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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oh yeah, here it is!


It's the one with the foam seat. They used it once, they said. They're charging $500. I guess it's a good deal? But ye gods this crap is expensive. Still, it fits my horse, which is a minor miracle. I was amazed, if the gullet had been any lower it really wouldn't have, and it couldn't have been narrower either. My horse is a double-wide shark. Heh.

Something I do need to consider though, before I go over and make the purchase tomorrow, is the stirrups.

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/grd/856426231.html see here it is in the ad.

And here are the fenders it uses, I do believe:

As it is on the saddle right now, my feet don't reach it. Big surprise. I was so happy about it fitting my horse comfortably that I just ignored the stirrups and rode around without them. I know, I know, I'm a freak and I prefer not using stirrups. But I really ought to get a saddle that my legs can reach the stirrups on. The good news is that it looks like they are detachable, if what I am seeing on the page is right, so if somehow it can't be made to reach at all, well, hell, I can take them off and maybe find a way to put on the silly little endurance saddle stirrups. Maybe. We'll see. I'm taking imaginethewolf along with me tomorrow. She'll take a look too, be my voice of reason since I clearly do not have one myself, and then we can play with Solly. :)


It fit! The saddle fit!
'Course they didn't want to take a check (who wouldn't be nervous abut that anyway?) but I can come by with the cash tomorrow and pick it up.
So yar, gaited horse saddle to the rescue!
It's not too narrow, it doesn't pinch, and there's about 2 finger-widths between the gullet and his withers. Amazing. It was made for a Tennessee Walking Horse. I guess they liked the saddle but not the horse, and it doesn't fit their mules. They are throwing in a girth, pad, and the girth straps for $30 more. Better deal than I could get new.
It's a synthetic saddle, I'm pretty sure, and nice and light. Brown and black. Meh. At this point the color is the last thing I care about. The fact that it actually FITS him, with and without a pad, just makes me happy. I can never figure out how to gracefully dismount to the ground off a western saddle with my stubby little legs, but thankfully Solomon is a nice patient horse.
One of the guys who works at the stable looked at it for me, as well as a couple of boarders. There was a bit of a language barrier but he was able to communicate pretty well- he'd been riding since he was 7 years old, and his father was a horseman. He keeps an eye on Solly, too, when he's out feeding and watering. So he showed me just where to place the saddle and helped me with mounting.
Amazingly, Solomon didn't evade the block at all. The guy, Enrique, just walked him around it to get him in the right spot and on I went!
I did have my helmet on. I didn't bother with the stirrups. I also didn't take the time to put a bridle on him, and just used his halter. But once I was on him, Enrique had to run and help the others, so we went into the arena without latching the gate and walked around. He was feeling angelic today, thankfully. He was totally relaxed and seemed comfy. He neck reined with the lead rope, not even looped around to the other side of the harness. He just went off me touching his neck on either side with the rope and giving him leg cues. We didn't ride around for very long, but he was a very good boy and did not try to go for the gate at all. He was still slow stopping, but he didn't take any longer WITHOUT the bit than he does WITH it. WTF?
Once I stopped him, he stood for me while I twisted around trying to figure out how to get off the saddle with it's giant horn and high cantle. I got down, but it wasn't very graceful. Thankfully he stood stock still for the whole thing. What a good boy!

Now, it's likely that part of it was that it was hot and the middle of the day, and perhaps he was simply in a good mood, but I think that part of it was also having a comfortably-fitting saddle. Heh, I caught the boarders I'd asked about it (when I was just holding it) discussing whether or not the seat was big enough for me. Everyone seemed surprised that it was. :p It's a 17" seat. Yeah I have a big butt, but that's not where my hip bones are, and I have short little legs. It's okay if it's sticking out a bit behind me, that's not where I'm resting my weight. Anyway the saddle was bigger than it looked on the ground, and it fit me fine.

It's weird, it has two girth/cinch thingers on it, one in the front and one in the back. The owner explained that the back one is not supposed to be pulled tight.
It's a very complicated saddle. It's covered in D-rings and long trailing strips of leather for attaching saddle bags and water bottles and small kitchen appliances. You could totally go horseback camping with this thing, I guess. Well, cool, I can get a couple of water bottle holders for when we take rides eventually. That'll be nice.

Solomon certainly took it all in stride. He was a VERY good boy today, and he got a carrot at the end of it all.

So tomorrow afternoon I will own a saddle that fits my horse! :D

Monday, September 29, 2008


My friend-who-rides-Solly-bareback came out today and rode The Freight Train. That is my latest nickname for Sol Sol, because he takes forever to stop. :p

Before I get any further, I'll tell you all that Skorri appears to be fine today. His momma was out walking him and he was acting normal. Whew. Poor baby is very prone to colic apparently. But he is okay for now. Sorry if there was any confusion- Solly and Skorri are two different horses, and Skorri is not mine. But the well-wishes are appreciated!

Solomon was much less resistant with my friend than he was the other day. I did have to chase him around a bit to get his bridle on him, but I rubbed the bit with peppermint so once he got a little taste of it he took it.

He still isn't stopping consistently but also isn't fighting as much. He did a lot more trotting today, which I think he was happy with, though I think he would have preferred to canter. He wasn't backing consistently, but he did trot pretty evenly once he got going, which was nice. He spooked at a cat. My friend managed to stay on despite the fact that he was a little slippery because of his fly spray. D'oh.
Once he got really bored in there we tried taking him on a bit of the bridle path. He was not entirely well behaved, wanted to at least trot instead of walk, but my friend made it through and got him back to the barn just fine. Overall, despite some disobedience and a touch of spookiness, he did quite well and seemed to be giving to it more. A few people paused and told us how lovely he was. :D

A note about safe and not safe fruits and veggies

From http://www.equinerecline.org/fruits.html:

"Ever wandered around the produce aisles at the grocery store wondering what else you could feed
your horse as a treat instead of just carrots and apples? Well I have plenty of times. Finally I went
on a hunt to find a list of safe fruits and vegetables and unsafe ones too. So here are the fruits of
my labor. Please remember to remove pits from fruits such as peaches and cherries as they are
poisonous. And feed all foods in moderation, whether you have fed them to your horse before or
not. It is better to feed them a very small portion than a large one.


~ Apples
~ Apricots
~ Bananas
~ Beets
~ Blackberries
~ Blueberries
~ Carrots
~ Celery
~ Cherries
~ Coconut
~ Corn
~ Dates
~ Figs
~ Grapes
~ Grapefruit
~ Horseradish
~ Lettuce
~ Mangoes
~ Oranges
~ Peaches
~ Pears
~ Pineapple
~ Plums
~ Pumpkin
~ Raisins
~ Rutabagas
~ Squash
~ Strawberries
~ Sweet Potatoes
~ Turnips
~ Watermelon (both rind and pulp)


~ Avocado
~ Onions
~ Potatoes
~ Persimmons
~ Rhubarb
~ Tomatoes
~ Any other members of the nightshade family which includes peppers
~ Broccoli or Cauliflower (may cause gas, which in turn may cause gas colic)

When in doubt, do NOT feed it!"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

So today Solomon came running to me when he saw me coming up the road. Awwh!
I wish I'd gotten more video of him actually running, but he was too fast and the camera wasn't ready until he was almost there! Maybe he didn't mind getting ridden the other day.
The barn owner was lunging Skorri the Icelandic pony. He had a bad colic today and cast in his stall twice. He kept getting his leg hooked on one of the paddock bars. :( Poor baby! Luckily one of the really nice boarders found him and immediately got the BO, who got him up and moving as fast as she could. Hossmoor is expensive, but if you board here you know that the BO will be watching out for your horse, and so will the boarders. So she was out there trotting him around. Her three cats and dog were hanging out near the round pen. They follow her around.
Thank goodness, she got him to pass gas and poop. The owner came as soon as she could and gave him a shot of colic meds.
Solomon and I took a walk on part of the Big Scary Bridle Path, coaxed along a little bit with a peppermint, which, when held in front of him, suddenly made him not at all afraid or obstinate. HMMM.
It was getting really dark at that point, so I took Solly back to the pasture.
He was not happy with how short of a visit it was!
He stood peering over the gate at me as I left, charging his eye-lasers behind his fly mask!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Awesome day!

I am quite proud of both of us! :D
So today I had a riding lesson, and I got there with just enough time to get Solomon completely ready to go!
I knew it was going to be a good day as soon as I got the halter on him.
He was just really "on," if that makes any sense. Really attentive and connected. He stopped IMMEDIATELY (on the ground) when I said ho, and he stood for me in the pasture while I checked his feet (one pebble, nothing bad this time, amazingly enough) and he ignored the dump trucks (which make me sad for some reason) and spun with the gate properly so I could close it. He was good about all four feet being picked, and though he twitched a lot because the flies were just tormenting him like crazy, he stood totally still while I saddled him. I am proud of myself because I did it almost completely right the first time- the only thing that needed to be done differently was the pad, which I didn't have *quite* forward enough, so it was a little close to the edge of the saddle, but not so close that it needed to be redone.
The nice boarder who let me borrow her saddle before kindly let me do it again, though I really don't feel right doing it often. She isn't able to sell it at the moment after all, and it is her only saddle, so I don't want to take any risks! Of course since it fits both of us well, the manufacturer no longer produces is. Waah. Well I need one with a bit of a higher gullet anyway. Sigh.
Anyway, after he got his yummies and some more hay in his belly, I put his bridle on, and he was actually pretty good about it. He did not make me chase him around his paddock! He did raise his head once but when I put a hand on him he lowered it back down again. I think the fact that I'd given him a peppermint a moment before helped. I also rubbed the mint on my hands. He liked the smell. So he took the bit fairly readily, and I am proud of myself and of him for that, too. Ye gods, maybe I *HAVE* been learning!
So we got all ready, he with his saddle and bridle, and I with my helmet and boots, and went out to meet our instructor. Yay!
Also I forgot to put a skirt on over my leggings today, and my outfit was kind of a fat girl no-no, because my belly was sticking out, but it really was a lot more appropriate for riding, and hell everyone at the barn already knows I'm fat anyway, so I just sort of knuckled under and dealt with the self-consciousness. I have to say, while it wasn't terribly great looking I'm sure, it was a lot easier to do everything without a skirt getting in the way.
Now then. The mystery of how to get him to stand quietly at the mounting block with two people has been solved! The secret is not to try to force him to stay in place- he'll always figure out a way to move. The secret is to stroke his cheeks and face while leaning your cheek on his so he doesn't see the person getting ready to mount up. He is relaxed because he is getting loves, and he isn't thinking about the person mounting up as much. He doesn't act startled- he knows they are getting on. But he isn't as worried, and he is more inclined to be good because he is getting some positive re-enforcement, and some endorphins as well. I managed to mount him from a small two-step mounding block, yay! It was NOT the most graceful thing in the world, but I did everything I could to make sure it wasn't hard on Solomon, who didn't so much as shift a foot. Good boy.
So that's what we did, which meant that pretty much the entire lesson was spent in the saddle. Yeow!
Solomon was a VERY good boy, though. Not totally good- he still took his sweet time stopping, but it wasn't TOO bad. He also really REALLY wanted to canter or at least TROT but I am not a good enough rider for that yet. I felt kind of bad holding him back because he really wanted to go, but after a while he sighed and resigned himself to plodding around with the newbie on his back. The family of deer were also very close by, but I just stopped and let him watch them for a little while. He didn't spook at all.
Every time I ride him somebody gives me different rules for the reins. Well, at least my horse is flexible! And I am learning different methods too, which is helping me. Today we did some manner of two-handed quasi-neck reining with leg cues added in. We worked on walking, turning, reversals, moving him to the rail, slowing down, and stopping. Today the saddle got painful. I think part of that is that I'm very out of shape. Part of that is the combination of Solomon's weird gumdrop shape and my short as hell legs and arms. The muscles at the bottom of my shoulder blades, of all things, are sore as hell.
I used the stirrups for most of the ride, and my leg joints are what hurt the most, especially my lower legs. They have a bad habit of sort of popping out of their sockets, which isn't fun, but they didn't do that today, just threatened to.
So I asked if I could ride without them for a little bit.
Oh MAN was that a work out. She made me hold my legs where they were supposed to be, witht he heels down and the toes in and all of that. And then she made me neck rein and ride in proper position with one arm straight up in the air. Hard! So hard! But it actually helped me figure out how to balance better. I did that for a while, and then went back to the stirrups when I couldn't do it any more, heh. But I think it's good to learn balance and form without the stirrups at all. I also asked about posting, just for a bit of a better idea, though we're not to that point yet. Someday we will be, and I want to be able to do it without stirrups, since you are supposed to be using your thighs and abls to do it anyway.
Solomon did not toss his head or try to take the bit away. Well a tiny bit when he was asked to stop, but otherwise the only time he did it was when we stood still for too long and he got bored.
When I decided to dismount, I got him to stop pretty quickly, and he stood stock still for me while I got myself out of the saddle. I dismounted onto the ground, and actually managed to do it without it hurting. Yay!
So once I was on the ground I wanted to give him a little treat, as he had done SO well, so I took off his bridle and gave him a mint. Don't worry, I won't stuff him full of candy, most of his treats consist of carrots, but he got a few mints today because he was such a good boy. He gently took the mint, and then I lead him by putting the reins over his neck. He even stood for me in the tack room while I took off his saddle and stuff, and did not move a muscle when I told him to stand. What a good boy!
He got curried and brushed and some green spot remover for the sweat once he was in his paddock. Hah, first time he's really broken a sweat with me. Didn't seem sore anywhere afterwards. Lucky boy, I certainly am.
He stopped for me at the barn entrance when I asked him to, and let me check his feet. Sniffed my chest when I hugged him and wiggled his nose at me because he could smell a mint in my bra, but he did not push at all.
Back to the pasture once he'd had some more of his hay, since I'd interrupted dinner, and he started to walk away after I took his halter off. I called to him, which he pretended to not hear because work time was OVER, didn't I know? But then I started to unwrap a mint and he nickered and turned right around. He waited respectfully until I held it out to him, and then got some nose kisses. He was flipping up his upper lip as he always does when I give him a mint, and I was making the face right back to him when someone rode their horse by and said "somebody is getting kisses!" Hee. Yep, that's me, the crazy horse lady. It's okay, everyone else is probably thought of as "that crazy horse person" by their friends too. Sometimes I get a bit of social anxiety there, especially since I'm not really in the same socio-economic class as most of the people there, but hey, we all have the disease, ya know?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pictures! :D

I haff peeectures!


...Nom nom nom...

Solomon's beautiful tail. It is now mostly white, since I spent a good amount of time scrubbing it the other day. Mostly, because he has managed to soil it just a little bit. Not really his fault- he tries to hold it all the way out of the way. Also note, not so much with the being skinny any more. :p

Yaaay, the barn owner gifted me with a grooming supply box! Innit nifty? It hangs on his pipe-paddock and holds his stuff. I can switch out the Cowboy Magic and Endure for his Mane N Tail when I wash him. Note the stupid no-good useless skin-so-makes-my-horse-filthy-and-only-works-for-20-minutes. But it's an awesome box and I don't have to dig around for his hoof-pick any more. Also, the jelly rubber curry thinger that goes over your hand? AWESOME, I love it, totally recommend it for horse people. Actually, I bet the cats would love one too. Hmm...

I'm going to call the vet and see about her taking a look at this lump. I'm pretty sure it's a melanoma. :( But the good news is that in greys it isn't malignant as often, and it's the only one he seems to have, so hopefully if we just watch it and leave it alone it won't spread. I've been reading about it, seems like often trying to cut it out makes it way worse. It's on his inner thigh. It's on his skin, not attached to the muscle, and he doesn't flinch at all when I touch it. It's hard.

The BO pointed out to me the fact that his left hind is a lot more upright than his right hind. His feet have been like that for a while. I'm going to have to talk to the farrier about that. Also I want to get a photo of the undersides of his feet. I think the frogs need some work, too. Today there was this nasty nasty rock stuck in the left hind that was shaped like a spear head. I actually had to pick up his foot 4 times to dig the damned thing out, digging (trying not to hurt his frog) and rocking it. I would get exhausted and have to put it down. Of course I didn't get it out until another boarder came in to see, at my request, and I was saying that I couldn't get it out and at that moment I popped it out. It was probably three quarters of an inch long, and jammed between the frog and the hoof, very close to the heel. I'm going to have to keep a close eye on that and make sure it didn't actually puncture the frog or anything. He didn't seem sore at all but you never know. It was the exact same color as his frog so I didn't see it out in the pasture, though I didn't have a pick with me anyway.

Here are his front feet. I love the color variation! I never really saw it at the old place, since his feet were always filthy and caked with crap. Now they are clean and dry and look at those pretty white stripes at the back! I guess he had some white on his front legs too, before he greyed out. He must have had a nice sock on his right hind, too, with that all-yellow hoof.
These feet will never be the exact same shape and size because of that awful injury he sustained. I think there will always be something of a split in his front right.

The flies were bad today. I need to buy more Endure. Poor baby.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bareback riding today! (My friend, not me, heh)

If I can get permission, I'll post a video!
It was all bareback with the new french link snaffle, which while it is thinner, it has two breaks in it instead of one, so it isn't any harsher. Solomon did try briefly to go to the pasture, and he did toss his head and try various bit avoidance strategies, but she didn't ask him to do anything at all hard.
He backed up under saddle! A whole bunch! YAY! Not every time, but many times, yes. He also knows kinda how to go sideways. Actually he probably will remember more as he gets more rides under his girth. UNDER HIS GIRTH HAW HAW YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?

Anyway, We went all the way across the grounds to the BIG BIG outside arena near the Scary Deer Grass, and she worked him in there until the sun went down. He was certainly not overworked or worked harshly, and while he clearly needs more time with a rider who can give him clear direction, but I think there was a lot of progress! Yay!

Oh he is not happy about vacation being over though. When we let him loose in the pasture, right after hand-currying his back, he stood for the bridle coming off but then ran away! Heh.

Oh but when I went to get him, I must tell you about that.

Today for some reason as I was walking up the path a couple of giant industrial dump trucks were driving through the pasture with a couple of loads of dirt to dump. All the other horses kind of ran away, but Solomon had a flake of hay and come hell or high water he was eating that hay. So these giant trucks ended up having to go around him a little bit. Hah!

Deer in tall grass: SCARY!
Giant semi-sized dump trucks: NOT SCARY!

When he saw me he came over, and today as a surprise happy thing he got a peppermint! Friend from the old barn told me that he loves them, and wow does he! Hehe, he makes a great face when he eats one too.

So hopefully tomorrow (or the day after, I have a lore discussion thing tomorrow) he will still come to me. But he forgave the other day, so he should forgive today. Today was positive, he just didn't get away with any of his tricks. Which is good. :} Now when we finally get a SADDLE that fits, we'll be able to do more.

I'm kind of contemplating eventual dressage training. It isn't that I'm utterly into it, it's that a lot of people at this barn do it, and there are good trainers with good reputations, but no one wants to lease their horses for lessons. Solomon has the brains for it, and he is feeling great these days it seems. It's more a question of his willingness. For now he needs to get better at the basics, and then he'll be good for teaching people the basics, I think.
What I'm thinking is that I might either see if I can make a deal with a trainer to train him a bit and then in return get to use him for lessons (under their careful supervision) a certain number of hours a week, for a certain amount of time. That, or see about paying for him to get some training, and then charging for him to be used per hour for lessons with a respectable trainer, etc etc. Either of these would require, I think, that I get him liability insurance for sure, and before I can do this I also need to get him his own saddle that fits him. Heh.
But I'm thinking about doing this as a long-term solution for the high cost of boarding him at a place that takes proper care of him and has proper facilities for him to have a happy and healthy life. Times are tough, and in November everyone's board is being raised by $20.

The BO was very sweet to me today. I was worried she was still mad at me about leaving a chair out, but then I am always worried people are mad at me. I'd been using a Trader Joe's bag to carry my grooming supplies in, and I always was digging around in it looking for stuff. She gave me a gift! A grooming supply holder that hangs on the bars of a pipe corral! Ooh yay! As soon as I clean it out it'll be ready, and I'll have all my grooming stuff nice and organized. I also won't forget the bag in his paddock or in the walkway, which will be nice. If I forget this box, it'll just rest on his paddock bar, which is totally okay.

Today I also hung up a fish net for fishing hay out of his water barrel, since he always dumps at least half a flake in there whilst digging around the bottom of his hay bucket for flowers and tasty sweet leaves.

Today will be better, hopefully.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

ooOoooooh! I CAN has ride!

Dragged my boyfriend to a potluck at the barn today. Poor boo got overwhelmed, is not a horse person, and has sinus problems, but suffered pretty much silently until it was time to go.
Next month I will not make him go with me, and I'll be able to stay all day.
Solomon was a very good boy today. I did have to meet him halfway in the pasture, but it was the middle of the day, and really hot, and he's not used to me coming by so early. He still came to me and stuck his nose in his halter, he just wanted to see that I was serious about coming out or something. :p
He DID let me check his feet in the pasture though. He was a very good boy about it. He walked fine except he was a little worried about some horses he didn't know who were charging around and bucking in one of the nearby turn-out pens. Horses from different barns aren't allowed to interact with each other generally because the BO want's to contain disease as much as possible. They haven't had a problem since the first year they operated, when they had a bad rash of strangles, and since then she has been very careful. There are... hmm well the paddocks and my horse's paddock count as the same because all the paddock horses get the big pasture, but other than that there's two little barns that have 5 horses total, and then three really big barns on the property, one of which is the one my horse's paddock is attached to. The end result being that he doesn't know all the horses, and the ones that don't have a pasture to live in get pretty high energy in their turn-outs. Even though Solomon doesn't have a really fancy stall, I think he gets a better deal by having 90 acres to run around on most of the year.

So three awesome things:
One of the boarders said she'd ride her old-hand calm horse with Solomon and I on the bridle path! He'll do much better ponying up with someone. This is the same boarder who gifted me with an old saddle pad. Awwh! :D
Another boarder is letting me borrow her fancy English saddle because it might fit Solomon. So we'll try it out and if it fits, we can ride! YAY! She is trying to get a new saddle that fits, and may sell that one, though I fear it's probably out of my price range. I like English saddles though- they are light, which means less extra weight stress for Solomon, and they don't have as much big stuff sticking up. That'll make it harder to stay on, but so much easier to dismount in an emergency if need be. I dunno. Have to see if it is comfortable or not.
And finally, another friend from fugly horse of the day shipped a bit to me! Yay! French link snaffle! So now we can try two kinds of gentle snaffle bits, and see which he likes better. The one we have is cool but my instructor wanted to try one that's a little thinner. This one is as thick as my pinky finger. The extra joint is supposed to reduce the "nutcracker" effect though, so that's good.

I am running low on Endure, so I figured what the heck and poured some skin-so-soft in the bottle and shook it up. Wow, it actually seemed to work REALLY well! Solomon had a bunch of flies chilling on his coronet-area, whatever you call that, and when I sprayed him they just kinda fell off. By the time I was done, there were no flies! he was also really really shiny, heh. That will translate to caked with dust out in the pasture, but for a little while he was sparkly like a show horse. It's supposed to extend the life of fly sprays- let's see if it does. Seems less likely to evaporate right away anyway. We had a little bit of a struggle with rubbing his face down with the stuff. I don't have a halter on him in his paddock, so we circled around it once while I tried to get it down around his nose via his face brush, but then he gave me an emo sigh and gave in, lowering his head and standing still so I could gently brush in the mixture. Bless his heart.
Anyone know if skin so soft is okay for mucous membranes? I'll look it up of course. But maybe if it's safe I'll put some pure skin so soft in a spray bottle, or dilute it with just water, and spray down his diddly-wink. Only if I am sure it owuldn't be an irritant though. I know by itself it doesn't seem to do much for very long, but still, I feel bad for the poor old guy. Damned flies.

Back to the pasture, and Solomon did great ont he walk. He was relaxed and his lower lip was flopping all over the place. Instead of being all impatient to go, he stood very very nicely for me, and did not take a single step when I laid the lead rope over his neck and asked him to stand. He picked his feet up for me and I took out a couple of small rocks that he picked up on the way back to the pasture. Is it obsessive of me to pick his feet three times a day? I did it in the paddock too.

I took his halter off and gave him the all-clear, but he decided to hang out with us instead of leaving. He was still chilling by the gate when we left.

Other little things- this time he actually stopped eating for a moment and backed up so that he was balanced for that last foot to be picked. He also backed up for me with just the verbal command when I was on the other side of his paddock. Good boy! He's come so far.

Now Thomas and I are off to dinner. Yay!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Solomon yesterday.

Yesterday was fairly uneventful for him. Except for a couple of spooks.
There was a girl sitting on a big red bucket, watching her horse in his turn-out pen. He was a frisky horse, probably especially so since he isn't one of the horses that is turned out all the time. She was sitting quietly with a notebook.
Solomon was eating when I went out there, and he hadn't gotten far, so I picked up his hay flake after haltering him, and off we went. He grabbed one bite of it while I was adjusting my grip, just to let me know that it was HIS hay, but after that he was a good boy about it, even though it was a foot away from him for the whole walk. He is getting very good at going into "work" mode these days.
But he didn't seem to notice the girl with the bucket and her high-spirited horse until we were almost past her. Then he did one of his "teleport spins" where suddenly there was a cloud of dust and he was facing the other direction, staring at her. We both talked calmly to him and he was fine. Heh. Actually if could be worse. If he spooks badly like that while I'm on him, I might well fall off, being new at riding, but at least he stops moving very quickly and does not run away. I'd like to not get run over or dragged. Once he can actually see whatever it is that startled him, he's okay.
Then Mister Frisky Hoss came charging up at us when we were further down the road, which startled Solly and he ran a couple steps but when I did not run with him and told him to stop, he did. I'm thinking there he just didn't want to get in a fight and wasn't thinking about the hotwire fence being between them. He actually puts up with a lot at the new place without getting scared- cars, trucks, dogs, turkeys, ravens, etc. Usually if he is just really unsure of something he does freeze and look at it for a moment, come to think of it. I don't think that's spooking though, exactly. Just needing to see if something's a threat. Seems natural for a prey animal. Of course I work him through whatever it is. I can't hold up a deer for him to sniff though. Pity.
Hah, maybe the BO will let me have him sniff one of her mounted deer heads!
Anyway, I usually pick Solly's feet in his paddock while he's munching on something, 'cos he usually finds something to munch on in there. The foot with the old injury is sometimes a problem though, because that's usually the foot he puts forward to lean on when he's eating. Sometimes I have to back him up. With the other feet, if he isn't in a good position to pick one up, a subtle lean on his hip or shoulder will tell him to shift positions. Usually after the first foot, he picks up the next foot for me. Except that last one, which has sometimes involved a bit of a struggle lately. He always seems to get a nasty rock lodged in there. I think I might start taking my pick out to the pasture to do his feet there. There's a good chance he's picking up a rock on the gravel road to the paddock, but I'd still like to check in case it is already in there. Don't want to walk him on a rock, even that distance. He didn't limp to his paddock or anything, but still, it looks really uncomfortable.
On the whole though, he gets way less stuff stuck in his feet. His hooves have gotten very hard. I think I might even start using hoof conditioner on the outsides and a bit on the bottom of his frogs. We did get out a little stick recently that had been stuck between his frog and hoof wall for a couple of days that just wouldn't come out. I was going to go for it with tweezers if it hadn't. It wasn't poking him and he didn't seem to care, but still I didn't like it. One of his back feet has very little space between the back of the frog and the back of the hoof, if that makes any sense.
Overall though, he actually seems to be moving better than he was when I first started working with him. His gait is smoother and more confident. He still drags his feet if we go really slowly, but he has a lot of energy these days and often wants to rush to wherever we are going. I have to slow him down so my ankles can handle the walk. I really don't want to lunge him a lot, 'cos he's an older boy and I worry about doing a lot of circling with him, but maybe I'll start just letting him loose in the round pen and seeing if he wants to run around on the softer footing. It's too bad we can't do that in the really big roundpen again- they don't allow free-lunging down there.
So anyway, when we got to his paddock we found two flakes of grass hay already waiting for him! The feeding guys are psychic, I swear. So Solomon had a nice meal, which he didn't finish because holy crap that's a lot of hay, and had fun dumping about a flake worth of grass hay in his water bucket, which I then got to fish out. The good stuff's at the bottom of the hay bin, ya know.
I also hand-washed his tail. It wasn't quite as hot out as I would have liked, and it was also a bit later than I would have liked, so I didn't wash his whole body. I would have had to take him out into the sun to dry, and then he would have ended up coated in road-dust, which would turn into mud and sort of defeat half the purpose of a bath. I bathed him in mid-August, and we aren't showing or anything, so he's okay.
His tail, however, had some unfortunate substances in it. So. I filled a bucket and scrubbed away. Mane N Tail is awesome stuff. He got a shampoo and conditioning, and then he got cowboy magic. His tail doesn't tangle like his mane does, but it still had some, and it is so long it almost touches the ground. So I spent an hour making it nice and pretty and detangled. Solomon was very patient. He got tail-base skritches as a reward, which he loves. He arches his tail up like a cat.
I think that, if the other horses leave it alone, his tail will get a lot fuller in the next few years. Mane, too. But it is certainly one of the longest tails out there in the pasture. If the herd is way far away, it's one of the easiest ways to identify him- that splendid tail. When he trots or canters in the pen, he stretches his head out without bobbing at all now in a pretty attractive fashion, and flags his tail up high. It's a pretty sight.
So we really didn't do much other than grooming and feeding. A lazy day. A bonding day. I think it helps to spend days with him where he doesn't really have to work. Then he doesn't look at me coming and immediately think "oh gods I have to work now don't I?" Of course I have been told many times, and I believe it, that you are always training your horse whether you mean to or not. But it is good for him to see me and also think "good times."
When we went back to the pasture, he didn't want to go in! Usually he is all about getting back to it. I got him in though, and unhaltered him, and he stuck to me and blew on me instead of immediately wandering off into the night. I gave him some pettings and nose-kisses, and he eventually sighed and wandered off. I wonder if maybe he DID want to do something a little more high-energy? You'd think he could run around in the pasture, but the footing isn't nearly as fun as a soft sand arena, heh. Or maybe he just wanted to hang out with momma a little while longer.
He seems to be fitting in with the herd better though!

Today there was a terrible accident on 80. Helicopters were called to lift people out. Double fatality too, I heard. Haven't tried to go out to the barn. Tassie was put down today, the BO warned me that I might not want to be there after getting so upset about the dead horse I saw the other day. Maybe she is right. I will remember Tassie munching carrots happily instead. Pica Aloha, her old mare neighbor, will miss her terribly. When it's Solomon's time though, I will be there with him, the whole time.

The barn owner has to take heavy medications for her arthritis. Her hands didn't bother her much until she worked out at the gym with a punching bag for a few months. Hah, she is tougher than I am, my hands ache just thinking about punching something over and over again. I made her some tea from fresh Trader Joe's ginger and fresh peppermint from my garden. Helps with nausea and settling stomachs. She liked it, and I'm glad. I made her some tasty tried herbal tea too. Peppermint, chamomile, rose hips, rose buds, and marigold. A nice tea for stress. Anyone owning a boarding barn, especially such a big one, has got to have some stress. I love making things for people. I hope the teas help.

It's an overcast afternoon out here in the east bay area. As Joe from TB Friends says, be sure to hug your horses!

(By the way, if you're looking for a rescue to donate time, money, gas cards or horse supplies to, while I've mentioned it before, I'm going to mention it again- TB Friends. I'm not Catholic but I still say that man is a saint. http://www.tbfriends.com/)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Today was a sad day at the barn.

went out with my camera to take new pictures of my horse, to show that he's a lot heavier now than the last pictures I posted.
But when I got there I found Tassies momma sitting with her and feeding her horse cookies and carrots.
Tassie is being put down tomorrow morning. Last winter was very very hard for her, and she has been having a very hard time standing up lately. They didn't want her to end up unable to get up, hurting and scared one morning. She's an old old girl.
Today I ending up not taking pictures of my horse. Today I filled my memory card with a video of Tassie eating carrots. I e-mailed the video to her momma. There are more important things in the world than proving ones-self or one's horse to random people on the internet. I'd forgotten that for a moment.
My heart goes out to her. I think I remember her telling me that she has had Tassie for a very long time. Maybe since she was young?
I didn't know what to say to her in the e-mail with the video. I didn't want to send platitudes. It's just, it has to be one of the hardest, most heartbreaking things. So I just told her what I knew for sure- Tassie knows that she is loved.
Rest in peace, sweet old girl.

Work work work!

Well, my instructor showed me how to get worming meds in a horse who threatens to strike.
He hasn't struck at me, but the time before this he DID strike at someone who tried to worm him.
Okay, a neck roll is mean, but I think him panicking and flipping over or hitting his head on something would be worse, and that's what got him to hold still enough for the worming. We tried a bunch of other stuff first, but he just fought. So my instructor pinched a bit of his neck flesh and it worked. He didn't complain or flinch about it, so I am hoping it wasn't really painful. This worming medication lasts for 3 months though (I know, I thought there wasn't one that lasts that long, but I guess there is!) and so he won't have to go through it for a while.

Then we did a short lunge session with no lune line. Heh, I'm not gonna lunge him on a regular basis. I'd rather walk up and down the hills with him, even though I can't do that for very long. But it was good to see where he's at movement-wise. He trotted and cantered without tossing his head at all! Yay! He did it for a while, though he preferred cantering to trotting, but when he got bored he pulled his old tricks again. Hah.

Instructor thinks he did some showmanship classes or something because he does foreleg pivots. I thought that was just one of those things he did. Hm. Well anyway, it's an interesting thought. So we'll add it to the list of stuff that he MIGHT have done in the past. showmanship, reining, charro, roping, trail riding. Heh. He wants me to believe that he is a champion carrot eater and that I should be doing hardcore carrot eating training with him.

When we finished the lesson I stroked his head and he sort of dozed with his muzzle leaning on my chest. Awwh.

After I set him loose in the pasture, I went back to find him because I forgot to pull his forelock out over his fly mask. Not sure he cared, but I didn't want his hair scratching his eyes. He came to me and let me do it, but when I was leaving he walked near me but not TOO lose and gave a little really really quiet whinny which I translated as "awh mom not MORE work AGAIN today!"

Then he hung out with the grey horse clique. They totally segregate. :p

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Silly banner

After my ambien kicked in last night, I got up again and made the banner you see above. It needs to be longer and thinner and less dramatic, and I have no idea why I made the grye blurry bit in the corner, haha, but I figured I'd put it up for how for the heck of it.

Betchya I will forget about it and it'll end up staying there for a few weeks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Not really horse related, exactly, but ah well. :)

So I have been working hard to stop starving myself, and I've been doing pretty okay at that. :}
I've also been getting as much exercise as my ankles and back will allow me to get.
I haven't been dieting, heh, my problem is undereating. So I've been eating more. And being as active as I can.
And I can hardly believe it, but I have lost 16 pounds!

If I am very very very lucky, someday maybe I can get down to 180, though I'm not making a goal of it because if I make a weight loss goal I start rationalizing the meal skipping. But that's about as low as my weight ever goes. That would be cool, but this is cool too. I just got new clothes in the mail (hah, I spent money on myself, instead of just on Solly ) and they're cute. I thought they would be a little tight on me, but they're actually not. I thought I was a 3x, but the skirt I bought on clearance is a 1x and it fits loosely, holy crap!

So this time, yay, I'm proud. And now I'm taking my boyfriend out to Outback Steakhouse for dinner. It's his birthday. Yay!

Anyway, I wanted to brag about not starving and getting a little healthier, so I did.

So I lost 16 pounds, mostly because I gained well over 1200 pounds of white spotty silliness.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Today I stopped by the old barn. Thought I'd say hi to the horses, see if my friend there had my reins that she took home to fix.
Well she was there, and I got my reins back which was good.
I walked around and said hi to the horses. Some of them called to me.
Then I found out about the dead horse.

He was under a tarp in the upper arena, which is a small corral really. There were three horses in there with them. The truck to take him away showed up, so they pulled the horses out, but they'd been living in there with this dead horse since Friday.
I don't know why I went to see. It's like the horror movies where the person goes into the basement when they know they shouldn't. But I had to see. I don't know why but I had to look, I guess I jsut had to see so I would remember.
He was the same color as Solomon. He had these tiny little fuzzy ears. His mane had been roached, and his teeth looked like they'd been done recently. This horse had been someone's pet. And now he was lying there dead.
I found out that his leg was broken, and someone there RODE him. They cantered him, and his leg just shattered. I know he'd been there about a week, but I don't know when he was ridden, but I guess someone noticed that his leg was just flopping around 8 or 9 hours later. That's what someone there told me. So they euthed him. Maybe today was the first day they could have him hauled away. I don't know. When the tarp came off, the smell hit me, and the horses in the barn near the corral were so scared... they were so scared, they were screaming and kicking their stalls and their eyes were rolling.

I just can't get it out of my head. The horses screaming, and his round fuzzy little ears.

I don't understand. I just don't. I can't stop crying. My boyfriend forbade me from going back there again, he's right. I won't.

I don't know if the owners knew that someone there was going to/did ride him or not. I don't have enough of the story to know exactly what happened. I just... I don't understand how it could have happened. That poor baby.

I went out to the new barn and loved on Solomon. I kissed his velvety nose and gave him a back rub and I keep smelling my hands because they smell like him and I never want to forget.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

(Normally I hold his halter up and he comes and sticks his nose in it. He was a little confused because I wasn't holding it up, but I did have it in my hand. I also learned that you can't use a camera and halter a horse easily at the same time. Sorry for the jiggling at the end, heh.)

He put on some pretty serious weight, eh? Now we need to turn a lot of that weight into muscle. He does climb up and down those hills sometimes, but mostly he'll get it from being ridden. I have a friend who rides him bareback. She's very patient with him, and a good rider. He's doing well! We also practiced walk/trot transitions on the ground with me leading him, which he did really well at tonight. We worked on his mounting block avoidance problem (he avoids it with everyone, but I think I am making a bit of progress) and I tried to worm him, which was an epic fail. The barn charges $5 for them to worm your horse for you. While I want to get to the point where I can do it myself, it just wasn't happening this time. I think the 5 bucks is worth it. This barn has required worming using Quest, and it apparently lasts for 3 months! The horses there consistently have a very low parasite load (some people there had UC Davis test their poo) so I guess it works well.

Anyway, isn't he a cutie?

I wish I knew what happened to his face though. He's had that scar for as long as I have known him.

PS- Dragon, one of the really friendly horses in the herd, really wanted me to take him out today. He came right on up and then did this:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Deer eat horses.

Oh, the most evil beast around- the FEARSOME DEER!!!!
This is pretty much what I think Solomon sees when he sees a deer, especially if it is mostly hidden in tall grasses.

So yes, today we had an adventure.
After his lovely dinner feast, I took Solomon on a little walk. I decided that we wouldn't do anything hard today. Ho ho ho. So I thought. I thought to myself, "eh, we'll just walk along the bridle path that I want to ride him down eventually." He's never been down this trail, and he was nice and relaxed today.
I was singing my silly walking songs to him, which he was stepping in time to quite smartly,and we made it all the way down the path like that, but then we crossed the little road on the property and went BEHIND THE INDOOR ARENA, oh noes!
I'd never been back there either, and I did not know that there was a field of very very tall, very dry plants and grasses back there. And in that field, there were DEER. Solomon told me in no uncertain terms that DEER EAT HORSES, oh my gods, WE WERE GOING TO DIE!!!111one.
HE was trying to be good, he really was, but he kept freezing up and whinnying and then trying to go whether I said "ho" or not. I realized that it his fear won the battle, I would not be able to stop him from running off. Uh oh. Luckily there was a round pen nearby. He tried to trot there, tried really hard to both run for it and obey mom.
I'd put him in that round pen the day before so it was at least a little bit familiar.
So we made it to the pen and I barely managed to latch the door and get the lead rope off him before he went running around. He didn't try to run me over, and he gave me space, but this was not a happy running around. I figured he was going to do it one way or the other, and that he wouldn't be able to easily hurt himself in the pen, and would eventually calm down and figure out that nothing was coming to get him.
Plus, exercise!
So I sat on the mounting block, which I dragged to the middle, and watched him go tearing around in circles. He trotted, cantered, and galloped. Hey, actually he moved well, and I'm still learning but he didn't look a bit sore in any of his feet!
So it didn't take him terribly long to calm down. There were horses in the indoor arena, which he could see from where he was, and they were calm, which helped him calm down. Eventually he came in to the center of the pen and put his head down, resting it very gently against me, and sighing. I stroked his face and told him it was okay, and when he seemed calm, I hooked up his lead line again and we continued on our walk.
Of course, the stupid deer had to walk right in front of us, like 10 feet away at most, and teleport through the hotwire fence into Solomon's pasture. How do they DO that? Somehow they never seem to get zapped, and they are squirming through.
Solomon took this in fairly calmly, and then when we were halfway to the pasture he spooked for no reason that I could see, heh. He his my leg with his knee, but it wasn't intentional. It startled me though, and I squawked, which startled Solomon enough that he immediately stopped. He gave me this "am I in trouble, mom?" look, but didn't freak out more. I got him to the pasture, and he stood nicely for me while I took his halter off, and didn't walk off unitl I told him "okay."
I tried to check his feet for stones, but he was still too on edge to be that vulnerable. Well, I'm going to call it a win, because he did his best to obey me and not run away when his instincts were screaming at him to do so.

Also today I managed to wash his face with a sponge soaked in warm water. He was very suspicious, but mostly relaxed into it. He also stood at a small mounting block for me, and let me pet him and lean on his back. The small ones are much less scary than the big ones. Foot picking in the stall also went pretty smoothly. He got a rubdown and brushing, and he got fly spray too.

Of course, one other thing he did in the round pen was roll, so actually I am not entirely convinced that he was totally scared. A really freaked out horse isn't doing to take a dust bath. :p But hey, if he wants to get a workout in the round pen, I'm totally cool with that!

Now he looks totally filthy though. I was supposed to meet a friend from the old barn today, and she was going to take pictures, but for some reason she could not make it, so of course tomorrow if she comes, she'll see a really dirty horse and wonder if I ever clean him. :p But dirty or not, he sure looks healthy these days! He only really does it in the evening, but maybe I can get her to see him do his fart-propelled rocket jumping!
Camera is still on the fritz. Will try to fix it tonight.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Would a dressage saddle work for trail riding?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Uh, holy crap.

Know how I've been thinking that Solomon is kind of a broken down, albeit sound, old man? Kinda lazy and slow-moving and all that? Welllll yeah, I think I'm going to have to re-asses that idea.
So I got out there late in the day, getting on towards evening. Ended up talking to a couple of ladies at the barn for a good while, watching Solomon on the side of the hill, hanging out with his palomino paint buddy.
The sun was getting close to setting when I got to the pasture. Solomon came down the hill to me, and a couple of the other horses came with him. His nostrils flared when he got close, and he was pretty antsy, pushing on the gate with his chest as soon as I got him haltered. Of course I made him back, which he did fine, and we practiced "walk" "easy" and "ho" all the way down the road.
I stopped at chatted with one of the nice boarders, when another boarder pulled a trash bag out of her truck kinda quickly. Solomon spooked. First time since the first day I brought him here. The boarder with the trash bag was behind him, and the boarder I was talking to was on the other side of him, and he SPUN around to face the bag, quick as lightning. Luckily the other boarder is experienced with horses and fast- she got out of the way, no harm done. Scary though. After making sure everyone was all right, we had Solomon smell the bag to see that it was fine. Boarger-with-bag apologized, and I told her it was fine, now I know I need to teach him to get used to trash bags, heh. Strange, because smaller bags were always blowing around the old place, but I guess a large trash bag is different.
After the bag had spooked him, Solomon was tugging on the lead, almost to the point of dragging me along with him, so instead of going right to the paddock where he wanted to be, I took him into the little pea-gravel arena and worked with him for a bit. Just walking, walking faster, walking slower, stopping, and a brief trot. I got a couple of really dramatic sighs, but he did it all okay. He was resisting a bit though, and still really antsy.
So after his little bit of sand-clear and stuff, we went out and walked all the way to the indoor arena. The sun was down by the time we got there. Solomon was still really high energy. Nostrils were flaring and he was snorting. I closed the gate of the arena, since I was pretty sure no one else would be coming in that late. As the lights heated up, I checked his feet again. He resisted at first, but then eased into it and picked them up for me. Good boy.
So we started with walking around a bit, stopping, going faster, easing up, etc. Then we did a bit of trotting. He went RIGHT into it. But when I asked him to, he tossed his head pretty hard a couple of times, and then held it in place just fine. So we worked on walk to trot transitions, and trot to walk transitions. Then I thought, hm, let's try it without the lead rope. And WOW, he was just on FIRE!
We went from walk to trot to walk, we trotted in circles and figure 8s and some of those "serpentine" formations I've seen the dressage people do. Boarder that I had been speaking to before saw a bit of it, yay. :) I said "wow did you see that? I think he has more training than I thought." She replied with some form of agreement. Of course once I started talking to someone, he wasn't so mindful, heh. Well, still, we did well. He tossed his head when I asked him to trot without the lead line too. Interesting. I wonder why? He wasn't limping at all, didn't seem sore.
Now, earlier in the day I talked to a frined from the old barn, who chatted briefly with the fellow who owned Solomon before the previous owner. Previous-previous-owner told her that Sol had a lot of training on him- that he'd done reining and cutting and roping, buncha rodeo stuff, even the thing where they jump off the horse to tie up a steer. Charro stuff too. I thought to myself, "no way, uh uh, not Solomon."
Well, I think I'm gonna have to consider that as a possibility now.
See, he was kinda sorta obeying, but he was obviously wanting to do more high energy stuff than walk, and my ankles were sending me death threats and reams of hate mail for jogging around that little bit. I'm really not supposed to jog or run at all. But meh.
Anyway, I thought, "eh, the gate is closed, I'll let him walk around a bit on his own," so I took the lead line off him again, and I told him "okay," which I've pretty much managed to teach him means "you can relax and be a horse now."
Solomon went totally NUTS. I stood there, my jaw on the ground, watching this big white tasmanian devil go tearing around the arena. People at the old place said "Solomon? He's FAST!" I hadn't ever seen it. Well, now I have. He was doing warp nine around the arena, charging to the end and then when I was sure he was going to run through the fence, coming to a dead stop or just spinning around and running the other direction. He came running up to me and I thought "hrm, I better not budge or he'll think I'm giving ground to him," but he stopped at a respectful distance and went another direction, or went around me. He went LEAPING around, and then started bouncing on all fours like a freakin' deer. He was getting some serious air, too. He was going high enough that I started eyeing the fences around the arena and wondering if he could clear them. This would all have been all kinds of impressive and majestic if it weren't for the fact that
a) his penis was flopping around everywhere the whole time,
b) Every time he jumped he let loose a fart like a thunderclap.
He was jumping and bucking and spinning around in circles. He whinnied once in a while too.
I thought at first that he might be scared and wanting to get back to his herd, but he was watching me the whole time, and well also there's item "a" up above. He didn't seem to be trying to threaten me either. He kept a safe distance the whole time. I never felt like he was too close for comfort. It was almost as if he was trying to show off, heh.
What really sealed the "he isn't scared" thought for me was that as he was cantering around, he reached his neck WAY out and stole a mouthful of hay from a bale. Without stopping. But you better beleive he ate it. Once I saw him do that, I decided that "going apeshit" time was over, and I walked over and told him "ho." He didn't stop immediately (we're gonna have to work on this more) but he did stop and let me clip his rope on again. He was still acting antsy on the walk back to his paddock, but a mini watermelon made all right with the world.
I keep picturing myself on his back while he he is leaping around like that. I then keep picturing myself lying on the arena floor with him sniffing at me, and paramedics running up.
I'm really glad he likes me and is so calm when I ride him. Because holy crap, you should have seen this horse. He sure didn't look at all sore or stiff to me. He was wilder than that young TB I sometimes see turned out in one of the pens down the road from the pasture.
I wish I'd brought my camera out with me. It was astounding and hilarious at the same time.

So, a question for you women out there who work with male horses:
Now, I have no idea why he was so crazy-go-nuts tonight, but I have heard the old wive's tale that stallions go nuts when a woman is having her shark week. Some people say it's total BS, and some people swear by it. I don't know when Solomon was gelded- it could have been early, or it could have been really late. Today was the first time in a good number of months, so I am actually not sure that I've been around him on my period before. Do you think that it had anything to do with how he was acting tonight?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Idle shopping.

I'm looking at snaffle bits-

And then I found this, which I want just because it would annoy people with it's loudness:
But I'll probably end up with a Western saddle. Too bad.

I don't like the random fucly colored saddle pads. But I do want something loud and kinda tacky, like strawberries or apples, or even the chili pepper patterend ones.

Friday, September 5, 2008

First lesson, yay! :D

Wow, it was great! :D

So as it turns out, Solomon needs a saddle with an extra large tree. Yeow, and he hasn't even built up muscle there yet. Uh I have an Appendix draft, haha!

He may well be more than 1200 pounds now. Need to do the measurements and the math.

Anyway, what a difference a properly fitting saddle makes!

Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself.
My new instructor is... very direct. But not mean. So that's all good. :)
So now I will have to be a lot more disciplined with Solomon. Awh. Well, it has to be done. So I'll do stuff from the proper side, because that's how it's done, though I don't think it's bad for him to learn to do anything from either side. Still, I'll obey. :)

So I learned to lead him with more control. I learned how to back him up, and once he understood that I was serious, he suddenly totally knew how to back on the ground. In the saddle, we'll have to see next time.
I learned how to tack up. She wants me to get a skinnier bit. I'm resisting that a bit, though I guess it's okay, if it's still gentle. Just because it's a little difficult to get him to open wide and take the bit, but I think we'll wait and see. Well, if she can show me a bit that is kind enough, I might go for it. Perhaps one that is sharper would make things go faster, but I'd like to try more willing obedience first. Or maybe I'm just too gentle?

Anyway, once we had done some ground work after tacking him up, I got on him. I actually did pretty well mounting up. I did the three-time bounce and all that, and I took care to slide in and not thump onto his back at all.
The saddle fit Solly SO WELL! It was very well balanced, and I felt quite secure. We worked on getting my legs into the right position- it's a bit of a challenge becasue of my back, and most of all it is a challenge because my legs are really stubby, and the saddle (and his back) are really wide, and my legs are really fat.
I told her, "hey, I'm not putting myself down, I'm just stating the truth here- I'm fat, and my legs are fat, and legs that are as padded as mine tend to want to turn outwards, not bend inwards." I think I did a pretty good job though. I'm not sure I was quite able to get my heels under my hips, but I got pretty close. I kept my toes in okay, and I kept my heels down. We had to raise the stirrups up really high- I think maybe as high as they could go, and I could still only just reach them. Stupid stubby legs.
My teacher told me it was okay to let the reins have a little "give" to them. This was a relief- the BO was telling me to keep their pretty taut, which just didn't feel right to me. That's English though, and we're doing Western. She also let me guide him with the reins the way I had guided him at the old place- keep one rein in the same place, and just touch his neck with the rein that was on the opposite side from the direction I wanted him to turn. She did get me looking exactly where I wanted to go, which helped him read the cues my body was giving. I need to learn to not move my shoulders to one side or the other, and not lean, really. Not like a motorcycle. Heh.
But all-in-all, we did well. Solomon was taking direction from me quite well, except we need to work on a more immediate stop. He sped up and slowed down well, and he turned when I told him to. He walked where I wanted him to walk. While we did learn to back effectively on the ground, we didn't try backing in the saddle. We'll probably do that when I learn how to ride a little better.
It felt really good though. Though I was a little self-conscious, learning and not wanting to mess up, trying to do a reverse properly and all that, it felt more natural than my last attempt. The saddle felt better, even though it was huge. Well, Solomon is huge, so! Once he muscles up on his topline and shoulders, he'll be even bigger around than before. I better get used to it.
It was a really good lesson though. I felt like Solomon and I really connected.
Now, dismounting, that was a challenge. The saddle has a REALLY high cantle and horn. I have REALLY short, stubby legs, tendinosis in both ankles, and a couple of herniated discs in my spine. My instructor asked me to dismount to the ground. Well, I'd learned to dismount on a much smaller, less sloped saddle, but leaning one ay and swinging my leg over the back without my foot in the stirrup (like in an emergency dismount) wasn't happening. Then my knee threatened to pop out of joint. Hah, fun! Then my instructor asked me to stand up in the stirrups, which I did, but my legs are so short that there was very little different between me standing in them and me sitting in the saddle. Maybe an inch or two, kinda sorta? Heh. Somehow I managed to dismount almost gracefully, however. I did take my foot out of the sturrip once I got my leg over- getting dragged around doesn't sound fun to me.
We untacked Solomon, which he stood well for, and then I took him back to his paddock where I curried him and checked his feet, just like I did before the lesson. We ran over time (oops, sorry!) but we covered a lot of ground without having so much input that I wouldn't be able to remember it all. Managed to go back to the pasture in the dark tonight with me in charge but using Solomon's eyes. I could sorta see, and he knew how to get there, so between us we figured it out. :)
My friend was very supportive, and I'm so glad she was there. She saved me from forgetting my helmet at the mounting block, she got me my bridle, and she was able to give me good input about the lesson, not to mention a ride to the stables and back home again. Yay, thank you! We had rose tea after.
Later that night I ended up going out to a CLUB. Ye gods! I went to a goth club in FLIP FLOPS (my boots were full of shavings) with horse drool in my hair, no makeup, and horse hair on my shirt. And yet AGAIN someone picked up on me. Screw makeup. All I need is horse drool.

Well, and confidence. It's amazing how much less intimidation a 140 pound human is after spending the day with a 1200+ pound animal that you know could accidentally kill you at any moment.

I met up with Fernando, who DJed at a club called "Shrine of Lillith" 11 years ago. I was the first person to set foot in the club. The first customer. The first on the dance floor. We caught up. Talked about the old days a bit. Talked about how we had changed. How we were the ones that lived. I saw a lot of people from the old days, but there were a lot of people missing too. So many friends dead. Bike accidents, suicides, murder, and so much death because of meth. I ended up getting angry. Meth. It's killing us, as a culture, and actually it's everywhere. Every small town. Every big city. It's evil stuff.
I danced tonight. I couldn't believe it, I could really dance. Tomorrow I will probably not be able to walk. The sciatica has been coming back lately too. But I rode a HORSE and I DANCED and I'm still ALIVE.
Life is good, and I am so very blessed. And I can thank Solomon for so much of it.
I love my big old baby boy.

Nervous day!

Nervous day!
Soon I will be going out for my first formal lesson!
I am hoping that the owner of the saddle that fits Solly will let us use it. I would love to learn how to tack up properly, and have a nice proper riding lesson. Of course I would love to learn more about ground work, as I have a lot more to learn there, but we seem to be doing pretty well on that front for now. Riding is what I really need help with the most. I'm nervous that I'll make a fool of myself, heh. Ah well. New Horse Friend (imaginethewolf online) will be there with me probably, and she will offer moral support, 'cos she's neat like that. :)
I also posted to the bay area equine network asking about Solomon, to see if anyone knew who he was. I showed both before and after pics, since he looks like a totally different horse in them. I showed his markings and described them, and his injuries, because maybe if a vet treated any of them, they will remember. I am hoping it won't dredge up any drama for Solly and I... I just really want to know where he came from, and I think he WAS loved at one point in his life, and that maybe the person who loved him would like to know what happened to him and how he is doing now.
I have this fantasy that the people who bred him are really awesome and caring, that they'll find out and want to give him the most awesome retirement possible. I would miss the hell out of him, but it would be worth it to know for sure that he'd be taken care of for the rest of his life, no matter what. Of course another part of me doesn't want that to happen because he's my baby and I love him so. My first responsibility is to him though, and to ensuring that he has the best life possible. So, we'll see. :o
Maybe no one will know him at all. That would be frustrating, but I am thinking it's the most possible outcome.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Didn't manage to sleep until 7am at least today.
My spine is sending me hate mail via my central nervous system.
The letter reads: "F*** YOU! F*** YOU IN THE EAR, B***!!!!"
Goddammitt can't we just ignore the fact that I'm kind of a cripple for a while? Please? No?
I still want to go see Solomon, but I don't know if I really can. No more carrying his senior feed myself though.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I am so glad that I have a smart, calm horse.

I am glad that I have a smart, calm horse.
Well, I got the saddle today! I was so excited. It looked great. No maker's mark anywhere, no brand or stamp, so I have no idea who made it, but it's in good condition, all leather, nice and padded, and CRAZY light. I carried it to my locker on my head, heh.
UNFORTUNATELY it is a little too narrow. Is nice and high over his withers, but the nice lady who will be giving me lessons was there today, and said that it would make him sore. I thought it felt like it would be comfy on him, but she knows a lot better, so I'm really glad she was there to check him out. A nice woman with a lovely Hanoverian said I could borrow a girth and a pad from her to try the saddle out, but I still wanted a pro opinion before getting on him, and I am glad I got one. I will never use it on him, not if it will make him sore. So. Now I am going to try to resell it. I think I can eventually. I'll just ask for what I paid for the saddle and the shipping, and I think it will still be a very good deal. Bummer though. Solomon is a big guy, and I keep underestimating his size.

He scared me today!

I saw him lie down as I was coming up the walk, in the soft spot that the horses like to roll in. He saw me as he was lying down, so he just laid there, watching me come up the drive. I called to him but he wouldn't get up. I went over to him and he blew at me in greeting but wouldn't get up. I pushed on his side a couple times but he wasn't budging. Of course I had those scared new horse mom thoughts: what if he foundered? He's gained so much weight so fast! What if he colicked! OH NO!
I had to stay calm though, because I didn't want to scare him, and I didn't know if he was okay and just not wanting to get up yet or if something was wrong. I was worried that the vet would be gone for the day, and what would I do then?
Luckily a couple of people were on their horses nearby, so I asked them for help.
"Excuse me, sorry to bother you, but can you help me? My horse won't stand up!"
"Well, is he lying there or rolling?"
I had walked over to them at this point, and Solomon, seeing me walk away again, decided to roll around, shake, get up, and come to me. Heh. Whew. So the nice people on their horses reassured me, and we figured out that he was just watching momma, whose arrival interrupted him when he was about to roll, and he was just excited enough to see me show up that he didn't roll, but he still DID want to, only after I had come over to greet him. Silly hoss. And silly overprotective hoss owner! I've just been reading about horses casting, laminitis and colic, so I got worried. I'm just glad it was nothing and he was fine.
I got this really not very bright idea that I could get Solomon to help me carry his bad of senior feed to the grain room. It's 50 pounds, which is way more than I am supposed to lift. Now I know (because the barn owner told me after the fact) that I could have found one of the guys who worked there and gotten them to carry it for me. D'oh.
Anyway, we went to the car and I draped Solly's rope over his neck so he would stand and not trip on it. I picked the senior feed bag up, and he smelled it. He made his "oooh feed that to me" sound and tried to take a bite out of the back when I went to try to balance it on his back. Okay so yeah not such a good idea. Heh. Of course someone was walking past on their horse while I was saying "no, don't try to eat that!"
I'm really glad he's a smart horse and that he is generally of a mind to obey me, because he stopped trying to eat the bag immediately. So then I had this 50 pound bag that I had to lug to his grain room, which took both hands, and I didn't feel like I could hold his rope at the same time. Good thing I have taught him to follow me when I ask him to, lead line or not.
So he walked with me without his rope. Halfway through the barn he spotted a flake of alfala, ohh mama. He started to lower his head to it, but I said "NO" and he brought his head back up and kept walking, just like that. Good boy. He went in his paddock when I told him to, and waited while I put his new sack of feed in it's can. He got half a scoop of senior feed with some pro biotic and some sand clear. He watched me mix it through a tiny crack in the wall between his paddock and the grain room, heheh.
I saw a little coyote exploring one of the turn out pens. "Hey! Hey, you better get out of here or H____'ll shoot you!" I told him. He was unimpressed. H___ is the barn owner. She has a stuffed and mounted coyote in her living room. Hopefully that little 'yote out there wised up and left.
Also saw the three tom turkeys, which the BO has taken to calling "Tom, Dick and Harry." They are also rather calm around humans. Not afraid of them at all. I had to honk to get one of them out of my way when I drove to the barn today.
There was also a baby mouse, which one of the other boarders spotted. She thought it was injured, so the BO went over with a shovel to put it out of it's misery, but it turned out to just be young and unsure. I caught it (I know, I know, plague and stuff... uh I washed my hands afterwards?) and tried to let it go outside, but it just got scared and sat there, so I bought it back in and said "H____ help, I don't need another pet!" so she took it from me and found where the boarder thought it might live, under a tack locker, and let it go. It went in there, so I ended up not feeling like I needed to take it home to take care of it. Heh. I know, I know, I do not have to nurture every single animal I come across. I'm sure that mouse will quite happily thrive and make a million more mice, but the feed is well contained.
Also saw a little grey fox out there. Did not pick it up.
So. Yes. I have an instructor now. Y'all can breathe a sigh of relief, heh. My first lesson will be Friday. She and I did find a saddle that fit Solomon. It's a custom-made one that belongs to a woman whose horse she is training. We'll see if she'd be willing to let us borrow it. That would rock, though I can understand if she isn't, what with it being custom made and all that. I'm still really bummed about the eventing saddle not fitting Solly, but that's the way things go sometimes.
We took him to an area he hadn't been before to try some other saddles on him, and he got that "worried" look again. So tomorrow or Friday I think we'll do some exploring, wandering around the grounds so he and I become a little more familiar with the area.
By the time I took him out to the pasture, it was completely dark. I could barely see anything, but between the two of us we found our way out to his pasture without incident. When I took his halter off, he wandered off like he always does, so I suppose he can see in the dark a lot better than I can. Note to self: get a flashlight.

Monday, September 1, 2008

MAjor breakthrough day!

Major breakthrough day!

Today was a big, awesome day!
Here you can see Solomon in his new fly mask. Sorry the quality is so bad- my digital camera has trouble with the shady paddock when there's bright daylight in the background.
Solly got a couple of days off in the pasture this weekend. It was crazy hot and the dryer here really really sucks, so by the time my clothes were dry on the second day, it was too late to go out there. I love that, at the new place, I can leave him be for a couple of days and not worry about him very much. Everyone there keeps a close eye on the horses, so if anything is off, they'll let the BO know, and she'll let me know.

So my friend V___, who gave me a ride the day I bought Solomon, finally was feeling well enough to come see him at the new place. He feels a little like an uncle to Solly, since he was a part of his rescue. He was very pleased with the new place, I think. I know I had no idea how bad things really were at the old place until I saw the new one.
We spent some time chatting with the BO, who we found out today has a bachelor's in philosophy and a master's in divinity. Pretty cool, eh? We sat and chatted for a while, and she gave me a nice pair of paddock boots. Yaaay! :D I have boots that are actually SAFE TO RIDE IN.
I also bought an endurance saddle off e-bay. I hope it fits. It was a tip from one of the folks who reads my blog- thank you! :D I decided I really liked the look of it, and I'm hoping that it'll be comfy for Solomon, and comfy for me as well. :) The barn owner is going to loan me a saddle pad if the saddle works, until I can find one myself. I'll need a girth too. Any suggestions on a pad and a girth for this saddle?

It's a 19" saddle, so I hope it'll fit my butt, heh.
Anyway, on to the awesome breakthrough today-
Solomon stood at the mounting block! The first try he moved, but then I moved him into place, and he stood, with encouragement. He got soft pettings and massage, and he calmed way down. He stood in place again, and my friend got down off the mounting block, and I got up. He stood for me! He didn't move out! He even stood when I draped the rope over his neck. He got lots of loves for that. I also got a good look at him from above for the first time in a while. Holy crap, he's FAT!
Well, not fat. He's about a 5 now, on the 1-9 body condition scale. Still needs more topline, and the TB in him is going to make him tend towards being a little bony up there anyway, but the muscle will come with work. He is a completely different shape than he used to be though. I have no idea how much weight he has put on in the past three months, but it's a LOT. I mean, he's really big now! His ribs can be felt, but not seen. Yay!
So after the mounting block, we went to the covered arena. On the way he wanted to go to the orchard to eat apples, but there weren't any on the ground, and he was being a little too pushy about it anyway. He completely ignored the three giant tom turkeys that were wandering around in there, too.
In the arena he was also very good. A bit of nostril flaring when we first went in, but then he was fine. No hesitation. We went past the mirror both ways and he didn't even get nervous. We even did a little walking around without the lead rope, which he did really well until he spotted two strange horses in the nearby round pen. Then he froze and stared for a moment, but as soon as I put the lead line on him again, he was fine.
We're going to keep working on leading without a rope or halter though, because if he ever happens to get loose, I want to be able to take him back to wherever he needs to be, whether I have a rope or not. It is also good, I think, for building trust and obedience. Without any tools, there's no force on my part at all. He has to choose to obey, and I have to trust him to obey. When we're really connected, he does great with that.
I was also able to get him to trot on the ground today! I often can't do that, because my ankles just aren't up to it, but today I was able to jog a bit, and after going around once, he decided to listen and trot with me! Quite awesome. We might not lunge, since that isn't really good for him with his feet and legs any way, but if I can get him to do it on the ground, that'll be good. A little exercise for him, and we can work on transitioning from walk to trot, and back into walk again. He DOES know how to do that under saddle, but I'll feel more comfortable about riding when I can get him to do it on MY command on the ground. Plus he really is rather out of shape.
The food and the pasture HAVE given him a bit more muscle than he had before. Once we really start riding, he'll gain more strength that way too. Just walking around will do a lot for him, and it will be gentler than running in circles too.
After the arena we went back to the mounting block, and he only needed to be moved a little bit to get into place, then he stayed there. He was very good, and stood while V___ and I switched places. I even leaned on him a bit, and he didn't budge. V____ went to the tack room to grab and apple, and he stayed in place the entire time. When I offered him the apple, he just turned his head and delicately took a bite, not so much as lifting a foot. I was SO proud of him! He got the whole apple, taking little bites from it as I held it. \
V___ commented that his ground manners were WAY better, and that he is minding me a lot more now. Yay. :) Sometimes I worry that I just have no clue and am sending him the wrong signals, but today was really great, and I felt quite encouraged.
Then he got to go back to his food.

On the way back to the pasture, he pooped on the tack room floor, so I stuck him in the wash rack cross ties while I cleaned up after him. I had to tie him the wrong direction because he didn't want to go in. Of course I couldn't let him win that battle of wills, so after I scooped up after him, I worked on getting him in the wash area proper. He resisted that. He gets this POUTY look on his face when he doesn't want to do something. It's kind of hilarious. He plants his feet on the ground, locks his knees, and purses his lips. Well, it took a lot of false starts before he finally gave in and walked onto the washing area. He got lots of pets and praise when he finally did it, and then we turned around and went back out again. Hopefully he'll think "oh, I guess it's not that bad!" and remember it next time!
When I got him back to the pasture, he was a good boy and stood for me until I took his halter off. Then he walked off, calling to the herd. They were up near the water trough, and a little hard for him to see. He ended up wandering off in the wrong direction looking for them, but he'll figure it out. He has a few friends now, which I am very happy about. When winter rolls around and the horses are brought in, he might have Annoying Horse put in next to him, since she (SHE, oh!) gets along with him. :)
I leave you now with a photo of the majestic Fresian horse, one of three in our happy green barn. Gaze in awe at his dignity and grace!