My name is Morag O’Hanlon, I used to event a little and now I am involved in coaching, training and producing eventers. My daughter Selena O’Hanlon, is currently competing on a selection of young horses from pre-training to Preliminary. She recently retired her Advanced mare and we have been hoping to find a new horse to bring on through the levels to Advanced.
In early August we finally found our young event prospect, “A First Romance”, a beautiful Canadian Sporthorse, three year old gelding bred by Ridgetop Farm near Milton. Mr. and Mrs. Sean Dennis and I have been looking for nearly a year for at young horses for my daughter Selena to event. We had found one or two that piqued our interest but somehow they were not
exactly the horse we were looking for. This one was to be special. We did
not mind if our young prospect was broken or unbroken but I rather hoped it would not have had too much done with it as both Selena and I very much enjoy the breaking and training.
Our horse’s stable name is “Solo”. He is exactly 16.2hh on our stick with his shoes on. We take half an inch off for shoes, so that makes him sixteen one and a half. We expect him to finish at 16.2hh when he is mature and muscled up over his back and withers.
I went to look at Solo because I had once seen his mother, a French racing mare called “Sotera” trot free up a hill. She was one of the loveliest movers I have ever seen. When I heard that she was in foal to “A Fine Romance” I was already interested. The breeder is a friend and we joked at the time that the foal was going to be perfect for my daughter Selena.
Two years later I saw Solo for the first time. He was extremely gangly and not very imposing at all. All legs and skinny long neck with a gawky head on top. He was amongst a group of outstanding young warmbloods, all of whom glowed with size and substance compared to their scrawny little thoroughbred brother. However….there was something about his eye….
In July of this year I went to see Solo again. This time with a view to perhaps buying him. He had done a little lunging and had got to the point of having a rider led around on his back. He was also able to loose jump down a jump lane in the indoor arena. We saw him lunged first and he was extremely quiet and well behaved. We then jumped him down the lane a few times and I thought he used himself really well in the air. He seemed to have a good sense of where his body and legs were at all times. I sat up on him and it all felt perfect. We agreed to buy him subject to a pre purchase examination from a veterinarian of our choice.
We sent him to Dr. Melissa McKee in Guelph. When Dr.McKee was eventing I had been her coach. I felt she was the perfect choice to vet this important youngster for me. I was SURE he was going to pass and I drove the five hours to the vet clinic with my trailer behind me. We were having him fleuroscoped and would have all our results right there and then. Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched….when I got there the vetting was already in progress and as I came into the clinic I was blasted with the news that a heart murmer made the horse a no go for upper level eventing.
Stunned and disappointed, I drove back to Kingston with an empty spot in my trailer and Solo returned to his home in Milton.
The breeders were aghast and decided, on Dr. McKee’s recommendation to have him caridographed at Guelph University. At the end of July he duly shipped to have his ECG. The news was better than any of us could have hoped for, the murmer which was easily heard by everyone, was turbulence in the valve and not backwash through the valve as we feared. The horse had a wonderful heart and there was no reason to believe it would ever be anything else.
Very excited, we arranged to finish everything and we picked up our newest family member at the beginning of August.
This Blog is going to follow that training, from where we first start with our new junior athlete to wherever he takes us.