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

Monday, 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!

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