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, July 8, 2009

On Solomon's retirement.

Someone in a nice forum I frequent asked me if I was okay, since I have retired Solomon. So I answered, and I wanted to record here what I said, so that I can look back and remember that everything is going to be okay.

Thank you for asking hon. *hug*
I have shed a few tears, and it isn't easy. I had some dreams for Solly and I. They were humble ones, but still.
But at the same time, I feel relieved. I don't have to agonize over whether it's emotional pain, physical pain, environmental pain, incompatible riding techniques, or attitude. Solomon really did try hard, but he also didn't really seem to enjoy it. Maybe because of the pain.
What DOES make him happy, though, is all the other stuff I do with him. Well sometimes roundpenning makes him a little bit grumpy, but mostly he has just gotten better and better at that! He likes to go wandering all around the ranch with me. We have a special place that we sometimes walk to, if I feel physically up to it. He won't go there by himself, but if he figures out we're headed there, he gets all excited and wants to run there, or at least trot! There is long grass to eat, and he can explore, though he never wanders very far from me in that place behind the big pasture.
He gets brushed and petted, he gets massages and stretches, he gets senior feed in a pan and occasionally carrots, and he has even learned to enjoy getting hosed down, so long as no water touches his face. He gets set free to explore the ranch. He could leave if he really wanted to at those times, just run out the front gate, but he's never shown any desire to. He has gotten great at following my lead, going through gates and then spinning his butt out of the way, stopping when I say stop, and even loading and unloading from a trailer, though he gets nervous about backing out of them... he will still follow me in.
Sometimes he'll let me know he doesn't want to do something. He'll shake his head up and down instead of moving, or he'll plant his feet and stare at me, but I just have to tell him "no Solly, it's okay, just come on," and he'll keep on going. Most of the time when I ask him to do something, he seems to just say "okay mom!"
We navigate up and down the hillside and over logs, past all kinds of goings-on, and at the end of the day I hug him, he puts his great, scarred, grey head on my shoulder, and he falls asleep.

So I guess we're going to be just fine.

After all, I made a promise to him. I told him that I would protect him, that he was safe now. And that is just what I am going to do, for as long as I possibly can. He is, and has given me, a great gift. He's given me my life again. He is my heart and my light, and I will always love him, no matter what he can or cannot do.


Anonymous said...

So then, what're you going to do? Are you going to look into purchasing another horse that you can ride? Or are you going to take lessons on Bo's horses?

Puh-leeze said...

As someone who hasn't ridden in a Really Long Time, I think this is a good (if really difficult) decision. If he heals and becomes riding sound, you can ride him then, yes?

Of course it's sad that you can't do exactly what you planned at the beginning. But this may just wind up being more rewarding.

Evergrey said...

Yes, if the issue ever resolves itself and he gets in even better shape than he is in now, I may ride him again, but for now the plan is no riding. I'm doing better with it though, I think I'm coming to terms with it.

I can't really afford a second horse. One is iffy enough, hah! Well I have pretty simple needs generally, so Sol gets good care, especially where he's at. But I just couldn't support a second horse. So I may end up riding one of Bo's horses eventually. :) Teddy Bear has been sold, so it would have to be somebody else.

I do very much want to ride again. It does wonderful things for me. Nothing will be quite like riding Solomon, but then, no horse is the same experience, and riding a different horse can also be quite special. So we shall see what happens.

littledog said...

Aw, that makes me so sad. Instead of calling it retirement, how about a leave-of-absence, or, better still, a sabbatical?
This may sound kind of weird and much more touchy-feely than my usual nature, but horses who bond with us (like Sol is with you) have the ability to sense the core of our feelings, even as we struggle to read what is going on with them, as well as ourselves, sometimes. Could it be that your roadblock with riding Sol comes from him sensing your back pain and identifying it with his own back pain, creating a whirlpool? When Bo rides Sol without you there, does he get the same sense that Sol is in pain?
Maybe you could learn some ways to massage and stretch his back, get some stretching exercises for your own back too, and do them together. Tell Sol, we are going to take some time off, do some new fun things, and heal our backs together.
In some of your posts, you've described that you are hurting but are so looking forward to working with Sol anyway. In other words, you are going to fight the pain and cowgirl-up. No doubt Sol feels you. And wants to take care of you?
Just to experiment, when you are working with Sol, take notes of when you are feeling pain, and see if those moments correspond to when Sol seems unwilling or wants to stop.
You've probably done this already--I'm grasping at straws because I love the bond you two have and want to see your dreams come true together.

ariemay said...

I know you are doing right by Sol.

Horses are good for the soul whether you are on them or not.

Your journey together continues - you are just taking a different route than mapquest told you to!

Evergrey said...

Thank you for the well-wishes, both of you.

Solomon can tell when I am in pain, and on those days he is extra good. He doesn't act up as much, and he is a little more careful around me. Solomon is a nurturer- he loves baby horses and watches over them as well.

As for his back pain, I think he was putting up with it for a while before telling us. But palpitating his back in the area with the scar tissue got major flinching, and it was even a bit scabby. That wound is at least over a year old. It might be a lot older.

Who knows, someday perhaps we will even try driving if I happen to find the equipment for really cheap. I think he could physically handle that just fine. Perhaps in time if he gets really strong and has more time to heal, he can be ridden bareback. I would want to get a lot better at bareback before attempting that.

The chiropractor he saw in January taught us some back stretching exercises, which I am doing with him every time again. The downside is that he'll only do them for a bit of carrot, and he can be a bit demanding when carrot bits enter the picture, but he is still a good and gentle boy.

It's just that nerve damage is a really tricky thing, and really hard to fix. :/

littledog said...

Nerve damage, I hear you. I have it in my neck, comes & goes, only really debilitating once or twice a year. You are both so brave to try to do as much as you can, up to where you hit that wall.

Yeah, driving! I can so see Sol trotting along in front of a light cart, ears up and flicking as he listens to you joking around with the elderly nursing-home friend you are taking out for a ride today.

More goals that I'm imagining, as if you haven't thought of them yourselves.

Evergrey said...

Oh, that would be fun!
I'm not sure that Solly is suited to driving, mind you, but if he is, perhaps someday that is something he can do!