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.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Three days ago.

Hi folks!

First off, I am so very very sorry for not updating sooner. This week has been crazy. And here I thought things would calm down after the memorial service!

On the seventh, I...

Raked lots and lots of loose hay. A lot of hay can get wasted because it just falls loose from the bales. If you rake up the good stuff, however, you can use it for snacks! Little bit here, little bit there... just a handful or two to cheer up a bored horse.

Bo took me around the mare motel and talked to me about ranch management. We talked about footing, and mud.

Mud on a ranch being made of three things- clay dust, organic material, and water. It makes life difficult for the horses and for the people caring for the horses. It isn't just messy, it can cause a variety of health problems because of the fungus and bacteria that thrive in it. Mud rash is a concern. So is thrush. Especially, for me, thrush.

So you need good drainage. You need gravel. Lots of gravel. You need rain gutters on the sides of your paddock roofs, moving the water away from the stalls. You need flat ground in your mare motels, but it must be raised up. You must flatter it regularly, because the horses wear down the inside and build burms all around the sides of their paddocks. You need to remove as much organic material as possible. You need to have the ground around the paddocks set up to channel the water away. You need to regularly remove as much organic material as possible, and you need to rake around the outside of the paddocks, especially where people are going to be walking. Before the winter storms come, you need to re-rock everything, and you need to make sure the stall mats are nice and level.

There is so much work that goes into running a horse facility, and even more work when you have boarders. As a boarder I try to not be demanding, but I know that everyone has their little things that they want just so, and I am no exception. My big stress is my horse's feet. Stopping them from rotting away is a constant struggle. It's like someone with a respiratory infection that never really goes away. I can treat his feet with iodine or whatever else, but it's still a constant uphill battle. More on that with my post about yesterday.

Then I ran up and down hills with a mare. Well, I didn't run so much, but she was very excited and just loved the hills. It was pretty up there and I felt just great. Felt wild and free, except of course I had a responsibility. A big one with hooves, and she was fun to play with.

Groomed the mare.
Did some de-spooking training with her.
Did some saddle blanket desensitization with her.
Worked on bitting her up. (molasses is a great motivator)
Roundpenned her.
Followed my Bo around while he rode her.
RODE HER! Kind of. I had the reins but Bo had the lead rope. A fall would be bad. Very bad. But we went up and down hills and were out there for a long time. Used a saddle, which we usually don't, but no stirrups. I had a big grin on my face the whole time. Closest I've come to trail riding, heh. Bo says I need hours in the saddle. And I found that after a while I wasn't thinking so much about every single movement, but was able to move with her more easily. Using a saddle was really weird though, because it's this stiff, static THING and you cannot feel every single movement of the horse. In SOME ways it feels more secure, but I've kind of gotten used to bareback now, and I feel secure knowing just where my mount's body is and which leg is moving at all times. I think Bo may be converting me... though I am so not ready to go up and down hills bareback yet.
I scrubbed the saddle pad afterwards. It is matted. If it were an animal, I'd say to shave it. But I did manage to soften the thing up a bit.

I pulled Solly out of his pasture. The gate went quite well. I groomed him. I medicated his feet. Started to notice that there was something off about them. Not that his movement was off, but that he had deep crevasses between his frog and hoof wall. This happened last winter too. Not good.

Bo looked at the ouchy on Sol's right hind and said it was a long way from his heart, which means, not too serious. Said he'd be fine and to go ahead and roundpen him.

Roundpenning went well! We had good communication going, like we usually do these days. And I finally pulled out my camera, which I'd been too busy and focused to use.

Next, Solly and I did some more ground tying work. Hey, it's something for us to do!

He dozed off for a little while.

Then he got bored and took a step.

I made sure to finish with having him stand a little more, then giving him some skritches.

There is another concern I have about Solomon, and it's something BlueSky noticed. He squints in the sunlight.

I dug around on the net. He has had runny eyes the whole time I've known him. And I think he has often squinted in the sunlight. I wonder about moon blindness, and the state of his kidneys. If anything progresses, I'll probably need to get some bloodwork done. He just has so many little problems, it's hard to tell what is really serious and what is this or that chronic thing. So we watch him. We watch his legs, his back, his eyes, his weight. I do what I can to make him comfortable and happy.

He got a big pan of senior feed and carrots. He actually ate the senior feed first, and then the carrots.

Like always, he kept raising his head while chewing to check on me.

I don't think I'll ever get tired of goofy horse faces!

Put him back in his pasture.

Now, for a working rancher this doesn't seem like all that much work. But for a gimpy girl like myself (though not AS gimpy these days, yay!) this was 7 hours of work and a major, MAJOR accomplishment for me.

I feel strong and I feel proud.

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