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, December 19, 2009


Today I followed Bo around as he worked with a couple of horses.
First he worked with Lilah, who has always been a broodmare and who is kind of nervous about this whole stuff-on-her-back thing. Bo worked with her very slowly and patiently, running ropes around her butt, lifting a leg with a rope, putting a bareback pad on her, and eventually even cinching it up! Lilah was spooky and snorty but Bo was so patient and moved so slowly that he got a heck of a lot done with her today. Everything he did was a success that he then used to build into another success.

Bo took Breezey for a short little ride in the roundpen. She was taught to run, run, run, but never taught to stop, so mostly what he did with her was stop, and show her that it was okay to just hang out. You could tell by the way her lips twitched that she was really thinking this stuff through.

After that, we went out to the pasture. The horses started heading over to us, and when Bo called, Remmy came running. Solomon was coming too, but he saw no need to hurry, choosing to amble instead. Bo told me to choose a horse, either Solomon or Kizim. Kizim also came by, but veered off to scavenge some hay. Solomon gave me some cross between a nicker and a whinny, and came up to cuddle before begging to be let out.

I decided hey, why not make both horses happy? So I opened the gate to let Solomon out, shut it again, and went over to get Kizim. Kizim was a good girl and put her head in the halter, following docilely alongside me.

Here is Solly doing his very tough job:

(Photos today are courtesy of A___, one of my fellow boarders.)

After I brushed Kizim out and picked her feet, Bo put a saddle and bridle on her! Well, this was new.

First, Bo had me work at leading Kizim to the mounting block. He had me work on lining her up well, holding the reins properly while I stepped up on the block, and
getting her head turned just a little bit toward me so that if she moved while I was mounting, she'd move around the block instead of away from it. This is a lot safer.

Then I rode her around and around. Well, as much as I could get her to go around and around!

I am working hard on getting my heels down and my hands in the right place. I think I improved with that today, though I am still having trouble getting everything moving in sync!

And then Bo said "okay Ev, we're gonna have you come outside of the roundpen!"

Well, well!

I'll say this. I passed the stupid bar test. I ducked and I did not hit my head!

I was feeling pretty good about my steering abilities at first.

(No, my feet are not in the stirrups. Screw stirrups.)

Though it started to get difficult when I had to steer her around Solomon. She might have wanted to go beat him up a bit, or maybe just go say hi. With some struggling, I managed to get her to go around... you can see I wasn't doing all that great with the reins there, heh. I need to keep them shorter... I always let the reins out and out and out and then if I need to signal with them, I end up doing crazy stuff like this.

I sort of steered like a really drunk person, heh. Kizim wanted to go to that pasture that was behind us in this photo. I wanted to follow Bo to a big tree a little ways further down. I discovered that I was not very good at steering Kizim without some nice panels around me.

We did a lot of weaving back and forth, hah. She is such a tolerant girl though, really she is.

Though at a certain point she decided she'd had quite enough, I think, of my not so skilled riding, and she told me she wanted to go back to that pasture.

I think right after this photo is when she burst into a trot.

It's a nice trot, actually. She has a pretty extended trot. Bo was calling out to me to stop her. I tried going "whoa" and sticking my legs out and forward, leaning back a bit, but this didn't really deter her. I started to lose my balance a bit. I really don't have much in the way of trotting experience, I guess you could say. Almost none is another way of putting it. I could hear Bo shouting "lift those reins ev, lift those reins!"

But at the time I thought "naw, if I try that I'm either going to go over her head or over her butt," and I focused on not falling off. Ended up grabbing the horn, but hey, I didn't fall off! I knew where we were going though, and I did get her stopped once we reached the pasture gate. Or maybe it's that the gate, which was closed, got her stopped. Apparently I was also laughing through this entire process, though I wasn't really all that conscious of that.

"Hey, no laughing, this is deadly serious!" Bo yelled to me in his best "stern" voice.

This made me laugh harder.

Anyway, after that Bo had me practice turning Kizim in a circle this way and that, and then he had me ride her back into the roundpen, which actually we did pretty well at. Bo was driving her from behind on Remmy, but I got her in there, ducked under the bar, and didn't get a foot caught on a panel, either. Victory!

After Kizim had some time out of the roundpen, she was actually a lot softer inside it. And it seemed a lot less challenging to me, too.

We managed to go around that pen a good number of times, but I decided that I was getting pretty sore, and I wanted to stop before I got really tired and started making big mistakes. End on a positive note, ya know? So Bo told me to bail out while Kizim was walking. Another first for me- a voluntary dismount from a moving horse.

I'd "dismounted" involuntarily from Solomon at Hossmoor a few times.

I landed on my feet though, yay! Somehow I ended up landing facing away from my mount, but it was a fine landing, and a quick one, without me getting caught by my shirt. Victory!

I gave Kizim lots of loves and a cookie.

As the sun set, Bo and I talked about human nature, horses, religion, history, psychology, tribalism, fear, and joy. A typical conversation at the ranch!

A friend of mine recently said, "you focus too much on your worries instead of your joy." And I thought, you know, that's true. And it's true of humanity in general as well. We feel this major need to control everything, and I think a lot of need for control is born of fear. We think about the ways in which we messed up instead of the ways in which we succeeded. We worry about what might go wrong instead of thinking about the good things that might happen. We fear death instead of celebrating life.

So I am working on finding my joy. Immersing myself in it. Remembering that our world is a good one. And instead of trying to find some way to escape, like drinking a bottle of wine or losing myself in a game, there are horses. They are life, and life is good.


Maggie said...

You and Kizim look great! So very proud of you and just think how far you have come!

jeniferb said...

hi Ev, Kizim looks like the perfect horse for you, for a horse you can ride. She is a good one. i hope you can figure out a way to have her someday. great to see you out riding.

Evergrey said...

Thank you both so very much. :)

I agree, Kizim is just awesome.