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, June 3, 2009

No 'Tude For You!

Today Solomon started out mellow, got an attitude, and then lost it.

First he was laid back, displaying his grabbable lip:

And he happily accepted loves:

Then I roundpenned him, and he was Most Displeased at being asked to WORK. He did what I asked of him, but I got an earpin or two. Had a couple people watch, and they saw no signs of lameness. I think he was just being a Mister Grumpers.

After roundpenning, I decided that we would work on standing at the mounting block some more. This time he did a bunch of spinning and winging-out. I thought, "well, I could get after him, but hes an anticipator and he would just be mroe convinced I was going to hurt him, so he would just spin even more."
Sometimes you have to get after them, and sometimes you have to be very light and gently guide them through it. It's a matter of feel, of knowing your horse, and I am still learning, but this time it was a good call. I held his head and petted him, and I moved very gently and slowly. He relaxed and let go. Once he decided to relax and give in, he was a good boy for the rest of the day.

Bo says I'm the opposite challenge from a person who is terrified of riding a horse. He says that his biggest challenge with me is getting me to NOT just throw my leg over a horse and get on. With my back injuries, I am pretty fragile, and Solomon has a ways to go before he can be trusted to be CONSISTENTLY calm under saddle, to remain at a walk, and to stop when given the command. We agreed that the safest route for ME as a rider with a disability is to find a therapeutic riding program that can and will take me, to teach me the basics and to strengthen my core so I won't end up bedridden for days because I rode for 10 minutes and got out of balance at one point. If I can't find one, I'll figure something else out. But it would be ideal.

But that doesn't make it any less tempting!

Anyway, we can still work on the block, and we did. I got a leg over him a couple of times, and he did not move. I stepped up on the block and leaned on him from both sides. Which side I approach from doesn't make a difference. If anything, he prefers being mounted from the "improper" side. I am not wearing a SWORD, so which side I mount from really doesn't matter. I think that, for a trail horse, it's important for them to be able to handle being mounted, saddled, lead, or anything else you can think of, from EITHER side. There can be situations where you can't safely access the horse from one side, but can from the other. Solomon, for his part, gets it if you do something on one side. He does not seem to need to have the lesson repeated on the other side... but I want to do stuff from both sides so that the concept is not alien to him. I mean, if someone always shakes your left hand, every single day, and nobody has ever shook your right hand, you're going to be startled when one day someone grabs your right hand instead. I don't think it has anything to do with eyes or brain hemispheres... I think it's a matter of what the horse is acclimated to. It's a matter of habit and mental conditioning. So. I do whatever needs doing on whatever side I happen to be on.

I got some photos. I know you are all shocked.

Standing quietly at the block with no one holding him there:

Leaning on him. I can almost pretend that I'm riding!

"Uh... mom?"

"Are you going to get ON, or WHAT??"

Next we practiced some entering and exiting the roundpen gate. First he did really well, but then rushed out at the last moment... so we got to go back in the gate. He resisted this and did his leg-locking thing, but to no avail- he had to go back in. Which he did. Then we went out again, taking a step, then pausing, then taking another step, then pausing, until we were all the way through. For being a good boy, he got to go graze.

Later, after he had dinner, I went to say goodbye to Solomon. He immediately ran away in abject terror, as you can see here:

Okay, it by "running away in abject terror" I mean "came straight to the gate for cuddles."

I found an owl feather. I'm pretty sure it's an owl feather and not a turkey feather anyway- it is really soft and it seems to be designed for silence. If birds of prey were weapons, owls would be sniper rifles with silencers. They're made to swoops down on prey in the dark without a sound.

Solomon was not intimidated.

I don't know if I'll ever not find horse mouths to be terribly entertaining.

Solomon checked out in the middle of eating some stray bits of hay:

I think that his shoulder mark is starting to slowly fade. It seems to have more grey hairs than last summer.

There used to be ribs jutting out here!

Solomon and the Little Bay Gelding, grazing together. LBG has learned manners, and is becoming a sweet horse who is great undersaddle. They're working on fattening him up a bit- I think he is not the easiest keeper in the world. But he really has made a lot of progress!

Finally, I thought it would be fun to take some "MySpace Angle" photographs of Sol and I... except my arms are so stubby that I can't get the camera far enough away to get good pics of his whole head with my head. Still, we had fun. I got to take pictures, and he got cuddles.


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