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 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/)

No comments: