The competition season in Ocala is reaching fever pitch.  Everything seems to go slowly and be very civilised in our base in Florida until the end of January, from then on it’s bedlam.  Horses going to all kinds of shows at all kinds of different levels, training camps, clinics, lessons, xc schooling – it seems that the horse trailer is on the road every day.  Either this week or next they start HITS, the big show jumping competition that runs in Ocala for six weeks – six one week shows back to back.  Over 7,000 horses go through.  It’s HUGE.  Selena and her student Anne Marie Duarte, will be riding Colombo and his best buddy Watson’s Peanuts in the jumper rings.

Last week Song of Songs did her first ever full event (she has only ever done ‘young event horse’).  Selena took her training and she was 10th, she went training again this weekend and was a strong confident 5th.  She is a really talented mare with a wonderful mind, Selena is hoping she will be going Prelim soon if she is not sold.  Crosby, the little new guy, also went Training last weekend but that proved to be a mistake and Selena was sorry she had not taken him Novice.  He coped alright but it was too much for him to be competitive.  This weekend she took him Novice and he was 3rd amongst the creme de la creme of Novice horses.  Even in the Novice, the roster reads like a who’s who of eventing.  Another novice outing and she will be keen to go back up to Training with him, he is very scopey and eight-years-old but not experienced and experience counts.

Solo was not good at Florida Horse Park in the pouring rain and mud.  He was NOT a happy camper.  Did his job in the dressage without fighting but was not interested in the muddy, deep corners.  He was last horse in the ring and it was a mess.  Stadium was good until he came to a fence that was waterlogged on both sides.  Selena just didn’t ride him up enough to have him take off and land in water and he glanced off it once, then turned around and hopped over into the slurry.  Cross country he was his usual amazing self and quite untroubled by water, mud or anything else.  By the end of XC he was forgiven totally his water phobias of the two previous phases.  He made up for it at Rocking Horse Winter 3 this last weekend.  He did a good, obedient dressage which landed him sixth place (can you believe I am saying this of Solo????).  Clear round stadium with no time faults put him up to fifth and then another beautiful cross country moved him up to finish in 3rd position.  We are really pleased with him and he is going to run at Redhills in the one star division.  After that??????  who knows… but maybe an Intermediate horse trial is on the schedule soon… HOW EXCITING!

Meanwhile, here at home, we are preparing Heron Hill’s Wilhelmina (Ena) to go to Can Am in March.  Selena is giving an introduction to Eventing in the main arena and hopes to ride Ena for it.  This has made me scramble a bit as I had been lolly gagging around with Ena’s fitness program.  She had the end of Nov and all of Dec off and I should have started her back in work in January but it was very COLD and I decided in my infinite wisdom that she would be just fine if I picked her up two weeks later since she was not competing or doing anything until May – Oh silly me, I forgot the horseman’s premise that you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.  So – now she has to be ready for Can Am which is March 19 – 21 and I am working my little butt off to catch up on my lax January.

The other horses at home are progressing.  I showed Cebastian to a client and he was a pill… he had a bit of a mouth issue the week before and the very morning that the clients were arriving the vet popped in and looked at his teeth.  I had his teeth worked on not long before and he had had a tooth/cap removed, and his teeth floated.  Unfortunately, the new tooth that had popped up where the cap was removed, turned out to have some very sharp edges on it that had cut along the bottom of his tongue on the right. You could see very easily why he had been a bit unhappy in his mouth!  The vet used an old fashioned hand float and just rasped the edge off that one tooth.  I don’t know if it was the change in his mouth or what, but when I got on him to show him to the clients, he just clamped his jaw down on the bit and never let go.  After they left… sigh… I carried on working with him and sure enough, he relaxed, organised his jaw and probably gave me the best ride I have ever had on him, of course the clients were half way back to the border by then.  “Horses are very humbling”. Cebastian is moving forward in his schooling and seems to be getting his balance at last.

Watson’s Bruin, my other baby boy, is SO sweet.  He is still not balancing very well, still looking out at the corners but I am trying to be patient and wait until he gets it right.  I know that anything I do with my hands will be a mistake and cause me problems later.  Better to be patient now and wait until he feels he can get around those turns a bit more fluently with his old mum on board.

Redhills is coming up fast and this will be the first time in many years that I have not gone down to Tallahassee to watch and cheer Selena on but I have horses and teaching responsibilities that are keeping me here in the snow.  Pamela Nunn, Selena’s Olympic groom is going to go down to Ocala next Tuesday and drive up to Tallahassee with Selena and the horses.  Pamela goes to as many of the really big international competitions as we can spare her for.  She is Selena’s declared groom for the WEGs and needs to keep her hand in.