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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Autumn winds.

Today I was awake at 3am. Left for the ranch at about 6:30am. Usually I show up some time after noon.

I've lost 6 pounds in a little over a week. Still not sure exactly how that happened, but I'll take it!

My new pants are starting to slip, however.

I saw Bo's finger wound today. He removed the dressing without so much of a flinch. The man is pretty badass. I am not made of such stern stuff! I helped him re-bandage it. I think he's going to grow the tip of his finger back.

Today was incredibly windy. Bo said that all the topsoil was blowing away. A lot of the horses were in weird moods, which they seem to be on really windy days, especially if it's a big change in the weather.
This, combined with me doing a spaz-dance and saying "NO I FEEL GREAT" after having told Bo that I had been getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep every night for the past week decided him on not letting me ride. Sadmaking, but it was the right decision.

So after pushing the barrow while Bo mucked (I tried to pry the rake from his hands but failed) and helping dole out feed pans, I worked three horses in the roundpen.

One was not very trained, and that was a lot of work. It was hard to maintain a trot!
One was quite well trained, and very responsive, but we did not have the bond and communication that Solomon and I have.
The third was my boy.

Solomon was there to greet me with his narrow chest and sweet face.

Solly is not interested in soccer, we discovered. Poco Joe in the background there is interested in snuggling, however!

Solomon was quite responsive. We have come to know each other pretty well, and we tend to communicate fairly effectively these days. In this video, if you watch closely you can see that we managed a bit of speed transitions with his trot.

I am concerned about his health, however.

He needs to gain about 50 pounds. If you press on his barrel, you can feel his ribs. And his topline is looking terrible.

His roach back type injury is more pronounced. The vertebrae at the "point" of the bump have a slightly swollen feel to them.

Some of his shark fin wither could just be from his TB blood. It stands out, in a sea of quarterhorses. But he seems to have hollowed out some. Not good, going into winter. And I can't really take him to get an MRI on that back. Bo and I both think it's probably chronic and not something that can be fixed. So we're feeding him senior feed and keeping an eye on him. Going to try to make him comfortable. And I'm trotting him in the roundpen more, to see if I can get that topline to fill out a bit.

He DOES voluntarily trot on his own, and apparently he also lopes around the pasture with the two boys. His eye is still bright and he still seems happy. It's just a worry, because I feel like he could go downhill quickly. He is being watched and cared for, however. Hopefully I'll manage to go see him a little more often than I have in the past couple of weeks.

Solomon got an extra big feed pan today. He promptly stomped on it and emptied most of it onto the ground.

But he still ate it all.

You can see here that he is not in terrible condition. His winter fuzzies are starting to come in, but still. He isn't skinny. He's just not quite fat enough, and is not in condition.

But he does have cute ears!

Bo asked me if I'd eaten anything, and I replied honestly that I had not. He brought me some grapes and a slice of cheese. Awwh, sweet of him. :)
I ate some of the grapes and all of the cheese, but knew I couldn't have all the grapes because they are kind of high in sugar. I told Bo that I couldn't eat them all, and he told me "so give them to Solomon!"

I fed the grates to Sol one by one. He curled his lip after eating the first one, but quickly decided that he liked them. I hand fed him the grapes, and when I ran out, he snorfled me and brushed his lips on my face, begging for more. Heh, my fault for having taught him "kiss me," but honestly? I like it. It tickles and it's kind of sweet. He isn't going to bite me.

Teddy Bear was the 4th horse I was going to work. I was pretty tired at that point, but I wanted to do more. She, however, wouldn't budge Quite uncharacteristic of her, as she is normally a pretty easygoing horse. I checked out all 4 of her feet, which she gave me obligingly enough. I pulled a couple of little rocks out, but they weren't really nasty ones. I saw Bo walking by and called to him.

"Hey Bo?" I yelled.


"Teddy Bear won't go to the gate with me. This isn't really normal for her."

"Well," he replied, "Better just leave her be then. Something's disturbed her and there's no point in pushing the matter."

Now, this is a method of horsemanship that I think a lot of people might find a little odd. Let the horse do what SHE wants? Won't she learn disrespect that way? Won't she WIN?

But respect isn't a matter of forcing another being to do things. It isn't a matter of putting fear into them, either. Respect is a matter of trust, and for there to be real respect in a working partnership, it has to go both ways. Sometimes a horse will have an off day. If the horse is like Teddy Bear, who is a bit of a schoolmaster and normally very willing and sensible, there isn't a whole lot to be gained from fighting her when nobody, including her, really NEEDS to pull her out for some roundpenning.

Now, yes, a horse should learn to follow you and obey you normally. But sometimes when they have a very strong and out of character opinion about something, you have to evaluate the situation, and sometimes you have to just let things be. I've read a lot of stories about people who got hurt riding. Many of them said "She wasn't acting normal and I felt like something was off, but I couldn't find anything physical wrong with her, so we just went ahead and did it." Then the horse spooked, or stumbled and fell, or bucked the rider off, and there was a big wreck.

Horses are not machines. They are not completely consistent. They have bad days. They have days where their agenda is just not compatible with your own. If they are consistently saying no to something, it's time to re-evaluate the horse's health and the training methods that are being used, because maybe the horse just doesn't understand. It's POSSIBLE the horse is just being willful and testing, but it seems to me that usually there is some other reason. Maybe it is something that someone with the right skills and knowledge can work though, maybe it's not, but one thing that rarely works is fighting an epic battle with one's equine companion about what you think they should do. That's usually just being impatient and inflexible.

So I left Teddy Bear in her pasture with Lilah.

It was strange, but while chatting with DeDe about her fabulous and ever-elvolving garden, I realized that I felt a little chilly. I think it was in the high 70s, at the least. I'm just so used to it being in the 90s or 100s up there that it felt kind of wrong! I like it a lot better, for sure. But yeah, I had goosebumps. Weird.

Some time I will tell you about how religious humanism can be connected to horsemanship. Some time I will tell you about Cali being weaned. Sometime I will tell you about hoof angles.

But for now, dear readers, I am so very tired. I am just going to lay my head down for a little while. I will talk to you again soon.


littledog said...

I'm really interested to hear your opinion about how "religious humanism" relates to horsemanship. I have my own theories about that, too.

Evergrey said...

Oi, well a lot of it was Bo's opinion, which I agreed with! But essentially we talked about one of the big purposes of religion is how it helps us to work through things that just completely blow our minds. Things that are just too intense or terrible for us to process on our own. Religion gives us guidance and rituals to work through these moments.

And sometimes we ask a horse to do something and they just cannot handle it, mentally, emotionally. We blow their minds. And we must help them work through it. We must give them comfort. Give them familiar rituals. Be the guide that they need to work through it. Not someone who just punishes the horse because of their "attitude." Sometimes it's attitude, but so very often it is not. It's confusion or the inability to process. It's being overwhelmed.