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


So yesterday was a big big day for me. I need tiger balm today, haha!

First, let me give you a little update on Solomon. He's doing well! Here are some pictures from the other day, when I did trailer loading with Teddy Bear. I didn't bring my camera yesterday, which was of course when I got him sparkly white and clean.

He still has fuzzies on his belly and in a few other places. Solomon takes forever to get fuzzy and forever to shed it out.

Not too bad for a 25+ year old horse with a lot of old injuries who isn't in work, eh?

His chest is... not very wide, haha.

*grabs his lip*

Teddy Bear getting moved out of the way by Lilah, who wanted attention for herself.

Lilah is a pretty mare-mare.

Okay so yesterday, which was sunny without a cloud in the sky, I pulled Tedders out of her pasture and groomed her up. She was feeling really mellow and friendly. Several times when I groomed her, she very gently nuzzled me and blew her breath into my hair. She was very soft and kind. She let me touch her chestnuts, which she gets really twitchy about. She picked up her feet for me without trouble. I've gotten into the habit of picking up a horse's first hoof, and then moving to the next leg and just saying "next, please!" They tend to get it pretty quickly, and pick their hoof up for me. It spares my back, and shows softness on their part.

Bo saddled her up, but I think soon we'll be getting to the point where I will be doing all of this myself. I used to saddle Solomon, but I tended to feel like I needed to triple check with other people to make certain the saddle was on right. The last thing I want to do is make a horse sore.

Bo's saddles are crazy heavy too, haha. But that isn't so much of an issue.

When we got Teddy Bear into the round pen, Bo had me stick my foot in the stirrup. She is so tall and my legs are so short that my knee seemed to be just about level with my head. I have NO clue how I am going to manage to mount a horse as big as her from the ground. D: I could have probably mounted Kizim from the ground, but Tedders? Well, maybe eventually...

So. I mounted from the block, and then dismounted a couple times because the girth ended up being looser than we thought, and not quite even enough. It was good practice for me. From a block, I think I'm pretty good at mounting nowadays. I no longer feel like I'm having to haul myself on, but instead must be careful to not overjump and going flying over the other side of the horse. Of course I do my best to not thump down into the saddle either. I feel echoes of physical memories of being an athlete, long long ago when I did gymnastics. I used to have so much strength and flexibility, balance and control... I'll never have that body again, because I'll never be 13 again... it will never be that forgiving again. But I think I'll get back way more than I thought possible.

We did the whole lesson in the round pen, and I was focusing fiercely. We used a different saddle from last time, and I found that I was able to sit in it pretty well, with my heels under me. The best part of all, however, as that I found myself beginning to actually get how to move with the trot. Oh, I have a long way to go, but I had some great moments where I was really moving with Teddy Bear and not bouncing at all. She seemed to appreciate it, haha. I got some lovely little jogs out of her.

Bo got in the middle of the round pen and got her moving faster than I have ever ridden a horse. He told me "now, if she breaks into a lope for some reason, you grab onto that saddle horn!"

Then he gave her the opportunity do to that. He kissed her up a bit, but she decided it was probably best to just trot really fast, and I didn't push it. But I lived! And I really didn't feel out of control much at all. There were a few moments when I was bouncing too much and not with the movement, but I really feel like I was starting to get the hip movements down. We went around and around and around.

Bo told me, when the lesson was over, "now Ev, you go ahead and dismount to the left this time."

I always dismount to the right by default. I know it isn't traditionally proper, but I haven't gotten my sort hilt hung up yet. ;)

Still, it is good for me to dismount with equal ease on either side. It felt kinda weird dismounting to the left, but I did fine. Teddy Bear braced herself, and I said to her "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" but Bo said "you stop apologizing to that horse, you did fine," and I realized that her bracing didn't look pained or stressed at all. She was bracing because I was dismounting, so she was holding herself steady, nothing more.

Now I just need to learn to consistently move with the horse, while at the same time keeping my heels down, my legs draped, tapping a steady rhythm to tell the horse what speed I want her to go (it's a reining thing,) keep my hands quiet, my arms down, my shoulders back and not braced, my upper body still but not stiff, oh and steer properly as well.

Ever have someone tell you "riding a horse isn't exercise, the horse does all the work and you just sit there?" Yeah not really the case, hah!

My muscles are all sore today, and yesterday I was hurting, but it was worth it!

After we untacked Teddy Bear and brushed her out, I hand-grazed her a bit, then got Solomon. He was really excited to see me, nickering up a storm and pacing the fenceline until I pulled him out. Little did he know, it was a day for extreme horsey torture!

It was sunny and warm. Solomon was filthy. I decided it was time for a bath.


Worst of all, I not only scrubbed him down TWICE, once with mane-n-tail and once with a betadine solution mixed with water, but I also washed his FACE. This is akin to murder, as far as Solomon is concerned. He was so horribly upset. He was furious with me. He snapped his teeth right next to my shoulder, to tell me how upset he was! It was totally a bluff, and I knew it, but I did scold him. Then when I was washing his butt, he lifted up his back leg and kicked! He didn't kick at me, but the statement was pretty clear. I caught his ankle mid-kick and made it a point to scrub his leg and thigh down really thoroughly. Hah, he did not try that again. It was all pawing and head-shaking and passive resistance after that. I mean, I could have smacked him, I could have kicked him back, but geldings do that crap back and forth to each other all the time. He wanted to get a big reaction out of me and he didn't, so he gave up on it.

But man oh man was he mad!

Then, to add insult to injury, I soaked his feed so he wouldn't be able to filter out the probiotics.

Awh man, I think I forgot my feed pan in the field. D'oh.

Anyway, he had to eat a lot more slowly as well. He was so upset by this rising tally of indignities that he was pawing whilst eating. He managed to tip over his own feed pan, and then insisted on righting it himself. When I went over to give him some fly spray, he stalked off about 15 feet, but then came straight back to me.

I think I'm kind of starting to understand why parents sometimes laugh when their kids have a tantrum over something really inconsequential. It's really no big deal, but emotionally to them it is a HUGE deal. He's such a sweet boy though that he just had to make a point, then came straight back.

I stuck him in the round pen and started to, ya know, roundpen him, when Bo asked me to bring in Lil and Shin, who were having a grand time grazing together. Earlier when I was leading Solomon off to his sad, sad fate, Lil and Shin came running up to us. I growled "go find something else to do!!!" and they went running off, haha. no, they don't speak English, but I think horses are better at reading intent than we'd like to think.

So then I needed to bring them in. I just used Sol's halter. Lil made it a point to trot off about 20 feet, just to tell me that she COULD get away if she REALLY wanted to, but then I was able to halter her and walk her back to her paddock.

As for Shin, I just looped a rope over his neck and said "come on, boy." He placidly walked along with me. I'm not sure I ever really had to lay the rope over his neck.

Solomon did really well in the round pen, which he had of course rolled in while I put the two loose horses away. He WAS sparkly white for about 15 minutes! Ah, well. I am used to this. The real point of the bath was to kill parasites and fungi that might have been living in his dead skin and coat from the winter and spring rains.

Solly then got to go out and free graze on the property himself. I went in and chatted with Bo for a long time about computers, and then I took Sol back to his pasture. By then, all of my transgressions had been forgiven, and he was his usual soft nickery self again.

After that I had dinner with sensei and his son, and then the three of us played Scrabble. I won by about 100 points, haha. I love that game.

Then it was time for a karate lesson, though it was a short one with not very many crunches, as sensei took pity on me. I'm also catsitting right now, which includes giving medication to one of the cats. It's too bad for that cat that I've had a lot of experience worming Solomon. There is nothing he can do that makes it as challenging as Solly... though Sol cannot hide under the bed for over an hour, grr...

I bet he would if he could!

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