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.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lots of pics day, and a bit about control.

In the horse world, there's a lot of talk about control.
How you ALWAYS have to be 100% in charge and in control of your horse.
How if you aren't in perfect control all the time, you will lose all control and things will become very dangerous.
This is a concept that I went by a fair amount at first. Sometimes things would really escalate, and Solomon and I would get in a fight. I look back at that day when I tried to ride Solomon in a borrowed dressage saddle that we had never used before, and he ended up striking me because things escalated so much. I tried to force him to stand at the block for me.
The truth is, he probably had a pretty good reason for not wanting me to get on his back. I'm betting that saddle didn't fit at all, and he could already tell it was going to hurt. There's a good chance we'd both get hurt.
So was he in the wrong? A little bit, as he should never have struck me... though I have to say he really pulled his punch. But he was rather correct as well. I had no business getting on his back in a saddle that I thought might fit, but that probably did not.
Thing is, he tried for a good half hour to tell me more gently, and I just wasn't listening. I was going to get up on that horse no matter what his opinion was! In the end, I not only did not get on him, but I re-enforced his already negative view of mounting and riding. But it wasn't entirely bad, either. I learned something very important. I learned that I really needed help. And thanks to that realization, which is something Solomon had been trying to tell me for a while, I GOT help. We found a place that was much better for us than Hossmoor, and I found some great friends and mentors. I have spent many, many hours with Bo, and he has taught me so very much. DeDe often has mentioned very thoughtful, insightful things to me. And I found another mentor. His name is Solomon.
I learned that sometimes softer can accomplish a lot more than firmer. I learned that it can be hard, but patience really pays off. I learned that doing things right isn't always the easiest way, but it is the most effective long term. I learned that it is so very important to listen to my horse, and that if I learned how, he had a lot to say.
I learned to build a partnership. Of course, I am the leader most of the time. But Solomon has also come to respect this more, not because I have been more forceful, but because I have learned to be a BETTER leader. And also because sometimes he DOES know better, and I know that sometimes I can and should listen to him. Sometimes he can sense things I can't, even about myself.

So today when I woke up, it took me a good 15 or 20 minutes to get 15 feet from my bed to the bathroom. Every movement sent a stabbing pain through me, and I was involuntarily jerked around by my back. Spasms wracked through my body, and I almost fell a number of times. I couldn't stand upright and I had to half crawl, half pull myself forward by whatever objects I could reach.
It took me a couple of hours to get myself completely dressed.
I called the doctor's office and demanded an MRI. They wanted me to try just taking ibuprofen for a while. I think we're a little beyond that point.
I did get my pants on, however, and eventually my boots too, though I yelled a bit and the cats hid under the bed. I found out that today was the only day the farriers would be there, so I didn't really have a choice in the matter. Pain or no, I had to go pay for my boy's shoes.
I drove up in the heat, and by the time I got to the ranch I was feeling pretty wiped out. Solomon was just getting the finishing touches on his new shoes, and when he saw me he perked up big time, saying "MOM!" or maybe "FOOD LADY!"
A___ was holding him for me. That was so sweet of her! She handed him over and he got really excited, very gently nudging me and sniffing me all over. I'd been gone a week.
We walked out of the trimming area... well he walked, I hobbled. I decided it was most certainly a day for throwing my arm over Sol's shoulders. I had a goal in mind, and it was quite a long walk. When I put my arm over Solomon's shoulder, though I didn't really realize it right away, I gave him the lead. He gave me some dubious expressions when I asked him to go down the road towards his pasture, and stopped. I, gritting my teeth and ignoring my body, was probably sending all kinds of signals to him with my tenseness, and I think he knew I was hurting big time.
Solomon does have his own desires, of course, and he wanted to go out into the big field at the center of the ranch. He walked very slowly and carefully, keeping one eye fixed on me, and instead of trying to trot off to see Teddy Bear, he stopped not too far from the road and picked at some dead grass. I leaned on him, stretching my back out and taking some pictures of his freshly trimmed feet. Then it dawned on me. I needed to go slowly and I needed to only go a short distance and then take a break. I just hadn't really paid enough attention to my body to realize it. But Solomon did. He was right, and I am glad that I listened to him.
Once I was finished stretching and loosening my back up, he let me take over and was very soft and obedient for the rest of the day.

In fact, I have found that if I give a little, I can actually take a lot more than I could when it was all take and no give. Later on that evening, as we sat at the table talking about big name trainers, martial arts senseis and what makes a good teacher, I mentioned that a good teacher is one who is not only still open and learned, but also willing to learn from his students. A good platoon leader is one who is willing to hear out his soldiers. And a good leader knows that sometimes he must follow. As well, do you fully trust anyone who has no trust in you?

I don't think a day goes by now that I am not in some way humbled by horses.

Now that I've talked a bit about the serious stuff, it's time for a lot of pictures!

I asked the farrier about hoof length and barefoot versus shoes. He simply said "well, all farriers are different, and all horses are different. Each one has their own unique needs."

What it really comes down to for me is what makes Solomon feel good.

See, this is what we have to work with:

Note that the shoe runs way behind the heel, so there is room for it to spread. This foot will never be normal... so we do what we can to make it not hurt.

After my rest, I took Solly and tied him to the patience tree for a little while so I could chat with the farriers and A___. I fixed up a small pan of senior feed, and fed my boy. Meanwhile Kizim was running around in the front pen, charging about like an Arabian filly, tail high in the sky, calling to him. She is possibly even more obsessed with him than he is with Teddy Bear.

I decided that it would probably be okay for them to meet at the gate. I can't afford the emergency vet bill if they happen to not get along in a pasture together.

They happily sniffed noses, then gave a little squeal in unison. Solomon told me that was plenty of chit chat time by ambling away. Kizim started calling and calling to him. I took Solomon to the field across the street, and Kizim ran to the corner, going nuts because the big grey dreamboat was LEAVING!

Solomon gets to spend a little time in a 3 acre pasture with Poco Joe and Remmy. He was feeling really good after his trim, and they all expressed quite a bit of joy together. The boys are, I think, 3 and 4 years old or so, and Solomon is 17 or 18, but he kept up just fine!

First, he explored a bit...

Remmers had to come investigate my giant flowy pink hippie shirt. I do not like wearing pink and I am not a big fan of hippie clothes, but this shirt is cool (temp-wise) and comfortable, so screw it. It is also, as it happens, the most amusing thing for horses ever.

He grabbed my sleeve and tried to run off with it, but that didn't work out so well given that it was attached to me. I told him he had to back off, thank you very much.

This tree just kind of blew up one day. BAM, one side fell, then not too long after BAM, the other side fell.

Ahh, California, where things catch on fire and/or explode randomly. That might explain films out of Hollywood, actually!

After exploration time, it was run around like crazy beasts time!

HAHA, yeah, he really was used for barrel racing about 5 years ago. I don't know that he ever WON, though.

Not sparkling white any more. Still happy though!

Losing the lead!

So he spun and made them catch up again!

Yeee-haw! 'Course, Solomon might tell you that he was leading the charge, but I think Remmy was probably chasing him.

Heh, his tail goes straight out.

And off he goes!

But of course he had to come back to check on me a few times.

Then there was HAY! Happy, joyous day- HAY! He never gets sick of having good hay.

The pasture across the street looks a bit like a Lord of the Rings forest, California style. The wind was blowing, and oak leaves were falling. I wish this photo showed how fairy tale it really looked out there.

And then there was this crazy stump with it's crazy giant boll. It was as tall as a house, and a curled up horse could have fit in the boll part, I think.

Remmy and Poco Joe also enjoyed their food.

At the end of the day, I went with Bo while he fed, and the baby followed along. She's in the process of weaning, and she was out of the big pasture for the second half of today.

SHE HAS BEEN NAMED! Her name is Cali!

She is an own daughter of Topsails Reinmaker, and I think she is going to be a very nice rein cow horse.

A little later on, A___, DeDe, and myself all went out to try to drive her down the fenceline and back into the big pasture. A___ and DeDe were on foot, and I was driving the mule. I can tell you right now that a mule (the vehicle, not the equine,) is no match for the agility of a filly whose sire competes in the Magnificent Seven. She was running circles around me! I swear I could hear the Benny Hill theme song playing. In the end A____ went and got her mom, Magic, and lead her down to the gate, and which point with me behind and DeDe in front we got her down to the gate, which she ran through. Overall, she is a rather independent-minded filly, and she has mostly weaned herself. She'll go to mom for the occasional sip, but spends more time with some of the other mares than she does with her milk-bar.

After that was done with, Bo, DeDe and I went into the house and chatted for a while. It's always a pleasure to visit and philosophize at the ranch!

By the time I left, I was walking almost normally. How about that?


hownowbabycows said...

Ahahaha. What a funny girl... Get a video of her running around screaming, if you can. That amuses me. Silly horses.

Solly looks good!

Evergrey said...

Thank you!
Next time she is in the big pen I'll tie Sol to a tree nearby. That'll get her going, heh!