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, October 30, 2009

Good news about Solomon!

The farrier said that Solomon's feet looked great, with no sign of thrush now. He said his concavity was actually nice, and he was just growing out and shedding his summer sole and frog, which makes things look bad... plus his feet grow fast, so by the end of the 6 week cycle they are very obviously due.
It was fun bantering with the two farriers, Grant and Roberto. They're not only very skilled, they're also very funny guys. Roberto the Italian Stallion is single, by the way, ladies. I would have gotten a picture of him today, but my camera will no longer turn on. Shoot. Sorry folks, looks like no photos for a couple months. The plus side is that if I get a camera for Christmas, it'll probably be nicer than the one I have now.

Of course, anything is nicer than a silver brick that won't turn on, hah.

Anyway, Solomon worked hard in the roundpen after his trim, and he clearly felt great. He was very lively and hardly pinned his ears at all when cantering. He'll often make at least a bit of a grumpy face, and I think his hips get a bit stiff, but overall he's looking okay. He worked up a sweat again, go Solly! There's a gorgeous new lunge whip to use now too... it's a pretty blue and it has a very nice whoosh and snap to it. Not that I need to use a lot of energy with Solly at this point- we're pretty in tune to each other in the roundpen.

I also really brushed his tail out today. This is a pretty major production, as it drags on the ground and is pretty full. His hair is finer in general than the hair of the other horses at the ranch. Maybe because he's a grey? Or maybe it's his breeding. It tangles really easily and it breaks really easily. So while Grant and Roberto were working on the fronts of a couple other horses, I soaked his mane and tail in Cowboy Magic and brushed them out. His tail looked so nice by the time I was done, and it was a lot fuller than I'd realized. He looked like a fairy tale horse. Then he farted in my face.

Good old Solomon.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

A minor miracle!

Well, when I was up at the ranch last, I decided to clean and refill the trough in Solly's pasture. Poco Joe, who was just being playful and curious, pulled my camera out of my pocket by the strap and dropped it in a deep puddle. I was sure it would be completely dead, but I immediately removed the batteries and let it dry out for most of the week. Today I was able to retrieve the pictures I took Monday! I don't know if the camera is back 100%, but it hasn't been at 100% for a good while now. I asked for a new one for Christmas anyway, :}

There is a unique joy that comes with introducing someone to horses! My friend Susan is a self-proclaimed city girl. She had only ever seen vultures at the zoo, even!

She'd ridden on one of those short guided trail strings a couple of times when she was younger, but had never really had the chance to interact with horses.

I'm so grateful that my Solly is such a sweet boy!

I told Susan to hold her hands out so Solomon would follow them.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mirroring- the other direction.

It is said that horses mirror us. If we are afraid, they will be afraid.
I think they are very sensitive and will most certainly react when they sense fear!
Some also become afraid.
Some become aggressive, because if the person won't be a leader, somebody has to!
Today I brought a friend to meet my horse, Solomon. She was afraid of him. She's a city girl and not used to being around animals bigger than dogs. Solomon could sense that she was afraid and unsure.
How did he react?
Very very gentle. Very carefully. He was so incredibly quiet and calm with her. I could tell that he knew she was afraid. She was broadcasting it loud and clear, though she wasn't always aware of it. He watched her quite intently, and was ginger with his movement. But he responded with serenity. He made an effort to reassure her. We talk a lot about being a calm, confident, consistent person for horses. But sometimes I think that there are horses who will do the same for us.

When Solomon and I were in horse hell, we often looked to each other for mutual comfort. There was a lot of touching and lightly leaning on one another. Solomon could always tell when I was about to have a panic attack. He could smell the chemicals my body produced as it prepared for fight or flight. Sometimes my unease made him uneasy, but as time went on he came to react differently. When I began to feel the panic welling up inside of me, he would crane his neck around and press me up against his body with his head. I would shake and hold on to him, tears soaking his mane. But he would hold me there and just breathe with me until I came back to myself.

So when my city friend was afraid, he did what he had done with me. He became a rock. A secure, reassuring, steady calm presence. He told her, though most of the time she didn't understand that he was communicating at all, that everything was fine. That he would not hurt her. That he was friendly and not threatening. That he could be strong and calm if she needed that.

So tell me a story about a time when you needed a friend to support you, and your horse was there to comfort you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Aaand we're walking, we're walking...

Yesterday I woke up sometime around 5am. Maybe 4. I'm not really sure, but it was cold and dark.
"Yay," I thought blearily, "I can get a head start on going up to the ranch!"

By the time I arrived, the sun had come up, but the world was enveloped by mist. The starlings singing in the muffled half-light was eerily pronounced.

DeDe was just getting ready to feed, so I hopped in to help her. She showed me the "shotput" method of hay flake tossing, which was much more effective than my spinning toss. I was not entirely awake yet despite the hour and a half drive, and mistook Shin for Solomon. A-durrrr. They are both grey, that's about it. Heh. But feeding got done. I love the smell of alfalfa!

Next, I photographed and filmed a little demonstration by Bo about tying back the head of a horse, and why it is done. It isn't really something done in English, but Western disciplines that involve cow work require a lot more lateral movement. Lateral flexion is important in training a horse to do rollbacks. Rollbacks are when a horse spons on her hind feet, crossing her legs over in front. This can be a very VERY fast maneuver, and is essential for working cattle. Picture a cow running along a fence. A horse runs up beside the cow, and then overtakes her. She must then spin back towards the cow to turn the cow, and she cannot do that by spinning her head AWAY from the cow- the cow may try to squeeze past, the cow may attack, or the cow might not understand that she is being chased in the other direction. This spin must be very tight, very fast, and very controlled. It is also the foundation of the crazy fast, tight spins you see in reining.
So, first you tie the horse's head to one side, enough that she is bending but not so much that she cannot get relief from the pressure by bending a little. Then you gently move her in the roundpen so she turns, following her nose. She learns to be supple and follow the cue with a loose rein. The purpose is not just to teach her a cue, however- it's also to train her body to make those tight spins on her own, as she will have to use her own judgment with cattle at times.
Once you have done a good number of SHORT, simple, and to the point lessons with roundpenning, and she is physically attuned to that kind of movement, you can start roundpenning her and asking her to do rollbacks on the fence. Next, you can take those lessons to the saddle, and do tight turns and rollbacks.
So head tying, done properly, is a method which accomplishes a number of things. It trains the horse's body. It gets the horse thinking. It gets the horse stretching. It gets the horse supple. It prepares the horse for future maneuvers in reining and cow-work.
I have videos, but I'm going to wait for Bo's go-ahead to post them here, as they are for posting elsewhere first.

But I did want to show off his lovely mare, Magic. Magic the Quarterhorse, not Magic the Arabian who is boarding here. She is a fine horse and the dam of Cali, that lovely little sorrel filly I've shown you.

Magic ground ties like an angel and clearly just loves Bo. She watches him wherever he goes, and stands so quietly. She's still getting into shape, since her foal has just been weaned, but she really is a nice mare.

And wow can she move fast! The way she canters is completely different from the way Solomon canters. There's barely any rocking motion to her... she's low and quick and I think she must do really well on cattle. Truly a rein cow horse.

After I watched Magic do rollbacks, spins, stops, and backing, Bo sent me off to take Kizim for a walk.

On the way, Shin and Magic the Arab were looking cute.

Solomon, whose pasture I passed, was sad that I was not pulling him out yet. I promised him I would though!

Kizim is living in a big pasture with Remmy these days. Remmy has become a lot more polite, incidentally. He stays back when I tell him to, and he seems to respect Kizim's authority.

So I decided, with Bo's permission, to take Kizim down the country lane that the ranch is on. I wasn't sure how far we would get, but I figured it would be a good workout for both of us. On the way out, going someplace new and all, Kizim was pretty noodly. She kept going back and forth, back and forth. I think she was hoping to eat everything on the sides of the road.

We passed cows and barns, vineyards and houses. Kizim tried to steal some Halloween decorations, but I anticipated this and she did not manage to reach them. Good thing, because otherwise I would have had to explain to the neighbors why their pumpkins had big bites taken out of them. Heck, she even tried to go for some dried corn husks! She was very good about standing on the side of the road with me when cars and trucks passed, however. I got a couple of weird looks. I guess people usually just ride their horses down the road instead of hand walking them. One fellow thought that Kizim was a loose horse, haha!

So we just kept going and going, and somehow I wasn't getting winded. My feet started to get sore, but I just put one in front of the other and shouldered in to the work. Kizim eventually settled in and walked quietly beside me. She was clearly happy though... relaxed but very bright, ears perked, interested in the world around her.

And then suddenly we were at the end!

I guess that road is around a mile... I'm not really sure. I'll have to remember to drive down it sometime to find out.

The whole way back Kizim was a very good girl. She had a "been there, done that" attitude, and was quite happy to just walk along.

The countryside is lovely this time of year. The first bits of winter grass are coming up, and the grape vines have turned their autumn colors.

She called to the big herd when we finally got back to the ranch. Jewel and Lena came running over, and Jewel thought Kizim getting walked past the pasture was just SO exciting that she was running and bucking for a good half hour afterwards.

When I put Kizim back, Solomon was just beside himself hoping that I'd pull him out next. He trotted alongside me all down the fenceline, nickering nonstop. When I picked his halter up, he started nickering very very loudly, adding some higher notes in for emphasis. He wanted to just come right through the gate when I opened it, but he backed up like a good boy when I asked him to. He was so eager that when I lifted up his halter to start to loop it over his head, he shoved his nose down into the nose before I even had it ready for him, and I had to disentangle him from it, haha.

All the way down the road he was soft and sweet.

Once I had him tied, though, he was a mister Antsy McBeggypants. This is in great part my fault, because he knows that after grooming comes his feed pan, and he gets so excited about his pan that it's hard for him to focus on getting groomed.

His frogs are shedding right now, so much that I was a little alarmed, but DeDe told me it was nothing to worry about. It's just that it's moist now, and the seasons are changing, so all four of his frogs have a good quarter inch thickness, maybe more, peeling off at once. The entire frog! Good thing the farrier is coming on the 30th.

I really wish he could walk without being in a lot of pain barefoot. Oh well. Been there, tried that. Might try it again but it just seems unkind to do it to this horse. Now, Kizim? She'll never need shoes. Her feet are huge compared to Solomon's, and so nicely shaped and solid. I joked that I was going to steal her hooves. But Solly, well, he was NOT bred for good feet. I don't know what the heck he was bred for... not longevity either, I don't think. :( But I'll do my best!

Once his grooming was done, his feed pan came out. He was a total beggypants then. He does this head duck when he wants his food. It's kind of pretty, actually.

Oh Solly, it's almost as if you know how to collect. Almost.

My horse is now spoiled absolutely rotten, by the way. SPOILED.

Yeah, those are carrots AND peppermints... though he eats his senior feed before he eats the treats.

After his pan, I took him grazing. There is oat hay sprouting everywhere!

And for the first time since late spring, I was able to comfortably lie down on the ground in soft green grass instead of stickers and star thistle. I put my hat over my face to shade it from the sun. Solomon stuck his nose under the brim to check on me from time to time. He had sweet grass breath.

The next thing we did was roundpen work. Even though my horse is retired and spoiled rotten, he still needs to stay healthy, and to keep his back from going out more than it already is, he needs to work his topline. This means trotting, and lots of it. Solomon was VERY VERY good with the roundpenning yesterday.

I don't know what happened to the lunge whips, by the way, but the are both pretty much destroyed. What the heck? It looks like a whip-eating monster stuck onto the ranch in the middle of the night and went to town on them. I was able to use the end of my break-apart lunge whip okay though, despite it being a lot more BENDY at the last half than it had been. Hmmmm.

Solomon understood everything I asked of him. He understood "eeeeasy jog trot" and "fast trot," he understood "out on the rail" and executed a series of rollbacks that I hadn't thought he was capable of, crossing over with his front feet beautifully. *boggles* well I'm not complaining! I had him do a little bit of cantering, which he wasn't as enthusiastic about, but he did it for me. His whoas were pretty good too! It was a great time, and I felt very proud of my boy. Our communication is so easy and fluid these days. It amazes me sometimes how far we have come and how close we have become. We both take a great deal of comfort in one another.

Also, I had him wear my hat. He wasn't so enthusiastic about that.

Solomon got a back massage after his roundpenning, and then I took him back to his pasture. He had a nice long drink, which Poco Joe joined him for.

Then Poco Joe wanted to come cuddle.

Solomon Did Not Approve, however, and chased him away! Then he tried to follow me out the gate again, and he made the saddest tragic-eyes at me when I pushed him back in and latched it. Awwwh, I'm sorry Solly, but you wouldn't fit in my car to come home with me!

On the way back I mucked a couple of stalls. This is a much grosser task in the winter, but I still kind of enjoy doing it. It's soothing and gives me a sense of accomplishment.

I chatted with Bo and DeDe on the porch at the end of the day. Bo said that it was great that Solomon was showing such joy at the prospect of spending time with me, and that there was no higher compliment that one could get from a horse than them expressing that you are the highlight of their day. That made me feel nice and fuzzy inside. He said that was something even many big name trainers don't get out of the horses they work with.

Then they gave me a bottle of white wine with little flakes of gold in it as an anniversary gift. Today is my one year wedding anniversary. How about that? I can't believe it!

Now I'm going to go get ready, as the husband and I are going off to a Brazilian steak house to celebrate. They bring giant skewers of meat to your table. OM NOM NOM NOM!

Have a wonderful evening, everyone!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

And the raven watched over me.

Today I did something that I thought I would never be able to do again.

Today I climbed Wildcat Peak.

Bo says that people are very good at limiting themselves. They say "I can't, I can't I cant." I said to him this past spring "I can't hike up to the tops of hills any more." He told me I would be able to do it again someday, and I didn't believe him.

But he was right.

I wanted to share this day with you all, even though it is not really horse related.

I decided that it was time for me to try my hand, er, legs, at hiking. I drove out to Jewel Lake.

First I explored the little nooks and crannies on the way to the lake.

I love the tunnels of greenery, sweet bowers of fecundity. The soil is rich and pungent here, and brilliant green arches over your head.

A little stream ran to the lake.

I think maybe a raccoon passed through here.

Near the lake, there was a watering trough and hitching post. I wouldn't give that nasty water to my horse unless he was in duress and desperate for water, but it's cool that it's there.

The lake was gorgeous.

Were these guppies or pollywogs? I couldn't tell.

Yoga turtle is having a zen moment.

See this? Don't touch it. On pain of... pain. And itchiness. Horrible rashes. It is poison oak and it adds to the excitement of hiking by growing everywhere.

Once I got to the lake, I decided I was feeling just fine. I guess I do a lot more walking than I realized, because I wasn't winded at all.

So I decided to give in to the temptation and walk on a bit of the trail that leads up to Wildcat Peak. Wildcat Peak is both an old friend and an adversary. That is the hill that I would run down before I hurt my back. Running down it most certainly contributed to my back injury and my tendinosis. But sometimes to get better you have to not just treat your body... you have to treat your mind, and you have to treat your heart. Emotionally, hiking is very good for me.

So I started in, and at first my legs were a little sore from riding the other day. I thought, "Maybe I am not ready for hill hiking. Well, I'll go a little ways."

It had been at least three years, but everything was so familiar. It felt good to be on the trail again.

This trail is like a biome parfait. There is the lake level, which is thick hedges of greenery with scattered fields of irises in the spring. There is the eucalyptus layer, which to me is unsettling. It is invasive, an alien in this area, and it does not belong here. There is the mixed oak and bay laurel layer. There is the chaparral layer of thick scrub brush. Then there is the scattered scrub and grass layer.

The eucalyptus layer was almost entirely the trees themselves and poison oak, because poison oak is just nasty enough to survive the tannins that eucalyptus trees soak the soil with. Lately, however, a bit of bay laurel has been coming in.

For a little while the trail weaves between native and non-native forest.

I was surprised that I got to the native forest level. And my feet kept moving. It was hard, but not as had as I thought it would be. And I just kept going. I got to the scrub level.

This little fellow was rather worried about me walking past him.

After a great deal of walking, I looked back to see the tops of trees below me.

And the valley.

Little daisylike flowers occasionally dotted the hillside.

The scrub rattled in the breeze as vultures circled overhead.

The top of the hill was still very far, however. I didn't expect to get there. This isn't even the peak- it's a false peak, and the real one is behind it.

This tree is an old friend, and one of the last before the top. I have leaned on it many times. Never thought that I would see it again.

Humans aren't the only creatures to use these trails. Deer do too.

I wish that I could tell you the sounds of the city had faded away. But there was the constant rumble of the freeway, there were planes and helicopters overhead, and there was often the distant wail of a siren. But closer to me there was birdsong, the rustling skitter of small creatures in the underbrush, and the air was fresh and sweet.

I paused many times, and I thought about stopping. I thought "I shouldn't be doing this. I should turn around."

But then a man walked past me, and he gave me a quick once-over type of look, followed by a "what is someone like YOU doing HERE?" Of course, that could have been my perception! But he was the first person I had come across, and everyone I have run into up there has been skinny and pretty fit. So it might have been my own insecurity more than the look he was giving me, but I got angry. And the anger inspired me to push on.

I reached the grassland layer.

And the trail wound up and up and up, every turn revealing more length, more walking that I had to do to get to the top. But I was so close! So very close. It is 1280 feet above sea level at the top. I think I remember the hike being a couple of miles, but I'm not really sure. I walked for a long time.

When I reached the top, there were nice people there. They took my picture for me.

The city was far below me, across the bay.

I told the nice folks up there how I had been badly injured and unable to sit up or stand on my own a few years back, and that this was my first time making it to the top again. They were eating little golden apples, and the woman came over to me and told me, "We have an extra apple and what you've done is something worth celebrating, so here, have it!"

Made my day right there. Sure, it wasn't exactly Atkins compliant, but I knew my body was going to just burn it right off, and I needed the juice that the fruit held. Thank you, random nice folks at the peak!

After they left and I made that video, I sat down at the stone ring that rests on the very top of the hill. Next to me was a section of straight stick, about as thick as my thumb. A stave. I carved some runes into it to make a little offering to my gods, and a request for my self.

Wunjo, for joy.
Uruz, for strength. Primal, wild strength.
Raitho, for my journeys.

I threw the stave and it caught in the scrub, hovering between earth and sky.

I closed my eyes.

I heard the whoosh of great wings, and when I opened my eyes, he was there.

A great glossy raven, resplendent in onyx plumes. A sacred bird in my faith. A bird of the god Odin, to whom I feel particularly close. He hovered on an updraft maybe 4 feet from my face. And he just stared into my eyes. It made it all worth it. I felt so close to my gods.

I said to the raven, "thank you for sharing this with me."

The raven circled me twice. I managed to overcome the awe enough to snap this photo before he floated away.

And then the butterflies came.
First there were a couple floating around. Then they were dancing around each other in groups of three and four. Then 6 or 7. Butterflies everywhere. Painted ladies, which I always associate with Baldur in my mind because of something that happened years ago, and these black butterflies with reddish-orange wingtips. I couldn't tell if they were mating, or warring, or both. But they were beautiful and they swarmed the hilltop, flying all around me. Really it is impossible to capture something like that on film. They were too quick. And a static photo just doesn't show you the magnificence of the complex acrobatics they performed, swirling around each other in a riot of colors.

I felt like I could almost fly myself.

But yeah, then there was the matter of getting back down off the top of the hill.

I thought I'd be clever and take a couple of shortcuts... except that THIS:

Turned out to not be a shortcut to my trail, and went the wrong direction entirely a couple of times. I managed to get myself kind of lost in the wilderness, but I did make my way back out again by backtracking, thank the gods.

The sky was darker for my descent, and I was truck by the beauty of the bay laurels.

It is a glorious day to be alive. Cherish every moment!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Soggy day!

It started out being a pretty soggy day today.

Solomon was a Talker McTalkypants today. The moment he spotted me, he started telling me his life story. "HurrhurhurhurHURRRR! Hur hur hur! HURRRR!"

He had a wet butt, but his belly was dry.

He still needs to put on weight, but the water lines make it look worse than it is. You still have to press to feel his ribs.

After working him a bit, I cuddled Solomon, and we wandered around together for a little while.

My boy makes me so happy!

Mud season is hardcore hoof care season. Solomon's hooves are very delicate things, and a light mist will give him thrush or other infections. Today I spend a fair amount of time scrubbing his feet out and then applying some coppertox. That stuff is harsh, but I'm trying to cover my bases here. The farrier will be out on the 30th, and I will discuss my concerns with him then. His feet seem kind of squeezed in, and those crevasses between the frog and the hard part of the sole are way too deep.
Next visit I will iodine his feet, and the visit after that I might try some triple antibiotic ointment. I'll keep cycling hoof treatments.
They got really gnarly last year too. I'm glad the soil here is sandy. That's not as bad as clay.

After I gave Solomon a generous feed pan and then raked up a bucket of loose oat hay for him to munch, I did a little bareback mare riding, yay! I've come to prefer bareback. Easier to feel the movement of the horse and to move with her.

Then we pulled out Kizim, and I took her for a walk!

The manzanita was lovely.

Kizim moves pretty slowly and mostly wants to eat stuff until you get her into the hills. She wants to run up and down the hills- there are mountains in her blood!

Sorry this is kind of cut off, heh. I like the photo anyway.

No girl, it is walking time, not eating time.

She is checking out the scenery. I just love her ears, double dipped in black and gold at the tips!

Kizim is fun to work with. At first she was mostly paying attention to what she could eat instead of what I was asking her to do. I quickly decided that getting into a tug-of-war would not be productive for either of us, so instead I decided to try applying some Western riding theory to how I worked with her on the ground. Good ground work makes a solid foundation for good riding.

In Western, contact and communication are often a bit different than in English. Back at Hossmoor, for example, many people walking their horses would tightly hold the lead line right under the horse's chin. That is one kind of contact, and you see that in some Western disciplines too. But another way of doing things is to have a fairly loose lead line through which you can also communicate.

Horses are very sensitive, and they can feel how much rope is hanging off their face. Simply lifting it and transferring some of the slack from them to your hand can be enough of a cue. It's all about timing. Timing and consistency. Horses communicate without words, and they do so very quickly. For us humans, well, we don't always read body language as well or as quickly, so a horse might have asked if they could do something and then begun to do it before we have noticed at all that there is a change in their behavior. So the solution is to try to be as keyed in to the horse as we expect the horse to be keyed in to us. We might not be as good at this as the horse is, but we can aspire to be.

So after we did a few gentle turns and back ups to get her to listen up and be supple, I held the end of the rope firmly in one hand, just in case, but I balanced the rope over the side of my other hand, between my finger and my thumb, but with no squeezing, so that the rope was simply resting there. When I felt any increase in the weight of the rope, indicating that she was beginning to lower her head to eat, I would simply raise my hand a bit and say "walk" in a firm voice that was commanding without being a reprimand. She responded very very well to this, and we were soon trudging all over the ranch with very few attempts on her part to eat stuff off the ground. Her ears were perked forward or turned to listen to me, and she seemed quite happy. I think I found some work ethic! I just needed to learn how to communicate effectively with her. As often seems to be the case, softer was better.

When I finally put Kizim back in her mare motel, she tried to follow me back out!

Next, I watched Bo work with Remmy.

Here Remmy is, haivng a bosal put on. The horsehair rein with attached lead rope is called a mecate. This is a long-standing California tradition, harkening back to the days when the Spaniards owned this land. The Vaqueros would break horses in a bosal, and Remmy was started in one, though it had been a while since he'd worn one. Remmy is 4, and has been trained slowly and carefully to allow his body and mind time to develop. Bo intends for Remmy to be healthy and to hold up well to work.

I just love his face.

A bosal does not have a bit. It works off of pressure on the nose, though with a well-trained horse there is not really pressure, only communication. A bosal, like any tool in the horse world, CAN be used very harshly. But that's not the way things are done here at the ranch, and that's not the way the Rein Cow Horse discipline works. It's all about lightness, communication, and a horse who is able to balance himself. When working cattle, you cannot rely on constant controlled contact. The horse needs to be able to make decisions and steer himself to control a cow that wishes to run back to his herd. But he also needs to be able to respond to the lightest cue from his rider- a lifting of the reins, where, like Kizmet responding to me picking the lead rope up a bit, the reins are still slack but the weight of them has shifted a tiny bit.

Bear in mind that Bo is in training mode, so he is not in perfect equitation form... he is more concerned about clearly communicating to a young horse.

Here you can see Remmy bending. Further down the road in his career, he will learn to do various moves without following his nose, but for now he is learning to be soft and supple, and to use his body.

Not bad collection, eh? Western collection doesn't have as high of a neck curve as dressage collection seems to. But then, a Quarter Horse is built a little differently than a Friesian or a Hanoverian.

After following Bo and Remmy around for a good while, I helped with the evening feeding. I enjoy slinging hay! And the smell of the hay is very soothing to me. I love seeing happy horses eating good food.