Solo is ‘up and running’. He has hacked alone and in company and he works in walk trot and canter in the outdoor, or the indoor arena – again, either on his own or in company. He is 4 years old now and he can hack, do big circles at trot and canter in the ring and jump small fences from trot and canter. I am very pleased with his progress and I consider him ready to school now. I think it takes about 2 years to really teach a horse it’s job – and in that, I mean to carry the rider in a balanced way.

This summer he will do lots of hacking and walk up and down hills, learn to go off, and onto, little banks. Learn to go into the water (and like it), learn to do a basic dressage test inside a ring, learn to lengthen and shorten his stride at trot and canter. He will also be allowed to do lots of poles and some gymnastics which should set him up ready to jump small courses at canter by the Fall. Although his sessions will be short and relaxed, he will be a busy boy mentally.

I won’t try to pretend he is mister perfect but the worst he has done is to grumble about leaving his friends – a very common complaint from young horses. Yesterday he bucked under saddle for the first time. He has bunny hopped and objected a few times but he has never bucked properly. He was cantering around in the outdoor sand ring and he slowed down because he wanted to sidle up to one of the other horses in the ring – when he got sent on in canter, he took a couple of bigger strides and put in one large happy buck. No malice and not trying to throw anyone, just the kind of buck that comes from him opening up his back in the canter strides. His back is getting looser and more relaxed. He spends most of his time going forward quite cheerfully in trot and canter. When you are walking him however, he likes to rubberneck and take in the scenery, this slows him down so that he keeps jogging to catch up….ugh.

We are probably moving Solo and his friend Waldo over to a barn on the back of the property. There will be a group of young horses there who are all needing the extra 20 min hack to the dressage ring. A 20 min hack there and back and 20 min in the ring makes a perfect lesson day for the babies.

Solo’s group are no longer “the babies”. There is a new group of ‘unbrokens’ that have just arrived. There are three of them, a 3yr old, a 4yr old and a 5yr old. The 4 and 5 yr old will be pushed along as fast as their learning ability will let them, on the basis that they are already physically strong. The big 3yr old, will be a more spread out program much like Solo’s.

We are starting to plan Solo’s first under saddle outings. On May 20th and 21st we are lucky enough to have Pat Burgess, the Internationally renowned show jumping coach giving a clinic right here at Hawkridge. I think Solo is still too immature physically to be included in the clinic proper, but I hope to ride him down there and have him watch or even join in for a short period. I would like Solo to do one ‘young event horse’ class as a 4 yr old, maybe Wits End in the Fall. I am looking at a couple of dressage shows and one or two little Novice events dependant on the ground conditions. I don’t want to stress his young growing skeleton but I need to give him some introductions to his new life and keep him mentally stimulated.

He is energetic, sweet, opinionated and stubborn and I just love him to bits.