Sept22collage.jpgWell I have a lot of catching up to do, but life is slowly returning to normal for Solo, Selena, Colombo and the rest of the gang.

The Olympics were wonderful.  I was in Hong Kong and watched Selena and Colombo, it was an amazing experience and I was very proud of the whole Canadian Team. 

After Hong Kong, I set off for a little travel.  I flew to Cambodia and visited Angkor Wat, then to Hanoi where I did some side trips to temples and pagodas followed by Ayutthaya in Thailand where I rode elephants and ‘did’ more temples.   Elephants are way too cool.  They are very big….yes…I know, you had heard that somewhere before, but I tell you, it’s not until you are perched up there with no tack to hang onto that you realise quite how big.  However, they move slowly and carefully and it’s amazing how safe you feel.

The place I went to is  I found it on the internet and it seemed made for me.  I wanted a ‘hands on’ sort of an elephant experience.  The idea behind the elephantstay program is to give a whole herd of big ol’ mama elephants a useful retirement, doing a job that is well within their physical limits.  The ‘old girls’ live a pleasant life when too aged to be used for temple tours etc.  Each enthusiastic elephatstay newbie (like myself)  is assigned an elephant (one of the old girls plus knowledgeable cheerful ‘in control’ mahout).  The newbie is allowed to muck out, feed and water their elephant with supervision.  The highlights of the trip are the twice daily ‘romps’ to the river. 

Once in the morning and again in the afternoon, each newbie gets on his/her elephant (with mahout) and the old girls take a gentle toddle to the waterside, which is about a 20 minute meandering graze away.  Down a concrete ramp, a tummy tickling duck down elephant head first, and you are in the water riding your elephant!  Now it gets fun and exciting, the elephant very gently and carefully lowers and raises itself below water (dunks you) and it feels all very exciting and pleasantly safe, as the mahout who is now standing behind you on the island left by the elephants back protruding above the waterline, grabs your t shirt and anchors you in place.  Of course by day two I was ready to dispense with the mahout – maybe next time….

Between ‘toddles’ there is lunch and The Baby Elephant Show.  The baby elephant gang rules the yard and everywhere else that they venture.  They are mischievous, unruly, spoiled rotten, cuter than you could ever imagine and probably by far the best thing since sliced bread.  I have put a video of them playing in the paddling pool on my YouTube site.

And now Solo…….

While both Selena and I were away he followed his usual routine of ponying off another horse and being lunged.  He is SO quick when he shies or bucks, we are still nervous of having anyone ride him when we are not here.  Selena got back long before me (someone had to work while I played temples and elephants).  She started Solo back into serious work and of course he loves it.  He does like to ‘do things’.  She took him Training at Checkmate and had lots of fun.  He was naughty just before his dressage test but pulled off an alright test.  Had a clean and fabulous stadium and had a stop cross country.  His usual spook and look (at a ditch) only this time he stepped backward before he jumped…..sigh.  He was third.

We took him to Canterdown last week to have a school around the championship fences which were absolutely beautiful.  He did a good job on all the training fences and Selena jumped him over two of the Prelim fences – very exciting.  I hope he grows up and stops the whole look and spook thing soon.  He has always been that way, but as time goes by it gets steadily better.  It’s hard to believe he won a prize for the smoothest round cross country earlier in the year, he is SUCH a comedian, I swear he thinks it’s the greatest joke to spring from side to side like a cat then go forward and treat the jump with quiet disdain….he can jump ANYTHING, maybe he will be more focused at the Prelim level.

Tomorrow he is running training again at Oakhurst.  We are trying to make up for the gap in his competition schedule this Summer.  He looks wonderful, great physical condition and he does his job well but he is still a cheeky monkey, you just have to chat to him in the stall to know he is SO sure of himself.

I will let you know how Oakhurst goes.