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.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

In which Solomon is mostly a really good boy!

When I got to the ranch today, there were a lot of people around.
One of the new boarders is a trainer, and she has a young horse. This is her (the horse's) first time with a bit in her mouth!

This baby was a very good, calm girl. A Quarterhorse with no reason to fear people.

She seemed to take the bit as a strange puzzle.

After I drenched Solomon with fly spray (and sprayed the big grey TB as well, of course) I let him loose to graze.

There isn't as much yummy green grass to eat any more. Everything is turning into stickers.

Some of the horses were hanging around the watercooler, probably gossiping.

I wish this had some out clearer. The baby had her head between Magic's back legs for some reason, haha!

Of course when I walked over, the baby had to say hi!

I believe this eye belongs to Breezie, who is the alpha mare of the pasture.

The flies never let up, despite careful poop control, pesticides on the manure, and fly traps. I remember how bad it was at the place I got Sol from, and I am grateful that Bo and Dede are so careful and clean.

Meanwhile, Solomon was still saying Om Nom Nom.

Though he did take a break to come say hi!

I wandered around for a while, taking photos of some of the plant life on the ranch. First, the grass is brown and dead, but these pretty purple wildflowers have popped up. I don't think the horses eat them.

There are also lovely flowers and trees all over that Dede has planted. She is really building an impressive garden out there, mostly comprised of salvia varieties and butterfly bushes, though there are also roses, sunflowers, and other lovely plants.

That last picture totally reminds me of those flower puzzles that you buy because you think "oh this is pretty and it will be fun to do," but then you realize that all the flowers look the same and it's a big pain in the butt. If you are OCD like my mother and I, however, you'll still finish it. But a little bit RESENTFULLY, especially when you realize the dog has eaten two pieces.

Uhm. Anyway. Right, HORSES.

So after a while I got bored, and Solomon tried to get into the hay barn, at which point I had to put on my Scary Mom Face and use my Growly I'm-Gonna-Eat-Ya voice and chase his giant white spotty butt out of there before he could get into the feed. Twice. So that was the end of break time!

"Hey self," I thought to myself, "everyone is gone! EVERYONE! We're all alone? What would be the safest thing we could do? That's boring, let's not do that."

So I decided we'd practice standing at the mounting block.

Now, Solomon was a butt going to the round pen. I had already lunged him briefly earlier, and now we were going BACK to the WORK PLACE, oh noes!

So he did his classic leg-locking stubborn-face thing. I used my growlyvoice again, and he got moving.

Then he decided it was time to be an absolute SAINT. I don't know what decided him on it, but he was such a good boy. I mean, here:

And then here:

Haha, scary death horse indeed!

At one point he did move forward (of course when a couple of boarders showed up at the gate) a couple of steps, but stopped and calmed down again. At another point he took a step forward and I said "BACK" and he took one step back again. Very good! He let me lean on him, and he got so calm. I could feel his spine hollow or round depending on where his head was- it makes a HUGE difference. Huge. High head- can't feel his spine. Low head- pooointy back. I did not put weight on his spine, instead focusing on either side of his back. I rested most of my weight on him like this, and he responded by slowly lowering his head... then I felt his breaths get longer and deeper, longer and deeper. I think he might have dozed off a bit. I also put my leg over his back at least a dozen times. The one time he did move I decided to practice my emergency dismount and swung down around his neck off the block.

How panicked was Solomon after all this?

Yeah, he's doing what you think he's doing. Welcome to my life with Solomon. He does that every single time I brush his hindquarters too. horses are honest, what can I say? But look, he is staying exactly where I told him to stay!

It was getting late at this point, so Solomon went back to his pasture. He has gotten this habit of freezing at the pipe paddocks lately, especially when he doesn't want to go back to his pasture yet. I got after him this time. Bo says, "with horses, you ask, then you ask again, and then you TELL." So after asking Solomon to keep walking, and asking more firmly, I chased his butt in a circle once and made him keep walking. I am getting a little better at establishing my role as leader with Solomon, and he was very good after that, walking with me briskly and being a model gate navigator. He went through behind me, he swung his butt around to let me close the gate safely, he walked away from the gate with me, and stopped the moment I stopped, no verbal command needed. When I let him go, he went for a drink. I think his water is getting changed in the morning, or maybe it was tonight, which is why it's low. You can see that he gets it kind of messy.

I love how he sticks his tongue into the water!

Solomon is a silent sipper. Some horses drink noisily, some drink stealthily, some are dainty, and some stick their whole heads in!

Okay, this isn't quite so dainty!

Solomon makes a lot of faces:

He is yawning and stretching his jaw here. Horses use their jaws so much throughout the day.

Quick contrast:

Yep, that's my boy.

Solomon really didn't want to be put away for the day yet. He smacked the gate with his head, he pawed at it, and he even grabbed the halter out of my hands!

Heeeeee, tongue!

"Let me OUT, mom!"

He does not have a buddy in there today for some reason. I think that's part of why he doesn't want to be in there- he doesn't like being alone, though he's dealing with is much better now than he was at first. That pasture is his, in his mind.

I THINK this is Remmy next door, but I am not entirely certain. Still learning to sort all those bay boys out! Heh, I sound like I'm a 12 year old playing with Breyer horses here. But you know what? I had a good day today. And I didn't get into TOO much trouble...

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