I just got back from visiting Solo in Ocala. Boy, he has a nice life. As soon as it gets just a little bit too cold and the ground is too icy, he and his buddies head south. This time he shipped really well. If you remember, the first few long hauls he did made him a bit out of sorts for a few days and took an immense toll on his weight. This time he strolled off the ramp in Florida, surveyed his surroundings (he has been as the same Florida location for three years now) and settled right in. Never even tucked up. We are still careful to take wet sugar beet and syringes of electrolytes with us and we keep the horses topped up with water all the way down. Every horse has a bucket that is kept half full. Only the ‘newbies’ lost any weight on this trip, all the second and third timers came off looking fatter than they loaded!
The routine was picked up quietly in Florida. Almost all the going is in sand, which is very tiring and punishing on legs, especially after a 24 hour drive down. The horses are turned out on the sandy footing, but brought back in if they run around too much on the first few days – we feel that it is important that the horses acclimatise their legs/tendons/stride to the energy absorbing surface. The first day is handwalk or turnout only, then a little light hacking for a few days followed by a slow build up in flatwork. We don’t usually jump until they have worked for at least 2 weeks on the new footing, no point in risking injuries.
He is not entered for any shows at the moment. All efforts are being put into improving his dressage. Since he was really consistent last year and finished on his dressage score at almost every outing, it makes sense to spend our time and effort improving that phase before he is upgraded to Intermediate. He IS going really well, seems much less opinionated without having lost any of his personality in the growing up. It’s a fine line with a courageous horse between gaining ‘control’ and taking away initiative. Eventers have to think on thier feet, and that is one thing Solo has always done to excess. Now we need him to keep that alert attitude but to listen to the rider without automatically arguing about it first. Shying is still his main weapon – using ‘something’ to duck behind the leg in a shy. It’s his last stand and he is slowly getting less and less determined to use it. It was always his favourite, right from us leading him in and out his paddock before he was broken and it will be the last bad habit he will give up, but he WILL GIVE IT UP.
We had Dougie Hannum, the renowned horse physio look over our horses when we got them to Ocala. He found Solo a bit tight in his back on the right hand side. This is no surprise, Solo is always a little tighter on that side when you are working him, tight right turns are his most difficult accomplishment. Dougie did his magic, stretching a shoulder here and loosening a jaw there – Solo always looks so happy at the end of his session, just like getting a good massage. Solo is growing up, physically and mentally you can see the changes. I am excited to see him perform this year and will let you know where he will make his 2010 debut.
We are very seriously going to have to syndicate Solo in order to continue up the levels. At the two star level (this year) his expenses will sky rocket. We are looking for a group of ten individuals to make up the syndicate, if you are at all interested in knowing more, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
We were very proud to find out that Solo was the OHTA reserve Preliminary Champion for 2009!