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, June 22, 2010


When the shape of my body has stabilized (it is changing a lot right now) I think I'll get a tattoo of Solomon on my upper arm. It's kind of too bad he never rears, actually, because that'd look pretty. But maybe I can get a nice shot of him cantering and use that. :}

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Emergency dismounts, cool bugs, and Solly time!

Hi folks!

So the other day, Sensei (AKA Mike) was kind enough to give me a ride up to the ranch.

Bo has some visitors from Australia- a farrier and his wife. They seem like really nice folks!

After chatting for a short while, Bo said to me "go get your horse," so I went and caught Teddy Bear.

This time I called to her and after a short while she came to me from about half way across the pasture. Better and better! She lead softly with no problems all the way to the gate- I was able to just balance the lead rope on my fingers, which is how I prefer to lead.

Once we got on the tall grass, however, I did have to grip the rope and pull a bit from time to time, to remind her to come with me. About halfway to the trailer, Teddy Bear starts to get excited and wants to trot. Circles for Teddy! She kept herself mostly contained, however.

At the trailer, Teddy Bear was jerking her back leg up as if preparing to kick when I touched her butt. I explored this for a few moments, cautiously, wondering what was wrong. Bo told me to spray her with fly spray and brush her mane a bit before going back to her butt. The fly spray did the trick- flies had been tormenting her all day, and it was part muscle memory, part still being bothered by flies that caused her to jerk her leg up like that. Once the flies stopped pestering her for a couple minutes, she was fine with being touched anywhere.

It's another case of stepping back and focusing on the "why" more than the "what." I could have just smacked her for jerking her leg up, though Bo wouldn't have been too happy about that, but instead we figured out what was actually wrong, and found that she was not trying to threaten or attack ME at all- she was being driven nuts by the flies.

I went to pick Teddy's feet, and Bo scolded me because after the first foot I said "next please" to Teddy and she picked her hoof up, which I reached over to hold. Bo said I should always run my hand down her leg so I don't startle her by taking her foot. Teddy and I had worked out a system and I think she was comfy with it, because I asked her verbally to pick up her foot while leaning a bit on her hip to get her to balance right, and she was used to giving it to me... but I was also training Bo's horse to do things differently than Bo does them without meaning to. Since Teddy Bear is used to teach new students as well as being Bo's horse, that wasn't such a good thing, even if we were both comfy with it.

It's really easy to teach a horse something without even meaning to. It's really easy for a bad rider to un-train a good riding horse. It's really easy to teach a horse a different cue than the one that other people use with her, and then that can set the horse or the other people up for an accident, or at least a misunderstanding.

Once Teddy was all groomed up and ready to go, I took her into the roundpen and Bo set up the mounting block. Our purpose was to take a few videos of an emergency dismount. We'll do more in this series, I'm thinking, including emergency dismounts in a saddle, and maybe sometime later dismounts at a faster gait, once I can ride a faster gait. I'm still REALLY NEW, so please forgive my not so excellent bareback riding.

First, we discussed a very common place for injury to occur- the mounting block.

There comes a point when you are mounting a horse where it is safer to commit to mounting than it is to try to "take it back" and step back down on the block. Falling forward is usually easier than falling backward. You can see where you are going, and if you have learned how to fall, you can tuck and roll.

I think that next time sensei is over, we'll make some short videos on how to hit the ground if you know you aren't going to land on your feet. That will be helpful, I hope!

Anyway, one of the best things to do if you are coming off a horse and you can get any control at all is to go for the neck. Grab it, swing around on it, push off.

If you are mounting and you find yourself heading over the horse to the other side, try to grab the neck and swing so that you can land on your feet. If you are mounting a horse from the block properly and are holding the reins right, the rein on the side of the mounting block is going to be shorter than the rein on the outside, so that if the horse starts to move and turn, she will turn inward, her front half coming around the block, her back half winging out. When executing an emergency dismount, you should drop the reins, according to Bo... but the direction of movement may already be established. The horse will probably not run over the mounting block, so landing next to it may be the best option. You might get squeezed there, though. Alternately, you can try dismounting from the other side- no mounting block to get hung up on, but you have to watch out for the horse's body and be prepared to MOVE.

Now we have the walk and the trot. Same premise with both, and I have three videos for you to watch here. I know my riding isn't excellent, I'm still learning to balance and sit right!

Basically, you grab the neck and use it (lightly) to swing around the horse and guide your body. Also note that while I am landing, I keep one hand on her shoulder. This is to establish space between myself and the horse, to balance myself as I land, and to re-direct her if need-be. With a boundary and a bit of pressure set, she is less likely to come into me and run me over. Not a guarantee, but it is one thing that will help direct and even stop her.

Of course, Teddy Bear is a good girl and stops immediately when someone comes off. Not all horses will, especially if the horse is stressed or spooked. Be prepared for the next step as you are landing. You might have to jump out of the way. You might have to thrown yourself out of the way, tucking and rolling. Your first thought should be keeping everyone as safe as possible. If your horse isn't running right at someone, it's better to get yourself out of the way and then catch her when you can.

Poor, patient Teddy Bear was getting sick of her charge going flying off her back. Maybe she was bored of being lead around the roundpen. Maybe she was sick of me getting on and off again a bunch of times. Maybe she was worried that I was going to come off again at the trot, and didn't want to do it, or was annoyed at my lack of ability to sit the trot really quietly. Maybe she thought it would be fun to try to grab Bo's shirt. For whatever reason, in this video she's a bit of a naughty mare, though I don't think she's trying to grab skin, just shirt.

You can also hear A___ yee-hawing in the background, hah!

After the last dismount, Teddy Bear got lots of pettin's and loves, then Sensei and I took her for a walk. Sensei has hay fever and decided to be stoic and wait to get some allergy medications until after our walk. Silly Sensei.

There was a lot of life out at the far pond near the back of the big mare pasture.

There were some crazy-looking dragonflies buzzing around- bright orange ones, deep blue ones, and these pale blue ones with part transparent, part brown wings.

Damselflies were present in great numbers as well, bright blue or white, mating on the wing and on reeds.

I took Teddy Bear for a little trot and a jump over a small log. You can hear Sensei sneezing behind the camera.

After we put Teddy Bear back in her pasture (she didn't seem to want to go back, actually,) we sat for a spell on the porch.

A nifty moth on the window screen:

I held up the camera and said to Sensei, "Sensei, there's absolutely NO REASON for me to be in trouble WHATSOEVER."

"And just why are you saying THAT?" he asked me...

"So I could capture that expression on film!"

Then we went and got Solomon. He was nickering and happy to come out, like always. We did our typical walk down the road past the trailer to the front field, which we trotted around. I gave Sol his feed pan and Sensei and I groomed him. I chatted for a while with the folks visiting from AU, and then eventually Solly worked his way to the long fenceline where the mare herd is.

I went and hung out with him.

That field is a great place for a little meditation.

Soon the burrs and foxtails will be too numerous and nasty for sitting on the ground to be comfortable.

One ear on Sensei, one ear on me.

Solomon and I in all our slightly awkward glory.

Sensei had a hard time getting good shots of us in the roundpen. My camera's card is really slow... I need a faster one I think. But still, here we are! Solly was a very good boy, doing everything I asked of him without complaint. I worked him up slowly and carefully. His old limbs take a little while to work the stiffness out.

Note that he usually, again, has one ear on me and one ear on the rest of the world. Such a good boy!

I don't like that I can see his ribs in this. I think I'm going to need to up his senior feed some.

After roundpenning, I walked around with Solomon following me for a while. We always do that now for cooldown- I walk around and he follows without his lead rope and halter. I'm working on teaching him to back up when I do, too.

Once that was finished, we brought Solly out for just a bit more grass.

Solomon cuddled up to Sensei, and then started nosing at his pocket. The he mashed his nose up against it.

"Hey wait," I said, "don't you have some reese's pieces in there?"

Mike pulled out a little baggy of partially-crushed reese's pieces. Solomon nickered and begged.

"Eh okay, I guess a few won't hurt him," I said, and so we gave him some.

Solomon was pretty much in 7th heaven. He LOVED those things! Lots of lip-flipping because it was a new flavor for him and an interesting texture. He got so very very excited, and kept asking for more. He got a couple tiny feedings of them. Then I took him back to his pasture, which he didn't want to go into yet, so he locked his legs right in the middle of going through the gate. Again. This is a thing he's taken to doing lately, grr.

Luckily Sensei was there with me, and he helped shoo Solomon through.

Solomon checked both my pockets, my hands, and thanks to me teaching him that "kiss me" trick a year and a half ago, my cheeks. Finding no reese's pieces, he turned around and gave Sensei and I "shun-butt." You could practically hear waves of "SHUNNNNNN" coming off of him!

Shorty, his boyfriend, wanted a piece of the attention action. Here he is, scratching an itch on his back leg.

When I started to walk away, however, Solomon did have to turn around and watch me go.

On our way back to the car, we said goodbye to Pallie. Pallie's owner sold her, and she will be leaving the ranch on Monday. I never worked with her, but I often said hello, and I will miss her. Magic the Arab is going to have a hard time of it for a little while, because she is pretty closely bonded with Pallie.

Pallie is a total angel and I hope she has a wonderful life in her new home.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Solly is still going strong, though he will need more care in the future. A lot more senior feed, and a lot more exercise.

I really brushed his tail out at the beginning of the month. I had to braid it in 6 sections just to GET to all of the hair in there. It tends to twist around itself in long, long spirals. His tail is almost as long as I am tall!

here he is with a clean, brushed tail.

He got pretty bored, but was fairly patient about the process.

Solly is a love, and if I whistle to him now he will come trotting over from wherever he is, most of the time, because he knows there will be a feed pan or a treat waiting for him!

Not too bad for an ancient pasture puff.

It has now been just about two years since I first met Solomon. His life has really changed since then! And so has mine.

Magic the Arab

Here are the two escape artists!

Magic is the mare without a fly mask on. When she is in a mare motel, her gate needs to be buckled shut with a halter, because she's figured out how to open the latch.

Magic the Arab is a very sweet mare-mare.

Riding progress

Very sorry for all the delays. I think my computer is better now. It took a lot of time and work and help from a friend, but it's a lot better now!

I had some dark days myself, but I'm stabilizing too.

First I'll tell you about what I've been up to with my riding!

One of the other boarders, A___, hadn't ridden a horse bareback since she was 9 years old! Bo talked her into it, but first he told her that I would ride Teddy Bear bareback, to show that it wasn't so bad after all.

It had been a while since I'd ridden bareback. I'm always a little surprised at how much harder it is to remain balanced. Actually, though it isn't so much that it is harder- it's that the saddle isn't there to take a lot of that torque that comes from imbalance, so you are a lot more aware of it. It isn't all on the horse's back, it's on you, too. It's harder to grip, yes. But a good rider moves with the horse, and it isn't really ABOUT grip. It's about balance, muscle, timing, and feel.

I am not a good rider yet.

I am, however, improving. It is easier than it used to be. Teddy Bear is much more likely to do what I ask than she was, and to listen to me. Part of this is because she trusts me and knows me more now. She is learning me. A much bigger part of it, however, is that I am learning more about actually giving the cues properly. I am learning her.

We did a lot of turns and figure-8s. There was a time when it was all I could do to not fall off, and Teddy would stop every few steps because I was so off balance, or break into a trot because I accidentally told her to. Both of these things still happen from time to time, but not as often. Not nearly as often.

Teddy is very good at her job. Her job is teaching young people, nervous people, new people, and physically challenged people how to ride. She is not a fancy reining horse, or a world class barrel racer. She is not a bring home 20 colorful ribbons kind of horse.

She's more valuable than that.

What's more valuable than ribbons? Well, I think a lot of things are. But this is what makes Tedders special:

She is patient.
She is kind.
She is careful with her charges.
She is forgiving.
She is steady.
She is a babysitter.
And when you don't give her the proper cue, she won't do what you're trying to get her to do.

"But they should always do what you want," you might protest.

Well, no. No, because then you won't learn how to ask properly. You won't learn how to ride correctly!

So if I tell her to back up and I am hauling the reins up without giving or using my legs wrong, instead of backing up, she'll crane her neck around, very gently rest the tip of her nose on the toe of my boot, and just roll her eye up at me. It's as plain as day. She's saying "Uh yeah, that's NICE, but we're not going anywhere until you do it RIGHT. We can stand here like this all day, or you can ask me properly. Your choice. And mine."

And that right there makes her worth her weight in gold.

Little things like moving a bit out of sync or going a bit off balance she will forgive, though she'll also let you know you aren't doing it right with a tail swish, or slowing down. If you're really out of balance or out of sync, she'll stop and let you figure it out.

Sometimes she also does have her opinions about things, of course. She's a mare. She's a whole horse, with hormones and ideas of her own.

But our rapport is improving. Remember the time I had to back her all the way out of the pasture? That day we went out of the roundpen, which made things a lot more interesting and worthwhile for her. Since then, we haven't had a repeat of that. Now she usually comes right on out with me, though once when she was sleepy I had to back her a few feet to wake her up enough to come along with me. She checks in with me with a little nose-brush, but she has also begun to listen to me more on the ground as well.

Watching A___ ride Tedders was very eye-opening, because I got to see her in action from the ground. Her cues are different from those of a cutting horse, and it was interesting to see her responses.

After A___ finished riding, Bo looked at me and asked if I wanted to ride again. Oh yes I did!

The next time I rode, Fallenupright from the Free Speech Horse Forum was visiting. Great girl, and I will post about her once I can get the pictures from her visit processed. Bo had me get on Teddy Bear with a halter and split reins, no other tack. I think that's the longest I've ever ridden a horse bareback. It was well over a half an hour, and it certainly worked my muscles! There were three people riding around at the same time, and I think maybe Bo was even on a horse himself, though I do not recall for certain. There were times when Teddy and I were left to our own devices. That was good too. Sometimes I need quiet time to focus just on the horse I am riding and not on the person giving instructions, just to work stuff out.

Teddy was a good girl and did what I asked. We mostly did walk, though we had a few walk-trot transitions. At the end of the ride, Bo instructed me to practice an emergency dismount at the trot. I have to say, it's way easier to do that bareback than in a saddle!

It took me a little while to do it because there was a mounting block in the middle of the roundpen, and because of my body and where I was injured, it's way easier for me to dismount to the right than the left. I know it isn't "proper," though one should be able to do everything from both sides if one is to go trail riding in hills of any sort.

Since the left is my weak side, however, so I realized that I had hit my own mental block when I didn't dismount right away- one I didn't really realize was there. Well, sometimes the best way to move past a block is to break on through, so I trotted Teddy bear up again, let the reins go, wrapped my arms as far around her neck as they could go, and threw myself off of her.

Teddy, being a good girl, stopped immediately, and I found myself landing on my feet, off to the side, staring at her face. I traveled pretty far, hah!

So I'm going to talk just a little bit about emergency dismounts and falling. I don't know if I'll change anyone's mind, but maybe I'll give somebody some little thing to think about. :}

I once asked on a horse forum about learning to fall. I asked people, "so what do you do to learn to fall right?"

The responses were pretty eye-opening.

Mostly they ranged from "I just work on not falling off" to "there isn't anything you can do, it happens too fast and you are just going to get hurt!"

Both of these are valid viewpoints with merit. But I think there can be a little more to it than that.

It's better to not fall off, of course! It's good to work on balance, riding skills, staying in the saddle.

If you're walking down the street, and you see a dark alley with rival gangs on either side, the best way to not get yourself hurt is to just not walk down that alley. But what it you are already in the middle of the alley? What if your horse trips and starts to fall? What if your saddle breaks and falls off? What if there's an unexpected buck?

Then it's good to learn how to defend yourself. You might be defending yourself from an angry guy with a chip on his shoulder, or you might be defending yourself from a hard slam to the ground. Do you want to be completely helpless and unprepared, or do you want to have some tools at your disposal to use, in order to help yourself?

Sometimes things happen so fast, you just don't have time to react, yes! Sometimes something is so shocking that you freeze up.

Training your body and your mind can help with this. It is NOT a sure-fire defense against getting hurt. But it gives you better odds!

Something happens too quickly for you to react. It happens faster than you can think about it. But you can train reflexes into your body. You can practice.

If that guy in the alley throws a punch at you, you won't have time to think "okay now I need to make a fist and since he is aiming for my head, I need to raise my arm, palm facing him, and get it up there so my forearm is at an angle, deflecting his blow and forcing his arm to slide away from me." If you train your body and practice, however, you will find yourself automatically blocking.

You can prepare. When you go flying off your horse, you probably don't have time to think "okay, I am flying face-first, so I should put my forearm in front of me and use that as a starting-point, rolling from my arm to my shoulder to my back, then coming back up on my feet so I can get out of the way of the horse." If you can practice this fall, however, you might not need to think about it. You might just do it without thinking.

Does that mean it will protect you from harm, if you practice? Does it mean that it will always work?

No. My sensei dislocated his shoulder when he was attacked by two men with knives. He managed to fight them off, but in the end he fell and instead of slapping the ground and dissipating the force of the impact, he straightened and locked his arm at just the wrong moment. He knew what to do and his body knew what to do, but the shock of the attack threw him off too much. The shock of being thrown from your horse instead of purposefully throwing yourself off might throw you off too.

But you will have a much, much better chance. You will have a tool that you can use. You will have a skill at your disposal, which if you just never think about it and never practice it, you will not.

It isn't a miracle. There is NO sure-fire way to protect yourself from harm, working with horses. Or doing ANYTHING. But practice will improve your odds.

If sensei hadn't trained all those years, he would have been stabbed to death.

I might break my wrist some day, or crack my ribs. But maybe, because I have been practicing and training my body and mind to process falling, I will be able to save myself from getting trampled by rolling out of the way, or avoid breaking my neck. Maybe I will be able to choose the time and place of my departure, when I know said departure is inevitable.

Things will go wrong. Avoiding thinking about them will not change that. It will just make it harder to deal with when they do.

That's my bit of food for thought today. I hope you found it interesting!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Crazy day escape mares.

I was putting magic back in her pasture. And I was dumb. I admit it! This was a dumb thing on my part. I latched the gate and looped the chain, but the chain didn't get hooked on with a clip. I walked Magic away from the gate and unhooked her so she could go drink, only to hear the distinctive screech of the gate swinging open. Horses are silent creatures much of the time, and nobody cheered, but the two mares took no time getting out of their pasture. Bad words ensued.
I yelled "no" at the exiting mare, who replied with a threat of double-barreling, or maybe she was saying "HEE HEEE I AM NAUGHTY!" wasn't aimed at me, could not have hit anyone. So.
So the first thing I did was close the gate to the front of the ranch. Don' want the horses getting loose down the road!
Then I called DeDe and she helped me go get the mares. They ran to their special hand grazing spot, and Solomon ran to his. Hah.

They let us catch them once they were happily eating grass, and the mares went into the pen. I got shown how to latch that particular gate. Crises averted, no one hurt, horses got some excitement. I am such a dork.

A moment of joy.

I had a moment of joy this morning when I went into Solly's pasture, which he shares with Shorty and the Little Bay Gelding.

All three horses were so fascinated with the gate that Sol extraction wasn't immediately possible... so I decided to just give them something more interesting to do. I started walking away. LBG followed, curious as to where I was going. I started running, and he chased me. We went around a tree, and back and forth... then I made a run for it across the pasture! tumpthump thumpthump thumpthump, three horses were trotting after me. Ears perked, not threatening at all. I could feel them trailing along with me, like there were strings tied between them and I. I thought "this might be seen as dangerous by some," and surely it was potentially dangerous. But I know these horses.
Then ran around the pasture with me, respectfully giving me lead, though LBG got excited a time or two and didn't keep strictly in line. We ran around and then I suddenly stopped, and looked back. They all stopped right with me. Many "what was that? It was fun!" nose blows and sniffs later, I extricated myself from the grows and let them thing about what that excitement was while my more sensible old man followed me to the gate, to be let out.

I don't want to talk about what came after just yet. Maybe in a while. For now, just little fragments.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Possible delay

Hey folks, I apologize for being so slow at updating.

I have a rootkit on my computer somehow. :( I might be gone a while as I try to fix this! Sorry, will be back as soon as I can- I have three updates to post!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gymkhana Pics!

Pope Valley Gymkhana!

I got to the ranch at about 7:15 in the morning. Not a bad accomplishment given that I live an hour and a half away and only got 3 hours of sleep.

Ahh, insomnia!

The cliff swallows were already hard at work wheeling around in the air, building mud nests, and catching insects.

After a quick breakfast where I had about a third of a sandwich, everyone pulled out the horses we were going to take to the gymkhana for the day. Leo, Remmy, the Little Bay Gelding, and Teddy Bear.

Tedders took a while to trailer load. We managed though!

Then it was time to hit the road.

A lot of folks were already there when we rolled in, but some came after us as well. Some people had shiny new horse trailers, and some had older stock trailers.

Nice butt on that palomino.

This kid was so cute with her short, massive tank of a horse!

Team D&D Ranch, grooming up the horses and getting them all ready for the day. Bo is a man of action, as you can see!

I got my first view of this little guy. He is 3/4th Fjord, 1/4th Percheron, and 100% lovebug.

I brushed up Teddy Bear and Bo had me follow him and Remmy around the arena and over near the roundpen. Everyone was riding around in the arena, getting their horses warmed up and used to it.

After a while they called everyone out of the arena. A lot of the kids wore helmets. I think one adult did.

This lady was a hoot. I love her pony, who was asleep on her feet a lot of the time. I guess I really like short tank type horses.

Almost all of the little kids were much better riders than I am, hah! I'm not afraid to admit it.

I just absolutely loved this girl on her pony. That pony was so good to her, and she was happy as a clam. She told me that the pony seemed to like a hackamore a lot more than a snaffle. They ran barrels together and wow did they tear around, without her slamming on the pony at all... that little horse really seemed to love her job.

Oh here's the one adult wearing her helmet with her daughter. They were visiting from out of town. Their horses were very high energy and forward.

Team DDRanch, looking at the field next to the arena. That's our Leo!

Everyone was watching the flags get run around the arena for the opening ceremony after the national anthem.

That was the last photo I got of the flags, as Teddy Bear suddenly realized that horse-eating flags were COMING RIGHT FOR HER! There were about 30 or 40 people lined up with their horses, most of 'em mounted, watching. Luckily Teddy and I were a little apart from the group. She started snorting and spooking and rearing a bit, really scared. I just stayed calm and said "hooo Teddy, easy, eeeeasssyyy" and Bo said "get her away, they're going to come back around!" So I did. She got really snorty again and spooked Remmy a little bit, but we managed to calm the ripples in the water, so to speak, and nobody else's horses spooked.

"Hey Bo, how many Gymkhanas has Teddy Bear been to, anyway?"

"This is her first one, Ev. She's a ranch lesson horse. She teaches little kids to ride. She's never been to something like this before."

Oh, haha, good to know!

After we watched people do various patterns for a while, and then Bo had me take Tedders back to the trailer.

"Okay Ev, you're in the middle of nowhere, with no mounting block in sight. How are you going to get on your horse?"

I told him I guessed I'd climb up on the wheel well of the trailer and mount from there. So that's what I did, and Teddy stood like an angel for me.

Look, look, I'm riding at the gymkhana!

Sorta, haha.

I was taken for a ride at the Gymkhana. It went pretty well though. Bo lead her around, and that was fine, since she was still a little amped up anyway. This was all really new stuff for her. And she still hates geldings with a passion.

I love Tedders!

The folks at the gymkhana were so nice that they said encouraging things to me sitting on this horse and getting lead around. That's the way it is at these little shows out here- people are really nice, and if you have difficulties they just cheer for you more to raise your morale and help you get through it. If a horse spooks people just say "yeah you can do it, you'll be fine!"

Here's an excellent illustration of the way horses tend to work. The horse on the right doesn't have any other horses with him. He's getting upset. He reared, even. The horses on the left have a buddy, and are nice and calm. It's not as cut and dried as that all the time, but Bo says that horses are usually happier having at least one other horse with them even if they don't like that horse, especially if they are in a strange place. It's like having a battle buddy to watch your back. Horses depend on each other to tell one another whether or not things are safe.

Next, Bo rode Teddy Bear for a while.

It's the Fjorderon again! He is so cute. His owner rescued him from someplace in Canada. She says he's her own teddy bear.

Remmy might be a bit of a pain at times because he is so playful and high energy, but he sure is a pretty boy.

Okay I obsessed on this boy, I admit it. Bo saw this and grinned. He said "now that's your horse there, Ev. If I'd met you a year earlier I'd have helped you find the right horse for yourself." Of course, I don't regret saving my Solly! He didn't end up being an appropriate riding horse for me though.

Okay so there was a family at the gymkhana, and I just loved them. They had a great sense of humor and were just having so much fun. They had both the smallest pony and the biggest horse. This was the only big draft there.

They called the dad on his draft up, and of course his horse decided he had to pee right then.

The dad just laughed and grinned, calling to the judge "Sorry, we're gonna be here a while. Big horse, big bladder!">

I loved this drafty with the white rings around his eyes and his big dinner plate hooves. He was NOT the fastest horse around the barrels. He was kind of like a freight train. But they really seemed to have fun out there. That's the important part, right? They rode in the Beginner class I think, or maybe Novice, which for some reason is one level higher than Beginner.


I love his Edgar Allen Poe part.

Here's their horses. I think they must have had a second trailer, right? But I love the height differences.

At lunch, the horses of DDRanch hung out. They were fine with their herd.

Here is one of the girls who takes lessons at DD Ranch, though not as much as her sister I think.

This girl rode the Little Bay Gelding, and she won two second place ribbons on him, despite him spooking at the barrels on her first run, haha. She is such a good rider, and so very calm and soft with horses. She did well on a young horse like him. He's going to be 4 years old soon I think.

Remmers and Bo!

This pair brought in three 5th place ribbons. I think this might have been Leo's first gymkhana, but I'm not totally sure. The judge actually commended on how pretty he is while they trotted through their patterns.

LBG working hard at being brave, and his rider being very calm with him.

What a good boy!

As the day wore on, he really got into it, I think.

People at the gymkhana watched a lot of the show from horseback. Some of the horses didn't compete- it was just a really good experience for them to be exposed to all this stuff.

I hope I can be as good of a rider as this little girl is someday!

Here is the Leo team! He is a pretty boy. I love his trot, too. Great floaty Western jog, nice little extended trot too.

Nobody on team DDRanch pushed hard to be the fastest. Everyone on our team worked hard to give the horses a good, safe experience.

And have a blast doing it.

What a pretty boy!

And I have saved one of the best things for last- that family with the pony and the draft- one little girl wasn't quite ready to ride the barrels by herself yet. I think this is the cutest Gymkhana thing I have ever seen!

At this point I was exhausted. Three hours of sleep and getting up so early had taken it's toll. I ended up climbing into the trailer's tack locker with the saddle and curling up around the grooming box and cookie jar. Bo tried to talk me into lying down in the back of the truck but I was pretty insistent. I told him I fit better in the tack locker, and honestly it was way less hot than the back of the truck. It might have looked a little silly with my boots poking out of the locker, but I found it to be pretty comfortable in there, hah!

I woke up to Remmy mouthing my jeans and stealing brushes out of the grooming box.

Not long after that we loaded the horses up and went back home. Teddy Bear did not want to go back into that trailer, and I made a dumb mistake- I tried to hold onto the rope when she ran back out of the trailer! I might have said a few cuss words. Live and learn- I had dead skin on my fingertips for about a week. Lanolin oil is amazing on rope burn though. Bo had some stuff he puts on saddles to refresh and supple the leather. It worked miracles on my hand. Hah.

When we got back to the ranch, I pulled out Solly and loved on him a bit, then chatted with Bo. I ended up spending about 10 hours up in Pope Valley all told. Wow! 10 hours with horses, 3 hours driving, 3 hours of sleep. I'll toughen up yet!

Bo asked me, at the end of the day, "had enough of horses, Ev?"

"No Bo, never."