Solo has been steadily improving in all aspects of his work. It’s not that he has suddenly become an angel and never stands up and waves to the crowd, it’s more that he and Selena both know that it’s a waste of time now, more out of habit and for effect, rather than his really believing he might win. Selena IS going to have her way and he IS going to do his job.
He just HAS to have his say, mostly when he is fresh or excited, then he can’t resist a little ‘go’. His last little ‘go’ was in the sand ring here at home, during one of the days between us bringing him home from Plantation and putting him out to grass while we were at Rolex. Selena was riding him in the sand ring with a couple of other horses and he thought about napping to the gate, she slapped him quickly on that side with her jump whip and he lost his temper and took off at the gallop. Since it was very obvious that if she tried to pull him up he was going to fight her all the way, she just stood up in the stirrups and moved out onto a big circle and let him gallop, when he was ready to stop, she made him canter for another six or eight circles. He was as good as gold after that but he got worked again in the afternoon just to make our point! With Solo you have to win AND rub it in. He is nothing if not intelligent, however, add stubborn to that and you get the picture. Solo has a very soft light mouth and does all three phases in a happy mouth snaffle with a cavasson noseband. We have also ridden him in a jointed happy mouth snaffle and that seems to help with turning and organising him on course. The metal snaffle was too much bit for him, for all his naughtiness, he is beautifully balanced and rarely gets on his forehand.
He competed at the Prelim level once more on the way home from Florida, at Plantation Field in Pennsylvania. It blew and rained a storm on the Saturday which was dressage and stadium. All in all, Solo was pretty unperturbed about the weather and took it all in stride, Selena however, was soaked through and shaking with cold. Solo was very early in the morning and did a good dressage test in driving rain. Selena and I were both pleased with it but the judge wasn’t nearly so appreciative…..sigh. He was way down near the bottom after dressage which was disappointing after his recent showings. He had one rail down in stadium, just a little deep and slippery at the take off at an uphill oxer, he just touched the back rail.
Next day dawned bright and sunny and the going on the cross country course was perfect, Plantation Field is on the side of a well drained hill and was springy and light for galloping. Solo had a wonderful cross country, picking everything up in stride. He really is poetry in motion on the cross country course when he gets going. However, his clear run across country was not enough to bring him into the ribbons, he was a very good boy though and Selena is very pleased with his overall performance at the Prelim level. He seems to be enjoying more speed and bigger challenges.
The day after Plantation he came home and a few days later he went out to grass for a well earned week’s holiday. The Tuesday after Rolex (last week) we brought him in to work and found him very lame on a left handed circle – strongly suspecting an abscess, I have had him tubbed and poulticed for a week. He also had his shoes done yesterday, and today, despite the fact that there has been no satisfying ‘pop and drain’ of any visible abscess, all seems to be well although I am still seeing a little distention of the soft tissue above the hoof….we will work him tomorrow and see how he feels on the turns and circles. Selena has been hoping to run him at the one star at Bromont but this prolonged break in his training may have put his fitness level in question. We are looking to see what other one star options are available to Solo later this Summer.