Solo is looking and feeling good.  He is living out at night with his buddy ‘Dudley Do Right’ and comes in during the day to be worked.  The bugs have been low and the weather has been mostly fine, all the horses are thriving but Solo seems to be thriving more than most!  He is so glossy and round these days but still strong and fit enough to power round the Prelim course at Grandview on the weekend.

Grandview was his Canadian Preliminary Premier – it’s his fourth Prelim but the others were all in the States.  He is of course still opinionated but seems to be getting a grasp on his job, and he appears to love being at shows, clinics, events….anywhere where there is an audience!  Trouble is, he thinks he is just as clever when he is being bad and everybody watches him, as he does when he wins a ribbon.  We arrived at Grandview the day before so that Selena could work both the horses on the grounds.  We were stabling off property but had left Hawkridge in plenty of time to be able to give both horses whatever work they needed to be comfortable and relaxed in the show atmosphere. 

They were both lunged first then Selena rode them on the flat.  The lunging is not because they are wild or scary or need to work before she gets on, it’s because it’s a discipline they are used to at home and it is calming.  It also brings thier backs through and starts the back moving, while allowing the horse the freedom to find it’s own balance on the circle before balancing the rider.  With an opinionated horse like Solo, if he will become relaxed and mobile on the lunge, although it will not negate his opinions about this, that and the other, it makes  him more maleable for the rider to ride through the ‘discussion’ without hitting a stiff cold back.

We don’t lunge all our horses at a show, in fact only a handful, and usually those that are already very sophisticated on the lunge.  Solo and Wilhelmena are both Prelim horses, both just upgraded and feeling very good about themselves and being ‘Prelim’ fit.  When the warmer weather kicks in, it’s unlikely that ‘Ena’ will continue to be lunged, with Solo it will depend on his discussion levels as it is unlikely that the change in the weather will make the slightest difference to his energy levels.  Lunging requires obedience, practising ‘submission’ is a big part of Solo’s training.

At G’view he was about as naughty as usual in the warm up – after being lunged AND ridden, he moved from lower level work area to upper level work area…..big discussion!  He thought he was going home, not moving up to another work area. So…he SAID SO.  He is nothing if not clear in what he says!   Selena sat there looking like it wasn’t actually happening until he put all his feet back on the ground.   Then she sat there a bit longer as though she had meant to ride all the way up onto the grass…sigh….she watched a bit of a dressage test, turned around and went back to work as though nothing had happened.  She knows him well!  She could back off and turn him left (he only naps on a right turn….go figure) but he is at the stage now where she won’t do that.  She knows she is going to win, even it if takes a few moments for it to happen, so she waits till she feels the tension and determination levels drop a little and walks him on back to where he was and gets on with what she was doing.  It might not be perfect, but the level of discussion and the number of discussions are all on the downslide, I really feel we are getting there now.

He then carried on with his warm up, very little in the way of argument, VERY good about cross country running right beside him, went over to the ring and did a great test which put him into second place.  We are considering a different bit for dressage.  Still something with a happy mouth but maybe a jointed long cheek, a french long cheek or a boucher.  We have seen happy mouth versions of the last two on our travels but where are they when you want to buy one!  He needs to stay softer in his jaw in the dressage ring to balance the turns.  Now that the turns are tighter, he is locking a little on the happy mouth straight bar.  Not looking for more brakes, just more flexibility and sophistication, the ability to give clearer lateral aids.  Now that his back is through the straight bar is no longer necessary to stop him curling.

His cross country is beautiful  The time was very tight on the course and Selena rode him at the fastest speed she has ever allowed him.  He loved it.  He did a double clear and Selena was very pleased with him, he is fast and careful, a wonderful and rare combination.  He still goes cross country in a happy mouth snaffle and a cavasson noseband.  He is easy to rate and balance as he is so careful at the fences themselves.  He looks gorgeous going around.  

Show jumping was the only part I was able to watch right through (I was groom).  I love watching Solo.  He is a beautiful jumper and obviously enjoys showing off in the ring.  Again, after he entered the ring he napped on a right turn (trying to follow previous horse out) as Selena tried to make her way over to salute.  It’s almost as though he gets nervous and forgets himself.  Again, Selena sat quietly and continued to turn him the way he didn’t want to go, keeping her leg strong and her body centered.  He gave in, went over, saluted to the judge then did a beautiful round despite the fact the the turn from one to two took him right back into the turn he had argued about, once he was on course it didn’t ever seem to occur to him to discuss or argue about anything, he and Selena looked relaxed and stylish. Clear with three time faults.  He still needs lots of balancing to be sure of a clear round at the Prelim height, however, the time on the SJ was also tight.

Solo finsished in second.  He was well beaten from the dressage onwards by Penny Rowland’s lovely ‘Finn’. But look out Finn, the dressage is improving slowly but surely 🙂

This weekend is Glen Oro, I am not going to be grooming at that one.  We have sent off his entry for Bromont to do the CIC*…..Eek!