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.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

So many people!

Today when I got to the ranch, Bluesky of the fugly board was riding with Bo! She was riding a young mare she'd never met before, and Bo was riding her mare. She was smiling up a storm and she did really really well from what I could see. They went up into the hills a bit, and all over the ranch. It looked like a lot of fun!

There are a couple of other new boarders, and they were also riding around.

Solomon had been in the big pasture with the other geldings and some of the mares. Here he is with some of the other horses.

Bo tells me that he was protecting a 3 year old filly from another horse the other day. He is so obsessed with the young ones. He really loves the fillies, but he'll take a colt if there aren't any girls around. He was out swatting flies with Poco Joe later in the day.

One of the geldings, and I think it was Remmy, but I am not entirely certain, decided that the halter was just the coolest toy ever, and he tried to steal it from me!

That didn't work and another horses ended up chasing him off.

I took Solomon out of the big pasture and with all the activity going on, we headed for the hills! We walked to a part of the property that neither of us had really been to before. It is not an area the horses tend to wander to much even when they are loose, so there was lots of tall virgin grass. After we reached a certain point, Solomon froze up for a little bit, doing that TB brace-n-stare. Hey, I'll take brace-n-stare over teleporting sideways or wheeling and running any day. After a short while (and more than a little coaxing) he got over it and let me guide him through the New Place. When we got to the end of the road, I decided that a little "Hildago Moment" was in order, and set him loose. He followed me closely until we got to a point where he could see the herd and other familiar landmarks. Then he let me walk off, though he did keep a close eye on me. Solomon enjoyed that long grass, let me tell you!

When I pulled Solomon in, I noticed a bit of weirdness with his hoof. I forgot to mention it to Bo. :/

I think it is probably just needing a trim in a week or so. But it is kinda strange that it's got that peeling crack up at the top there. I was not too worried because it is a horizontal crack. It's the vertical cracks that are dangerous.

I ate a piece of fruit and let Solomon lick the juices off my fingers. He is so very gentle and careful with things like that!

I tried to show off Solomon's trailer loading and unloading skills to Bluesky. Never try to show your animals off, haha! He did great loading but not so great unloading. He anticipates and wants to step off already, so he tends to overreach and clip his tow on the edge of the ramp, or trip on it a bit. I need to control his backing more, and get him to do it more slowly, carefully, and in a straighter line. We worked on that a bit. After the first stumble Solomon loaded fine but didn't want to back out. Argh. Well, some days are better than others, and we'll get there. I need to steer him more clearly, and we'll work on that as well.

Solomon also didn't really want to back out of the chute. I eventually got him doing it when there were no other people around and he was focusing on me more. After a few times I switched the leadrope around a bit so it was tied on his halter like reins. Then I climbed on the side of the pen and backed him. He's so tall that I can't hold the impromptu "reins" up high enough from the ground and over the bars. And yeah, the temptation to get on his back was high, but it would have been dumb so I did not do it. Even though I really wanted to.

Next, Bo saddled and bridled Solly, took him out to a meadow, and got on his back. Here they are, watching Bluesky ride away. Look- Bo is smiling a bit! He does actually smile a lot, I just never seem to catch it on film.

Solomon did quite well at the walk, but he also trotted very readily (sometimes NOT when he was asked to) and was hard to bring back down to a walk. And while he did frame up a bit at the trot, mostly he did his ewe-neck thing.

But for the most part his trotting was very smooth. It looked like a comfortable ride. So long as he doesn't get excited, he's smooth. He was nicely framed up most of the time walking, too.

Here they are, calming down after the ride. Awwh!

After the ride, I hosed Solomon down. He stood very nice and still for it. I took a video but it was so boring I decided to not bother uploading it, haha. But you know what? I am so glad he is relaxing into getting hosed down. No pawing or evading today. :D

After the bath, Solly got his grain pan. He wanted every last crumb!

And then he went back in the big pasture...

...where wandered around...

...sniffing the ground for the perfect spot...

...to roll!

Haha, all the majesty and dignity of the equine, gone in an instant!

So Bo and I went in for tea and relaxation. It had been such a busy day for him. We talked about Solomon and why he acted the way he did under saddle. Is it attitude? Is he spoiled? Is he sore? Is it issues because of his past? Does he just feel like saying "I don't wanna" a lot? We are still evaluating. Right now we are focusing on getting him to just walk, to go from a trot to a walk, and to stop consistently on command. No loping. Will he ever be a suitable horse for me to ride? I don't know. In time, we will see. Maybe yes, maybe no. It makes my heart ache to think that no might be the answer, but we have to be realistic and we have to be safe. Well, relatively. Horses are very dangerous animals, after all. Not because they mean to be... they are just so big, and they are prey animals with hardwired flight instincts, and some fight instincts as well.

So after resting, we went out and did some ranch work. Bo did most of it, but I did muck out three stalls.

"Ah, ranch life," said Bo. "Kind of makes the city look a little better, eh?"

"Nope," I replied, and he chuckled.

I wish I were not injured. I would happily take a job as a stablehand. I'd rather swat flies and shovel horse poop than sit in a cubicle any day.

Next it was time to move horses around. I let a mare crowd me and started to try to halter her right at the gate.

"Oh you're SO BAD," Bo scolded, and it was with the exact same tone of voice that he says "don't you kick that baby!" to the horses. Heh. I made a gate mistake with Remmy too. I foresee a lot more gate etiquette lessons in my future, as well as more handing of different horses. I get used to handing Solomon and assuming that he won't crush me or the like, and I pick up bad habits. So now I am learning how to lead horses through gates with other people also leading horses. It is a little more complicated and it takes a lot more care, because you don't want two horses being led to interact. It is dangerous for the handlers, and the horses as well. We talked about (and carried out) making a space for the next person to enter a gate, NOT pausing, which can lead to a wreck.

Next, we fed and watered. Flies and bits of hay, bailing twine and hoses. Romantic ranch life! It's physically demanding work and there really aren't any days off, but I stand by my better than the city statement. It's honest work, and good for you. :p

Oh yeah, there was a wild Mule (okay I think of them as go-carts in my head) ride in there as well, involving Magic who was being a bit of a pain, and lots of fast driving and quick turns. WHEEEE! I was laughing- it was fun. Heh. Ranch rollercoaster!

Today I really went to the limit, physically. I will probably pay for it dearly tomorrow. But today I feel pretty strong. I even climbed some pretty tall pipe paddock walls! CLIMBING. Isn't it awesome? You can't really appreciate a lot of things, I think, until you have lost your ability to do them for a time. Solomon and I took a good walk together, and he lead quite well overall. The ride was positive and I learned about leading and working around multiple horses. It was a good day!

And now, your moment of zen:


jeniferb said...

thanks for the good words! i was having fun riding the young one. Bo is a great teacher so I am enjoying learning new skills. I hope my mare adjusts soon as she seemed so lost now. Goes to show you what living in a box does for a horses brain. You seem like you are doing great with your boy. You might be hard on yourself as your trailer un-loading was fine.

dazey said...

It's truly wonderful to see how you are working with the horses and looking forward to when your injury heals. I wish the best for you and would like to recommend Basic Training for a Safe Trail Horse with subtitle of Eliminating the Fear Factors. Although it is a small paperback written especially for recreational riders who keep horses at home, I believe you can learn a lot from it that would be helpful to you, particularly in working with your rescue horse. It is available at Amazon.com or you can ask questions of the author at safetrailhorse@gmail.com