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, May 14, 2009

Naughty Solly gets a workout!

I got a lesson in bits today. Bo had me close my eyes and hold each bit in my hand, miming the mouth of a horse, and then he moved the bit so I could feel it's action and how each kind rubs.

So today we tried a new bit with Solomon. I'm afraid I don't remember what it is called, but it offers tongue relief and works more on the bars of the mouth. Solomon responded well to it, and did really well framing up and being calm in the roundpen.

But boy was he full of piss and vinegar the rest of the day!

The backing lesson with Mister Barn Wall went... well he was a cranky cranky boy. I don't know what it is about backing up that just blows his mind, but he was trying to hit Bo with his poll. That's the back of his head. This is very bad and we need to stop him from doing this. Next time we will probably build a chute and work on backing there... where he cannot turn around, or go side to side, or forward.

The backing was more successful when I put my hand on Sol's chest and told him "back... back... back..." he did not try to hit me with his head, and he backed for me four times, but then I could feel him start to fall apart on me. I could feel it in his body, through his chest.

I really wish I knew why he gets so upset about being asked to back.

But we did have another first today! Solomon loped along the fenceline. All told, he probably loped a half mile and trotted a half mile. He evaded the bit a lot, and at one point he bucked once, and not a little crow-hop kind of buck either. After a while he did seem to relax into it. Part of that was probably fatigue. But really he was framing up a lot more than before, nobody got hurt, and Solomon got enough of a workout to get really really sweaty. The sweatiest I've ever seen him!

It was easy to see the swear where the saddle sat- and the sweat was nice and uniform. No pressure points that were dry, no spots that didn't have contact where there should have been. Sol got hosed down, and pretty quickly he decided that it wasn't so bad. Bo even managed to get him to let the water pour into the side of his mouth. Solomon was itchy after the ride, and it was hot out, so I think the bath felt good. Bo says that by the summer he will be looking forward to getting hosed down.

After the bath, I untied Solomon, and paused to chat with Bo about the ride and horse behavior. Solomon wanted to go go go, even after all his exercise. He wanted to drag me around. I made him stand quietly with me, and every time he got out of line, we went in a circle. When he pulled harder, he got to spend some more time tied at the trailer instead of going off to graze. I wend and fixed him a pan of senior feed, and set it down a ways away from the trailer. Solomon, of course, wanted to run right to it when I untied him, but I made him take a few steps, and then pause, standing with me, just long enough for him to get it, and then we took a few more steps, and paused. We did this all the way to the grain pan, and then he wasn't allowed to stick his nose into it until I said "okay." He actually did quite well with that!

As he was eating, we went around and did feeding, and I helped fill a water trough. I think eventually I'll be filling troughs whenever I go up. I don't mind at all- it's rather gratifying, and the water is nice and cool. I enjoy taking care of horses, feeding them and giving them water. It's a simple thing, but it makes me really happy. I enjoy nurturing and caretaking.

Solomon, in the meantime, was rolling, because nature abhors a vacuum and a pure white horse.

When he saw me approaching with the lead rope, instead of standing and waiting for me or walking up to me, Solomon took off (just at a walk) towards his favorite tree, as if to say "no ma'am, I, prince Solomon, have not had my royal grazing time yet!" Well that didn't go over well, and after he got halfway there (and more than a few mouthfuls of grass) he let me clip him up and take him to his pasture. As I was unlatching the gate, he smacked me with his head, bumping me into the bars. Oh no, I don't THINK so, horse! I spun on him and used my best growly voice, backing him up FAST. And boy howdy, but he believed me! He backed nice and quick, no resistance, and then he stood politely at the gate while I unlatched it. We went in, and I made him stand with me for a little while before I let him go.

Do I enjoy the tough love? Naw, I'd rather not have to be so much of a disciplinarian. But some days he needs it. Today was one of those days. Letting him get away with any of the bad things he did would have been dangerous, and it would have set a dangerous precedent, and believe you me, they'll remember the one thing you DON'T want them to.

So Solomon was a very naughty pony today, but I think that he also learned a lot, and learned some boundaries as well. That is a good thing. On days when he isn't a good boy, it is a good thing to keep in mind that they are good training opportunities. Otherwise, he won't know that something is unacceptable... he has to do it, and be corrected. And yes, he did get some petting and skritching too, as well as some head-on-shoulder moments.

I have to hand it to Bo. He is so tough and so patient, and he cares so much about horses. I am very grateful to him. He says he is surprised that I didn't get hurt riding Solomon, and that he is so far from a beginner horse that he doesn't even know what to say. That if my body were healthy and in shape, if I had three years of solid lessons I'd be able to ride Sol, as he is now. Hopefully with time, patience, and Bo's skillful guiding hand, we can get to a point where I am well enough to ride Solomon, and Solomon is well-behaved enough to carry me.

Time, and patience, and understanding. As with all things.


littledog said...

It's kind of cool that he's able to be a little "naughty" and test his boundaries a bit. Like, he now realizes there are some excpectations, some freedoms, some boundaries, he's getting confident enough to ask questions about the boundaries because he knows his questions will be answered in a way he might not like, but can understand. Instead of some confusing, painful way that he can't make sense of at all.
It seems like he used to be really unconfident, always trying to be good but scared of doing the wrong thing, trying to understand but not sure of what would happen if he accidentally did the wrong thing.
You guys have come SUCH a long way-whatever day-to-day frustrations happen (and you really don't seem to let those affect you too much!), less than a year ago Sol was living in a filthy stall with a broken door, suffering from thrush despite all your efforts, just walking was an achievement for you, and a good day was being able to pick out all 4 hooves successfully.
You and Sol will definitely reach your goals--and beyond. You will someday go places you aren't even dreaming of right now.
I love your blog (one night I spent 4 hours catching up from the beginning) consider me a big fan of you and Sol and Bo.

Evergrey said...

Awh, thank you so much for the supportive words! And you do make a great point, we have come a long ways. <3