No excitement in Solo’s life until he does Plantation Field in Pennsylvania on the way home.  He is entered to go Open Training again. This is a very different course to the one he just did. Rocking Horse is very flat and Plantation Field is all about hills. It will require more obedience and adjustability to go clear at Plantation.  

Solo looks mature now. He is six and it shows in his body and …. for the most part… in his mind. He occasionally relapses into a giving of his opinions, but more and more he is inclined to listen to his rider and focus his attention on the challenge of the moment. It does not stop him putting in the odd joy of living buck after a jump, but we like his enthusiasm, if he’s not having a good time now, it’s unlikely that he will want to do the big stuff. 

I am a firm believer that the horse has to want to do it, no amount of riding, no matter how brilliant will get half a ton + of horse to do what it doesn’t want to do. The desire to please the rider eventually has to overcome any lack of desire to do the job. Mind and body have to mature together. A big muscled body and a green brain tends to be a problem horse, as does the clever knowing horse with not enough body strength to do the job. Neither are easy to ride and both are often misunderstood. 

I find young horses build steady bonds of trust with the person who backs and first rides them. The next rider is a big step for a young horse. We usually build our young horses up with only one or two riders for the first few months and introduce different riders when the horse’s confidence warrants this big step forward. Solo went the other way, he started with two and went back to just one rider….sigh….

Solo’s body and mind were both immature last year as a five year old.  He was neither as broadly muscled, nor as well behaved as I would have expected of a five year old in steady work. At times we had to back off a little in his work to keep him happy and in good weight. 

This year he seems to have caught up and exceeded expectations both physically and mentally, but especially in his physique. He has always had a lithe whippet like look to him, only plumping up when on holiday or when the grass in the paddocks is at it’s best.  ow he seems to have broadened and no longer looks ‘young’ or ‘gangly’ but has a solid look of power and size. I hope he manages to keep pace mentally with his new physique!

Before Plantation, Solo and Selena will spend a couple of days at Bruce Davidson’s Chesterland Farm – this will give Solo a chance to loosen up on a couple of hills before he has to go cross country. After three months in Florida, he will have forgotten what a hill looks like!