This is a photo of Rosein out practising cross-country a week ago in preparation of the event that was not to be.

I had planned to chronicle the first four weeks/first four shows of our season, and this weekend should have been number three. Selena had planned an eventing debut at ‘Rocking Horse,’ at the Novice level, for ‘Rosein’, our beautiful sale horse. She is an Irish Draft X Hanoverian, not a mix I have ever come across before.This weekend would have been the culmination of six months of hard work preparing her for her first event, it is heartbreaking to report that we felt we must withdraw her because of the present EHV1 scare in Ocala.

As you know, Selena and the horses are wintering at Bruce Davidson’s Chesterland South. The group at CH S. decided to go into voluntary quarantine with no horses entering or leaving the farm and biosecurity restrictions in place. So far so good, nobody in the eventing community has yet been diagnosed or even shown feverish symptoms. The International Horse Trials at Red Hills takes place next week and everyone is holding their breath in the hope that there are no new cases of EHV1 in Florida in the next few days. Many eventers, ourselves included in past seasons, cross train by show jumping at HITS. Fortunately, this year we had not yet visited the show grounds, and that’s the way we will be keeping it!

For everyone who has been wondering what Colombo is up to in his retirement: we have tried several avenues. We first tried letting him have peaceful paddock time, that lasted about a week and he was ready to grab and hang on to anyone who passed to alleviate the boredom. So we tried every second day…forget it, he was way too difficult to ride every second day. Then we tried our staff and working student riding him, which did go fairly well, however, he has occasionally run off and played a little when maybe he shouldn’t really do that…

Colombo being lunged.

We think we have found the answer. He has always been a superstar on the lunge and even liberty schooling. He is steady and very obedient. For the past two weeks we have been toning his trot down a little in order to make him just a little less challenging to sit on the lunge. He is very accommodating, and seems to quite enjoy the more gentle pace. Finally, Anne Marie Duarte gave our good friend Dominique the first guinea pig lunge lesson on Colombo and he was a super star. Since this debut lesson pictured above, he has done three more, all successful and with a happy relaxed Mr. C. I think we may finally have found his retirement plan. He can do three lunge lessons a week and three hacks, that should keep him sweet and fit for as long as we possibly can, and it also gives our students the opportunity to feel what it’s like to sit a horse with so much power and suspension.

We had an interesting situation this month. A horse who had been injured several months ago has been on three months stall rest and she has just about had enough. Hand walking her in the arena has become hazardous to your health. In desperation I asked veterinary gurus Dr. Melissa McKee and Dr. Mark Rutherford about long-term tranquillizers and got as far as having the drug and needles delivered ready in my kitchen. However, through a friend I started looking into valerian root and that made me want to check out the thoughts of Gordon Chang, the genius behind the Omega Alpha herbal supplements.

We were using Chill and she was certainly better with than without but it just wasn’t enough. Dr. Chang suggested we try an Omega Alpha human product called Nocturna. It’s for helping you sleep and has valerian root in it amongst many other natural ingredients. Sure enough, we give her Chill an hour before walking and Nocturna half an hour before. She is a completely different horse. Still a little cheeky with the odd buck and hiccup, but the edge of nervous hysteria that was making her so scary to walk is completely gone. Take note anyone who has to bring a horse back after a long lay up.

I just spoke to Bruce Davidson and asked him if he thought Red Hills will run. He is optimistic that the show will go on. Selena is riding Solo, Woody and Rocky in the three-star and a friend’s horse, Wisher, in the one star. Busy, busy. Here at home we will be running short handed this week. Anne Marie Duarte has left the barn in the more than capable hands of Emma Rafuse while she flies off to Florida to groom for Selena at the FEI show. Those of us still floundering in mud, slush, ice and snow watched her leave and then tried to wipe the sickly green off our visages! Its MARCH, IT’S NEARLY SPRING.