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, 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?

No comments: