Hi, I'm Ev. I'm training to become a horsewoman. These are my adventures and misadventures. I'm green as hell, but so far, so good. I'm now learning from Bo (and sometimes his wife DeDe) at D&D Ranch in Pope Valley. I am extremely lucky to have this opportunity, I feel quite blessed, and I feel that they, and horses, have really turned my life around.
Solomon is my baby- a big old flea bitten grey Appendix gelding who is very kind and way too smart! I love him so very much. He is a rescue and was meant to be co-owned rehabbed, and maybe rehomed to a good home. He turned out to be over 25 years old with injuries that ultimately do not make him riding sound, so he is retired.

Monday, June 30, 2008

My finger is orange!

Today Sol got to experience the joy of iodine.
I ended up getting help with his hooves again because I didn't have the stamina to hold them up long enough to scape them really well. It got done though, which was the important thing. My finger is orange and a bit of his fetlocks are orange, but his frogs have been cleaned and disinfected, which I am sure he cares about more than his coat color.
He got to go back into his stall today, which is now clean and dry. Let me tell you, he was happy about that! No one picks on him in his stall. I'm certainly going to try to get him more time in the arena though. Being able to walk around was a good thing. Being chased away from his food and the water barrel was not.
When I went to get Sol out of the outdoor pen, Prince (the tobiano troublemaker) tried to bite me.
Apparently his owner lets him get away with murder. She is also not going out and taking care of him- she's getting divorced, getting new boobs, and dating around instead. Bah.
So Sol came to me when I entered the pen, and was quite happy to get out. All that we did today was take care of his hooves and give him an extra senior feed meal. I went to wet the feed because he was having a bit of trouble eating it as just pellets, and he broke the lead rope! Gah! Luckily Hurcules' owner was there and he caught him and re-tied the rope. Sol is so food-oriented. I don't blame him, he needed groceries badly when I first got there.
Today a few people came up and told me he was a pretty horse. Awh. :) I'm proud of how far he has come.
I met some nice children there today, and ended up giving them a ride home. I get $10 off Sol's sponsorship next month for the favor, yay!
Now, my car is a serious beater. It's filled with trash, there are some holes in the body, and the driver's side mirror is held on with duct tape. I was embarrassed about giving a ride to people I don't know when it's so dirty, but I don't think the kids really cared. I drove carefully, and besides, I like horses too!
I dropped them off at their house, which was one of those "hi, we're moderately wealthy" type of places. Their grandparents were waiting for them, sitting in chairs in front of the garage. They gave me some kind of stiff smiles and waves. Heh. Yeah, my car is a beater. :p
I'm putting in an order for some proper thrush medicine. I don't think I can really swing driving out to pleasant hill. The iodine will work okay in the meantime, that combined with keeping his stall clean and dry and his hooves picked should take care of the thrush. Thank you everyone for the advice- it helps a lot!
Tomorrow is the day when Solomon is "mine." I think we'll probably make a lazy day of it, with walking around if the arena is free, and lots of hugs and skritches.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yay, big improvements for Solomon!

am really happy for Solomon today.
He is no longer in the wet stall. He is out in a pen with other horses. The bedding is dry, there's room to walk around, and there's shade.
It's crowded and he doesn't like it there because he is at the bottom of the totem pole, but I think it's much better for him. They've iodined his feet and cleaned them, too. I'm so happy about this.
Here he is in his new area:
Not a great conformation shot but out in the paddock area he doesn't feel safe coming up to the fence because the mares will beat him up. :/
We spent a couple of hours hanging out in the arena though. He was a good boy, and he felt safe enough to roll.
It's hard to tell in the picture I got of him when I first started working with him, but he was thinner. His ribs really did stick out a lot.
So today, like I said, we pretty much just hung out. I brushed him and fed him some extra alfalfa and carrots, and then we went into the arena and walked around once with the lead rope, and a few times without it. After that we just hung out. I hugged and petted him and he very gently rested his forehead on my leg for a long time.
He did NOT want to go back into that pen when we were done though. He stopped right before the gate and would not budge. Planted all four feet in the dirt and refused to move. I had to ask another volunteer to come help me. It was still a big struggle, and THIS guy:
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Decided that it would be really amusing to make a break for it while we were trying to get Sol into the pen. Ever look at a horse and know that he's trouble? That's this guy right here. I think his name is "Prince." His ears weren't pinned just because he was sticking his head through the fence, they're pinned most of the time. :p
Luckily I remembered reading in Fugly Horse of the Day comments that throwing something around the neck of a loose horse can often make him stop. I had nothing on me (the other volunteer had my lead rope) so I threw my arms around his neck. He stopped right away, thankfully, otherwise I would have gotten dragged around, heh. Anyway we got them both back into the pen, and that was my adventure for the day.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I mentioned it a little bit in the last post, but-
It's happened. I was afraid of this. Solomon's stall is pretty small, and always kind of wet. Whenever I am out there to see him, I pick wet bedding and manure out of his hooves, and he now has thrush. It's in his front right hoof, and his back feet look fine, but his left hoof might have a bit too. If I could I'd give him a nice paddock or pasture, but I just volunteer at the rescue and they don't have any place to put him besides this little stall.:<
So I found this site:
it says to mix iodine with sugar to make a paste and brushing it on the affected areas after cleaning the hoof. Is that a good treatment?
I wish I could do something to improve his stall situation. I probably can't safely shovel it out because of my back, though they're supposed to do that every day at the barn anyway. Maybe some fresh dry bedding would help for a little while? I'm not really sure what I can do as a volunteer. :/ But I CAN try to heal his feet.

Longeing day 1

Today there is blue in the sky again! That meant that it was longeing day 1.

Me: "Hi Sol-Sol, how is my angelic ever so well behaved boy???"
Solomon: "Hello- today is BE A SPAZ DAY!"
me: "BUH?"
Solomon: "You know how I'm a really good boy for hoof picking and I hold nice and still? Well, not today!" *yanks hooves away and slams them down*
Okay so no rocks, but I wasn't able to completely pick the crap out of them before we tried the longe.
I was lucky- it was a quiet, slow day, and the barn owner, her daughter, and the guy who works there were all available to teach and help out.
This turned out to be a fortunate thing.

Solomon was full of energy, but he almost managed to convince us that he didn't know how to longe after all. He WON'T do it with just a line. I tried, the barn owner tried, her daughter tried, and all he did was longe US. He did that thing that I think I've seen dressage horses do where they keep one leg still and slide around in a circle on it. O_o I think he found this to be amusing, because he was doing what the person usually does.
His luck did not hold out, however. In comes Guy With A Whip. He snapped the lead rope and got him backed up. He actually smacked Sol with the whip. :o
Suddenly Solomon remembered that he DID actually know how to longe, yessir he did! I don't think he'd done it in a long time, but once he started, he seemed to get into it. Certainly have to work on WALK though. "canter" and "tear ass" he will happily do. Walk, not so much.

So after a little while they let me try with the whip. I'd say it was half great success, half disaster.
I got him to trot, canter, and gallop no problem. Turning was a little difficult and he came in and tried to push me over. Wow not okay. I learned to snap the lead rope at him. It didn't seem to actually upset him, just make him back off. Okay, so I need to learn to be a little meaner and a little scarier. Doesn't come easily to me with animals, but I know it's really important to be the dominant one and not let him get any bad habits.
Other than the coming in and pushing me though, he did well. I was obviously very noob at it, and the rope that I ended up using really really sucked, but Solomon was nice enough to not pull it out of my hands.
He did love running though. The look on his face was something like: "Okay, you have my attention, also WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"
So okay, I will admit that I am biased, but I've watched the horses around here, and I have to say, Solomon really moves beautifully. He just FLOATS. He floats and flows. It was a real joy to watch. I was expecting to do something like 5 times around at a walk each way per the suggestion of a horse person, but Solomon, he really had a lot of energy to get out. All that senior feed is working wonders with him. He kept going and going, but I didn't want to overwork him and it's kind of hard on me too, so I called a stop for a day. He actually seemed disappointed. Barely any sweat at all. I think I sweated more than he did. He's in better shape than I thought.
All the people at the barn today made "Wow Solomon is looking really good!" comments. He got gentle brushing after his little work out. He was still giving me trouble with his hooves, which concerned me. A nice young woman there helped me out- she just held on to his hoof and wouldn't let him take it away from her. Once that was established, he didn't give her any more trouble. She cleaned his hooves out really well, and discovered that he has thrush in his right front foot.
Aaa! My poor baby! First ailment. It's not very bad and he wasn't moving like anything was bothering him, so I think it's been caught in time. I am not surprised that he got it because his bedding is almost always damp. :/
I told the barn owner who said she would put iodine on his feet. I went out to the grocery store and bought a couple of bottles of the stuff too. Safeway only has tiny tiny bottles and it took a couple of people searching to find it because no one seems to use it any more. The cashier asked me what it was for because she'd always wondered. I told her about Solomon and charro and she was pretty upset about the fact that horse tripping happens, but happy that someone was giving him love now.
Say what you will about Richmond- the people here have been friendlier, more talkative, and more open than anyplace else I've lived in the bay area. I know I've been lucky, but really I like the people here.
So. Now we know. Solomon DOES know how to lunge, but he needs the whip (though I happily didn't need to touch him with it, just signal,) and he seriously needs to learn some respect.
Everyone I spoke to there today also thinks that Solomon is ready for me to ride him, which make me very happy, but I'm going to wait until we have a more clear relationship on the ground. I am not going to do the 6 months of groundwork thing, but we DO need to establish that I am the alpha and he is to listen to and obey me. It would be too dangerous for me to ride him if I wasn't sure I could get him to stand at the mounting block, slow down, stop, etc.
Besides, we have time.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I placed an order online today for various horse things.

Yeah, you read the Excalibur and shoulder length gloves bit right- I'm going in.
Some of the wormer and whips'n'crops are for other people who wanted in on the free shipping.
Anyway, did I do ok?
Hidey ho-
Anyone know any sites or online free videos that are good examples of/guides to traditional longeing? I want to longe Solomon, and I want to go with what he already knows instead of trying to learn and teach him the Parelli stuff they do at the barn.

***reasoning, skip if you want, but go ahead and read if you need to know why I'm asking here***

They are very busy and I'd feel badly asking them to take the time to teach me a bunch of stuff that then I would need to teach Solomon. I think that it would be confusing for him if he has already been trained to longe normally. Much easier to just do what he already knows- then it's just one of us having to learn something new, heh.

The barn owner has said that he knows how to longe and is fine at it, and she agrees that it would be a good idea to start doing it with him. One person on the fugly horse of the day boards said I should just ask them what should be done with him, so I'm getting those bits out of the way first. They like the idea of me longing him. They do Parelli, he was trained for the rodeo, so I want to go with what he already knows.

***okay. Technique/what to do questions.***

So I get a longe line and I get a longe whip, and I shouldn't have to touch him with it, just have it behind him and maybe swish a bit when I want him to go forward/faster, and move it to the front of him when I want him to slow down or stop, right? Any contact with the whip, if needed, should just be a light touch, right?

How do I tell him to turn around? Should I stop him and then pull the rope a bit in the other direction while saying "switch up?"
I know that in riding he is trained to canter at the kissy sound, so he probably knows to trot at the clicky sound. I'll see what he responds so. I know that looping the lead rope around any part of my person is a Very Bad Idea. I know that a longe line should be long, and that I need to bear in mind that constantly turning a circle is much harder on a horse's joints than going in a straight line. I need to bear in mind that Solomon is very out of shape and has just really starting putting on a good amount of weight, and that his hooves were not trimmed for at least 4 months before I had them done, and being barefoot is new to him.
I know to check his hooves for rocks before I work him and after.

When I was in high school, I had a friend with a longe whip. She told me that she didn't use it on her horse- she used it on people who would accost her on the trails. Heh.

Taking Solomon out for the day.

You know what I really, REALLY want to do?
I want to take Solomon out for the day. I want to take him to some huuuge, safe pasture with actual green things growing in it, or real, solid space to RUN. I want him to have a chance to totally be a horse for hours.
I also want to take him to the beach in some safe-to-swim-in cove. I don't know if he's ever had the chance to see the sea at all, let alone swim. Run across the sand, dance in the salt-spray.
I want to give him a happy, special day with surprises that aren't scary.
He has memories, I'm sure. I've heard that horses do not forget major things. He must remember the fear. The pain. The feeling of helplessness as he came crashing down to the ground. The burn of the ropes, the straining of the tendons, the beatings, the callousness of his keepers...
I want to wash it away with the gentle, cool, green-blue tide. I guess for him it would be blue-grey, and the sand would be yellow-grey, and the grass would be bluish, but I want him to have moments where he feels good and the air is fresh and clean, he knows he is safe and he is loved, and he can run and jump and be free, just for a little while, forever in his memories. I wonder if he would think about such an adventure after the fact. I bet he would recognize it if we went back again.
Don't have a trailer. Perhaps the nice woman boarding has one, maybe she'd like the idea of taking a little trip someplace paradisaical for horses and their families. Or maybe there's somewhere around here that would like that idea and take me and my horse (on Tuesdays!) along with their horse. I could help with gas.
I wonder if he would nip at the foam of the waves. I wonder if he would jump over a stream. I wonder if I could find a way to make it happen.
In an earlier age, in the 20s and 30s and 40s sometimes disadvantaged youths who only knew stone and smog and city got to go out to the country for youth camp and find a brand new world, joyous and full of discoveries. Wouldn't it be wonderful to give abused, neglected horses who are now rescued such an experience?
That is my dream.

Later next month, I'm going away for a little while. When I bought the tickets, I had not yet met Solomon. I think that I would have planned a trip for a shorter number of days had I known him then. I am so terribly worried that he will feel that I have abandoned them. They tell me at the stables that he loves me and he waits for me every day, hoping I'll come.

I was very ill today, after having gone out in the smoky air. I have asthma. I am still feeling rather sick. Thomas, my boyfriend, told me that I may not go out to see Solomon tomorrow because it is making me so sick. "But then he will be all alone there with no love, in his broken down corner stall, wondering why his person isn't there with him and if she want away."
So if I get one of those breather masks for toxic jobs, I can go. Not sure what he'll think of that, hopefully he won't think it is full of mountain lions, heh, but I'll get to see him, and he'll know my voice.

The barn was full today,

which shocked me. I wanted to sing to Solomon, but there were a lot of kids there and I felt ever so shy. :/ I can be timid in the strangest ways. But I want to sing to him. People tell me horses like it. I once sang to a gander of wild Canadian geese, and they all gathered 'round me in a semi-circle and sat down, their beady black eyes staring intently as I sang through my aria. When I finished, there was a pause, and then the geese all honked for a couple of minutes and then continued on to wherever they were going to sleep for the night.
Sometime I need to find out if there's a place I can take Solomon away from the whirlwind of frenetic activity that is a lesson barn in the summer. One that is not concrete and little sharp gravel caltrops. Some nice, shady, peaceful meadow that is quiet and safe, where we can just sit and breathe.
Smoke, smoke, go away...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

So much smoke...

My lungs are burning. There's an advisory to stay indoors today.
I just took a picture out my living room window:

For the sake of contrast, this is what the view out my window is normally like:

I feel so badly for all the animals who live outside right now. :(

Horses have the biggest hearts.

California is burning.
We haven't seen a blue sky in days. There are warning out to stay inside and not breathe the smoky air if possible. I thought about the horses who couldn't go inside though, and I couldn't stay in and not give Solomon loves when I didn't go yesterday.
Yesterday I had only gotten 2 hours of sleep and it was a high pain day so I could barely walk. I really missed Solomon. I'm pretty much doomed at this point, heh.
Today it was hard to walk but possible. I went out to the barn with some apples. Solomon was wolfing down senior feed when I got there. He's gotten bigger since the day before yesterday. I think that very soon he will be up to weight. He's also even more filthy than he was yesterday. Nature abhors a vacuum and a pristine white coat.
The BO's daughter gave me a hug and a chair so I could sit with Sol-Sol while he ate. He got an apple and then we shared a second one. After he finished he looked up at me and said "thank you so much for the food, I feel a lot better now! But, but- I'm BOOORED! Can we please go for a walk?"
'Course he didn't say this Mr. Ed style, but I swear to you that's what he was telling me in his own horsey way. We're really getting to understand each other these days. The only bad behavior he had was whacking me in the breast once with his nose, and I used the "2 seconds of big and scary" method on him. It seemed to work really well- I think he's learned that, while massive and squishy, my breasts are not his own personal Happy Fun Time Bags. :p
So. Solomon really wanted to take a walk. He has a lot more energy these days, and it's very heartening to see him actively WANT to get out of his stall and do things.
I was hurting pretty badly though.
I put on his lead line and he came out of his stall nice and slow. I knew if we were going to walk I was going to have to ask him to do something weird, and I wasn't sure if I could make him understand or if he would want to do it.
Normally when leading a horse you want to be in front of them with a good amount of personal space, from what I have seen and read. You want to firmly establish that you are the one in charge and leading, and you don't want to get stepped on or run over if they spook.
Today we had to do things a little differently. Today I needed help. Solomon could tell, I think, that I was hurting. Maybe not, maybe I'm being overly fluffy, but he whuffled at me a lot and was extra gentle. I had to lean on him a little bit and put my hand on his back for support. I tried to spread out the extra weight a little bit, not that I was pressing hard, but still, his topline is still a little bony and he doesn't have a lot of muscle there either. I put my arm over him right behind the withers, where a saddle sits. He held completely still until I asked him to walk.
And so we walked together. Solomon was so calm and relaxed. He was so attentive. We went all around the stables, slowly and gently. All I needed to do was lightly touch one or the other side of his neck and he would turn for me. We stopped and took breaks, and he was fine. I couldn't have gone so far without him. I felt a little overcome with love and gratitude. There have been some hard things going on lately. When we finished walking, he turned his face around and let me rest my head on his cheek. I buried my face in his mane and we just stood like that.

I almost wanted to cry. How could anyone torture and abuse such a wonderful, gentle being?

Today, Solomon was my hero.

After we finished our walk, I dragged over a chair and told him, "I know it's weird to have this big scary plastic chair here, and I'm sorry Sol-Sol, but I can't squat to pick your hooves today, so I'm going to have to sit down and do it. Can we do this?" 'Course he couldn't understand me, but happily he looked unconcerned.
So I sat in the chair and I got him to pick up all four of his hooves. They usually have wet bedding in them, which worries me a bit- I think it'd probably be better for his feet to stay dry. He picked up a lot of rocks while we were walking around, too. I'm still learning the art of hoof picking, but he was patient as always. I have to use my fingernails to get some of those suckers out, and it doesn't really bother me. Manure schmanure, it just isn't really gross to me. The stuff's mostly hay anyway.
I'll always check out his hooves when we go out. Solomon takes care of me and I take care of him.

I wish that I had the money and the land to take him home and make him mine. He deserves a big pasture with long, green grass and room to run and be a horse.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jealous boy!

Okay, I'm pretty sure now that Solomon has jealousy issues.
Today I brought a friend over to meet him. He backed up nicely for me, and I was proud of him for that, but he didn't want to let me hold his feet to pick them today. I made him pick them up anyway.
After his brushing he went back to the stable and that's when the attitude really came out. He smacked me in the breast with his nose numerous times, and got my friend in the butt. Bad hoss! A little gentle nuzzling is fine, but slamming people isn't okay. He learned that smacking people does not make carrots come out- quite the opposite. Once he started acting up, he didn't get any more carrots for the day. I am NOT going to reward bad behavior!
He's dirty again, which happens with white horses, though he seems to be more adept at getting muddy than the other white horses there. That's okay, I like washing him, even though it is a lot of work.
The good news is that the senior feed and carrots are really helping his weight! He's filling out, and it shows. He looks better put-together, his chest and hips are a bit wider, his belly is bigger, and he has less of a greyhound look to him. His ribs don't show much any more either. His coat is certainly shinier, and he has more energy. This makes me quite happy, even if he was a bit of a butthead today.
A new LJ friend advised that I NOT start with bareback on Solomon because it would not distribute my weight as evenly as a saddle would. This is good to know. Next week, then, I'm going to try to find a light saddle at the barn and sit on Sol's back for a few moments. I'm not going to ride him around unless he acts like he wants to walk. I'm mostly going to test things out and see how he reacts to a large woman on his back. He's around 15.3 hands according to the barn owner, but he is still rather under muscled.

After I dropped my friend off, I had an encounter on the highway. Here's what I posted to Craigslist:

" You: African-American gentleman with a do-rag sort of thing and a really bright smile in a tan car with a squished corner.
Me: Disheveled curvy blond woman driving a beat up green Saturn, squinting in the sun with horse drool in her hair.
We were driving through Oakland on 580. You were honking at me, waving, grinning, and flashing your cell phone. I was flattered but confused. I have, many a time, driven down the road in some low-cut dress, face and hair made up, without garnering the least bit of attention. Today I was driving home after dropping a friend off from a visit to the stables. My hair was full of horse drool, and there was probably some hay and carrot bits in there as well, since I was feeding him treats before he slimed me.
Perhaps I should bottle the stuff!
Anyway, thank you for the attention, and if by some chance I know you and couldn't tell because the sun was so damned bright, I apologize for not recognizing you, but I'm afraid I'm rather taken at the moment. You are a handsome young man, and I wish you the best of luck- there's a girl out there with horse-drooled hair for you somewhere!"

A sweet moment

I forgot to mention the other day-
A shy little girl came up to me while I was brushing and cooing at Solomon and said:
"Uhm, I like how you take good care of the horse!"
Awwwh. :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Close to bombproof.

Picture this scene:
Three shrieking children with a spraying hose and a skateboard. One corgi going apeshit with a really loud plastic soda bottle. All within ten feet of me while I was picking one of Solomon's back hooves. After I put his hoof down he turned a bit so that he could keep an eye on the hose because he hates getting his head wet, but other than that he didn't react at all, not so much as an ear pin or a twitch.
Oh yes, I asked the children to please move because I did not particularly want to be kicked in the head should anything startle him. I think I did a good job, because the children were solemn about it but not upset, and they said "okay, hey, let's go play over there!" and skateboarded off, crazy corgi in their wake.
I'm getting better at picking out rocks. They can get pretty deep in there, but he's a really good boy and while it's a little hard to get him to pick up his hoof initially, he holds very still once you have it in hand. I'm guessing it'll get easier to pick his feet up as we build more trust.
He had some large loose flakes of skin on the bottom of his feet. The BO (That's Barn Owner, for the folks on my LJ who were asking) said it was normal and to let it come off on it's own.
Today I was going to just give him some treats, but the arena was empty and nature abhors a vacuum as much as I don't like the thought of a horse not getting to walk around. He wouldn't go faster than a walk for me, but was otherwise good.
I do notice that he does lose some of the food that he chews. When he eats carrots he ends up with minced carrot bits in the bottom, which he then licks up. I'm not sure if that means he really needs to have his teeth floated or if he's just a messy eater. He probably does though. I wish I could do it for him.
He did get walkies, carrots, brushing, and hugs though. His eyes seem brighter these days. And Tuesdays he's my hoss. :D

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Another day

First off, sorry for the rambly emotional stuff in the last post and comments. Ambine + PMS = BELARRGH.

Today I was finally able to get back to the horses. Yesterday I got some sad news and didn't feel up to leaving the house. Today, of course, Solomon had a lot to say about my absence. There was much "hurhurhur"ing. He was a very sweet boy today, not giving me the slightest bit of trouble. I was just going to go out and give him a treat and some skritches, but the arena was empty for once! We went out there and walked around for a little while. Most of the time we walked without the lead, and he was a good boy and stayed with me except for sniffing a bit of horse poo, heh.

I also took the time to say hello to some of the other rescue horses as well. I do stop by and say hello every once in a while, and they're getting used to me as well. There were pettings and skritches, I got some gentle nose whuffles, and nobody threatened to nip.

I think it was too hot for anyone to act up anyway.

Sol-Sol rolled in the dust, and I didn't brush him afterwards because the flies had been plaguing him, and the dust seems to help a bit. Tomorrow he will probably get a cool horse-down. It's crazy hot up here. There are fires breaking out everywhere. I left my phone number at the barn and told them to call me if a fire gets close so I can help with horse evacuation. They have 4 stallions boarding there, so that will be rather "interesting" if an evacuation is needed.

I helped the little boy walk a leopard appie up out of the arena later on. He was afraid of her because she bites, but she seemed perfectly relaxed with me. I talked to her the whole time though, and I think that helps. Her ears were perked forward and her head was down. I think all she needs is probably some confidence, but I'd have to get to know her better to be sure. I do think it is a good idea to branch out a bit and give the other horses some loves, but Solomon has still won my heart, heh. That's why he is now "my" horse every Tuesday. Yay! Heh, the contract says that it's still the BO's responsibility to feed him, water him, clean his stall and stuff, but one day a week it's my responsibility to give him "brushing and extra loves." Kind of an awesome contract really.

And Solomon is still getting senior feed every day on top of his two flakes of hay, plus whatever treats I bring. Today it was a 4 grain mix. Sol just loves it when I pick up the bucket. Heh.

Now I smell like horse. It's a pleasant smell.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


So today the BO and her daughter approached me together and told me there was something they needed to talk to me about. Hrm...
So they weren't happy about the boarder donating food, or me buying food and letting the boarder feed Solomon. They said it was barn politics and it would cause trouble, etc. They asked me to go through them if I wanted to give extra food, etc. They acted happy when said boarder fed him yesterday- I know becasue she called me. Hrm.
I am really, from talking to the boarders and some sort of vibe I get off the BO, getting the feeling that there's something a little sketchy happening. BO said Solomon was R___'s (her boyfriend's) horse and that people would start talking and saying they didn't do what they were supposed to be doing with the horses, and that it would end up causing drama. I asked if Solomon was really a rescue horse, and they said yes, R___ rescued him from a Mexican rodeo.
But that doesn't really tell me if he's a part of the rescue or if he's more privately owned? They DO have nonprofit status and they do still say I can sponsor hima nd have him be mine one day a week, so I'm feeling a little lost here.
They kept saying "you're not upset are you? We don't want to upset you, we're not mad, you didn't know," etc etc... Which kind of made me think "hm, SHOULD I be upset?"
They're obviously in financial distress, the place is falling apart and there are hungry horses that need to put on some weight, but they don't want boarders volunteering or helping out with the rescue horses? And I've heard rumors that food for one horse will end up getting fed to the other horses. Well, I'm for all of the rescues getting the food they need, but this worries me a bit. What do you think?

Solomon was oblivious to all of this, of course. I found myself envying him just a little bit. I washed him today, with shampoo and conditioner and all that, and he was shiny and sparkly. He got pissed off because I got his next wet, but he got over it. When I left he was looking quite nice, and a little fatter. He is probably rolling in his stall as I type, but ah well.

So anyway, yeah. Feeling a little torn and nervous about this.
On the other hand, I get to play with a horse, and they let me ride one of the other horses once in a while for free. I'm getting experience and one animal's life is brighter. So there's that.

But what do you think?

Monday, June 16, 2008


Today when I showed up at the barn, I noticed a distinct absence of horses in the front corral, and a just as obvious gap in the fence. Walking towards the back, I also saw Solomon's stall empty, the door lying on the ground. I swear my heart almost stopped! :o
See, Solomon's stall has a broken door, and it just gets leaned up against the doorway. I suspected that he knew how to get out, but didn't really feel like it.
Well, when the fence came down and all those other horses were running around loose, I guess he felt like it. At 5:30 this morning they found them all running around in the street. Thank the gods it wasn't later, or there would have been blood for sure. As it is, they all got rounded up again and nobody got hurt.
Solomon is in the little indoor arena now. He was spooked as hell and running around, rolling his eyes, so I didn't try to catch him and take him out. He's had his workout for the day anyway.
He WAS willing to come to me for carrots today though.
They say that the corral will get a new fence in the next couple of weeks. I hope so. I don't know what will happen with Solomon though. It's clear he can't go back in that stall unless the door is affixed properly somehow.

Damn, I'd been imagining horses running down the road since I started volunteering here. I'm upset to find out that it happens. The people here, they love the horses and they are trying to get everything fixed. I've heard that before they bought it a year ago, it was 50% worse than it is now. It's just a matter of money, which they're very short on. If I were rich I could do something to help there, but I'm not. Guh.

I got to know the nice woman who boards a Mr Prospect son (named Nugget) there a little better. She's cool. She's going to pick up some senior feed for Sol-Sol from the racetrack, and she's going to clean his sheath- she has a lot of experience with it, since she does it with Nugget all the time. She rocks.

I need to figure out if there's any way to get Sol's teeth floated. I'm sure he needs it. And I need to find out what can be done with the stall door issue. If only I had money. :<

Hell, if I had serious money, I'd buy a house with good pasture land and a barn, and I'd find a way to buy Solomon.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pics and videos!

Today I dragged my boyfriend out to the stables. He's not really a horse person, but he was willing to come along to meet Solomon and take some pictures and videos.
Not the best quality videos, but maybe someone can see if he has any soundness issues?
I found a small rock in his rear hoof that he must have picked right after I started walking with him. :(
This one looks like he's moving his back leg a little stiffly. Sorry that it doesn't show the whole horse, heh.
Normally, he'll trot a little when I ask him to, but today he didn't want to. That's when I checked his hooves again.
Don't worry, the walking in the videos is about all we did, that, the hoof picking, and the photos.

I think Solomon was a little jealous and wary of my boyfriend. He kept trying to watch me and keep an eye on him at the same time, and when Thomas brought out the camera, he did this:

"Who are you? You keep away from her! She's mine!""Ooh wait mmm loves."

"I guess it's okay, but why are you lookin' at us?"

"Ooooh yeeeeah skritches! Mmm right there. That's the spot."

Yeah, I know, I'm showing my face and physique on the internet. Oh no! I think I'll live, heh.
And yeah, I'm not getting on his back until he is in much better condition, and then it'll only be short walks if he is comfortable carrying me. I know I'm a big girl. It all depends on what he's willing and able to do though.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Gourmet grains and hoof picking.

Today I met Bright's owner, who is convinced that he wants to live for now. She says her vet agrees with her. I did see him lie down and roll today, and stand up without much trouble, but I still have my own opinion about it. She's not going to let him go anytime soon though, that much was clear.
Guh, and I'm already learning about the local barn politics a bit. There are always barn politics though, aren't there? I smile and nod and offer an opinion if asked or if I feel it's really needed. The horses are what is important.

Anyway, on to what I CAN help with- Solomon.
BO says I can sponsor him, yay! She also said I can ride him if I'd like, but I told her I felt that he needed to bulk up a bit first, which she agreed wasn't a bad idea. I'm a heavy girl, and she says he's 15.3 hands or so.
I got there at feeding time, and I didn't really want to interrupt for walking. I got the "HURHURHURHRUHUR" greeting that I'm pretty sure translates to "Hi nice lady! I CAN HAS CARROTS NAO?"
Yes, Sol-Sol, you CAN has carrots, if you are polite and you back up while I retrieve your food bucket.
The large Middle-Eastern family was there today, and two of the boys went out riding their horses while the kids ran around. The little girl decided to hang out with me for the first part of my visit, which was okay even though I couldn't really understand much of what she was saying. She WAS eager to be helpful, and she helped me clean Sol's bucket by turning the hose on and off for me. Later on the little boy hovered, and he pestered me a lot, trying to convince me that the barn owner said it was okay for him to ride Solomon bareback without a bridle. I did not buy that line, not even for a nickel. I did let him walk Solomon once around the corral because I'd seen the BO ask him to bring him out and the like before. He's a saint of a horse, and I supervised. Said kid goes tearing around on the Arabian a lot too, and that horse is way more spirited than Solomon.
Anyway, lots of people are there on the weekends, but it's still relatively peaceful. I think I might come a little earlier in the day though.
So yeah, gourmet grains. I didn't know where to go to get grain, but I wanted to give Solomon a little something besides carrots, so I stopped by Raley's on the way over. Raley's is a grocery store that is a little bit more pretentious than, say, Albertson's, but not as pretentious as Andronico's. I found some bulk grain gereal that was nothing but grain. Oat, barley, wheat, rye. That's it. About 20 times more expensive than horse grain though. :p Yeeah I'm going to the racetrack tomorrow or the day after.
Today, though, Solomon got gourmet grains with some flax seed oil that I mixed in. Nice high quality OTTB lady told me about flax seed oil. Good stuff. Solomon picked out the bits of carrot first, but he did vacuum up the grain. I'm just giving him a little bit at a time for now- I don't want to make him sick with a sudden influx of rich food.
When he was finally done eating, I took him for a walk. There was a mare that screamed "I am the alpha and I'll kick his ass to prove it" turned out in the arena, so we took a walk around the grounds. Did a small amount of trotting.
After his walk, I tied Solomon up and checked his hooves. I'm glad I did, too- he'd gotten some gravel embedded in the hoof itself. :o Saint Solomon put up with my picking and prying, though when I got the last one out, he was so very, very done. It was sharp and had gone in deep. I'm going to check him out tomorrow before we do anything to make sure his hoof is okay.
That's certainly one disadvantage of going barefoot.
Oh, and I found out what his life was like before he came to the rescue. Rodeo, very likely Charro. He does have scars on his legs. It makes me so angry, thinking about someone roping his legs at a dead run and bringing him crashing down. It's a very cruel sport, and it causes a lot of injuries. He's lucky though, he's sound. But he is the kind of horse they like- really fast.
When I get him in better condition and ride him, I need to remember to NOT make the "kissy" noise. He'll take off, full speed. Eep. I will have to learn how to ride a lot better before I ride him, I think. He's a good boy, and his walk is smooth, but in case he DOES get a wild hair, I want to have SOME hope of hanging on, heh.

Friday, June 13, 2008


So, I'm going to order some stuff from horse.com. Waaaay cheaper than the local tack and feed stores. I just have to wait for it to get to me is all. Still, ordering from here means that I can actually get some stuff for Solomon. Disability isn't exactly a champagne budget, heh.
An entertaining bit about this website is the videos.
The horse they're feeding the wormer to is saying "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BLEAH UGH BLEAH BLEAH!"
The daughter of the barn owner wants to buy some wormer too, so I'll add a few extra tubes to my order. I guess I could get one of the rotational packs. Not sure if we get botflies up in Northern California though.
Hm, maybe I'll see if the BO wants to order some stuff too. Free shipping on orders over $49!
I love the internet.

Weight gain already! :D

Solomon has gained weight! He looks less ribby now. I've just been giving him carrots when I've come to visit, though less ouchy feet has probably also helped.
I'm going to sponsor him. Probably just one day a week, but still. Then I can call him my horse on Tuesdays at least.
Today he did not headbutt at all, and was very sweet with me. He also backed up and waited for his carrots like a good boy. He ate everything out of the bucket and knocked it over, but then he put it back upright next to his stall door again, in the hopes that he'd get more. He did get more before I left, as well as a handful of grain. I just found out that the racetrack sells grain for about $13.00 a bag. I think this might be the track that TB Friends rescues off of. Anyway, I'll probably head down that way tomorrow or the day after and buy Sol-Sol some grain. :)
It's really amazing- it has only been a week!
Today was a laid-back day for Solomon. I want him to associate me with good things, not just work. Work is something he needs a lot of, though. Tomorrow I will walk him, and if I can drag him out, my man will record a short video of him so I can ask people about his movement. Mostly I am looking for soundness issues.
Oh yeah, and he laid down before he was completely dry at some point yesterday. One side of him is sparkly white, and the other is brown. Meh, it's not like I was planning on showing him today. He got brushed with the really soft brush, which he likes.
Today I also got to ride again. They tell me that I have a good seat. That's good, especially since I am heavy. I want to create as little work as possible. It's very nice of them to let me ride for free. :) I can't do it for very long yet anyway- my thighs were trembling after I got off. Tomorrow will be fun times.
Lastly, a sad note. Bright is boarding at the barn, he's 35 years old and the sister of his owner inherited him when the owner passed on. He's under a vet's care, and getting senior feed and mash and stuff, but he's so skinny anyway. What really makes me want to cry is his legs, though. Poor old guy. I always go over to him and give him neck skritches and tell him he's a good boy and that I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Solomon gets a bath!

Well, he got a rinse anyway.
Today when I showed up and he heard my voice he stuck his head out, perked his ears, and nickered at me until I came over to give him head skritches.
Shockingly enough, there were actually TWO lead lines on the cross ties today. This is pretty rare. Today I asked the BO if I could wash Sol-Sol. She said sure, so up on the bathing place he went.
I ran the hose into the plants until the hot water was gone, then got to work.
"Look Sol-Sol, a hose!"
*Solomon did not look impressed*
He's not the easily spooked type, thank goodness. I started the hose on the ground in front of his feet, then worked my way up his legs so that the water didn't shock him. He didn't like it near his head, so I left it alone- we're still building familiarity and trust.
Cooling off felt good though!
I didn't have any shampoo or conditioner. Next time maybe I will. After the water came the squeegee. Oh yes, Solomon liked the squeegee! He relaxed and his boy bits emerged. Oh gods. Crusty. He really really does need cleaning there, and the BO doesn't do that. DO NOT WANT.
I didn't have gloves or lube with me anyway. I really don't know if I can bring myself to do that, but it clearly needs to be done, and the poor boy can't be comfy like that. Guh.
Anyway, after the bath we took a short walk, and then he got to go back into his stall. With luck, he won't roll in there at least until he's dry. Not that I particularly mind getting sprayed with water when it's so freakin' hot out.
I visited with some of the other horses after I finished with Solomon, who thought it was funny to smack me with his head a couple of times to see if carrots would fall out. Carrots did not fall out, but when he tried to smack me again he learned that my hip was just as mighty as his head. :p
The other horses were friendly (except a paint that tried to bite me) but they didn't know me and I didn't know them, so not a lot happened other than meet'n'greet. Hercules the draft horse who carried my fat ass around in the arena on Monday got a carrot.
My tendonosis is bad today, so I left after a little over an hour.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Solomon, the Appendix gelding

Meet Solomon.

He's a 14 year old Appendix gelding, which means he's a Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred mix. His withers are the same height as I am, which is 5'3". That's... somewhere between 15 and 16 hands, right? Closer to 16?
Told you I'm green, heh.
His full name is "Song Of Solomon." Heh, I'm a pastor's kid, I recognize the reference. His nickname is "Sol-Sol."
Solomon is a very patient old boy. I say this because he hasn't yet run me over, and I'm really winging it half the time. We've made friends though.
The first day I met Solomon, they brought him out for me to groom. He had some serious Gordian knots going on in his mane. It took me over two hours to untangle everything and get him brushed out. Another volunteer introduced me to Cowboy Magic. That stuff rocks.
Now, Solomon, he didn't know me, and I didn't know him. He didn't know where he stood, or what he could get away with. After a half hour of me working on his mane, the testing began.
No, the post is not a mosh pit, and I will not be shoved around.
No, I am not impressed by pretend nips.
Yes, holding still gets a lot of praise and head skritches.
No, head-tossing does not stop the detangling process.
Yes, it feels good to not have big heavy dreads.
Yes, I am the alpha.
No, I'm not going to eat you.
Going around the post just gets you less and less lead line. How's that working out for you? Oh, not so fun? Okay, let's walk you around in the other direction again so you can put your head down.
Sorry, you aren't going to untie the rope that easily.

Once we figured all of this out, Solomon relaxed into his grooming. Ears drooped, eyelids drooped, lip drooped, uhm, everything drooped. Oh boy, somebody is due for a sheath cleaning, looks like. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try that bit yet. I did look it up though.
This bit made me laugh. In the "Tips" section:
"* Do this in a barn or stable and hope no non-horse people catch you!"

Anyway, at the end of the first day, he got fresh peppermint leaves. People hand feed him, but it makes him pushy, and that's not going to help him get adopted. I give him treats in a bucket. He seems fine with that. A carrot is a carrot!

On day 2 Solomon got a very special treat. He's not my horse, but that doesn't change the fact that he needs care, and he's been so patient with me. I met a very nice and down to earth woman with an absolutely GORGEOUS OTTB. I mean, I don't know a lot about horses yet, but even I could tell that he was a special guy. We got to talking a bit, and I asked about Solomon's hooves. They looked long to me. Crazy crazy long. A farrier happened to be there that day.

Long story short, I paid for Solomon's hooves to get trimmed. He had shoes with nails starting to come out of the sides of his hooves. The hooves were curling forward. After the trimming, that cost twice as much as normal because the hooves were so far gone, Solomon was a lot shorter, heh. I would say maybe even 3 inches shorter. The farrier said he was probably 4 months overdue. Gah.

Here he is with his nice new trimmed hooves. You can see that he really needs to gain weight and get in shape. About the only muscle he has left is in his butt. He has a jumper's bump on his back, he's a little straight shouldered, common headed, etc, etc, but I think he's awesome anyway. Right now he's only getting hay twice a day. I'm going to try to find a probiotic supplement for him, some alfalfa pellets, maybe some grain.

He needs to get his teeth floated, but I don't think I can afford that. The rescue/BO says it's around $300. Eep. That seems high to me. It hasn't been done since they got him, though, and I'm not really sure how long that has been- she was kind of vague about it. :/

Today was a big adventure as well. We went down to the arena and walked around for a little while. I even got him to trot a bit. Neither of us could keep that up for long. Solomon started nosing the ground, and somehow, I don't know how, his managed to tell me that he wanted to roll. I let him off the lead, and as soon as I was sitting a safe distance away he dropped down and went to town.

I wish I'd had my camera. Nothing quite like watching a beautiful, hug,e graceful animal rolling around with his legs in the air like a cat high on catnip!

When he was done rolling, he got up and shook off (I read that it's good when they shake after rolling, and that not shaking and biting at their bellies is a sign of colic) and came right over to me when I called him. He's a smart boy. He figures out what I want him to do even though I don't really know the commands they use out there. They do Parelli. I've seen one of the people there waving an orange stick around, but I don't think I'll be doing that myself.

Next, I had my first adventure in the wonderful land of picking hooves. Sol-Sol, of course, first tried putting most of his weight on the foot I tried to get him to pick up. Ha-ha. Had the BO show me how she did it, since reading an article didn't quite show me what I needed to do to get his foot of the ground.

I worked it out with Solomon, and praised and skritched him after each hoof. Part of the problem was the only thing I could find to sit on was a bucket, which meant "treat receptacle" to him. Poor boy got a little confused by that. :/ I need to find something else to sit on.

Anyway, I got out a bunch of manure and a couple of rocks, so yay.

Tomorrow I'm going to take a break and go to the tack and feed store instead. I want to buy some of my own gear, since the stuff that's there for common use is missing half the time, and they're almost completely out of lead ropes. I have bought a lead rope, but the only length they came in at the store I went to was 10 feet. That seems like a good way to trip your horse, or get dragged, or find him strangling himself when you had just turned around to find the curry comb. I think tonight I'm just going to hack 4 or 5 feet off the thing, since I don't know why I'd want a 10' lead rope anyway.

Ah yes, and yesterday one of the boarders was kind enough to let me ride his Belgian Draft. Getting me on was not a dignified endeavor, let me tell you. He had to plant his hands on my ass and hoist me up there. Getting down again was a matter of me sliding down until I could reach a stirrup and then getting picked up and put down.

Hercules, the draft horse, was wonderful with me though. He knew I was green. I'm sure I was making a bit of a mess of it with the reins. His owner told me that my seat was fine though, I just needed to keep my heels down. Now, I've seen this horse mess with his owner, sidestepping when he goes to mount and the like, but I think he does it because he thinks it's funny. He treated me like I was made of glass. Amazingly gentle, and his walk was smooth as silk. It wasn't hard to stay on at all, and my back, which has a chunk of vertebrae missing and a herniated disc, actually felt GOOD. Amazing. I love Belgians. If only it didn't take a lifting crane to get my stubby-legged self onto one!

Uhm, hi.

Uhm, hi.
My name is Ev, and I've started this blog to chronicle my adventure and misadventures in the horse rescue world.
Let me get something out of the way right away: I am green. Greener than a tree frog that is sitting on a shamrock. I read, I research, I ask noob questions on the Fugly Horse of the Day forums, but I do not have a whole lot of hands on experience with horses. Luckily, there are few animals I've met that haven't trusted me, from dogs and cats to deer and great horned owls. So far, horses seem to think I'm okay too.
I'm 28 years old, I'm fat, and I have a few physical disabilities. I have PTSD. I'm on SSDI because the government decided I was too panic-prone and chronically injured to work a normal job.
I do not, however, like to sit on my ass all day and do not a damned thing.
I cuss like a sailor but melt at the sight of a kitten. You've been warned.

Right now I'm volunteering at a local rescue. THE local rescue. The only game in town. Still trying to make up my mind about the place, but the people do seem nice, and the horses? They can't help what's happened to them, where they are, or who owns them. It's all about the horses, and if I can make the life of even one horse better, well, that's the important thing, right?

So yeah, hi.