Solo did go to Morvan Park and I have not been rushing to tell you all about it… sigh. He has been improving his dressage in leaps and bounds. Lessons here with me, lessons in PA with Bruce Davidson and lessons in VA with David O’Conner. He should be improving after that little lot! He warmed up for the dressage like an advanced horse. Breathtakingly beautiful as we have always envisaged he would be when he finally started to dance. Anyhoo… off he danced into the arena, went down the centre line, sucked back behind the leg and was SO BAD. Ugh. Horses are very humbling I find.
Of course he was a superstar in the show jumping, he always is. I think he likes show jumping the best, he finds it very easy. On cross country he was also a superstar. His cross country used to be spooky and silly, enough that at one point he got stops because he was spooking and being silly. It’s been over a year since he pulled anything like that. He still ‘looks’ at things cross country but just gallops right along and jumps. WELL….for some reason the last fence on course had a bogey man behind it and he came up to it spooking and being silly. He had no intention of stopping, he was just playing the fool. He played the fool a stride too far this time and DEMOLISHED the last fence. He practiacally sat on it on the way over. He is totally unscathed and he will either be VERY suspicious of XC jumps or a lot more respectful – time will tell. Since then, Selena has taken him XC schooling here at home in the absolutely glorious Fall weather and he jumped everything with good focus and no anxiety. One always worries after they make a mistake that they will have frightened themselves, but so far, he seems his usual over confident self.
No time off for him. We don’t feel it suits his personality. He does better with work and outings. Selena has entered him for the Indoor Eventing at the Royal Winter Fair. He will do one night and his stable mate, our other up and coming youngster Heron Hill’s Wilhelmina, will do the other. Not sure which horse does which night, I am very nervous. I think asking him to go into that ring is a really big deal, he is still only 7 and a bit spooky at the best of times….my job is to do the worrying, fortunately, it’s Selena’s job to do the riding. We both do very well at our respective jobs… LOL
In preparation for the Royal, we are setting a course in our indoor arena and inviting people to come and make a lot of noise and movement (with the music blaring) while she jumps around in there. We might even try to do it at night – the lights and dark are much more spooky and questioning than that good old daylight. It’s the best I can think of, there is really nothing that sets them up to go into that ring at night. Many many years ago when they had sidesaddle classes, I rode my stallion Ramiro into that ring at night and felt him grow a hand on the way through the gates. As I steeled myself to pick up trot I clearly remember thinking “Oh Dear, I have bitten off more than I can chew and I am now about to illustrate that to half of horsey Toronto” As it happened, I survived and my steed contained himself and nobody but me (unitl now) knew we had both nearly dropped dead with fright on our way in.
We don’t jump school Solo very much now. He knows how to jump and we don’t want to use up his legs, there are only so many jumps in one set of legs. We just give him a gymnastics school to supple him before shows and pop him over a couple of XC jumps to get a feel of him. When the horses are learning to jump and still learning skills they jump once or twice a week. Once they are competing Prelim and above, they probably only jump once or twice a month, other than at shows. Most of the jumping that the older horses do is gridwork. A gymnastic, a gymnastic with turns to a skinny etc etc.
His program is still very similar to what it has always been Some flat schooling, usually about twice a week. The odd jump school, maybe once every second week. At least one lunge in the Pessoa and the rest is hacking. Hacking under saddle and being ponied off another horse. He is good at both. His stall manners are now second to none. He is absolutely beautiful to handle in and out the stall. He still looks big and beautiful, he seemed to mature into glorious 3D this Summer and I hope this new big and bulky Solo is here to stay. I remember the first time I ever rode him I worried a little that he was a bit narrow…..no worries now.
So, the next excitement is the Royal and a very few days after that, our boy goes to Florida. Last year Colombo (Selena’s Olympic horse) lost some fitness before leaving for Florida in January because severe ice storms had enforced stall and paddock rest – the pathways to our arena were too dangerous. We are not taking the risk of that happening again this year and Colombo and Solo are leaving for Ocala mid November….eek, that is just around the corner. All in all, as always, the year has whipped by and I cannot believe it’s time for the Royal already.