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, December 22, 2009

Conspiring horse is conspiring.

This morning when I went to pull Solomon out of his pasture, Remmy got to the gate first. Remmy is a young horse, but he certainly has more clout than Solly does.

Ever look and someone and have a silent communication with them? You know, where you're in some situation that requires special handling, and you look over at someone and have a whole conversation with your eyes? You just both agree on what needs doing without saying a word.

Well I swear to you that Solomon and I had a moment like that today. Remmy chased Sol off the gate, and Sol moved away. Then he casually turned his butt to me so he was perpendicular to Remmers, looked at me, and we just had this silent agreement to take a certain action. Solomon casually moved inwards towards the middle of the pasture, and then we both casually snuck around Remmy. I even said "come on come on quick" even though Solomon moved doubletime once he was past Remmy. He slipped right through that gate and I had it shut just as soon as Solomon was through.

Remmy tried to make tragic eyes at me, and Solomon made sure to stand juuuuuuust out of biting range while he took big mouthfuls of lush, green grass.

Of course, Remmy got revenge a little later.

After cuddling my boy for a moment, I ran and mixed up his feed pan and pulled out his grooming box. Lately I've been grooming him completely loose. And I have been picking his feet while he has been eating. It is good to have your horse willing to give you his feet while his head is down and he is doing something that is relaxed, a little vulnerable, and happy-making.

I do have to say, now that Sol's back feet are barefoot, they take a lot less time to pick. Shoes are such a pain to clean feet out under.

Once Sol was settled, I watched Bo work with Lilah.

Lilah used to be a broodmare, and was never really effectively broke for riding. Someone once tried the "let her buck it out" approach, and this did not work. Bo says that Lilah is a "snorty" mare. She is a nervous horse and snorts a lot. She tends to get wound up and then has a hard time winding down. She isn't the brightest mare in the world, but is a big time anticipator. The problem is that she often anticipates trouble, or anticipates and takes action before everything is set up and a cue is given.

I watched Bo slowly, patiently build on little things with her, starting with grooming her while she ate treats from a feed pan, just as I had done with Solomon a little earlier. This, she took to quite well, and she took well to Bo approaching, doing something nice, and departing again and again. She was a lot less enthusiastic about having a bareback pad placed on her back, but Bo gently worked her through it and took her out of it again before she got herself really worked up.

Next, I put on a coat because I was feeling pretty cold. So there I was in a big long black coat with a bit of fake fur at the cuffs and collar. I went over to visit with Teddy Bear for a moment, and she was quite interested in my coat. Ever-so-gently, she began to wiggle her lip back and forth on the fake fur. She looked so very serious as she smoothed it all down for me. Awwwh!

I wondered what the horses in the pasture would think of it.

Kizim was nervous about the coat. Remmy tried to yank it off me. And my hat. He tried to steal the halter. He grabbed the lead rope as I haltered Kizim so many times I lose count. And I could just not chase him off. I got him to back off a little a few times, but as soon as my back was turned or I started to lead Kizim, he was right back at his antics again. He would not let me take her through that gate. He wanted to go instead.

Finally DeDe took pity on us and held him back while I slipped Kizim through.

Kizim, well, she has decided that her job is managing the herd in the pasture. She wasn't really in the mood to work today, I'm afraid. But we made it through alive. We had some struggles, but I pushed through it, and when she got really upset, I tried re-directing her energy by backing her, which actually helped.

Instead of focusing quite so much on my riding form, I focused a lot more of my energy on the horse. I looked where I wanted to go instead of staring at her ears so much. I tried to keep my heels down, but keep my body relaxed. I tried to be more firm and keep her moving. We managed to do a good number of circles around the pen, though she did pause a lot. We also managed some big figure 8s. Overall it was a great lesson, though I felt bad that she got upset. I made sure that we ended on a positive note, however... I dismounted after we walked across the pen together while her ears were perked forward. The dismount was nice and quick too.

By that time, Solomon was actually running back and forth, wanting to get back in the pasture. I tied Kizim to the trailer and walked out his way. As soon as he saw me, he came trotting up, nickering, and walked next to me with his head peeking over my shoulder. We ended up jogging to the gate together, and I let him in.

Kizim was a lot less patient about the whole matter, and by the time I got her walked to the gate, she was whinnying up a storm and trying to rush off to the herd. I did manage to get her still long enough to take off her halter, then got to watch her go running off to the herd.

After lunch, I walked back outside, and there was Solomon, staring at me from across the pasture. Actually, you know I could almost swear he was watching me eat lunch in the house too. It's funny but I almost always just have this sense of where he is when I am at the ranch. It's like there's this long, thin thread between the two of us, and I can feel just the slightest pull on it, turn, and there he is.

Well I said "hey you want to come say hi?" and Solomon came right over, then followed me to the gate.

I went inside and threw my arms around him. Solomon sighed into the hug, and very much enjoyed the skritches I gave him. I rubbed his face, and then lowered my head. He pressed his fuzzy grey head, full of whorls, up against my smooth one, and very very gently rubbed it against me. I petted him and gave him a lot of little kisses. He is such a love.

When I walked out again, he stayed at the gate, staring at me the whole way. I told DeDe I thought he seemed to know somehow that I wouldn't be back for a while, and she said he probably did know. Sometimes horses, they just sense things. He stood there and stared at me, and I felt bad for leaving for a week.

It wasn't until I got in my car and turned it on that Solomon slowly turned around and walked away.

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