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, June 6, 2009

More breakthroughs!

So you know rein cow horses?
In one way, Solomon is the opposite of those.
Solomon hates hates HATES leg. Even a feather touch gets him upset.
We found out better ways to get him to stop and back today!

But first...
I put on the one-ear bridle with the bit that works so well on Sol. He is so very good about it. He just opens his mouth, takes it in, and packs it.

After I put him in the bridle with the reins, we practiced in the chute. I discovered that he backed easily when I just gave an initial physical signal with an immediate release, and then said "back... back... back" as he backed up, with no pressure on his mouth at all.

He was a good boy in the roundpen today. I did not ask him to canter, only walk and trot, which he did well in both directions. He is getting good at ramping down now too, thank goodness. When he is trotting, and I lower the pressure and ask him to walk, he settles back into a walk right away. With luck, he will eventually do this consistently under saddle too. We could let him just go go go, but his body would not hold up. So, walk and trot for Solly, and he can run all he wants in his pasture.

Here he is, whoaing and looking to me for his next instruction.

So next we saddled him up, and Bo took him in the roundpen. The trainer who is now boarding at the ranch was there and watching, and she comes from a cattle cutting background instead of reining. Having a second set of (experienced) eyes was so useful today. She had some suggestions. With rein cow horses, you use a little leg in the back. Solomon, however, thinks that leg means "go forward faster," so he was getting really upset and confused.
We ALSO found that he responds much much better to a one-rein stop. Not the English emergency stop, but the stop where you lift one rein up high while saying "ho" and then immediately drop it, removing all pressure. Solomon does not, then, feel the need to root or push through it. He was much more responsive to this technique.
This was important in the back, as he responded well to a beginning signal of one rein, followed by the "back" command and some pulling back. I think that we will be able to refine this, so that soon he can be given a quick physical cue along with the verbal "back" cue, then have a release from pressure, with body position and verbal cues guiding him to continue backing.
Solomon is not the kind of horse you can easily beat in tug-of-war. If he gets upset enough, he WILL choose pain over obedience. But I do think he would rather just get along. We just have to figure out what his language is. We have to figure out just how to tell him, clearly, what to do. He has come so far so quickly, when you think about it. From spoiled and untrusting to obedient and relaxing. He has had a lot to learn, and even more to UNLEARN, and he has, given all that he must overcome, accomplished a lot. We all have.
So when work was done, he got his grain pan, and then he got to wander. He has a kind of routine now. If I let him go at the trailer, he goes around the meadow that used to be an arena and visits with two of the boarding horses. They like to scream at him at first, but he doesn't really react so they give up and just hang out. Then he makes his way across the (in the ranch) road, through the garden, and over to the big long fenceline where his favorite tree is. He grazes along the fence, visiting with all the horses. Today he even grazed side-by-side with Teddy Bear, who hates geldings. Bo says she might be starting to go into heat.
Here he is at the end of his day, hanging out with the herd. He looked so proud of himself, as if he was saying "look mom, I got myself some horses!"

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... well, STILL at the ranch...

Jewel was ridden.

And Lil, Bluesky's mare, got a yearling to make friends with. She was so happy to have her very own baby!

The yearling is named Lilly.

Hah, Lil and Lilly.

But of course Lil still loves her momma.


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