to give if we keep developing it the right way.

To be honest this lesson was probably the first time I’ve felt actually competent on this horse. He’s a whole new world from what I’m used to, and just a lot more in every way. We’ve still got a really long way to go and plenty of room for improvement for sure, but I love riding him because he challenges me to step it up and be better. He’s re-ignited some of the excitement in me about things. I find myself really looking forward to our lessons, and whatever else may be next. After a few years of not really being particularly “on fire” to go to a horse show, I’m eyeballing the schedule again with actual interest.

This week we’re going to start jump lessons… we’ll see how that goes. I want to have Steph jump him first to get her thoughts, and then we can go from there. Now that he’s feeling stronger though and we’re starting to get the canter wrangled, that’s definitely the next step. I’ve been hopping him over cavaletti and very small fences at home for a while now and he’s definitely gotten better about waiting, listening, and keeping his shape to the base, so… I think he’s ready to delve back into the jumping for real again now that we’ve got help.

He’s also starting to fill out a bit over his topline, finally. He looks more and more like a real horse every day! Well, aside from the fact that he’s always got hay in his forelock and a raging case of side eye… he’s still Presto, after all.

Bum Scratcher

I have to admit, I’m starting to feel a little bad for my Texas friends. They seem to be on a bit of a hair trigger lately, probably because they’ve been sizzling on a triple-digit frying pan for like 2 months now and is basically never rains so everything is apocalyptic and the ground is gross and there’s no grass and their brains are just quite literally fried and the price of hay is insane. I’m over here like “here comes more rain, the grass is getting out of control, oh noooo” (please read with heavy sarcasm).

This storm the other night was crazy looking

It makes me wonder – is this how everyone else in the world has been living this entire time? You mean to tell me it’s not god awful 9 months out of the year in other places? I mean sure it’s hot here during the day and yes I sweat profusely every morning when I ride, but I also sit outside at the end of the day and enjoy the 75 degree evenings. And the grass… there’s so much of it. It’s blowing my mind a little bit. I keep seeing everyone back in Texas posting their pics of dust bowl pastures and not being able to ride because it’s so damn unrelentingly hot and I feel… the opposite of whatever missing something is. Plenty of people love it there but I didn’t really realize just how much it was not for me until I left. I’m happier here for sure.

bebes!

We’re out here having our best Florida summer. On days when it gets above 90 I bring them all inside under fans for the afternoon, and they come inside when it storms, but otherwise they’re outside a lot. Presto is looking a little bit sunbleached but he’s also filling out a lot and seems content with his life, so… he can be a little buckskin. That’s fine. He had a training ride and another lesson this weekend, but I actually got a lot of media from that so we’ll do it in a separate post. Otherwise we’ve just been chugging along working on things “brick by brick” style at home, and doing lots of hacking.

Henry’s hacking outfit yesterday. I don’t even know what the neighbors think.

Aside from riding and taking care of the beasts, I’ve also been busy getting other stuff done too. We’ve officially got a washrack now, which is pretty exciting considering I’ve just been hosing my horses off on the driveway and neither Presto or Gemma is particularly great about standing still (that is a massive understatement in Presto’s case). I’m delighted to be able to crosstie his ass and hose him off with fewer dramatics. Hopefully now I will get less soaked in the process. We managed to do the washrack for next to nothing, since we already had base from another project and I reused the mats that were previously under a hay storage area. They’re older mats that are a little beat up and none of them are quite the same size, but they certainly do the job. Also, shoutout to the MVP item of the week that made it possible for that to be a one-person job.

yay, washrack!

I also had to run a bunch of errands on Friday so I tacked on some fun things at the end, making the trip into town to Aldi (god I love Aldi) and stopping to pick up a repaired halter (thanks Gemma) and my new custom sparkly whip from Tack Shack. It’s got real unicorn vibes and I love it, although now all I can think about is how I could build so many others with all kinds of fun options and I’m concerned that this could be a gateway drug situation. Someone help.

I’ve also been working as fast as I can in my spare time (lol) to crank out these July custom pedigree reports for Breed.Ride.Compete. They’re a lot of work but I’m having fun with them (gosh do I fall down some rabbit holes due to my own curiosity sometimes though) and really like getting feedback from people about them. With every one we finish I feel like the process gets nailed down a little bit more. I love helping people learn more about their horses and their ancestry, so I find it to be really rewarding. The next phase to roll out for BRC will be the breeding consultations, so I’ve also been thinking about how I want to structure that, the cost, etc. Hopefully that’ll be ready to go soon.

this mare was really cool to research

Otherwise things are just kind of slowly moving along, as they do. The SO sold our house in Austin (it was on the market for two whole days) – they closed last week and he’s supposed to be moving down later this week. Things might get a bit more hectic for a little while after that.

Until then, if anyone needs me, I’ll be out here scratching baby horse bums.

Foal Friday: They can’t all be Glamour Shots

I think it’s safe to say that we have well-established the fact that Quinlee is cute, right? Like… she’s a little Glamour Shot machine, with all her posing and her gorgeous face and all that oozing charisma.

Lookit how gorgeous my head is when I put it through this unplanned gap in the fence that I definitely had no part in creating
I mean honestly it’s uncanny how she always finds the best lighting

But, that said, she’s still a foal. And foals do some very strange things sometimes, especially when they’re still figuring out how to coordinate all those legs.

what gait is this tho?
or that?

Not to mention the growth spurts, where your butt ends up in a different stratosphere than the rest of your body. Hard times, being a baby horse.

no one knows what’s happening here, especially not her

Turns out that even Quinlee, who is one of the most photogenic foals that has ever starred in the Foal Friday series, isn’t immune to the awkward shots. And this week… well… it was an awkward one.

I feel like she looks annoyed with her legs in this one, like she can’t figure out why they’ve gone rogue

Gotta admit though, even with all of her awkwards, she’s still a pretty qute little quesadilla. Hopefully next week she’s back to her usual photogenic self!

that’s a 10 halt if I’ve ever seen one

First Impressions: Arion XC saddle

I will admit that in the days after I ordered my Arion, I was wondering if I was massively crazy. First and foremost because any saddle purchase is always a big one, and for me this was by far the biggest one I’ve ever made. It was my very first brand spankin new saddle. And while I had a good feeling about the company and the rep, the fact remained that Arion is newer compared to the stalwarts we’re all used to (Devoucoux, CWD, Voltaire, County, etc) and I rode in one for a grand total of like 15 minutes before I took the plunge. I was sweating maaaaaybe a little bit.

brand new buffalo ready for some greasing

A lot of factors drew me to pick Arion. The price (a bit lower than comparable brands), how the saddle felt to ride in, the turnaround time (they quoted only 5 weeks compared to 14-18 from others), etc. I liked the rep I spoke to in Kentucky, and I thought it was a bit serendipitous that the Florida rep is actually a good friend of one of my good friends. I tend to have a deep-seated mistrust of a lot of saddle reps at this point due to various experiences over the years, so having someone that I liked and felt like I could trust was a big selling point as well. I decided to go with my gut, placed my order with Arion, and proceeded to wait.

after greasing. Legit the most satisfying part. I can’t believe some people ask the rep to grease their saddles for them.

Luckily I didn’t have to wait long. Only 4 weeks later, this beautiful hunk of buffalo showed up at the farm. Four weeks from order submission to arrival from France is pretty damn impressive for a custom saddle. Full disclosure, I did have some initial disappointment because I ordered it with blue on the cantle and obviously there is no blue. They did offer to make it right though, either with a new saddle or with an accessory of my choice. The rest of the saddle was perfect, so in the end I decided the blue wasn’t a dealbreaker and I opted to get a girth instead of a whole new saddle. Slightly sad it doesn’t have the blue on it, but… meh. I needed a new girth, so it’s fine. I did appreciate that they were immediately responsive, apologetic, and willing to fix it.

As for the important part – it felt great from the very first ride. The buffalo is GRIPPY (I hemmed and hawed about that upgrade but am 900% glad I did it), the balance is impeccable, and I feel very secure in it. Henry’s saddle is a Devoucoux Chiberta, and I had been riding in Hillary’s Voltaire Lexington, and in my opinion the Arion rides kind of in between both of those.

this is how you test the security of a XC saddle, thanks Presto

In the Devoucoux I felt secure, but also like I was always struggling a bit to keep my leg from getting too far out in front of me. In the Voltaire I liked it a lot for flatting because I felt very balanced, but when jumping I felt like it pitched me a little forward and made me want to pinch with my knee sometimes. I have neither of these issues in the Arion. I just am where I need to be, and there’s no struggling. I can move where I need to, but it wants to help me stay where I’m supposed to be. I honestly like it even more now that I’ve done more things in it. I hack in it, flat in it, jump in it, go XC in it, and from horse to horse the overall balance and ride remains really good. So far I have no complaints about that at all, I think it’s an exceptional saddle, particularly for cross country. Hillary made the mistake of riding in my saddle “just to see”, not expecting to like it as much as her Voltaire, but turns out that was a big whoops because now she wants an Arion too. It has that effect on people.

a non-spastic XC moment, as if anyone is interested in those

I opted for the pro panel since I needed it to fit two young horses that are still growing and changing. Luckily Presto and Gemma are similar in shape so I can get by with one saddle for both of them at the moment, and the pro panel is a pretty good fit. I did opt for the shoulder relief option in the panel and could tell an immediate difference with Gemma. As they both grow and develop I may end up having to re-panel it later, but for now it’s working out well. Happy backs and free shoulders.

Luca has already checked in with me twice to make sure I’m happy and everything is going well, and to ask for my feedback on the saddle. So far I’ve had nothing but good things to tell him. I do appreciate that their reps don’t just take your money and disappear. He even came by last week when he was in town to check up on us in person and make sure me and the horses are happy with the saddle. I get the feeling like if I did have a problem, they’d do whatever they could to fix it… which is important, because it’s certainly not the feeling I get (or the experience I’ve had) from other brands. Everyone I’ve talked to and dealt with has been great, and from what I have seen they seem dedicated to good customer service and happy riders.

A little bit about Arion in general, for those who haven’t seen much of this brand yet and have been asking me…

They’re a French-made saddle company, relatively new to the scene but have been around for enough years to have started making an impact. They have a lot of h/j riders in particular, and really started pushing more into the US eventing and dressage markets in the last year or so. What I think is of particular interest about this brand is that in addition to their full custom line, they also have a more affordable semi-custom line called the Atlas. Those are similar design, also made from buffalo, but start at only $3500. Super attractive price point for a French-made buffalo saddle (fun fact, Emily Hamel rides in the Atlas line), and could be a good option for a lot of people.

Atlas dressage model

Arion has got all your standard options – close contact, xc, and dressage models, sizing and specs out the wahoo, customization, etc. I will also be 100% honest and say that on the most extremely superficial level, the fact that all their brand’s stuff is navy makes me very happy. I cannot even tell you how much I hate the green and yellow of Devoucoux or the the bright red of CWD or the brown and turquoise of Voltaire. Vomit. But my navy Arion saddle cover and saddle pad and shirt? I’m in.

I also know the Texas rep, so if anyone in Texas or Florida wants their info, drop me a message. So far I’m very pleased with my decision and my saddle! I’ll check back in after more time goes by, but at this point I have to say that if you’re looking for a new saddle, Arion is definitely a brand worth checking out.

Dance, Noodle, Dance

We’ve officially got our second Ocala lesson in the books now! Yesterday I took Presto over to Steph’s for a dressage lesson – all of 5 minutes away, which has yet to stop blowing my mind. I don’t miss anything about Texas, including the amount of time I always had to spend hauling to literally anything.

These two and their dumdum eyes, they were instant friends

Steph of course is willing to come to me like she did last time, but I wanted to take Presto on his own solo off-property adventure. He was a little stuck and herd bound and nappy on his last couple adventures with friends (better the second time, but still) so I wanted to load him up and take him somewhere alone. He actually was super good about it – loaded right up, stood tied to the trailer while I threw tack on him, and walked down to the arena with no real issues. He neighed a couple times and was a little wide-eyed at a few things, but that’s perfectly fine. This horse is really quite well-traveled for his age, he should be pretty good about this stuff by this point. I think he’s better alone than he is with friends.

He did make a few new horse friends as a group was finishing up their jump lesson before us, and after a stop to say hello to them we headed into the dressage arena. I thought he might have a bit of a tantrum when they all finished up and left, and Presto definitely did notice that he’d been abandoned, but I put him to work and he decided against any theatrics. He gave the hairy eyeball to the big arena sprinklers and the rubber mats by the entrance, but after a few serpentines to click him into work mode he decided none of it was really that interesting.

Soon Steph came out with her CeeCoach, we got everything hooked up, and away we went. Right away she said she was pleased with how much better he was starting out than the first time she saw him the week before. I spent that time in between really getting him thinking more forward again, responding quicker to the aids, trying to get him softening more through his ribcage, starting to step under more with the inside hind, etc. Now that he’s stopped getting so mad at me for wanting more contact and weight in the reins (that was a few weeks of some animated discussion) he’s becoming a lot more rideable.

He still isn’t totally convinced that he has to give me 100%, and sometimes I swear he spends more effort insisting that he doesn’t want to do something than he would if he just did it. That’s like… every 5 year old that has ever existed. He’s a naturally more uphill horse but he still finds it easier to plop his weight down into his shoulders and try to curl behind the vertical, rather than shift his weight back, hind end under, and bring his shoulder and poll up. We’re working on that. He’s BIG, work is hard, and he had like 7 months off so he’s still weak. Plus I’m still learning him, and he’s still learning me. It’ll take some time. It’s great to have some eyes on the ground again though, I do feel like we have made a lot of progress even just in the last week and I feel like we’re finally on the same page and the right track. Steph’s helped add some direction, and I’m able to work on those things in between lessons.

Sometimes he gives some really great moments

The more time I spend riding Presto, the more I really like him. He’s definitely different than my other two, but I think he’s really fun. Not always particularly easy (I feel like I’m in pretty good shape right now and my core/thighs were screaming by the end of the lesson) and he’s got an army of orangutans in his brain, but he’s smart, and he does have moments of WOW where you can feel how nice he’s going to be. They’re short and fleeting right now, but they’re in there. It makes him exciting, I think. He’s just my type of horse in pretty much every way. Which, uh… I guess that’s a good thing, considering the substantial amount of time and money I’ve got into him at this point.

good kiddo gets all the pats

After we were done I untacked, put him back in the trailer, and we were home again by lunch time. Granted he did scream the whole way home because he was convinced he’d fallen in love with one of the lesson ponies and didn’t understand why she couldn’t come with him. He’d forgotten about her by the time I unloaded him though, so I guess the orangutans reached the limit of their short term memory.

Also, MVP award to the exceptionally kind lady who sat through my entire lesson and took like 7 minutes worth of video clips for me even though she’d never met me before in her life. Patrons got the whole video with all of Steph’s commentary, but I pulled some GIF’s for here on the blog too.

walk is important
serpentines, we do approximately 900 serpentines a day
leg yield
transitions are hard when you’re 24′ long
starting to stretch a bit

All in all it was a great outing for him. I thought he handled everything better than I expected, we got some positive feedback, and some stuff to take home and work on until next time. It’s definitely nice to feel like we’re finally getting back in the swing of things, too. For the first time in a long time I find myself actually interested in looking at what shows are on the calendar, and starting to consider which horse might be able to do what. It’s been a few years since I felt any kind of motivation like that. Being here in Ocala where it’s possible to do so much more, and there are so many more options for things to do… that’s a big part of it.

Foal Friday: Girl Squad

Although Quinlee is the only foal this year, she hasn’t been lacking for company. Inca has been pretty tolerant of other horses interacting with her baby (ok, in all honesty I think Inca is like “you want her? take her!”) so Michelle has been able to put Inca and Q out in the field with the yearling fillies. Both Pippa and Teddy are still young enough to be nice to the baby, and close enough in size to not put her in any danger when they get to playing. The three of them have become pretty good friends, and now they’re the official Girl Squad.

These three ❤ Large, medium, and small.
When I said Teddy was close to her size, I was NOT EXAGERRATING. Pony yearling vs warmblood foal.

They spend a lot of time together, these three, doing everything from shenanigans to gossiping to just contemplating baby horse life. Sometimes they stand around just looking like they’re having serious baby horse chats.

what do you think they’re talking about?

At least until the baby side of Q wins over and before you know it she’s gotten distracted and started gnawing on the fence.

Teddy’s face tho

And while Inca doesn’t do a lot of reprimanding or chaperoning, their field neighbors some of the other mares, and ya know who’s ALWAYS up for playing Fun Police?

Stormie’s like “um excuse me what do you think you’re doing, twerp?”
Stormie: DO NOT CHEW ON MY FENCE Pippa: OMG DON’T MURDER US

And while Quinlee definitely loves her horse friends, she’s also really into her human friends too. Like… it can be hard to get pictures of her sometimes because she sees a human coming and makes a beeline for them.

hopping over a drainage ditch to come say hi

Especially when said human brings a squad with them too, plus fun things to play with, eat, or drink. All of Q’s favorite things.

nomnomnomnom

Which is why so many of her pictures end up coming out like this…

HI HELLO WHAT YOU DOING

She was born a social butterfly and apparently that particular quality is here to stay. Especially now that she’s got her very own posse of fillies. Lord help whatever colts are born next year, can you imagine having a whole crew of big sisters like these?

Alone Again

The last couple weeks have been super busy. The day before Hillary drove down, my friend Megan (of Luxe EQ) got here and spent one night here at my place before moving over to her airbnb. She was in town for a week getting one of her mobile shops set up for the summer circuit at WEC (if you’ll be at WEC this summer go check out the store – it’s right next to FarmVet in the outside vendor area near Emma’s Patisserie), so it was good to have time to hang out with her and Hillary both at the same time. Megan left last week to go back to Michigan, and Hillary and I continued on doing all the things. As it fit in between my regular work hours, anyway.

two bundles of o/a… this is a lot of money sitting here on three little pallets, it doesn’t even seem right

We stocked up on stuff for the horses, got some projects done around the barn, ran a bunch of errands, and of course managed to fit some fun things in there too. I will assume that people are mostly interested in the fun things and skip straight to that. We stopped at Tack Shack to order me a new XC whip… Hillary had accidentally dropped mine at Pine Hill last winter and we realized it too late, so the property owner put it in Lost and Found for us. By the time we got back to Pine Hill to pick it up from Lost and Found, someone had stolen it. Bad bad bad karma on that person. Also, if anyone sees someone in Texas with a navy and gray jockey whip with a silver glitter stripe (it’s pretty ballsy to steal such a unique whip, honestly) that would be mine. Tell them to give it back, it’s seriously bad luck to use a stolen whip and I’m totally sending them bad juju through it. But I did get to go into the back room at Tack Shack, where all the magic happens, and pick out all the colors for a new one from their rack. That’s a fun experience. 10/10 would recommend. There are like 5 different types of glitter alone.

both sides were full of spools

Like I mentioned yesterday, we also went XC schooling again, this time at Sweet Dixie. Hillary took Henry and he seemed very pleased with himself as usual.

She also took a lesson on him with Steph on Sunday when she came out, and Hillary said she had a pretty mind-blowing epiphany from it, so we’ll call that a success. Steph also agreed that Henry is Perfect, which always earns bonus points with me. He is the best creature that has ever existed, and if you can tell that about him then clearly you have good taste in horses.

Hillary did make the mistake of riding in my new Arion saddle (ok it was not a mistake, it was very deliberate) and now she wants one. I’ll talk more about the saddle next week though. It’s really interesting in comparison to Hillary’s Voltaire and my older Devoucoux.

We also took the kiddos on road hacks with Henry – Gemma one day and Presto another day. I take Henry out for road hacks all the time so he’s pretty trustworthy, but obviously I’ve been hesitant to take the young ones very far by themselves. Much better to wait until someone else is here with me and they can go with Henry. Gemma was quite solid, aside from getting upset when some dogs came charging through the woods barking. That’s fair enough. Presto was more skeptical. He is somehow managing to be the bravest and yet spookiest horse all at the same time. He’ll jump anything you point him at, wants to lead the group everywhere, is curious about everything, but then will have a random conniption about a mailbox or a sign or a pile of dirt. And he can go from zero to teleport in half a second with no warning. I find it kind of puzzling considering how much I hacked him out and trail rode him as a 3yo (and ponied him everywhere his whole life) and he was never like that at all. Not even a little. I will say that he’s gotten much better in the past few weeks, and I’ve changed some things up with him, so we’ll see how that keeps progressing. I may end up having him scoped just to cover all my bases… the Presto I know just is not spooky and never has been, so I suspect there’s a reason for it, whether it’s physical or not. He only does it when I ride him out, and not every time, so… who knows what’s going on in that little orangutan-filled brain of his.

circus noises, probably

We also hit the Saturday Night grand prix at WEC both weekends, and the timing was perfect since those were the two bigger FEI classes. I got to see some stallions jump, including Faustino de Tili (who WTW has 3 foals by now) and Chacco Blue II (who I am now perhaps deeply in love with, my god can that thing jump). My friend Stormy who I evented with in Texas just bought a farm here and she was able to meet up with us this past weekend for the GP, so it was good to see her again too. We had a full table of friends both weekends.

Chacco Blue II

Considering that I was a complete hermit between the last time Hillary left in mid-May and last June when she came to visit, I think I definitely made up for it in the past couple weeks. I had more social interaction in the past two weeks than I’ve had in probably years. It’s good though, I need to meet people here and start getting myself out more and making connections. I’d say we certainly did that. Last night I was so tired I went to bed at 8 and slept all the way til 5:30 this morning. Introvert battery recharge.

Now everyone is gone and I’m alone again for a while, which means everything is my responsibility again and there are considerably fewer fun things happening.

BTW thanks again to everyone for the support with the BRC stuff, despite adding more available spots this time, we sold out of pedigree reports even faster this month – they were all gone less than an hour after I posted. If you missed out this time and want to sign up for email updates, go to our website, hit the contact button, and enter your email address. We will send out an email the day before listings reopen and let you know exactly what time it’ll go live! Patrons of course always get the option to buy before it opens to the public, but the email notifications will let you know what time the listing will be publicly available. We’ll do our best to get through this batch ASAP so we have an idea of when we can open for more!

Noodle-demption

Hillary left this morning to head back to Texas (boo). We had a super packed long weekend that I’ll have to go back and cover, but since Gemma got the spotlight last week I figured it was only fair that Presto get a bit of it this week. He actually earned it.

It has been a bit of a process for me, figuring this horse out. At first I was trying to find all the buttons, and then once I found them I wanted to move and change some of them a bit. He did not care for that idea at first… he went the way he went and didn’t understand why I was trying to do other things. There were several discussions about it, and a few tantrums, but after a few weeks we made it over the hump, and for the past week or two he’s been much better in his day to day work at home. The first day Hillary was here we took the horses to Majestic Oaks to school, and as I mentioned last week, he was a bit of a whirling dervish. Just excited to be back out, decided he got married to Gemma in the trailer, had a lot of opinions about leaving her, etc. He wasn’t terrible but he wasn’t great.

He is like the Pied Piper of the yearling colts, they always want to know what Uncle Pesto is doing

That seemed to be the final “switch flip” event though, because since then he’s been really damn good. More rideable, more obedient, not trying any of his favorite tricks to avoid having to work harder. I’m still mostly working on basic things with him, changing a few things to be more in line with how I ride, plus working on building his strength and topline back up, so his work has been fairly basic. We flat in the field a lot, walk and trot over poles, canter cavaletti exercises, etc. I haven’t really been jumping him though, aside from the cavaletti excercises, because I have the luxury of time and would rather do it correctly now than pay for it later. Slow is fast, and all that.

We wanted to go XC schooling again before Hillary left, and this time we picked Sweet Dixie (I’m still extraordinarily mindblown about having so many options so close by… it’s insane.). Hillary was taking Henry, and I waffled a bit between Gemma and Presto. They both need the outings, but I thought that Gemma got a lot out of Majestic Oaks and was really good there, whereas Presto had more room for improvement. So, off we went on Friday with both boys over to Sweet Dixie and met up with another friend.

Spoiler alert

Presto was definitely less wild coming off the trailer this time – I think having Henry as his companion instead of Gemma gives it a little bit of a different vibe. Henry is perpetually bored and deeply uninterested in any of Presto’s shenanigans, so he mostly just completely ignores him and does not engage. Gemma is more tolerant of Presto and entertains him a bit too much sometimes.

We tacked up and got on, and I went off to warm him up. He wanted to be a little nappy the first time I rode him directly away from the other horses. One smack, a “no sir, absolutely not”, and I put his ass to work… he gave up quickly and said yes ma’am, and I didn’t have any more problems after that. I trotted and cantered him over a little log and he was actually super, so as we made our way around the course I picked a few Starter and BN jumps to hop him over. He seemed very happy to be out jumping the fun stuff and was surprisingly very good. Rideable and brave and for once in his life I felt like I actually had his full attention. We didn’t do a whole lot, but he was all in.

He got better and better as he went around, I think, and there were no more attempts at naughtiness like he’d had at Majestic Oaks. He seemed to be having fun with it. I’ve not really gotten to feel “XC Mode” on him before but I do think that’s definitely his phase. Pretty sure this was his first time seeing any XC since he ran River Glen last August, so I was pleased that he could come out and be as professional about it as he was.

Well, except for the first time I tried to canter through the water. That was… uh… a little green. Got to test the stickability of my new saddle. Thanks Noodle.

Then on Sunday I had my first lesson in Ocala. I’m literally around the corner from Steph Cauffman, who is friend/trainer of Libby, one of my Patrons and a long time reader/supporter. She helped facilitate the hookup, and Steph offered to come over to me rather than me have to deal with taking 3 horses over to her. That is a massive selling point when you’ve got two young, sometimes dingo-ish horses to wrangle. Hillary had a lesson on Henry, I had a lesson on Presto, and Steph rode Gemma. I’ll share more about Hillary’s lesson and Gemma’s ride tomorrow. For me and Presto, I really like how she approached us and her overall philosophy. She agreed with my general assessment of him and what he needs to work on, and thought I had the right approach, but she helped me kind of push through into the next stage. That’s what I needed, I think. I feel like I’m pretty good as self-assessment and getting the overall picture of what’s going on, but I need someone on the ground to push me for more and to help me keep moving the goalposts forward. Now that his buttons are more where I want them, it’s time to start pressing them more.

Good kiddo

We just did a flat lesson, and nothing particularly long since he was trying very hard to do what we wanted. I like that she has my same theory of “I’d rather quit 5 minutes too early than 5 minutes too late”. I think with a horse like Presto especially, continuing to nag on him would really frustrate him. Plus he’s still got a lot more muscle and fitness to put back on… there’s no use in pushing him past what he can physically handle at the moment. It’s too early days to say for sure but I do think Steph and I have pretty similar ideas/styles/etc, so we’ll see where it goes. I’m gonna try to schedule something else with her this week or next week.

And that’s how Noodle earned his first gold star week! He was due for one, that’s for sure.

One other note for today – we’ve re-opened the BreedRideCompete store to offer 8 more pedigree reports for the month of July. I gave Patrons early access last night and as of this moment we’ve only got 3 spots left, so if you missed out last month and want to get in on this cycle, be quick!

The Fourth

This is really all I have to say about that.

Oh wait, one additional note on my least favorite holiday. Everyone who sets off fireworks within a 3 mile radius of my horses can, respectfully, go to hell:

Foal Friday: The Foal Shed

It’s been a couple weeks since new photos were taken of our Intrepid Baby Hero of the Year, Quinlee Quesadilla. Mostly because, well… she looked like this.

Once those first big heat waves hit Texas, she got real serious about blowing her foal coat in a hurry. One day she was a fuzzy little foal, the next day she was super super mangey.

The hair came off fast though, and there’s just a little bit left on her legs now. Foals are always darker under that first shedded baby coat, and boy is her coat really lovely now. Super dark, rich brown.

She seems to know it too, because boy if you thought she liked to pose for photos before… someone is a weeeeeee bit stuck on themselves I think.

HOOMON, take my picture
It’s called Golden Hour, duh.

Inca of course, is just thrilled about her baby’s ever-expanding ego and some of the diva behavior that goes with it – like Quinlee smashing her butt into her.

OMG SOMEONE COME GET YOUR KID

Poor Inca, I think she’s over this mom thing already. She’s got a calendar in her stall with weaning day circled on it in red and a countdown timer on her phone.

If we’re being honest though, I gotta say that some of Quinlee’s inflated self esteem probably comes from her mother. Inca always did appreciate taking a good photo, and sometimes she participates in Quinlee’s photoshoots too.

like mother like daughter

The apple didn’t fall too far from the tree, despite what Inca may think.

Happy Foal Friday!