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.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"You want me to WORK? Seriously??"

Today I pulled out the bute paste (which was in the last box I searched, of course) and dialed it back to two grams. Bute, for those of you who don't know, is a horsey painkiller. Not something you want to use all the time long term if you can help it, but fine for short term use.
Now, Solomon really hates the taste of bute. I'm sure it's quite nasty, even with the added apple flavoring. I mean, cough syrup is disgusting, even though it is supposed to be "cherry" or whatever. Still nasty stuff.
The days of fighting his way out of things he doesn't want are over, however! Poor poor pony, having to take medicine. His life is so hard!
I did end up having to get help getting the bute in him. It didn't take long with the two of us, however. Then we tried a new thing, tying his head low. See, Solomon knows that I am short and he is tall. He knows that if he throws his head up really high, I can't reach him. And while I can wrap my arm around his nose, he is very VERY strong. But if he can't yank his head up out of my reach, he actually gives in pretty quickly. Oh, but he got SO MAD! Solomon gets mad a lot, actually. Good thing he is mostly not mean. Just angsty.
So after a little bit we took Solomon to the round pen and worked on roundpenning him.
Solomon has a long ways to go with learning to go out and stay out. He does understand the concept of roundpenning, but he also understands how to get out of working by "joining up" and refusing to move out, heh. Here we can see Bo demonstrating the silliness of a horse that glues himself to you and won't move off. I missed the little silly dance, hah.

Solomon still has his "Pat" nickname... though it is clear that whoever watched a couple videos and decided they were a Parelli master who "trained" Solomon did not really get the basic horsemanship concepts that are a foundation of a lot of the games they use in that branch of NH. A lot of it is basic horsemanship, but if you don't understand how a horse works or why they respond to things the way they do... things will not end so well, actually.

Bo got him out there though, and here he is, my ever so graceful horse:

See anything stand out with the way he moves? Other than the slipping in the wet sand part, I mean. The more eyes, the better.

So next we worked on me getting him to move out. We found that it was most effective for me to slide a hand along his side and get behind him, then move out quickly, turn around, and slam the ground with the whip, shouting my fool head off. I can sometimes be convincing enough. As time goes by, the signals will get lighter and lighter- we just have a lot to overcome, and it is going to take some convincing. Eventually we got him roundpenning, trotting and cantering. Perhaps at some point we'll get him to walk as well, but baby steps.
Another major breakthrough- we got him to whoa and NOT come in! It was a big struggle, but we got him to do it. You could see the two little wheels spinning in his head. Ohhhh, no more coming all the way in. Whoa is starting to mean "stop where you are and stay there."

Next we tied Solomon to the trailer, and went to have a look at the mare on the property who has navicular. Bo pointed out how she held herself, and how she walked. Solomon doesn't seem to stand or walk that way, actually. The mare has special shoes on, and seems to get around just fine. She is also the alpha mare in the mare herd.

So at about the 40 minute mark, it was time to try riding in the round pen. There were a few different factors to consider today.

1. Solomon was on bute today.

2. Solomon got a break between roundpenning and being ridden, when he got brushed and got to relax at the trailer for a bit. We also did a little bit of picking and carving and filing on a few of his hooves. No signs of bruising and the flexion seems to be good on his front feet.

3. It was overcast and rainy today.

So we took him to the roundpen (though he did not want to go, hah) and Bo got on with only a tiny bit of having to hop with him. And he acted...

...the same as two days ago! Ear pinning and little bucks and all that. He was still mad about getting ridden. Angry angry angry! Dede and I watched Bo riding, and we couldn't tell if there was any pain. He didn't, at that point, seem off anywhere really, and it looked like it was attitude, though we still cannot be entirely sure. At the end of the month we will hopefully know a bit more, and know whether or not we want to put front shoes on him.

So next it was time for him to hit the road! Again, walking on the pavement away from the barn seemed to not be a problem at all. His pace was easy and relaxed. I have to wonder- pavement tends to be harder on a horse with pain issues than, say, a meadow. Solomon did not act up much at all, until he saw some cows lounging menacingly in the grass... and no one was all that convinced by his little bit of theatrics.

On the way back to the barn, Solomon was constantly trying to rush back. As a result of his hastiness, he got to do a lot of turning in circles. This was good in a way, because he learned while turning, too. He's getting better at crossing his legs over in front and pivoting on his hind end. He is getting much better and bending. We're seeing some real progress with his lateral flex. Oh, but the closer we got to home, the worse he got! I got a little worried a couple of times.


Did Solomon get to stop working?

Ohhh no he did not. I wish I had my camera for this part, but on Thursday I'll make a little video.

Solomon got to meet Mister Barn Wall.

Mister Barn Wall cannot be pushed aside.
Mister Barn Wall cannot be run over.
Mister Barn Wall cannot be intimidated.
Mister Barn Wall doesn't care about pinned ears, tail swishing, crow-hopping and cow-kicking.

Solomon doesn't really have a whoa. He also doesn't really have a back. His solution to everything, and basically what he knows, is forward forward forward forward! How he went this long without a consistent stop or back I don't know, but he doesn't seem to get it, or want to get it. Mister Barn Wall, however, stopped him. He tossed his head and banged his nose on Mister Barn Wall, but Mister Barn Wall was not impressed. And Bo would not let him turn around and run off. Bo had Solomon side-pass, collect his head (though he still isn't rounding his back- that will take time) and back. Backing, that took a long time. Sol couldn't go forward, Sol couldn't turn around, and couldn't go anywhere but back. It took quite a bit of doing, but he started to figure it out!

He was FURIOUS though! Just utterly furious. Oh the faces he pulled! And he pranced like a Charro horse. And he cow-kicked at nothing in particular, just to show how mad he was. When they first approached Mister Barn Wall, he even tried to brush Bo off on it! That was one of the meanest things I've seen him do. Through it all, I couldn't help but think that Sol is awfully PRETTY when he's mad, heh. But bit by bit he began to figure out what Bo was asking, and when he finally got to say goodbye to Mister Barn Wall, he was WALKING. Not prancing, not jogging, not pinning his ears or swishing his tail... just walking.

So Bo took him out on the grass. And still he walked quietly! It was like a barrier had been pushed through. Like he had given in and relaxed. Not entirely, mind you. He did go for the tree at one point, and he had a couple of grumpy moments, mostly when a mare was running along the fence beside him, but they went back and forth, back and forth, just walking, and he relaxed into it. At points his neck was long and straight out, head lowering more like a Western Pleasure horse and less like a giraffe or an ewe. Bit by bit, he's really getting there.

A grumpy moment, one of only two or three at the end:

Not the BEST headset, but man, look at the scenery:

And some nicer moments:

And we even got a whoa or two out of him!

We still have a long ways to go. This is going to take months. But we're making progress every day. And Bo has a PLAN. Every moment is training.

By the way, there are just a TON of these:

After all that work, Solomon got brushed, and then he got some LMF Senior that I purchased at the race track before I headed out to the ranch:

When Solomon ran out of pellets to eat, he licked that pan clean like it was covered in the best chocolate sauce ever. Then he nudged it with his nose, pushing it at me, looking up, nickering, pushing it some more, looking up, and nickering some more. He was like Oliver Twist saying "please sir, may I have some more?"

I don't want to give him too much too soon though. I want to ease him back on it. We want to put a little more weight on him, and he is going to need the energy since he is actually WORKING now. It also makes a great treat after he finishes work. Hopefully he will come to look forward to work a little bit more because at the end he will get The Yummy Stuff. LMF Senior has a lot of great nutrients, and it has nice things like Glucosamine for his joints, and even L-Lysine, which I know helps cat eye-herpes, (yes, cat eye-herpes) but I am not sure what it does for horses. Anybody know?

So after he got his treat, he went back out to pasture where he got to eat a flake of oat hay, and had to stand in the rain with only 4 or so oak trees as shelter, oh no! If the storm gets really bad, of course, the horses will get to go in, but it probably isn't going to get to that point.

Then we went in and had coffee to stave off the chill a bit, and ended up geeking out about history a bit. I love history. Real history, not the propaganda you find in today's textbooks. Layers upon layers of whats and whys, actions and reactions, cause and effect.

And now I am just getting warm, I'm tired (but I got a workout, yay!) and I need to figure out why my boots aren't waterpoof any more, but I think I am going to read the books Bo lent me about horse psychology and the history of Western ranchers, cowboys, and pioneers.

Thursday we will do things much the same as today, except without the bute. Here's hoping he will only improve!


Anonymous said...

Meh, when doing a science experiment, it is repeated several times. Same objective, same variables. I don't think that buting him ONCE proves anything -- especially since there were MANY variables: weather, etc. I would try it a time or two more -- and change the time period of the bute. If you're going to be there in the morning, have Bo bute him the night before. That sort of thing.

Who Knew? said...

Sol is so lucky to have a mom who cares so much for him! I really enjoy seeing you two work through problems to a solution. It's much easier to give up and move on to an easier horse. What a rewarding experience to witness!