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.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Enough adrenaline for the month, and also Sol progress.

Well, I certainly got my adrenaline rush for the month today.
A grand total of 4 equines got loose, all at separate times, and there was a dog fight. The dog fight lead to a human fight with yelling and cussing in front of all the camp kids, who stood huddled against Radar, the old blind horse, eyes wide. Poor kids. :( The BO broke that up.

So the loose pony wasn't too bad. The loose paint was caught fairly quickly. I saw the leopard appy go charging past the tack room with his saddle hanging under his belly. The really scary one, though, was Hercules.
Hercules is the biggest horse I've ever met. A Belgian Draft, a really BIG Belgian draft. His stall has thick metal bars AND a hot wire.
Hercules was in the indoor arena. I saw him pushing against the door. One of the kids said "he's gonna get out" but someone else said "no he isn't!"
Yeah, Hercules broke down the barn doors.

Have you ever had a moment of crystal clear focus where you KNOW, you just KNOW what you have to do, and that really terrible things will happen if you don't? Heh, for once I was glad of my PTSD-caused hypervigilance and the adrenaline it lends in an emergency. I was working with Sol in the arena when it happened, and I knew I had to get up there and stop it.
I dragged Sol up, only to find that someone had put another horse in his stall. We rushed over to a post. I don't think I've ever tied a safety knot faster. I JOGGED around the barn. The aderenaline made me not feel the pain from the torn tendons in my ankles. People were screaming. Omniscient Kid had wisely locked himself in the bathroom, but some of the other kids were barely getting out of the way, throwing themselves on the manure pile. People were chasing Hercules and yelling.
He turn around away from the manure pile and charged back, right towards a bunch of kids standing with the old blind horse. I really do have you folks here at Fugly to thank for knowing what to do.
Okay maybe it wasn't THE wisest thing I've ever done, but he was headed for the kids!
I stepped in front of him and stretched my arms out wide and said in a low, calm voice "HERCULES. HO. Hoooo. Hoooooo."
He threw his head up and put on the brakes, blowing out his nose at me. His eye was rolling a bit but I just kept talking slowly and calmly. When I got to him and put my arms around his neck he stopped completely. He was breathing hard. I think he was a little scared because of all the screaming and yelling and running.
Parelli Guy was mad, saying "that's the perfect place to stand to get stepped on! Yeah right there!" but shit, he was headed for the kids.
And I have a secret weapon, though I wasn't thinking about it at the time. I've been slipping Hercules little treats now and again, with his owner's permission. The owner wasn't there today. I wonder what he'll think of all this?
I'm glad I have been getting to know him though. I really think he recognized me. That, and I was the calm, strong voice in the chaos. Maybe everything would have been okay if I hadn't been there. But maybe not. I'm glad I was there to catch him.

I think I've had my adrenaline rush for the month though. That was a LOT of horse charging around.

Now my ankles hurt like hell. Ah well, better that than kids in the hospital or worse.

Today was a big day for Sol-Sol.
We went for a walk with the halter and lead line. I was on the ground of course- I'm not ready for trails yet. We went to the end of the block and stopped at the big scary intersection with trucks and trailers and SUVs and stuff. Well, I stopped, Solomon went in circles around me, stopping briefly. Heh. Well, we'll take things slow, it's okay.
I discovered that singing to him really does help a lot. He steps in time to the music too, which is cute as hell. Sol threatened to eat the lavender bushes along the way, but I was able to stop him from actually doing so.
I took him down to the arena and tried to lunge him. We got in some nice waltzing, which I'm sure was amusing for all the kids who were sitting there and watching, but it was not what I was trying to do.
I've decided that Solomon is scared of the lunge whip. I'm sure he's been whipped before. I don't blame him. He needs to learn that I am not there to abuse him though. I decided that today we weren't going to manage to lunge, but I WAS going to teach him a couple of the Big Lessons- it doesn't have to hurt, and you can trust me.
So today we spent a little less than an hour on "stand."
Solomon knows stand, but he doesn't like to do that when someone has a lunge whip in their hand. I slowly and calmly, with the whip down and behind my back, worked on getting him to stand still while I worked myself around to his side behind his shoulder. We had to work at it over and over again. He kept losing his nerve and turning. Bit by bit though, he listened, and he believed. When he stood longer and let me move out from his body, I would come back in and call him a good boy and pet him. After we did that forever and a day on both sides, I put the whip away and did it with just the longe line and no whip. I managed to get all the way out to the end of the line! I was so proud of him! I felt really connected at that moment.
We'll work on that until he obeys me consistently, and then we'll work on the lungeing. It seems strange I suppose, since he's way better under saddle than on the lunge line, and that's probably backwards, but it is what it is. We will figure it all out. He is my baby and I love him.

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