Well February roared past without taking a break.  I had a wonderful visit in Florida and saw Solo do his 2008 debut at the Novice level at the Ocala horse park.  He did a less than spectacular dressage, but way better than the first outing of 2007.  He didn’t visibly argue in the ring but he was tense in the canter and not really focused.  There were nine dressage rings – two rows, one of five rings and one of four rings end to end, with judges and stewards, runners and scribes and huge numbers of horses and riders in the huge warm up areas.  The event had over 700 entries. He dealt pretty well with all of it but did not put in his best performance.  I think he was about 14th (maybe).

However, he then went on to be a superstar and did a lovely clear stadium and rocked around the cross country.  He finished 9th on his dressage score and we were very happy with him.  On the strength of this showing we entered him for his first Training level event which he will do at Rocking Horse Spring this coming weekend.

Meanwhile, he had another event at the novice level at Rocking Horse Winter 2.  This time he was much more focused for the dressage and did really well.  He was 7th after the dressage with only a couple of points between him and first place.  Off he went on cross country, came to a stupid dip in the ground (NOT big enough to call a ditch) and spooked, stopped, stepped back (thus incurring a refusal and 20 penalties) and then jumped.  However, this was not to be the tragedy of the day, he carried on and was jumping really well when Selena was pulled up on course, she had missed a jump completely, and was disqualified….ugh.  She asked special permission to show jump and gave him a very firm ride around the course, and with the silly ditch thing clear in her mind she was not tolerating any spooking or drifting, he responded well to the firm ride and did a lovely clear.

One other interesting little snippet.  He is fitter than before and under more pressure than before and has started a little bit of arguing again.  Something that we thought was a thing of the past.  A little bit of napping and hopping up and down and threatening to rear.  He has put in one really good, stand straight up rear which was very unexpected.  The only time he has ever done that was when I was first breaking him and we surmised it was partly the saddle.  I don’t think there is any reason other than the fact that his working life is getting a bit more serious and he is not always sure he wants to be a dressage horse, he never has any problems when it’s jumping…..!  

We are giving him the benefit of the doubt and having him body checked by Dougie Hannum, the American therapist. Dougie is a genius at finding sore places and tight areas on a horse, and helping them relax.  We will also have Solo’s teeth checked as he has needed his teeth taken care of every six months which is a lot for such a young horse – just a facet of who he is and how his jaw fits together.  We had them looked at about a month prior to his leaving for Ocala, however, he is still discarding baby teeth and may well have some issues in the back molars that are not easy to see.  The issues and arguments have all been on right hand turns and circles, historically his area of discussion.

Solo has been ditch schooling twice since he did the shameful shuffle and has breezed over them without hesitation.  He has never looked at a ditch since our original ditch schools here at Hawkridge when he was first introduced to them.  Now he walks over the narrow ones on a loose rein.  He just gets excited like a teenager who is wired for sound and he can’t resist a hop or a spook or a buck….oh dear, I think I am making excuses for him.  The real truth is that he is a naughty boy who likes to get behind the leg ever chance he gets…….sigh……but I still love him to bits.