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, February 26, 2010

The dance

On Weds. I finally got up to the ranch again, yahoo!

My friends, K__ and M___, were kind enough to give me a ride again. When we got there I couldn't help but give Bo a hug. I had really missed everyone so much.

Then I got something in my eye (honest) and had to walk it off up to the pasture.

I've been healing really really well, and now mostly it's just the medications that are making me unsteady. By the time we got to the ranch I wasn't having many dizzy spells, and I felt confident about going in to see my boy.

On the way there I noticed a fuzzy little horse lying on the ground. It was Cali! She's almost a year old now. Well, she's roughly 11 months. I approached her very carefully, keeping my energy low and talking to her soothingly. Cali has gotten used to me over the months, and feels just fine with me. She was so comfortable that she did not get up!

I was able to kneel down beside her and give her lots of hugs and loves. There's something so great about snuggling with a horse who is lying down. Make it a baby horse and your heart just might explode from the cute!

After I'd given Cali some attention, I got up and walked away, leaving her with a comfortable, happy experience. She has never had any reason to fear humans. She is going to grow up to be a great horse. I just know it.

Solomon is in with the main mare herd these days. Remmy is in with him as well, but he has plenty to keep him occupied. Sol is pretty low on the pecking order, but he seems happy to be there.

Of course, this being a big herd of mostly mares, proper social protocol had to be observed. First Breezy came up to say hello. She's the alpha mare. Then Jewel, who is the beta. After that, I greeted a number of mares, until I was down to I think Sissy. She didn't want to let me past to Solomon, as she wanted the attention all to herself. Solly was making his "MOM MOM MOM" face, but he knew his place and knew he couldn't dare try to push past her.

I said hello to Sissy, and then maneuvered my way around her, disengaging myself from her little sphere of influence. I am not sure how to explain to you how I did it. It's kind of a dance. It's all about how you move and position your body, changing direction and just disconnecting. It's very much a matter of knowing how horses communicate, and having a feel for them. Now, I am very clumsy when it comes to speaking horse. My vocabulary is limited, I only have two legs, and I don't even have ears that can swivel or a tail. Despite these disabilities, I have learned a bit about how to make myself understood.

So then I was able to say hello to my boy, who was very happy to see me, and very glad that I made the effort to come to him, since he was not permitted to come to me that time.

Bo was feeding some buckets and some hay snacks at the front of the pasture. He whistled and everybody headed over towards the gate. Solomon and I went as well. I was feeling pretty happy, and pretty good, too, so I took off running.

Have you ever gone running with a herd of horses thundering around you? Maybe it's not the safest thing to do, but it's such an amazing feeling. And I was near the back of the herd, with my Solly. I can't run very fast or very far, but still I ran, and Solomon trotted along beside me. He got a bit excited and ended up a little ways ahead, but as soon as he saw that I wasn't going to be able to keep up, he actually stopped and waited for me, letting the rest of the herd go on without him. Then he walked beside me the rest of the way.

I cannot explain to you what a powerful gesture that is, but maybe you know.

At that moment, he chose me over the herd.

Of course when we got close to the gate, we went to work, maneuvering so that he could slip out without anybody else getting through and running either of us up against the fence. Remmy made a break for it but as usual he didn't quite make it in time.

Solomon and I have this down to an art form. Of course I can lead him through the gate by hand with a halter and lead rope, but I am going to do things in the safest, softest way possible. With a big herd that includes some pushy horses that are higher up in the hierarchy than Solomon is, the safest way is the fastest way with the least chance of things getting tangled up, or me getting caught. If I don't have to focus on leading him, I can focus on getting the gate opened and closed a lot faster and more efficiently.

When I put Solomon back, if there's no one by the gate I will lead him through, just as a reminder for both of us on how to do it. If the situation looks too hairy, we'll wait. If it's only a little hairy, I'll let him assess the risk and tell him to go in. If he feels it's safe, he'll usually take the opening and just go on in. Of course, sometimes he doesn't want to deal with herd dynamics just yet, and sometimes he wants to eat more grass, so then I have to close the gate up again, hook him up, and lead him through. I like to give him the option of free will first, to give him the chance to really succeed because he wants to. I like to give him a chance to learn to do things in softer and softer ways. Just a command. Or even a gesture. When we are moving through the herd, sometimes we just coordinate with body position. It's a great feeling.

Solomon got to graze, eat some hay right off the feed truck, and eat a pan of senior feed with probiotics and sand clear. This coming month he will get his teeth floated. He is looking much better than he did in January. Looking at those photos I posted, he looked just a little bit too thin for my tastes. This was something I was aware of, and we've all made an effort to get him up to a better weight. Thank you, Bo and DeDe!

The grass coming in has helped as well as the warmer weather. Next year if it gets so cold I might just blanket him.

Solomon got a major spa treatment. He had THREE people brushing and loving on him while he ate his senior feed. Happy hoss! I managed to get the dreadlocks out of his mane and brush it out a bit. I cleaned his feet, which are looking scary again because the winter frog is shedding out. They're softer and mushier than I'd like, but that's just the nature of the beast in the wet season. There isn't any sign of thrush. We got a ton of caked on mud off him, and while he wasn't exactly white when we finished, he was soft and a lot cleaner. I'm sure it felt great. He's also shedding out, so we pulled off a large tribble worth of winter coat.

After he grazed for about an hour and a half Bo said I should probably take him off that rich spring grass, because it was going to blow right through him. Glad I gave him probiotics!

Solomon was so relaxed and happy that he stuck his nose right in the halter and let me lead him back to the pasture, completely soft. He went through the gate like a pro and immediately spun his butt out of the way so I could safely close it. I let him go and instead of him going to drink water like he normally does, he went off to stand next to Teddy Bear, who lives in the next pasture over. The two of them stood near each other for the rest of the day. I guess she's in heat, because she didn't kick the fence or yell at him at all.

K___ and M___ laid out a little blanket and we all laid down to stare at the clouds and have a little nap. I'm not really the napping type though, and once they started snoring I hopped back up again and went to find DeDe. She was mucking stalls, which I was happy to help with. Then we fed the horses. Someday I'll learn to always check the direction the wind is blowing so that I don't get a bunch of oat hay down my shirt. DeDe has been feeding so long that she automatically knows without thinking about it, I'm pretty sure. I'm always covered in hay and she never is, haha!

I don't know if I help things go much faster. Maybe a bit. But she always lets me help. It feels good to feel useful, you know?

Every once in a while we looked over and my friends were still passed out on the lawn. Hah!

Well maybe I have something in common with Remmy, because after I chatted briefly (too briefly really, I miss our long conversations) with Bo, I saw that K___ had woken up, but not M___. M was still snoring away, and as soon as I put my shoes on I was looking for a nice long foxtail. They're green this time of year, so they're mostly soft and they stay on the stem instead of sticking to you. I found a good one and snuck over to the blanket with it. I was hoping for his ears but he had his hoodie pulled up over them. His nose was vulnerable though!

I entertained myself by tickling his nose with the foxtail, which made him twitch and make little noises in his sleep. Unfortunately I couldn't contain my giggling fits, which woke him up. He tried to pretend to be asleep so he could lunge out and startle me, but thanks to working with horses a lot I've learned to be a little more observant about things like breath rate, and I could tell his had changed. I was ready when he popped his eyes open and said "BOO!"

So then we ended up sparring on the lawn. M has over 20 years of martial arts experience, and I would say the real testament to his skill is not how good he was, but how much he slowed himself down and made sure to not hurt me. He even let me get some shots in. I'm a rank amateur- I don't think 5 or 6 months of karate in Jr. High really counts for anything, haha.

See the thing is, the real contest is not strength. The real contest is will. It isn't how much you can control others, it's how much you can control yourself. When Remmy, say, charges at me and tries to steal the halter I'm holding, I COULD smack him, but that wouldn't prove anything. What I need to prove is that I have a will strong enough to keep him at bay. Remmy isn't really a horse you subdue. Or at least, I can't subdue him. So he's playful and he comes at me, but my job is to redirect his energy so that we are both safe. And that's what M was doing with me.

Heh, of course eventually he pretty effortlessly swung me around and locked my arm behind my back, at which point I tapped out.

Later on in the parking lot I started jumping around (hey I was REALLY happy to have gotten out to the ranch, and feeling good!) and I stepped on M's foot. He just shifted it in a certain way and I was on my back in the road, hahaha!

I said "I am SO AWESOME that I can THROW MYSELF!"

M laughed and shook his head.

It's all a part of the dance.

Monday, February 22, 2010


It looks like I get to see my boy on Weds! Hope for me...

In the meantime, some old photos.

From the early days, back in 2008. Has it really been so long? This was before I owned him. I am so glad that halter dent in his face ended up not being permanent, though for a while I was afraid it would be. Note the broken stall door. Heh.

A month, maybe a month and a half after I started feeding him senior feed every day.

How I didn't get myself killed, I do not know. What I do know is that they put my rather substantial butt on a kid's saddle. Poor Solly. :(

After I bought him, getting his teeth floated. Look at that molar on the right- it doesn't even look like a horse tooth! It's so pointy and horrible.

Sol's pet hen. That chicken loved him. Raised all her chicks in his stall. Hid behind him and scolded anyone who got close.
If you can believe it, that was the cleanest his stall had ever been. Ugh. Those are sodden wood shavings. Should be a very pale golden color.

Solly went from a tiny stall in horse hell to a 90 acre pasture at the awesome Hossmoor. He was pleased.

Unfortunately, things could get pretty rough out there and he was either run through a fence, or he slipped on the muddy hillside and fell though it. His leg was cut to the bone and it was about 5 weeks of stall rest. If that were to happen now somehow, there's no way I'd make him sit in a stall for 5 weeks. He went insane and I think the inactivity did him no favors after a while. The vet did an amazing job and now it's just a little black scar.

He never cared about his jollyball, but a laundry detergent container with rocks in it was fun for a while.

The ticks were so horrible out there. Look at the hives on my poor boy! But he sure did like running in those hills.

I was clueless and getting bad advice left and right. Things came to a scary head when Solomon struck me because I just wasn't listening to him. Bo offered to board and teach us up at D&D Ranch. Best choice I've ever made!
Here we are doing just what would give people at Hossmoor a massive heart attack, haha! I lived. Lying down in the grass while Solly grazes is still one of my favorite things. He watches over me while I nap.

Of course Solomon peed on the flowers.

Second day at the ranch, being evaluated by Bo. This was before we figured out that Solomon shouldn't really be ridden because of physical issues.

One of my last rides on Solly. Despite his back hurting he was SO GOOD to me. He really was showing way more love than I realized. Man I have lost a lot of weight since then, hah!

I caught my shirt on the horn of the saddle. HAHAHA.

Solomon does not play soccer.

Solomon way far away in the pasture, excited to see me.

Solomon grazing loose on the property in January. I think he has put on weight since then. But he is a happy boy.

I think my legs are way thinner than they were, don't you agree? Me on Teddy Bear, bareback and with only a halter.

My shaggy yak at the patience tree!

Hope you enjoyed!

Friday, February 19, 2010


I miss my boy so much! This not being able to drive thing is the pits. :(

I know Solly is in the best hands possible up at the ranch though. He can run around and be a horse and not worry about where his next meal is coming from. And I know Bo and DeDe will keep a close eye on him.

So tempting to try to drive anyway. But I'll be good.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The 31st!

I think Teddy Bear had an abscess on the 31st. :( She came up lame!

She really wanted to be back in her pasture anyway.

Instead she went in her pen and got treated. I think she's okay now. I sure hope so, because I do love Teddy Bear, and I hate to think of her being in pain.

So what were we to do for riding? Leo!

Even though he beats up Solomon (well a lot of horses do) I have a soft spot for Leo, and I always have. He is a joker, and he loves to play with water hoses, feed pans, or whatever else he can get away with.

His movement is really interesting. His trot is smooth. His back undulates a heck of a lot when he walks. And he is so much fun.

Bo told me that if I needed to travel across the country on a horse's back as a walk he was reasonably sure I'd make it eventually, so it was time for me to learn more about trotting. I'll be learning both sitting the trot and posting, but that day we worked on sitting.

Bo had me hop on, and he roundpenned Leo. I did some of the steering, but we were mostly focusing on me learning to not fall off. At one point Leo did a turn at the trot and I hadn't expected the sharpness of it. I felt myself going one direction and him going the other. I thought for a moment that maybe I should try to stay on, but I decided that it was kinder for me to just keep going than to yank on that saddle trying to haul myself back up. Landed on my feet, which was good. Bo said the day would come when I would keep myself on the horse instead of bailing out, and that I just needed more confidence and muscle for that. He said the day would come when I was on a horse where I would really HAVE to haul myself back on the saddle instead of coming off. But that the landing was good.

So I got back on! And Bo finally convinced me to grab the horn. Okay, yep. I did, and it helped. And I started to get down the whole trotting thing a lot more. Moving with Leo, tapping my calf on him lightly in time to his gait, rein cow horse style. I realized that when I next trotted on Teddy Bear, I'd have to use a third of the pressure I was using on Leo or less.

Leo and I ended up going around the 60 foot roundpen three times at the trot! This was a big big deal for me, and I was very proud. There was one point where I could feel him wanting to break into a lope. To be honest with you, I was really really tempted myself. Bo could see both of these things, but Leo and I restrained ourselves. I wanted to lope for the joy of it, and to try it because I never had. Leo might have wanted to lope for the heck of it, or possibly out of annoyance because I'm not a good rider yet. He might have wanted to for fun- he canters a lot in the pastures too. Canters and plays. But yes, we restrained ourselves!

Someday, though... :}

One thing? Oh such an important thing. I need to be really careful about what bra I wear. Actually next time I'm able to ride, I'm going to wear two. Heh. That was... not comfortable. Gah!

But still, I didn't care, because I TROTTED! I had the biggest grin. I was so excited. Bo told me I'd had enough, at the end of the lesson, and I wanted to do more. He grinned and said "no, trust me, tomorrow you are going to feel it."

I did, but it wasn't too bad actually. My thigh muscles were a bit sore, and for some reason my upper arms right above the elbow were a bit sore.

I can't wait to do it again!

The 27th!

On the 27th of February, I rode Teddy Bear completely bareback, with just a halter and lead rope!

Here I am in "neutral," centering myself, listening to Teddy Bear's heartbeat and feeling her breathe.

Riding and focusing on the horse was a lot harder than it was with a saddle to balance on. Not even having a pad to help me stick, I had to focus more of my energy on balance, which I am far from perfect at, which you can see by her tail swish. And my waaay far forward leg, hah!

Here I am preparing, I think, to signal a turn.

I realized that I was not as balanced as I would liked to have though. There were moments, however, when I did not have to think so much about staying centered and balanced. I was able to do more steering than I had before. I was able to keep movement more consistent than before. I am still a novice rider, but I have improved!

And Teddy Bear is a VERY patient girl.

At the end of the riding lesson, I lost my balance and came off her. I landed on my feet and Bo decided that a good dismount, even if it wasn't ENTIRELY voluntary, was a good way to end the lesson for the day. Teddy Bear got to graze a lot.

Solomon spent some time in a stall/pen combo, next to Shin. Sol is the far horse, of course.

Shin is a wonderfully goofy horse. He's the one who will lie down and stare at his own butt in wonder when he farts.

And here is some more Teddy Bear.

Visit yesterday.

Hey folks, going to work backwards. Yesterday was not extremely eventful, so I'm going to write about it first. Please forgive me if my writing quality is not up to snuff right now- it is a little difficult for me to focus.

Right now I'm on some strong medications that make it unsafe for me to drive because I get dizzy spells. Thankfully a couple of friends were kind enough to give me a ride up to the ranch!

Solomon was his usual friendly self, happily coming to the gate and walking out. I got him out just before Remmy managed to get to us. HAH, Remmy!

Sol was a little stubborn about lifting his head of to be haltered because he really wanted to eat grass. We got it on him though, and after that he was a very good boy. He could tell I was in pain, so he was then on his best behavior. We were walking and I was hurting a lot. He normally, these days, walks behind me, but today he rushed up ahead a bit. It took me a moment to realize that he was purposefully walking so I was beside his wither. Yeah you might think this is a stretch, but this is Solomon. I threw my arm over his wither gratefully and held on. When I hurt a lot, he knows. He helps me walk. He still took direction from me, and we got him to the trailer fine.

My friends helped get his grooming box and feed pan out of the tack room, and I was able to muster the strength to clean and iodine his feet. That took a lot out of me and I had to sit for a while. Solly was very good about it. Then my friends brushed him out a bit.

After some rest time I took Solly to the roundpen, where he was a very good boy for me. He was stiff but he walked, trotted, and cantered for me beautifully. Then he found a hidden gopher hole with his back leg, and went down a bit, but didn't fall. I felt so bad because he was cantering and doing exactly what I was asking him to do, and he ended up twisting his ankle in a hole. I really hope his leg is okay. Sometimes you can't tell until a day or two later.

So after that, I walked around with Solly following me for a bit, and then we got a shovel and broke up that hole, filling it in. I tried to do it myself but my friends intervened and finished up the job. I'm pretty stubborn about doing physical stuff myself, even when I shouldn't. I'm glad my friends were there. I overdid it, but if they hadn't been there I would have really overdone it.

After feeling Solly's legs for heat (there wasn't any) and giving him more cuddles, we took him to a pen. He's been getting beat up in the pasture, so nowadays he comes in for feeding and stays the night.

I got Leo to play with the jollyball briefly.

Oh! And there was a dentist there today. He is coming back next month. This is great, because he is way more affordable than the dentist down south was. Looks like I'll be able to float Sol's teeth this year, which is very important. Next month will be really tight, but doable.

We ended the day with a picnic.

So that was yesterday. Sorry that I don't have any photographs- I wasn't thinking clearly and didn't remember to bring my camera.

I'll get through this.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We'll be back soon!

Hey folks,

I have two posts to catch up on, and I will be having, hopefully, a new little adventure on Weds. I am currently dealing with a fairly serious health issue, and am on a lot of medications. Very very sorry for taking so long!