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, May 1, 2010


When I went up to the ranch on Monday, Bo had some big news for me.

"Ev, there's a gymkhana coming up sometime soon. It's going to be a lot of fun, with a lot of nice supportive folks. If you feel up to it, I think it would be great for you to come and participate in a couple of the events for new riders."

Okay, I'm really excited about this! Kind of nervous, too. I'm not nervous about riding, but I am a bit nervous about humiliating myself, hah. I have been to one of these before to watch though, and everybody cheers at everyone, even if they end up running past all the poles or knocking over a barrel. I'll probably be going up against 6 year olds on 10hh ponies, and they will probably beat me, 'cos a lot of those kids seem to have been born sitting in a saddle. That's okay, I am just so excited to be doing this. Something I never thought I'd do.

Well, Teddy Bear is not the kind of horse that gets excited about getting on a trailer. She isn't the kind of horse where you can say "load up" and the equine in question goes running in.

So I pulled her out of her pasture, and made her look like a million bucks. She loves having her mane and tail brushed. I think she'd happily get brushed for hours. She was not, however, very happy about getting asked to get on the trailer.

I am not really certain how to describe our first attempts. I did some stuff right, and I did some stuff wrong. Teddy Bear figured out that she could wing out to the right at the last moment, and then rear to yank the lead rope away. So not good. I got a little bit agitated myself, though I did my best to not show it. I didn't want her to hurt herself, and I didn't really want to get hurt either. We tried putting a bunch of pressure on her to load up, with not the best results. I got a bit of rope burn on my hands. Bo called a stop to things and told me to take her for a walk around the obstacle course.

We took a walk and I decided to have us run it off a bit. Running off the stress can really help a horse. Okay, trot it off, because I cannot run fast enough for any horse to bother with a canter. But we jumped over the little log out there a few times. Solomon, when he jumps, does this pretty thing where he tucks his legs up and arches his neck, ears perked forward, leaping. Teddy Bear kind of said "wait you want me to WHAT? I am a chunky stock horse, are you serious?" but she did gamely jump when I asked her to. Haha. I think she'd rather just step over, and mostly that's what we did. Probably not good to ask a trail horse to do all that much jumping.

Anyway, what it accomplished was engaging her mind, and getting her to listen to me more. I made things interesting and I redirected all the energy she had built up stressing about being asked to get into that scary scary trailer that clearly eats big sorrel mares. I sang the "big brown mare" song to her, which I wrote on the spot. Yes, I sing to horses. Yes, I am a dork. Yes, they really seem to like it, heh.

So when we got back to the trailer, we used a combination of cookies and Bo standing way back with a plastic bag on a stick. Yeah, I know... but it worked! He just used it very lightly to make sound the first time, and only a tiny bit the second. I think the third and forth times Teddy loaded up, he didn't use it at all. I let her back out as soon as she wanted to. Bo said it was better to just build on the success of the day than try to force more. He told me that one of the biggest risks in a trailer is a horse flinging their head up and hitting their poll on the roof of the trailer. Horses can die that way.

But she was reassured that the trailer was not going to eat her, and that maybe she could load up after all. We'll keep working on it, since she's the horse I will be riding at the gymkhana, and we'll have to be able to trailer her if we're going to do that.

I mucked three 30 by 100 foot paddocks. One of the mares that was living in one of them decided to decorate the entire paddock with individual balls of poo. I mean she managed to space it out over the entire surface of the paddock. It took me a long long time to rake it all up for picking up with the apple picker, and it looked like a giant Zen garden by the time I was finished.

These are from the 21st when sensei had the camera, but shoveling horse poo is pretty much the same thing any day.

Ahh, ranch aerobics. Bo told sensei that I thrived on exercise. Sensei has taken this to heart (all senseis are sadists anyway) and my abs are usually sore these days. Wheee, crunches.

Oh I ached after that day, but the next day I was just fine. Which meant more crunches.

Wax on, wax off!

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