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.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Such a beautiful day.

Last night I did not sleep well, and I ended up getting to the ranch pretty late. Bo had already worked 5 horses and was pretty beat. I said, "well, why don't I just roundpen him myself then?"

And I did!

Some of it I did with whip signals, some of it I did with rope signals, and some of it I did with just my hands! I got him to walk, to trot, and to canter. I have trouble purring enough energy out to keep him at the canter, but we worked it out.

We also worked on "whoa." Solomon responds best to "whoa" when it's deep and long and low. He was Clinton Andersoned in the roundpen in the past, and the problem is that he was taught that "whoa" meant "join up," or come in from the rain and stand right up in front of the person in the middle. When you tell him "whoa" undersaddle, then, he gets really confused. There's no one to walk to! And he certainly doesn't think it means "stop right there."
But he wants to do the right thing! I got him to whoa properly most of the time. If I wasn't focused on him 100%, he would come in. And sometimes I had to keep him moving a bit and turn him a couple of times before he would stop. Mostly though, a little light bulb would go off and he'd look at me, as if saying, "did I do good, mommy?"

I have a few big challenges. I need to work on my timing. I need to ask him to do things at the right moment, and that is a matter of feel. I need to be consistent in my signals, and always be aware that horses will pick up on the tiniest things that I won't even think about. I need to get him to move out onto the rail after he has come in and is standing there facing me. He figured out long ago that he can easily raise his head high enough that I can't even reach it. So I worked on "walking through his shoulder," where I patted his shoulder with a hand on his jowl and then turned and spun the rope to move him out. By the end of the lesson I was moving him out without the rope. Yay!

Once I had him cantering, I could bring him down to a trot, but I was having a very hard time getting him to walk. Bo happened by at that point, and told me to lower my energy as much as I could, just focus on thinking "walk" and making myself as calm and cool as possible. I closed my eyes and everything went away except for Solomon. His hoofbeats became my heartbeat. I couldn't see him, but I could FEEL him. Bo says that it is kind of like Tai Chi. It's this invisible connection that you can't see but it's there all the same. The horse can see it, the horse can sense it.

At the end of the lesson Solomon gave me a good whoa, a very good one in fact. I went to the roundpen gate and opened it, saying "okay boy, you can go on out!" But Solomon stood there, watching me, wanting so badly to just be good. I had to move out of the way and get a bit behind him before he would go out the gate, haha!

He went straight to his favorite tree to graze.

He is a smart boy and stayed in the shade.

A whistle brought him over to his grain pan though.

and that was the work day for him! Pretty easy. I broke a good sweat. He didn't sweat at all. He is building muscle though. His chest is starting to get beefy.

When the sun was starting to set, after I'd put him back in his pasture with the LBG, I petted him. He sighed and blew softly on my face, his warm breath stirring my hair. He cradled me with his neck and rested his great scarred head on my shoulder.

I said to him, "it's all okay now baby, you're safe. You're safe." and I think he believes me. The sun shone through his mane, and it looked for a moment like it was wrought of flame or spun white gold.

I thought to myself, "this great beast could kill me in a heartbeat if he wanted to. But he does not. He trusts me. He loves me," and Solomon began to snore.

I drove home, covered in little white hairs, smelling like sweet grass and warm wind, the smell of a horse. The sun set over the lake, and I was at peace.


spazfilly said...

Wow, what beautiful pictures! It sounds like you and Sol are making tons of progress.

BuckdOff said...

I'm glad that you had such a wonderful day, Solomon clearly loves you very much! Beautiful pics.

Evergrey said...

Thank you both, and thank you so much for all the wonderful supportive comments. :) It really makes my day!

Anonymous said...

That last picture is stunning!