At exactly 1pm this Valentines Day I will have owned Solo for 7 years. It's amazing how far the two of us have come and I feel like for all the work I've put in it should be longer, but at the same time it feels like only a couple months ago I was cursing the day I met him.
For those of you who don't know Solo is my 16h, now 21 year old (his actual birthday is March 23rd) registered Thoroughbred gelding that my Dad traded a bale kicker for with my old lesson barn. I had outgrown my QH pony and had been working the barn's problem horses when I first met Solo. Having really only worked with horses between 14.3 and 15.2 the sight of a 16h TB terrified me and after I learned the barn record for staying on him was a whole 4 minutes I wasn't all that thrilled (especially since I was paying for lessons while riding him). Anyway while I was still terrified I managed to stay on the whole time and even got his infamous right lead when I meant to ask for the left. Shortly after he was offered to me and my instructor and my mom somehow talked me into it.
When I got Solo he was essentially a train wreck, with his owner count at 13 (myself included) he had a number of failed careers from race horse to western pleasure to backyard trail horse and an english lesson horse. He was also terrified of cantering on his right lead and when asked his head would come up his stride would become choppy and his eyes would "bug out" as my instructor liked to say. When you finally did get the lead he'd spontaneously kick out to the side, throwing you over his inside shoulder in the process. He was also scared to run/move out.
It took 3 years before I was absolutely convinced that he really was the horse for me and in that time we went from me leaving lessons in tears telling my mom I never wanted to deal with him again (I was 15 when I got him) to the moment where everything finally clicked for the two of us. It was my last ride before college, we were at my last ever horse 4-H meeting and the leader let the two of us out on the rail to attempt the right lead (we always had to wait and go by ourselves after everyone else because of how long it took us and also because of his spontaneous kicking). It was the first time we ever got the right lead on our first intentional try. Needless to say I left that in tears too because I finally felt like I had gotten somewher with him and that he really was mine and I had to leave the very next day and wouldn't be able to ride every day for the first time since I got horses when I was 11.
We haven't been able to do much compared to many of my friends who brought their horses to school with them, but every summer I feel we make up for it because even though Solo basically gets August-May off by June we're back to where we were when we ended in August.
2/14/2005 (arrival photo):
Winter 2007 (my pony Sierra in the background):
Winter 2008 (the day he got to visit my school for a schooling jumper show (we entered 4 classes that day)):