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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The outside of a horse is the best thing for the inside of a person.

So yesterday I found out that a dear friend of mine killed himself. She shot his dog, and then he shot himself. I was a wreck. I am very sad about it. Was hard to hear.
Today I decided come hell or high water I was going to go see my horse.
I went out, and there was ice on the road! Ice! Here! Hey you people in places where it snows, stop throwing things at me!
Anyway, I got to the barn and went out to the pasture with cookies in my pocket. Solomon was reluctant to leave the pasture, though he wasn't quite as stubborn as the other day. I did not want to spend an hour playing the "no really, you must come with me" game, so I pulled a cookie out of my pocket and held it between my teeth. Suddenly Solomon was very interested in walking with me. Yep, that's my boy. I told him, not that he understood, but I told him that he could have the cookie if he walked with me without resistance, but if it was a fight, then I was going to eat the damned thing myself.
Hey, those horse cookies smell really good!
But Solly decided that he really could be a good boy after all, and followed me fine, so he got his cookie when he was in the cross ties.
His feet look good. Quite good. Yay for the farrier!
So today I decided that we would try out the swayback pad and his tack. Today we were going to RIDE.
I've been really nervous about getting back in the saddle actually, but today for some reason I wasn't at all. So I saddled him, which took forever but I wanted to get it right, put on my heeled boots and helmet, and then bridled him, after trying to warm the bit up a bit. He actually was a very good boy and took the bit right away. Yay!
I had kind of high hopes for the mounting block, but he pretty effectively dashed them. He was up to his same old tricks again, swinging around and facing me when I climbed up the block, but this time he thought he could get away with it by acting cute and being affectionate. No, it is not cuddle time, it is work time when your bridle is on, Solomon.
So, did I want to play the "Haha you climbed the block and I am moving so you can't quite reach me" game today? No, no I did not. I eyed a nearby picnic table. There is a big lovely paint mare named Spirit in a paddock/stall combo next to the table. She's very attentive and interested in the world around her. Solly likes to stare at her. So I thought, aha, a distraction!
We walked over to the picnic table, and I acted casual, sitting on the table while he gased at miss Spirit. When they were almost close enough to sniff noses, I slipped the reins over his head and swung myself up into the saddle. Hah! Sucker!
That probably won't work twice.
Of course once I was in the saddle he was totally clam about it. He just anticipates too much. Heh.
So there's a trainer at the barn who will soon be moving to SoCal to train with an Olympic dressage trainer. He's such a doll. Just very sweet and soothing. He goes great work with the horses here, and I am sure will be sorely missed. He of course was passing by right when I executed my picnic table mount. Hah. I think he made some gentle "oh nice work" jibe, heh. He made it amusing instead of stinging though. It was kind of graceful considering, if I do say do myself.
So nice trainer said he would ride to the covered arena with me if I'd like. I thanked him profusely. Solomon did try to run off to his pasture with me, but I know the one-rein stop now, haha! It's circles for you, buddy!
Nice trainer fellow gave me a lot of good tips. He has a way of explaining things simply that just make them click. He told me to not worry so much about my heels being down and under my hips yet, to start with just doing what I needed to do to feel comfortable and balanced, and to move my hips with his back. And it helped! It helped a lot. Instead of worrying as much about looking proper, I was able to get in tune with Solly's movements more. He gave me tips on rein holding and making myself more clearly the leader, and why I should. I told him if I were rich and he were staying I would totally hire him. Haha.
Really I wish I could!
Anyway, Solomon and I did big wide figure 8s, and by the second figure 8 he was walking in very nice circles. Those dressage cones are actually quite useful for orienting yourself! So we practiced that, walking along the rail, walking on the center line, and walk-halts. Trainer fellow suggested getting him really comfy with the covered arena since it's winter and all.
After a little while I decided it was time to go back. Kind of a short ride, but I think we both need to be eased into it after so many months of inactivity. So! I opened the arena gate on his back! Yay! Heh, I unlatched it and pushed it open a bit, and then Solomon opened it the rest of the way. He likes opening gates. I should get him a ginat rubix cube or something to play with so he won't get so bored.
In the arena he got more and more responsive with the halts, but out of the arena he was not so into that, because the environment was much mroe interesting and he wanted to GO. Well, I got him to walk. Passed a trio of Western riders. Amazing! Heh, they were out trail riding. I was inspired by this site and decided that we would ride on part of the bridle path around the small apple orchard.
Well, the path on the other side of the orchard was covered in ice and frost! A rather novel phenomenon for around here. Solomon thought so too, because he decided it was oh so very much time to trot. Well, it was a day for new things, so I let him have his head for a little ways.
Funny thing, there's a fellow on one of my horse forums who is all about dressage, and all about Invasor, this lovely white horse from spain with a powerful neck. Invasor is amazing and can do all sorts of very very impressive things. I'm sure he's worth many millions. Anyway, his rider didn't do that stiff stiff posting that I see people do, instead he undulated with his horse's movements. I'm not olympic dressage rider, but seeing that helped me. I thought, well maybe instead of resisting and trying to pop up and down, maybe I can sort of roll my hips and my body with him when he trots. And lo and behold, it worked. I did not bounce on him, I did not slam on him, and I even got a quasi-post going, though it was not terribly easy on a giant trail/roping saddle with stirrups that my toes can barely reach, haha. Welll you aren't supposed to use the stirrups to post really, anyway, right?
So then we got back to the mounting block area. We circled the block and managed to stop NEAR it, but not quite near enough. I ended up dismounting to the ground, but somehow it didn't hurt, yay! I did my best to not drag on or hang off the saddle at all either. Yay, I felt like a real rider!
So then I untacked Solly, who had not a drop of sweat on him, brushed him, and gave him a back massage. Trainer fellow said that when I rode him he looked totally relaxed and not at all uncomfortable, which is always good to hear.
I did notice, however, that the very back area of where his saddle touches had a dark marking from the new saddle pad. That worries me. I think it might still be bridging a bit, and that's no good. I'll have to put a little more padding in the middle somehow. I have a therapeutic foam pad from Cashel. Maybe I'll put that overtop the swayback pad the next time I ride, to give the saddle something to sink into more so the pressure is more even, and to give me more of a visual idea about where the pressure is concentrated. Of course I want it even on his sides all the way down the length of the saddle.
It might also be that the pad just was dusty there or something, but I don't want to take any chances, so we'll keep working on it.
Here he is after the ride. You can see the grey bit on his back. Actually I think it goes farther back than the saddle did, so maybe it's actually a mud rolling spot that I brushed out earlier? He did have a lot of spots on him. What do you all think?
After getting Solly all taken care of and back in his pasture, I chatted with the one guy at the barn who does roping. I like him a lot! Really nice guy, easy going, doesn't put on airs. Not uptight at all. Actually people generally aren't uptight at my barn, they're really nice. Maybe sometime I can go trail riding with him. His horse is named "Rebel." Is that a roping horse name or what?
So when I headed out to the barn I was full of sorrow and grief, but when I left I felt elated, full of life and joy. I wish my friend Clif had tried working with horses like I suggested. Maybe he would have found a reason to stick around. But I don't know. Now no one will know.
Life is precious, folks, and there's so much in the world that makes it worthwhile. And once you're gone, you're gone. Maybe there's reincarnation, who knows, but this life that you have now, it's the only time you'll have it. So stick around. There are horses to hug. And tell the people you love that you do love them, because you never know. So as Joe from TB Friends says, be sure to hug your horses, and I'll add, be sure to hug all your loved ones. I love the world. I do.

No comments: