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.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Work, babies, and hoses.

Solomon has taken to nickering when I approach a lot more often.
Mom means grass and senior feed! Yay!

Of course, mom also means work... but Solly was, by and large, in a nice, mellow mood today.

The trailer is his happy place. It's the rest and get groomed place. It is a part of The Routine. The Routine starts with grooming, has work in the middle, and ends with grass and maybe a pan of something tasty.

I'm still getting used to picking feet with shoes on them. It's a little bit trickier than barefoot, but it isn't rocket science, heh.

Today I also picked out the feet of Teddy Bear and MAGIC, who is the baby's momma. I've been slowly befriending her, and she IS a good girl. The baby also let me pick up one of her little feeties, though she yanked it away pretty quickly. Still, that's a lot of trust from a one month old!

So, Solly got rubbed with fly spray. He got brushed and petted. And then he got saddled up, which he held nice and still for. When Bo approached with the bridle, he actually BENT HIS HEAD towards him to take it, and opened his mouth right up to take the bit. What a good boy! I mean, a year ago when you approached with a bridle he'd run in circles to get away from it. Now he's actually diving right in!

He was still nice and calm.

So off we went to the roundpen to do a little warmup. He was a good boy with the roundpenning, and he only shifted a little bit when Bo went to mount, then held nice and still.

Now, he was still a bit of a Grumpers McGrumpypants while being ridden, but overall he was good. While he expressed a bit of displeasure at working, he did everything that was asked of him in the roundpen. Today we tried a martingale, to see how he would respond to it. Bo rides with a nice loose rein, and used the martingale basically to change the direction of the reins a bit and help guide Sol into proper frame. Solomon has been ridden in parades with a martingale in the past, apparently. Not by us. The hope is again to get him to work the proper muscles and use the proper posture, with the goal of not needing to use such things forever.

Solomon did have a naughty moment when the gate was opened. He wanted to follow mom and was not listening to Bo, so he rushed through the gate, ignoring the signals he was given.

This earned him more time in the roundpen.

Then we went for a little walk down the road! He was a good boy going out, and only trotting for a moment coming back in. Then he spent a bit of time with his arch-enemy, Mister Barn Wall.

Solomon hates Mister Barn Wall. Mister Barn Wall won't move out of the way, even though Solomon insists on getting all up in Mister Barn Wall's proverbial grill. He cannot go FORWARD. He chomps at the bit (the only time he did today) and tosses his head, but Mister Barn Wall will not move, and he is not allowed to go around Mister Barn Wall until Bo says so. Mister Barn Wall time is sidepass and back time. Solomon is learning to back consistently, slowly but surely. It makes him pretty mad, but he does it. His sidepass needs work, as he currently does it in kind of a diagonal position instead of lined up. Sidepassing is sort of a hard math problem for horses who are new to it... walking sideways, crossing one's legs over each other, and not turning one's head in the direction one is going.

Mister Barn Wall time was short, because it tends to upset him a bit. The upside is that he is pretty relieved once Mister Barn Wall time is over, and tends to relax into getting ridden around- hey, he gets to go FORWARD, which he wants. He hates circles. He hates backing up and sidepassing. He just wants to go go go.

Man the ranch is so gorgeous.

But there you can see that he is pretty relaxed. It's good to end a lesson on a positive note.

After work, he was untacked and he got to see me pick up his feed pan.


Translation: "I was a good boy and I worked hard PLEASE FEED ME NUMMY STUFF MOM it's that time right???"

Solomon had his sweat hosed off while he ate. He was not entirely pleased about this, but the siren call of LMF Senior trumps the evil bath.


After his pan, Solomon was allowed to roam the property again, grazing. He spent most of the time under his favorite tree near the big pasture with all the mares, but tried to be as close to Magic and the baby as she would allow him to be. Magic really does not care for Solomon, but he perseveres. He is pretty sure the baby should be HIS, and her momma too, even though momma threatens to beat him up for some reason that he cannot fathom. Bo says that male horses can often be rather paternal. Solomon certainly fits this mold- at Hossmoor, the two youngest horses could often be found sharing a pile of hay with him, or at least grazing close by. He has bonded to the LBG. But the foal is only a month, and he is just in LOVE with her. He calls to her with his special "baby horse" nicker.

Bo took Magic and the baby to the roundpen in order to start to teach the baby about lead ropes. She wears a halter most days, but lead ropes are still pretty scary. Progress was made today, but Solomon insisted on supervising. He was so intent on watching over the baby that he forgot to chew the grass in his mouth!

Isn't that just the sweetest, most watchful face? He really has this special expression just for the baby.

I think when they wean her, he wouldn't be a bad choice for a new buddy.

So near the end of the day, Bo went to refill the water trough in the big pasture. This is always rather entertaining to watch. The two really loud colored paints, Leo and Jewel, just love playing with the hose. It makes a great loud squishy noise, and it feels pretty cool to chew on too. It's fun to play tug of war with, and sometimes it sprays the other horses.

Leo's nose:

(how can anyone resist the urge to snorfle that nose, or at least play with that big pink lip?)

Leo with the hose. Isn't he so striking?

Jewel has a cute nose too. Okay, I confess... I think all horses have cute noses and lips. I like to make Solomon "talk" with his big ol' lips, which he patiently tolerates, haha.

Here Jewel just looks so sly and pleased with herself. She is the 2nd in command mare of the pasture.

And for your viewing pleasure, playtime with the hose- a three part movie.


A little relapse

This morning I could barely get out of bed. Back is screaming. Stiff, sore, can barely dress myself.
I'm still going out to see Solomon. Hopefully the back will stop locking up. If not, Solomon will walk me out until I feel better.
I had a fall yesterday, while packing up that saddle I sold. Two days ago I was running in the meadow. I'm not going to let this stop me, I refuse.
Maybe I can ride Teddy Bear. If I can get onto her back, things will improve. A horse's back heals my back. The posture and the movement, it does something with my core, works it but makes it feel so good.
A year ago I would have despaired on a day like today. But not now.
Not now.

Now there are horses.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shoes shoes shoes.

Yesterday morning the farrier came by and gave Solomon shoes!
I was unfortunately not able to make it up in time to meet him or see the process. Next time I'll find a way to be there though.
Solomon has shown an immediate change. He was seen playing with the Little Bay Gelding. He walks on gravel roads with his knees stepping high, just like he was on soft ground. And letting him loose on the property now finds him traveling a LOT more.

Here he is, waiting to be groomed. He isn't standing like that normally- I pushed him forward to get him standing evenly on the mat, and he just stretched that way. Why Solomon, you look like some sort of stud photo!

His back feet look good, but man are they tiny! Poor boy really did get jilted in the hoof department. I forgot to ask what size shoe he is wearing, but I'm guessing it's a 1.

We took him in the roundpen and lunged him, which he calmly did... but he didn't want to stop trotting. He did well with everything today except whoa. I dropped the whip, stopped following, even tucked into myself a bit, but all he would do was roll back and go the other direction. I guess maybe it felt good! He did eventually stop of course.

When I got his feed pan and put in some senior feed, he came running to me. I wanted to mix in some water, so I took off, and there he was trotting behind me... I can't move fast enough to get him to canter with me, haha. So there he was trotting behind me with his neck arched over my shoulder, stretching his lips out towards the pan. Good thing he is a careful boy around me. There was no kicking me, stepping on me, or bumping into me. Actually, come to think of it, he seems more graceful with shoes, too.

I would like to note that he has now been living at the ranch for a full month, and he has not injured himself once. Maybe it WAS the pasture. Or maybe he really didn't get along with someone out there. Food for thought.

It was windy, and a bird's nest blew down, which DeDe found. Stupid camera didn't get a clear shot of it, but:

The bird in question used grass cuttings and some alfalfa for the outside of her nest, and horse hairs for the inside! Nice and soft. I feel badly for her, because she is going to have to rebuild that nest now. We didn't find any eggs or baby birds though.

When Bo got home, we tried out various bits on Solomon... a D-ring snaffle, a bit with a roller, a dogbone bit, and a mullen bit. Of all of them, he was the most quiet and calm with the mullen. He wasn't chomping or yanking on it. He wasn't pulling it hard. Maybe, for the moment, it's a better bit for him. Of course our goal is always to go lighter and lighter, but sometimes you have to figure out where the starting point is.

Solomon has always held his head really high while working. Previous owners have used a martingale or bungee to make him frame up. We are hoping to teach him to hold his head in the right place so that he will not need to have anything extra tied to him while working. To this end, we are doing a little work with a surcingle. About 5 minutes three times a week, mostly at the walk, maybe with a bit of trot, and NOT at the canter.

Why do it?
Because he needs to hold his head and neck in the proper position to safely work without injuring himself. With his head up high, he hollows out his back, which causes all sorts of chiropractic issues, and makes him work the wrong muscles all along the length of his body. He needs to round his back and use the muscles on the top of his neck.
This is his first time in a surcingle, at least with us, and it is going to take him some time to figure it out. The key is to never apply too much pressure on the horse while working him with one of these, nor use it for too long. A horse in a surcingle who panics can be a serious wreck... so one needs to do the work calmly and steadily, using it as a training tool, NOT a shortcut.
I might get a little flak because we are going this route. But his muscles are not developed correctly, and as an older horse with a body that has seen a lot of abuse, we need him to be safe and in the proper condition to be a working horse. This is not being done in order to make him look pretty, though it will certainly make him move a lot more nicely in the long term, but in order to prevent him from hurting his back. Proper posture is important with all athletes, including horses. It is like learning to lift with your legs.
Of course, as Bo would put it, if we could perform a Vulcan mind meld and put the idea of proper posture right into his head, we'd do it that way.
Anyway, the surcingle is the European version of the Estern side rein where one ties one rein to the rear D ring of the saddle shorter than the other for lateral flex, or ties both back for vertical flex. We started with lateral, getting him to bend on both sides until he held his head so that both reins had looseness to them, and then we moved to vertical, which you can see here.

Again, remember that this is his first time, and it is a puzzle that he is just learning to find the solution to.

So far, so good. Solomon has already proved to be a very fast learner, so long as one does not push him too hard. I think he will pick this up pretty quickly.

I also think the big challenge will be convincing him to hold his head in place on his own, without any tack in the roundpen. He seems to WANT to hold his head high and ewe neck. It's an old old habit. At least 5 years old. He might have never had the proper time and training put into him to hold himself correctly. People, Bo told me, tend to want to just lunge their horse for a bit then get on and go. But sometimes you need to take a step back and work your way up a bit.

It's hard with a horse that is such a mystery and has been through so many different owners. If Bo had started him as a colt, he would be a different horse. He'd still be Solly of course, but he wouldn't have had 17 years or so of confusion and bad habits built up. But he is the horse that he is, and we're going to keep working with him and see how far we can go.

After his work was done for the day, I took Solomon back to his pasture with the LBG. Solomon is very insistent that I am HIS human, and he tends to chase the LBG off me.

Okay, I just had to add this one- he was shaking his head when the camera went off:

I also went in and had a little visit with Teddy Bear. Silly brain damage, I think I told Bo about this twice, haha. Or maybe I accidentally told him once that I picked Magic's feet... hmm, I wonder if she'd let me? Anyway, since I did it once, Teddy has decided that I'm okay and maybe I won't try to pick at her chestnuts. Out in her pasture, she calmly let me pick up all four of her feet. Next time I'll take out a hoof pick and brush- pulling out rocks with one's fingernails is an inadvisable endeavor. I got 'em though!

And of course I have a photo of the baby. She's a month old and already grazing. I watched her eat a big mouthful of grasses! I didn't know they started eating grass so young... but she was trying to do it at a week old, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

She's also already tossing her head high to express her sassiness, just like her momma.

Aaaand a video. The baby is wandering farther away from momma's side nowadays, though a big scary truck will send her running right back! And then Magic and her baby put themselves away in a pen, hah!

What interests me the most

Big update tomorrow, with lots of photos and perhaps a video or two.

Just as a teaser, Solomon chased me around today! I had the feed pan, haha. He can get nervousmaking close with his neck over my shoulder and still not step on me, thank the gods. But see, he was voluntarily RUNNING. And walking down the gravel road. And trotting around and around in the roundpen long after we said whoa and stopped signalling. Solomon got a trim and shoes today.I don't know enough about shoeing to form an opinion aside from seeing him RUN and PLAY and step high even on the roads.

Anyway, what interests me, in terms of equestrian pursuits.

1. Trails trails trails. I want to spend a day in the hills, wandering, wading through rivers and standing on ridges, drinking in the view. Just ambling along.

2. Working cattle. Yeah I know, weird, but I'd love to help move a herd. Keep the cattle in line. Do something constructive.

3. A parade. I'm told Sol has done it before. I think it'd be something of a triumph for both of us to do it.

4. Okay, I confess... Bo has me all kinds of interested in rein cow horse stuff. The history. The skill. The lightness when done right.

5. I want to try my hand at making tack. Maybe I will suck at it, but it would be great fun to try it! I want to start with reins. I have a leatherworker friend who could show me how... my two sets of reins? They suck. One is nylon and the other is cheap cheap stiff leather painted black and cracking. Then maybe a bridle. Then maybe get back into working with silver, and maybe smithing up some show bling. I am an artist, I... WAS an artist by trade. I would like to try something new. And what a feeling it would be, to deck my lovely boy out in his own made for him bridle and reins? And maybe even someday a bit. I saw $10,000 bits today, and no I cannot afford that. BUT. Wouldn't it be the coolest thing ever to make a bit shaped just for Sol's mouth, with some awesome design on the sides? Valknots or something, ohhh yeah.

6. Oh and while I'm veering... I have the beginnings of a world to write a book in rattling around in my head. Yes, the horse will be very important in the book. Perhaps more details later. :)

But yeah. I saw a photo of folks riding through a river today and I thought "that looks incredibly fun." Poor Solomon... I'm more playful than he is, hah. But maybe he'd like swimming?

Monday, April 27, 2009


Just found out- shoes tomorrow! He'll likely have them on when I arrive. Excited and nervous at the same time- will he be okay now? Gods I hope so. Or that if not, it is still some little thing that will pass, given time. I hope it's just that the gravel is pointy and his soles are thin, feet too small for how big he is.

Probably won't know the first day. I've heard you shouldn't work a horse much right after a trim, or switching from trim to shoes.

So I will take pictures of the shoeing and trim and then I will ride sweet patient teddy bear. Oh lordy lordy my ambien is kicking in.

I'll leave you with a journey of body condition and hooves. Solomon's feet are a couple sizes too small for his body. I blame the TB in him... if there is TB in him.

His feet had been 4 months overdue. The first farrier chopped 'em off really short. I'm told dramatic change like that can cause problems.

He wasn't awake to the world yet, and maybe I should not have been riding him. My mistake, made out of ignorance, but this is I think the second ride on him ever? That or the first. No instruction, haha, and the reins were too short. Ended up with some short ropes tied together.

I shudder to think what that saddle was.

but anyway, he might have not had the strength to be bad here, who knows.

His feet in July:

I don't know if the farrier in August balanced his feet really.

Used him once only.

October went with a barefoot trimmer.


Body and feet


bdy, January

after the chiro





each month note any change of feed, take pictures of hooves before and after crim, and good body shots for records.

I want consistent stuff that is trackable, where one and come and see his feet And say "this is better" or "the heel is now underrun."

Anyway, I'll start with tomorrow's photos.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Picture spam day

Well today Bo had to mill some lumber, so I was left to my own devices. I, of course, took an ungodly amount of pictures and videos.

Solomon had his picture taken by one of the people at the ranch for the log milling. I tell you what, these people were very excited about milling this log. They brought their extended family, and their friends and their extended family, haha! Well, enthusiasm for life is a good thing, eh?

The baby was lying down, and she let me get really close.

Okay, just TRY to not be blown over by the cute:

Solomon got tied at his usual spot by the trailer, and he wanted so badly to go sniff that foal. He nickered to her, but she would only get so close.

I swear he was trying to reach her with the tips of his ears!

After I groomed Solomon, I just let him go. The farrier couldn't come out this week, so he doesn't get shoes until next week. I don't want to work him until they are on.

Solomon got his pan of feed, and he let me hose him off while he ate. Baths are no big deal if there's some LMF Senior to nom.

Then he just got to be a horse.

Teddy Bear came right up to the gate to say hello. That was a nice feeling. :)

I just love horse noses and lips! They are so funny looking.

Teddy Bear wiggled her lip back and forth on me, but did not nip. Good girl!

Teddy and her pasture companion, whose name starts with L... Shoot, what is her name? I'll have to ask again. I'm terrible with names, though I'm better with horse names than human names!

Okay, okay, I'm really enamored with this baby, even though she was spinning and kicking at me today... she also kept running over to say hi! And she let me pet her too.

She isn't really swallowing grass yet I don't think, but she sure does like mouthing it, like her momma.

Aaaand action!

It was windy today, and the clouds came in. Solomon came up to me to say hi, which was nice. Usually I have to go to him when I have turned him out on the grass... not that I blame him. Green grass and freedom- not a bad deal.

At the end of the day, putting Solomon away was like pulling teeth. He was hanging out near Magic and the baby, and he did NOT want to leave. He's really interested in that foal, and I think Magic is in heat too. Solomon had a little altercation with Vinnie through the fence when she trotted by the other day. Today when I was walking him back (without the lead rope, which I picked up halfway back tot he pasture) he broke away from me and went into the paddock that Magic and her baby stay in at night. He was sniffing and grimacing, sniffing and grimacing. Solomon you are a gelding!

I got to help out with feeding at the end of the day. I am kind of a freak in that I really enjoy manual labor. I often can't do it these days, but I'm so much better than I was right after the surgery, and the individual hay flakes are light. I got a bunch of scratchy oat hay in my bra, but it was worth it. Feeding horses is fun! At least when the weather is nice, as it was today.

So, the horses and I didn't really do any work today. I ran around a little bit (!!) and tried to get Solomon to play, but he wasn't so into that. The foal, on the other hand, wanted to play a little more rough than I was willing to. Hah. Well, ultimately everyone was happy, and that's the important part.