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, March 27, 2009

The big move!

So today Solomon moved from Martinez, California to Pope Valley. It couldn't have gone better!

When I went to Hossmoor today, Solomon was grazing with Dragon and Rebel. He's going to miss them. :( Venus he'll miss too, though Kyrie claimed her when she went into heat last week, and she's still with him.

I'd been really worried about giving him his intra-muscular shot of ACE. Had a friend tell me it was really hard to get in, and that if you got an artery the horse would be dead instantly. I was prepared for it to feel like sticking a needle through cured leather, but it was not... it went right in. I'd accidentally squirted 1cc out before I even got near the horse (d'oh) but when I gave him the shot and saw that there was no blood when I pulled back, the other 2ccs went in fine. That, as it turned out, was plenty.

I'm going to give a major shout out now to the folks who trailered my boy. Hoofbeats Horse Transportation (http://www.hoofbeatshorsetransportation.com/) does hauling for TB Friends (http://www.tbfriends.com/) which is an awesome horse rescue out in the Sacramento area. A number of haulers called back a little too late, and said that they were glad that it was Hoofbeats hauling him, if it wasn't them. Well, there's a reason why some people have an excellent reputation in the horse world.

They were there right on time. They got Solomon in the trailer with absolutely no fuss, and said trailer had nice golden straw for him to stand on, and we hung a haynet full of alfafa too.

I followed them the entire time, and they were very gentle. Here's a photo from a turn in the road... they had pulled over to let some cars by, though they only did that a couple of times because, they said, it's hard on the horse. I think I heard one whinny the entire time, and that was early on.

There were a lot of lovely views on the way. Fields full of whit onion flowers, like sprays of stars. Vibrant orange poppies. Yellow mustard. Purple lupines. Pines and oaks. Vineyards and rolling forested hills. Even a lake or two!

Offloading was great too! Ddranch gave them a quick tour of the place. :) The first thing they said when they got out of the truck was "that was the LESS winding way?" I'm glad I didn't stress my friend by trying to get her to trailer him all the way there... it wasn't a bad road, but it was also a bit challenging.

Solomon back out of the trailer like a pro, and Ddranch advised me to take him grazing for a little bit before putting him in his paddock. Sol started grazing like he owned the place. He giraffe-necked for about 20 seconds, and then he was markedly unconcerned. I'm not sure how much of that was the ACE (it'd been 2.5 hours at that point) but he took to the ranch like a fish to water.

After that, Ddranch took him for a short walk to get to know him a bit while I paid the nice Hoofbeats folks.

Then he went into his new paddock! I don't think it's 45 feet wide, though I could be wrong... but it's still huge!

I went inside to do some paperwork, and when I came back out, Solomon was napping! He had clearly rolled and then dozed off. When I came up to the gate he stood up and came over to visit with me.

So Ddranch said "hey, why don't you take him for another walk around the place?" and after a bit he came by in his ATV and told me that there was a nice field of flowers up the hill which would make for some nice pictures, and to meet him there. So we walked up there, and he said "ahhh, I see, you are looking at him too much."
I'd been looking at Solomon instead of looking where I was going, and it was making him a little unsure. So he had me practice leading him with a good amount of slack, and my hands at my pockets "like a cowboy." Heh, it worked very well.

See, the riding instructor I'd hared before had been very strict about leading him by holding the rope RIGHT under his chin, and always leading him from the left side, always making him be in an exact position... but he never really responded well to that. He does much better with a more relaxed way of going. With boundaries still, of course, but he really does like Ddranch's methods. The man is really good with horse psychology.

So, some pictures. I don't even know how big the ranch is- it is full of trails and stuff. Eventually we'll get to the point where I can let him loose and chill as he grazes. There are a number of horses that can walk around loose. It's a big place, and they have no reason to leave. Only one little way out. Solomon doing this way in the back of the property will take time... but even the one time he ran, he never went very far from me, and kept coming back.

Anyway, yeah, pictures.

Hah, I look so big compared to him here! It's an illusion of perspective. He's a big guy.

Aaaand oh noes, look out for the killer horse!

Also, the flowers were lovely, so Solomon peed on them.

He was very careful around me on the ground, as he always is. Sometimes at Hossmoor when no one was looking I'd sit and let him graze around me. I've been doing that since I started working with him last summer. This was the first time I tried lying down, and lo and behold, careful horse. He DID come over and lower his nose to me for nosekisses once, of course.

Ddranch told me about a mare he had, and a bunny. The mare and the bunny would hang out together, and the mare was quite careful around said bunny. Sol is a kind boy when not asked to work. He is such a love.

After the photo shoot we were left to our own devices, so we wandered the hills a little bit, and then did a bit of obstacle course stuff... over a tarp, then stepping up onto a half-log and back down off it, and stepping over a bunch of big logs lined up with about a foot in between each. Sol did really well, especially on the half-log, which was set up like a ramp, but he did hit one of the parallel logs with his back foot. Ddranch says he'll get better at watcing where he walks as we continue to work on it.

So then Solomon went in for dinner. Oat hay! The oat hay they have is good stuff. Sol wasn't sure if he wanted to eat it at first, after having just had a ton of green grass, but eventually he got to the business of chowing down.

After dinner we took him to the round pen. Again I learned that I was staring at him when I needed to be looking where I wanted him to go. Ddranch got him to lunge. He said he's pretty lazy, but has done a lot of roundpen work. He has also had some sort of natural horsemanship training, but not in a good way. We're going to have to undo some of that. The place I got him from claimed to do Parelli, which I'm not totally crazy about because of all the gimmicks, but it isn't bad... however, you can claim to do it and do a very bad job of it. These people would shake the hell out of the horses and snap the lead rope in their faces to get them to back... and they had that carrot-stick thinger, oh yeah, but they would whip the hell out of the horses with it when they lunged them. Ugh.

Anyway, then we worked on the mounting block. He does that "winging out" thing, swinging his butt away and facing you so you can't mount him. Well that isn't going to fly here at the new place! So we took a mounting block and stuck it next to him while he was tied to the rail. Ddranch got up on the block nad pretending to start to mount. He moved his butt toward the rail. The mounting block was moved closer. Same pattern, repeated until he was parallel to the rail. Noplace to go, hah!

So then ddranch had me untie him and hold him, and he actually climbed up on the bugger! Sol tried to take off, but I had the lead and didn't let him. I gave the lead to Ddranch, and tied the end to his halter, creating makeshift reins.

And then they walked around. Oh yeah, Sol pinned his ears, he squealed, he crow-hopped, he swished his tail, but Ddranch persevered in his calm, consistent way, admonishing him verbally as soon as he acted up, and praising him when he did not. All they did was walk around, and by the end of it Sol was being a bit better.

Now, for a while Sol wasn't quite as bad. But then he went back to old habits. Habits he had before I got him, as I discovered a little while ago. Tricks to get out of work. It got him out of being a lesson horse. Ddranch feels that a lot of these issues that Sol has are because he is expecting pain. He's expecting abuse. He has been through hell, and he has had a hard life. But now it is time for him to learn that his life is not like that any more, and his job is to be ridden.

We have not entirely ruled out pain. We'll be testing that with bute at some point. But most of it seems to be behavioral in nature. Ddranch says that he has a lot of issues, and it might take quite some time to work through them. I'm not to ride him yet. Solomon is not a beginner's horse. I will get to ride some of Ddranch's horses though, and that will be a treat! I'll get to learn how to ride on a horse that will be willing to teach me. And eventually I'll get on Solomon's back again... when we are both ready.

On Sunday I am going back up again, and by the gods we're going to get him lunging for me. He knows how. He just has my number. And I just need to learn how to signal him in a way that he'll understand and obey. There might be some stomping, hah.

Other tidbits:

I learned how to oil a bridle and reins to keep them soft and supple.

We are going to even out his hooves a bit, just do a little bit of trimming. His heels are not even, and that is a problem.

Sol could care less about his Jollyball. At least for now. Maybe he'll get bored enough to play with it eventually.

I got to see a foal that was born I think 35 hours or so ago. AWWWH! Did not get to approach, but maybe someday.

I saw a fellow riding his horse around, and a little while later I saw the horse sans rider go running by, and then the fellow came running after her. Haha. He wasn't hurt, and he got right back on when he caught her. He was wearing a helmet, heh.

I am beginning to think that Ddranch, on the other hand, can ride about anything. He might laugh it I tell him I think so. I'm going to guess that while he might be able to, he's also smart enough not to.

Ddranch thinks that Solomon does actually have some Arab in him. He can see TB, QH, and Arab in the way he looks and moves.

And finally, I am so very, very glad that I moved Solomon here. I feel relaxed, he feels relaxed, and it is a happy, healthy place! We're really going to work through this stuff. Yay!

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