Solo seems to be settling down. He is still a real handful to ride and his latest ‘thing’ is spooking. He has always had it in him to be spooky, both in hand and under saddle.  The aggravating thing is that if someone walks up behind him and tells him to walk on, he will walk on because the game is up.  Two people, and he gives in without a murmur.  One person, either leading or riding and he is all about giving his opinion.

Sometimes Selena will be riding along (anywhere) and he will come to an abrupt stop with his legs all spread out as far as they can go ….trot..trot..trot..waagh…splat!  It’s bone jarring and hard on the body to stay centered in the saddle while all forward momentum ceases and he crouches on the ground like a flattened spider. 

He can go around a course of jumps wiggling and spooking for about ten minutes then go over them like an old pro.  The aggravating part is, that if you miss a day then go back to the same jumps, in the same place, at the same height he will go through the entire wiggling and spooking performance again.  You have to have the patience of a saint to ride this horse!

Having said all that, he jumps like a deer…literally.  Despite all his spooking and looking, he jumps everything we put in front of him with a foot to clear. It will be nice when he settles down to just jumping around his fences in a business like way, instead of leaping and cavorting his way around a course.  ‘Conservative’ is not in his vocabulary, he is Mr. Flamboyant to the end.  He will come into something with his eyes out on stalks, snorting like a dragon, get there and jump twice the height necessary, come around the second time and go over it like a children’s hunter, it’s whatever takes his fancy at the moment.

There is not really much you can do about spooking except ignore it and try to be in the same place in the saddle doing the same thing you were doing before the big shake up.  In Solo’s case, he has developed it (recently) into an evasion.  He does it when he finds himself reluctantly using his whole body and working quite hard, he has tried to buck and rear Selena out of her position in the saddle and it no longer works, now he tries to jar her out of the tack. Not because he wants her to fall off, not at all, he is a very sweet horse, but because he doesn’t want to work that hard so if he can ‘pop’ Selena off his centre of gravity, he can do things a bit more his own way…ie…crooked!.  The whole ‘thou must stay straight’ thing has been a hard lesson for Solo to submit to. He would rather do just about anything than work with his hocks underneath him in a straight line.  A nicely timed spook is a wonderful way of interrupting the aforesaid straight line.

We gave him a very complicated grid this week and he really had to think about it.  We put six small x fences in a row, nine feet apart.  Six trot poles led into it, five feet apart and the last trop pole was 8 feet from the first X.  Then at the end, we added a square oxer which we gradually built bigger in height and width, eighteen feet from the last X.  He was really good.  By the third time through, he was slowing down in the bounce line, rocking back to stay balanced so that he would be able to rock back and jump around the oxer.  Too fast and the arc over the oxer would offer to take out the front pole, too slow and the stretch to the back pole can be too far.  He started too fast, didn’t take it down as he is far too agile for that.  But he was having to snatch his legs up out the way because the momentum of his body coming out the bounces was taking him too fast into the oxer.  Finally he figured it out and started to sit down on his hocks and hold the ground before each of the X fences, bringing him to an easy arc over the oxer at the end of the grid.  I was very pleased with his working it out.

Monday morning Solo leaves for Wit’s End YEH.  The finals are on Wednesday 26th and we are all looking forward to Solo giving it his best shot.  He is an amazing event prospect but he needs to be a lot more submissive, we always hope he will decide to have a docile day when at a show….you never know…he is growing up.