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.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tongue planted firmly in cheek

So there's this mean old cowboy type on the horse forum that I frequent, and he really enjoys telling all the women that they are dumb and clueless, that they are idiots because they "love" their horse and that they probably named their horse Fluffy. It seems to be what he does when he's home- try to make young girls mad at him. Anyway, he's against anything that isn't cowboy ranch style stuff. I have no problem with well done cowboy ranch style stuff. I just happen to like a lot of other things too.

Anyway, he has this major thing about hobble breaking. To him it seems that hobble breaking is the answer to all problems. To him, all injuries to horse or rider are caused by lack of hobble breaking. Recently he decided to go off on me for asking what caused the latest injury. Of course it was because I didn't hobble break Solomon. Actually it's possible he WAS hobble broke at some point. I just don't know. But that birthed this: (DISCLAIMER: I'm making fun of a certain person's ideas about horsewomen. I'm not ragging on natural horsemanship. Much. I will rag on the people who insist that you must buy their exact version of every single item, marked way way up of course. Beware of anyone who insists that the only way to interact with your horse correctly is to pour thousands of dollars into their wallet.)

I'm here to tell you all about my new training system and product that is SURE to work on ANY HORSE!
Today's lesson is hobble breaking. As we all know, hobble breaking your horse is essential to any training plan... and youd on't need to hire a trainer to do it, or anything! Those silly people with their "experience" are just full of gimmicks, unlike EVERNATURAL!(tm) Just buy my 15 books, come to my clinics (only $5,000 to audit!) and purchase my products, and you'll have a whole new horse without having to waste money on trainers or lessons!
So first of all, you need to make sure your hoss feels comfortable and natural. He needs to feel happy and special. So what makes you feel happy and special? A party!
Here you can see my Special Comfort Head Hugger Party Hat(tm) which is great for the Freudian Regression Horsenality!

You can get it in Pink, Mint, or Purple, but be sure to consult my book, "Auras, Pastels, Glitter, and Horses" to make certain that you are balancing his elemental sign with the right color! Only $139.99. Some restrictions apply.

Once your horse is feeling happy and relaxed, which you can tell he is because he is SMILING, it's time to use my Kind Comfort Leg Embrace Hobbles(tm). ($59.95 plus shipping and handling. Be sure to specify left or right handed.)

Sing "Happy birthday" until your horse poops, and he will be hobble broke!

Be sure to take him back to his stall as soon as you are done, as wide open spaces makes horses uneasy because they cannot hide from eagles.

Here is a sample from my upcoming DvD series, essential for anyone wanting to reach level 13 or beyond!

Okay, so!

Worked out the cost of board, which will depend a bit on how much Sol needs to be fed.
When factoring in gas prices, it might not really be much less than it is now... but in return for writing a training log and posting it, we'll get lessons and training. So totally worth it. Also the place is very peaceful and I do not have to worry so much about the boarder rumor mill. Also we'll eventually get to try stuff that I don't think we could as much at Hossmoor, like taking an extended walk without a lead rope.
There's a round pen and no arena, hah. The soft grassy fields are the arena. That'll work. There are obstacles to work with, streams to cross, logs to jump (not with me in the saddle, hah!) and while he isn't getting a stall as it turns out, he's getting a 45' by 100' paddock with a shelter that has mats and all that good stuff. He'll be quite happy with that- he doesn't like feeling confined.
Ddranch, upon looking at Sol, brought up a point that has been bugging me in the back of my mind for a while- his back may well be too short for my butt. You have a certain length between the safe spot behind the scapula and the end of the ribs for the tree to rest on. Can't really go longer than what there's room for on the horse.
When I first posted Solly up on the forum I frequent, people were going on about how he had a long back. But... actually he doesn't! I had been going by that but really it's not so long. He might need a short saddle, which means he'll need a skinnier butt.
I'm going on a diet, not sure if it'll work but I'm going to try it.
Meanwhile we're going to see if I can learn to ride bareback. Ddranch feels that it is the foundation for good saddle riding... you have to feel the horse, learn how he really moves, and learn how to sit and hold yourself properly instead of relying on the saddle, is I think the theory. Well okay then, we'll try it. I'm sure as hell not trying it alone again, but with guidance I will. He can lead Sol at first. That might work. Or maybe one of his calmer quarterhorses would be willing to let me ride 'em bareback, until I get the knack of it a bit better.

I'm nervous! I'm nervous about moving, hoping it's the right thing to do. I'm often nervous about major changes!
It will be hard not getting to see Sol as much. It's a long drive, I can't do it every day. It's 65 miles each way... about a 2 hour drive, give or take.
*crunches numbers*
Ya know, actually... With bridge toll and stuff, I'll still be saving some money, if we go with the more expensive feeding plan (they feed their horses 2 flakes a day, I feed mine 4) I'll save uh $7 a month, factoring in transportation costs to the board. $47 a month if the vet says he doesn't need as much as he's been fed since he moved to Hossmoor. I was feeding him rehab-the-starved-horse portions. On the other hand he can be kind of high energy, and he's going to get fed what he needs.
They feed alfalfa in the morning and oat hay in the evening. Right now Solly gets alfalfa in the morning and grass hay in the evening. The oat might be a bit richer than the grass, so maybe he won't need as much. But if he does, he'll get it. I will be calling the vet.
Ddranch mentioned that there's a pretty open for fun gymkhana thing going on in a few months or so. He said hey, maybe I'll want to try it out by the time it comes 'round. Hm. Not for some serious competition, just for fun. Maybe trot around some barrels or something silly like that. There's one person who enters who always falls off his horse every year, so I'll not be the only one!
I am so tempted, if we were to do this, to get a giant foam cowboy hat both for myself and for my horse. We would be mocked mercilessly but it might be worth it!
Anyway, first things first... first we must see if I can stay on his back bareback at all!
Tell me it'll all be okay, and that Solly will be happy up in Pope Valley? He'll get pasture turnout eventually too, and he'll make new friends!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wound O' The Month

First of all, a pretty head shot to balance out the ugliness below:

What would cause this? On the left side (in the photo) there is a gash in the wound that is about a quarter of an inch deep. Also there's a bit of ouchiness on the coronet band.

Is there a prize one can win for "most accident-prone horse?" Can the prize be elasticon and sanitary non-stick pads? VetRap wouldn't be frowned on either. Sigh.

He's so happy out in that pasture but he was pretty beat up. Today I found a bunch more ouchies, all little things, except what I thought was a bunch of mud on the underside of his head between his cheeks was a big scrape. I think with THAT one he found an uncapped T-post somewhere. I don't know. I am so torn about whether or not to put him out there again. I will turn him out as much as I can in the meantime.

Today he trotted around a little bit in turnout but then he just stood there gazing at his pasture and his herdmates. When I came back up to the gate he came right over:

Sleepy Sol

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


First off, Sol hurt himself yet again. Blargh, I don't know if he's fighting somebody out there or if it's just that there are too many ways for him to hurt himself out in that pasture. I am going to have to just turn him out every day or so. Hate this. But he keeps hurting himself, what can I do? He isn't sage out there. He's so much happier in pasture, but... it's good that we're moving him for a bit.

Anyway, it's a gash in the front of his rear right fetlock. I'll have to watch and make sure he doesn't get proud flesh. Someone told me that prep H helps avoid that. Anyone know? The wound was too old to suture- I hadn't gotten out to see him for a few days, and the last time I did see him I didn't get to give him a really solid once-over. It was covered in mud, like the rest of him, so no one noticed it. He wasn't limping.

Anyway, he should be okay, I treated and wrapped the wound, and now he's in jail again. He had a lot to say about that, including a bit of whinnying.

So. He was taking a nap when I went out to the pasture today! I was going to try to coax him up, but he dozed off after I put his halter on, so I took it off again and said hi to the other horses until he got up himself.

Heh, he looks dead here, with his mouth open and everything! He was snoring a bit.

Rebel decided to join him.

Solbutt! He looks like a much smaller horse than he actually is here.

"No mom, is sleepytime now. ZZZZZZZZZZ"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ev loves Sol

Well the man couldn't get the camera to work fest enough to catch Solly trotting after me through the pasture, but we got some sweet pictures.

That shirt is a tent and I am not THAT big, I swear!

Also, there were random people with a nice camera taking photos all over the place at Hossmoor today. All the horses are muddy and their winter coats are shedding out a bit, they look a little mangy, hah. But they were taking pics anyway.

I do love my big white butthead. <3

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Crazy horse

Okay so even with a bit of turnout the day before, 5 days is way too long for a Sol-Sol to be stuck in his stall. He flipped out on the walk up to the pasture, head tossing, rearing, charging in circles, etc etc. Sigh. Yeah I backed him and made him circle and stuff. Got him to the gate and unlatched it at the same time I took off his halter. I was NOT going to get myself trampled or dragged around. He of course opened the gate himself and went charging out across the pasture.
Can't wait to get him up north!
After he ran around, bucking and farting and rolling until he looked like a bay instead of a grey I entered the pasture and he followed me around like a tame-as-can-be puppy again. Silly insane horse.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Great day!

Well my BO had been rather concerned about me taking Solly off to the ranch we're going up to, but after I explained the situation more she decided it sounded like a great idea, so yay! Her input really does mean a lot to me.
I talked to ddranch on the phone today, and I am getting excited. I WILL, however, miss people at Hossmoor, and the luxurious indoor arena, the huge pasture, etc etc. I'll miss Venus and Dragon and yes, even Nick Knack.

So today I managed to get back to see Solly again. The moment I got out of my car, he started nickering. He had a big long speech for me... it probably lasted about 2 or 3 minutes. I'd been gone since Thursday, you see, and he'd been locked in his stall because there was freezing rain and hail and I didn't want him out in that really slippery clay-mud in the storms while I was out of town.

So. Sol was a bored hoss. Bored and restless. I went in and he got all kinds of fresh, so I made it a point to be firm with him about personal space, AND about not wandering off on me while I was grooming him. He was actually pretty good. He had some serious gravel in his feet, so I was picking away for a while. Bending is hard so I tend to splay my legs out a bit like a giraffe, which lead to my boot being within easy reach of him today. So what did he do? Being Solly, he reached down and untied my boots with his lips! It's amazing what they can do with those giant mouths of theirs. It makes sense though, as they need to be able to quickly separate grasses from weeds as they graze.

So once we were done with the grooming I put an ACTUALLY waterproof blanket on Solly and we went for a walk. He had serious ants in his pants, and he really wanted to flip out but I managed to keep him under control, despite head tossing, a touch of low rearing and a bit of flailing about. There was much backing done, oh yes there was, and a lot of low, calm, soothing but FIRM talking. The rear got a loud growl, which did make him back down.

But he'd been penned up since Thursday. Can you blame him? That TB blood in him was screaming.

So after making him walk all the way to the covered arena and halfway back towards his stall, I decided to cut across a flooded little stream to a turnout pen.

Now, this stream was a foot, maybe a foot and a half wide. Nothing dangerous. Tiny, really. Piddly. I figured Sol would just step over it like I did. Well he stopped while I crossed and gave me an "are you SERIOUS mom" look. So I figured hey, he's a smart horse, he understands me more often than I'd expect... I looked at him and said "come on Solomon, JUMP!"

And right on command he did just that! It was hilarious because there was this tiny tiny stream and he jumped really high over it! With his legs all tucked up under him and his ears pointed forward... Well, cool!

So we went to the turnout pen, and he was rearing to go, pretty literally. Okay hoss, okay. I made him stand still while I unhooked his halter, which he then threw on the ground. Oh he had a great time running around though! He was bucking and farting and trotting and galloping. Then of course he had to come back and check on mom. He wanted me to PLAY with him. Unfortunately I am not a horse. You know that term "horseplay?" Yeah, it really is rough. Not something a little crippled human should be doing. I did get him to run off, which was cool (hey maybe someday we WILL lunge!) but he would come back after a while, and if I walked anywhere he'd have to come running, and I swear he was trying to get me to run around with him. You know how dogs will try to get you to run with him? He was doing THAT, but in a horsey way. When he accidentally kneed me in the butt it was Personal Space Time. I held my arms out, making fists, and he got the message and didn't shove up against me again. That was nice.

When it started to really come down I haltered him up, clipped on the rope, and had him open the gate. Hey, he likes opening gates. :) Once again he leapt over the little spring on command. Stood there until I said "JUMP!" and then he bunched up his butt muscles and sprung. I think he thought it was fun. When the weather has improved and the big big outdoor arena opens up again, I think we'll see about having him free-jump. That's what you call it when they aren't being ridden, right?

Anyway, back to his paddock he went. Tomorrow it'll be sunny and he'll get to go back out to pasture. That'll be a treat. I am not looking forward to the walk up the drive though. He's going to be a Mister Dancypants.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Big news for Solly

At the end of this month or the next I'm sending Solomon a couple hours up north to the wonderful ddranch. B_ and D___ will help me with Solly in exchange for helping them out around the place when I come up to visit.
Last night I tacked up Solomon with that cheapo dressage-ish saddle, and after making sure the gullet didn't pinch his spine or anything, I thought I'd have a very short ride, since the fit seems pretty good. He didn't want to stand at the block, he always seems to take two people to mount, especially if it has been a while. He kept fighting and fighting me and we'd take breaks and walk around a bit, but then eventually when I tried to lead him back to the block, he STRUCK me. In the leg. I was shocked, angry, a little scared, mostly I felt really hurt though I know I shouldn't take it personally.
I'm not a trainer, I'm in over my head, and he has issues. I am not ready to give up on him. Maybe his head is a little broken from his Charro days, maybe it's just because I'm incompetent, but he's still a love and with discipline he will be a fine horse.
It's weird, because on the ground he has been a lot better. WAY better. When I tacked him up he didn't struggle or fidget at all. Not a squeal. No flinching. No indication of discomfort OR anger. He even took the bit with no fuss whatsoever. He was good until we got to the block, and then he started thinking too much.
There were a couple of other people in the arena doing fancy things. So I got to make an ass out of myself the whole time. And I didn't yell as loud as I wanted to when he kicked me. I smacked him on the shoulder and he backed up a step but I don't think he registered it enough, if that makes sense. But once the moment is over, it's over, you can't really delay consequences with a horse.
He could have broken my leg.
On the one hand he pulled his punch, in a way. On the other hand he struck me.
He's feeling good and full of piss and vinegar when it comes to riding. And while I can understand some of the reasoning behind it, that is the past, that is not now. And the rest of it is that he just doesn't want to. And when he really doesn't want to do something he gets mad and he's a bully.
So I'll be paying board up there, but way less than where he is now. I'll see if he can go to pasture with the other horses... that'll depend on them, they might not want that. But the stall he'd be in is a nice one, with an actual stall with actual bedding I think, and then a paddock that's something like 100 feet long. It has it's own built-in turnout pen!
He'll miss Venus like crazy though. I feel badly about that. And *I* will miss him like crazy, as I don't think I'll be able to get up there more often than 2 or 3 times a week. I'll probably mope about a lot. But this beats trying to sell him off and not being able to ensure his safety any more. He will be in good hands.
I told my BO I would be taking him off to training, and asked her if she wanted me to wait 30 days before doing so.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

:( Hail!

I thought "eh maybe he'll be okay, some of the other pasture horses are out too."

I walked all the way back to my car.

I got in and looked out at the gate, only to see this:

"Mooooom please bring me back in!!!"

Yeah, I'm a sucker and a pushover and I brought him back in. It was close to freezing and alternately raining like a waterfall and hailing. I mean, HAIL.

I had to soak in a hot shower that felt like it burned and drink a whole mug of hot tea before I could feel my arms again. Not sure if Sol really appreciates being in, but Venus is also in so he doesn't mind SO much. Usually he is happy to rejoin the herd when I let him go, but not today!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cold, quiet day.

Today was cold and quiet.
On the drive over I spotted some llamas in a vineyard!

I'd seen them way up on the hillside on the other side of a fence before, and decided that they must be llamas and not cows. Looks like I was right. Not sure if they were supposed to be in that vineyard or not, but people can get a little edgy about other people showing up at their door without an invitation here, and the llamas were just eating the grass, so I figured they were fine.

They fed the pasture horses 15 minutes early. Well shoot. Here we have some pasture politics in action:

Solly is the one running away but kicking. I JUST missed the buck, darn it.

Once in, we had an exciting adventure! Actually no we didn't. Solomon got fed in his paddock, I brushed him, and he ate his food. After a long long while (he is such a slow eater) there was a whinny that Solomon immediately raised his head at. I moseyed over to the cross ties and yep, it was Venus! I chatted with Venus' momma for a while, and then she took her in for the night, passing Solly on the way:

Awwwh! <3
Of course it'd be sweeter if there hadn't been nipping a moment later, but oh well.

When I took Solly out of his paddock, he swung the gate open with his nose. He loves messing with things with his head and mouth. When we exited the paddock, I turned him around and asked "hey Solly, want to close the gate?" Being my horse, he closed it, hah!

It was so cold that I wrapped one of his blankets around me while he ate. It smelled sweet.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Solly and friends

Today was spoil Solomon day. Warm grain mash, carrots, and a miniature watermelon. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and feed him in the wash rack. He hates the wash rack, so I decided to give him a positive experience in it today. Also, it was a lot easier to clean up in there after he ripped the watermelon to shreds. He just loves picking it up, tossing it in the air, rolling it around, and slorping it up. Of course between bites he had to check on mom, which involved sniffing my chest and drooling bits of watermelon all over me.

When I brought him in, I just draped the lead rope over his neck and held it. I had a scoop of grain mash- he was going to go wherever I went, haha! If I trusted him a little more AND had my own land that he lived on, I wouldn't have used a rope at all, but since there are other people there and I only board, I wasn't going to risk him running off to raid a grain room. Of course, if he REALLY REALLY wanted to do that, he's strong enough to get away from me, heh.

I was feeling pretty good today, despite a slightly hurty leg and the usual aches and pains, and decided that we'd trot up the walk to the pasture. It's nice soft mulch all the way up. With the verbal command "trot" and me running, Solly joined me and trotted beautifully, perfectly in time to my own footsteps. That was a great feeling. An awesome feeling. Until I had an asthma attack, haha! But it was wonderful while it lasted. :)

Then Solly got to go back out to pasture. Here you can see Nick Knack being nosy and Solly eating until he notices Venus and just HAS to go to her. Awwwh!

The other day I was grooming my boy and I touched a tender spot that had a tick. He squealed and cow-kicked. Oh wow so not okay. He didn't kick AT me but he is SO not allowed to do that. I've started grooming him in his paddock instead of the cross-ties again. Then if I have to smack him for misbehaving I don't have to worry about him flipping himself over or what have you. And if he kicks, he's getting a firm smack to his chunky Appendix butt!

Oh I wish I had gotten a photo of the utterly SHOCKED look on his face! "Wait, WHAT? You aren't a DOORMAT?" Soon as he kicked out I smacked him and shouted "NO KICKING" and he danced sideways a few feet. Then I kept brushing him, gently, and he did it again, and got another smack and another "no kicking." He got the picture, he hasn't kicked out since, and has been very docile. When I first started working with him I worried that stuff like this would ruin our horse and owner relationship, but it doesn't. I'm not overly harsh, I do nothing that injures him or is anywhere NEAR as mean as the horses out in pasture, I respond immediately after he does something bad, and then I let it go. If anything, it seems to have improved things, because he knows just where he stands.

On that day when I took him out to pasture, he glued himself to me and we walked around a bit. Then I took him to Venus and when I said "hey look, it's VENUS" he went over to her with the happiest, most enthusiastic nicker. Not because I said that of course, because he saw her and was greeting her, but it was so cute. Then they touched muzzles for a bit, he nibbled on her, and they grazed together, noses just inches apart. He really does love that filly.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Horse shoes- old school!

Today I got a cool treat- I got to watch a farrier who actually MAKES his shoes. A lot of farriers these days buy factory-made shoes. This fellow does it the old way though. I didn't get to see it from the start... they start out with a straight iron bar. But I got to see a little bit-

Here is the shoe in the forge. Look at that cool little thing- it was very very hot. Quite nifty.

Here the farrier, whose name is Jeff, was hammering out the shoe, shaping it a bit more.

The horse is a little nervous about the shoe here. The farrier burns the shoe into the hoof so that it will make an imprint and fit exactly, ensuring even pressure all the way 'round. This does not hurt the horse at all. The hot shoe does not hit his frog, only the end of the hoof on the outside, which doesn't have nerve endings. It's like a thick toenail.

The shoe did not touch the hoof evenly, so the farrier rasped it again, to make sure that there would be even contact.

The second burn. This time there was a lot of smoke, which the farrier said was a good sign. He was pleased with the burn and after cooling the shoe and ensuring that it did not warp in the water (it cools really fast when you just drop it in) he nailed it on.

Neat eh?

Showing off: when your horse doesn't do what you say he will!

Well, actually he was pretty good.

I think his mouth was too full, haha, and I was trying to film while I did it, so I wasn't focused well... though he knew better than to take that step back!

You can see that he has a harder time stretching his neck back on his right side than on his left side. You don't really see him rocking forward on his toes during the "bow" which he is supposed to do, and which he did do before I filmed, and maybe at the end there, heh.

Today was a beautiful spring day. Not a cloud in the sky. Unfortunately, it's still winter, and I'm almost certain now that we will have bad fires in the summer.

Still, a lovely calming day. Solomon came in without bribes at all (I forgot to bring the grain scoop with me) and was a well-behaved boy all the way around today, until it was time to stop the hand-grazing. Then he got mad and tossed his head a lot. I put an end to that right quick. Hand grazing is a privilege, NOT a right, and if he doesn't do as I say, he doesn't get to do it. Still, I like to do it every day that I can. The green grass won't last forever. By the time summer rolls around it will all be dead. It's a good way to bond, too. So long as he remembers to mind me.

His bite is healing well. Every day I find some new ding, but nothing serious lately. Maybe he is finally learning to not hurt himself in the pasture, knock on wood!

Back out in the pasture I watched him take bites from three different piles of hay before settling on a fourth flake. He was picking it up and tossing it around to loosen it up. Then he tripped on it and almost fell down. Yeah that's my horse. Later on in the evening, I tripped on absolutely nothing at all and turned my ankle. We're quite a pair.

He might have lost Venus to Kyrie, the new horse who had a partial body clip. Body clips look so weird to me! Kyrie is a big guy and very strong. He was by the gate for a long time before settling in, but now he has and he is a rather dominant horse. We'll see if he has really lost her though.

Bobby, who is still a teenager, came and tried to steal my skirt. A little later on, Venus also tried to nibble on my skirt, though she was more delicate and polite about it. I should really not laugh when they do stuff like this, but I can't help it!

Out in the pasture it was so peaceful. Horses and deer. Blackbirds singing, crows cawing. A single hawk, soaring in the sky. I found out that Brigit the sweet little old dog had to be put down. She had a big tumor and was going downhill fast. It was so sudden. My poor barn owner is very sad. I gave her a hug.

I thought I had a photograph of Brigit but I don't. I'm sad about this. I wanted to make a little memorial painting for the BO, but I don't have a photo to work off. :(

Brigit is buried on the way to the memorial grove. There was a brightly colored potted flower over her grave. I think that she would be happy about it. It's a nice spot.