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.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Good news!

Solomon has gained 15 or 20 pounds since last week, yay! It isn't a lot for a horse, but it is still progress in the right direction.

Actually, I think he might have gained more than that. You know how some people gain weight in the thighs more, or they gain weight in the belly more? I don't think you can really tell exactly how much a person weighs my measuring one band around their body.

Horses have different shapes too. Some have bony withers, some are wider further back, or they have a huge neck, or they have a big butt. Solomon is shaped like a gumdrop, except at the wither and heartgirth. Go further back along his body, however, and he balloons out. Not worm belly- he is on a regular worming schedule. It's just how he's shaped.

Anyway, I can feel his ribs but not see them, which is good. I prefer having to press a bit to feel them, but we'll get there, hopefully.

For the most part he was a very good boy today. He stood patiently for me, he took his fly spraying well, he performed in the round pen... his penis was flopping around a bit as he trotted though. This is a concern because before I owned him he had to go to UC Davis; he had summer sores on his penis. That just sounds so horrifying... I had to check him out and make sure he wasn't swollen and unable to retract. He sucked up when I cantered him, however, and I couldn't find anything that looked unhealthy on him.

After I roundpenned him, I stood and chatted with Bo for a good while. Solomon got bored, but stuck himself to me like glue. Horses are very tactile creatures. They use closeness and contact for comfort. Solomon is pretty bonded to me, and in a roundpen I'm the most interesting thing, so he stays close. He very lightly touched his shoulder to me for a while, and wrapped his neck around me for a while. Then he backed up and stuck his nose in my hair. I put one foot up on one of the bars of the pipe panel, and he decided it would be a great idea to hold me up with his poll. He just stood there with his head under my leg, as if he was trying to prop me up. Not moving, not doing anything. Just... standing there. What.

Then I sat down in the sand for a bit, and he alternated between keeping watch, nuzzling my hair, putting his head in my lap, and shoving me with his head. That last bit got him walked in tight circles. He stopped shoving me then.

Then he discovered my hat. Took it right off my head. And he found it to be so VERY fun... he tossed his head around, making it flap. Then he ground it into the sand. Then he scooped up sand with it and threw that around. He did give it back when I told him to, however. Having a horse is like having a toddler.

At least this time he did not unbuckle my belt or try to unzip my pants. He has done both of those things before!

Anyway, I took him for a little walk and put him back in his pasture.

I know, I know, some of you are probably shocked and horrified by how in my space I allow my horse to be. Well, I don't tend to be like that with other horses. Just Solomon. Solomon is old and retired and he is my service horse. He is a therapy animal. He doesn't get dangerous, and if he starts to, he knocks it off when I set a boundary.

I trust him a lot more than other horses. I don't trust him entirely, because you always need situational awareness and risk assessment around horses. They are very large, strong, fast prey animals. But Solomon also has a special job, which is taking care of me when I need him to. When I am in a lot of pain or when a panic attack comes over me, he has to take control, to a certain extent. He knows what to do. How, I'm not sure. But he does. He helps me walk, or he holds me up and keeps me still until the panic passes. If I were more strict with him and didn't let him express himself as much, I might have a little less trouble with, say, leading him places he didn't want to go, or getting him to not shove me a bit once in a while. But if I were to do that, he might not feel comfortable and confident enough to do the things he needs to do to take care of me when I need it. Most of the time, people don't want their horse to be in charge. Most of the time, it's not a good idea. Sol is a special horse though, int hat one way. He can't be ridden and he isn't going to go and win any pretty ribbons. But when I panic, he takes care of me. When I am in pain, he takes care of me.

And I take care of him. We're partners. And most of the time, I am in charge. Sometimes he has to be. For a lot of horses I think that would be unsettling. They would feel insecure. They are more comfortable knowing what role they play, and feeling that role firmly in place. Well, and Solly is comforted by that as well. It is just something that he has to be able to be more fluid and flexible with.

Here's the thing though- he isn't the only kind of horse that needs to be able to make independent decisions and act on them!

Cutting horses... they are pointed at a cow but then it's up to them! They have to go after that cow and decide how to move to keep it from the rest of the herd. A human can't guide the horse fast enough. He has to have cow sense.

So I guess Solomon has Ev sense. <3

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