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 9, 2009

Mellow day with roundpen progress

Today we went out and talked about walking a horse through a gate. You can swing the gate in while leading the horse with your left hand, or your right hand, and you can do the same while swinging the gate out. We talked about the importance of a horse pivoting, and how it is key for gate safety, especially if you are moving a horse into or out of a pen that contains other horses. You need to get the horse into position. You need to open the gate in such a way that other horses will not be able to just run through it. You need to get the horse through the gate without getting crowded, pinned, or knocked over. You need the horse to exit and pivot promptly so the way is clear to close the gate again without getting crowded, pinned, run over, or having other horses run through. Simple stuff that is nevertheless quite important.

Next we worked on getting a horse to pivot both on the front and the hind end. Bo showed me how each horse has a different level of sensitivity, and some horses do better at it than others. There is walking through a horse and patting his shoulder with a hand resting lightly on his cheek to get him to pivot on his hind. And there is gesturing at or lightly touching his side near his rum to get him to pivot on his fore, though not all horses will know what you are asking. For some, like Solomon, you want to hold the lead rope and use just a tiny bit of pull while gesturing and clicking to get him to pivot on his forehand. He picked it up pretty fast. Solomon is a quick learner, and a rather clever horse.

Next it was out to the trailer, as usual. You can see how tense he is here:

Haha! Yeah that's a pretty common sight. Pretty much every time I brush him.

So then we went out and got Teddy. I'm to treat Teddy like my second horse. Next time I am up, I will spend more time with her! She is such a sweet mare. Around 12 years old, and very kind. I did not get pictures today. I was busy getting to know her. :) Kindest eye though. She is a nice girl. I lead her, tied her, brushed her, and then practiced roundpenning with her. I confused her a few times, but we got along. She does not mind cuddles, oh no she does not. I have been on her back once before. She taught me how to sit the trot Western style. She's almost as tall as Solomon, and a little hard for me to climb up on, but a patient girl. I really look forward to getting to know Teddy Bear better!

Solomon in the meantime was rather jealous. Why was this OTHER HORSE getting attention? He nickered and nickered at me. Whinnied a couple of times too. In training, jealousy can be good! "Pick me, pick me" is an attitude you want your horse to have.

So next, we had a nice, relaxed roundpenning session. Solomon remembered a lot from the last time. This time, we got him WALKING. That was nice. It showed that he was relaxing into it more, understanding what was asked of him more, and thinking more carefully about things. His pivots were slow and careful. His trot was mostly that nice low job, with a bit of a faster trot and only a few steps of canter, but we were not asking him to canter today. Today we worked on moving him out, which is the biggest challenge with him. He's getting more and more responsive to Bo. I am the good cop, and Sol is still pretty sure I won't REALLY make him do anything he doesn't care to do, but he is learning that it is not quite so.

I don't really feel that I showed the lesson well with that short video clip on my last post. The problem with pictures and with short videos is that they only show a facet of the experience, not everything that happens, not the bigger picture. I didn't show how slowly he moves out, or how we only apply enough pressure to get him out, no more. How he gets rewarded when he does something right, like stopping when whoaed and not coming in again immediately.

Here he is, being Pat. Joining up and refusing to disengage. Hey, standing there and being all cuddly means no work, right?

But this time it took very little to get him going, and he knew just what to do. I think he even sighed a little as he slowly ambled out to the rail. Note the one ear forward, one ear on Bo.

Solomon was much much better at turning on the rail, pivoting on his hind end today. He did it carefully. He slowed and almost paused while changing directions. Turning on the rail is new to him. Pivoting on the hindend is new to him. You saw last time that he hit the panel once while pivoting, and that his back end went out from under him the second time. He's new to this, he's out of shape, and he's a little clumsy. These things will be fixed in time, and were very much improved today.

Here Bo is, signalling. Note that he has already stopped using the whip to signal.

And then Solomon whoaed, watching Bo carefully. He tried to come in a bit once or twice, but Bo convinced him not to. And then when he stood instead of trying to rush up to Bo and glue his chest to him, Bo would go out to him and reward him.

And then they did some more.

Next it was my turn. I did not do as well, but I was able to signal him once he was out, and I got better at stopping him from coming in. He was a lot pushier with me than he was with Bo, but we learned something, and that is that he WILL move away from a spinning rope, eventually. Heh.

About that time, the sole of my boot decided to half fall off, and Solomon was not as forward as he was the other day, so we decided to stop the work there. I borrowed some comfy boots from Bo (man, my feet are kinda big for a girl, haha) and put Solomon in his paddock. I mixed up his senior feed with water and banana slices, and who came over but Magic, the mare with the little baby foal.

Oh yes, she was quite interested in the contents of that pan! She kept trying to stick her head through the paddock bars to steal it! I ended up moving it out of her reach. I did let her lick the taste of the feed off my hand though. Some day that mare will let me pet her baby! If the baby decides that's okay. Right now I am scary scary to that little foal!

Anyway, Solomon ate his feed up, and knocked his pan over to boot, hoping there was more feed underneath. Bo put Magic and her foal in a paddock for the night. And then we took him out, and had what Bo called a "Hildago moment." We closed the gate out of the property, took him out of his paddock, and set him loose.

If you are hoping for a dramatic tale of a running horse, I am afraid you will be disappointed. I let Solomon off his lead rope, and his head dropped to the grass, which he began to eat. We drove all over in the mule, feeding flakes of oat hay to the horses in all the pastures, and Solomon did not budge for about 10 minutes, whereupon he wandered perhaps 100 feet all told, grazing. "Catching" him consisted of getting his attention enough to convince him to raise his head so I could snap on the lead rope. I got a dramatic sigh, and then off we went. We wentup in the trailer once, and backed out of it, then I took him back to his pasture, where he found a flake and started munching away.

We went inside, had some tea, and then tried to dig up more info on Solomon. We found that there is no horse with his name that could possibly be him registered with the AQHA, or on the other online pedigree search we did. We searched for more info on his earliest known owner, and when I got home I managed to find the contact info for his parents. I don't want to upset them, and I will be careful when I call them tomorrow. Hopefully they will be able and willing to tell me about my horse, and where he came from before their son owned him.

It was rainy and coooold today, but I think that overall it went well.

1 comment:

My3Arabs said...

Oh that mare is gorgeous!

I love how Bo is working with Solomon, sure wish that there were more trainers like him out there!