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.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The 10 hour ranch day.

Last week, before I left for Washington, I went to the ranch and ran around doing stuff for 10 hours!

I was too busy to take pictures. :/ But I will bring y'all more shinies soon, hah!

So I did a whole lot, though of course Bo and DeDe did way way more than I did. I'd probably drop dead if I tried to do everything they do in a day!

I went and helped out a bit as DeDe wormed a whole bunch of horses. She did just about everything, but I tagged along, assisted with some stuff, and learned a lot about resistant horses. Solomon is not the worst! One mare, sissy, who is still very young and light on the front ended up having to be hobbled for a bit before she gave in and took her medicine. Some horses were really good about it. Many shook their heads a little bit and then took their medicine pretty quickly. Dede is a master of worming.

After that, I held some horses while Bo trimmed their feet. I did okay at this, except I let Lena crowd me into a corner. She was blowing into my ear with her nostril and I was giggling and not noticing that she was moving me to a spot where I would have been in a really bad fix if something had spooked her. Bo corrected me, and we did some work on situational awareness and moving the horse so that everyone was safe.

I watered troughs, groomed and fed Solomon, and then Bo told me he was going to give me a challenging task that was a test of my horsemanship.

He told me "okay Ev, now you are going to want to be really careful and take your time, NOT rushing things, and put a lot of thought into this. I want you to move all of the horses from their pens back to the big pasture now that we're done repairing the fence. Think very carefully about the hierarchy in the herd, and what order you're going to move them in."

I thought about it carefully, and about what I knew about the herd. All mares, except sometimes Shin, the ancient Thoroughbred gelding.

First I got Breezey, the alpha mare, a very good leader who manages the herd. That is her job, and she does it very, very well.

I said to her, "Breezey, I know you can't speak English, but I'm going to make a deal with you. You get to go out first, but I need you to help me keep everybody else in line. Okay?" Her ears swivelled, and she walked along beside me with no fuss.

Once I let her go in the pasture, she went charging around, screaming, because her herd was not there! So I went and got Jewel, the second in command. Next time I might actually try putting Jewel in first, since she is younger and I feel better about her running around than a mare who has had hoof problems like Breezey did.

After that, I lead in Magic the Quarterhorse, who was stomping on her mare motel gate wanting out. Then I moved Missy the bay mare, then Sissy the sorrel, who tossed her head and jigged a bit because she is young and really wanted out. Next it was Lena, then Magic the Arab. Shin was trumpeting and really really wanting in. He was out loose, so I just opened the gate and called him over. He went in and was a total gentleman. I was going to move the baby, Cali, in last but DeDe had to worm her anyway, so she moved her in herself.

Breezey was a very good mare, and she kept the entire herd in line just as I'd hoped she would, standing near the gate but not obstructing it. The rest of the herd fell in line behind her.

I was pretty proud of that, actually. No wrecks, no one got hurt, everyone behaved, everything went nice and safely. I handled the whole herd except the baby. I've handled the baby before, but I'd never hooked up Missy or Sissy or Lena. I'm not sure I ever lead Jewel before either.

Each horse had their own personality, and I managed to get along fine with all of them. :D

Next, I got Teddy Bear out. I groomed her up and let her loose in the roundpen. I was to ride her bareback that day, and I did NOT do my kata or my stretching beforehand, so... well probably the best I can say about the way I rode that day was that I didn't fall off and I dismounted well. My balance... needed work. I never felt like I was about to fall off, but I was not keeping with the motion of the horse well. I think my hips were too stiff and I was falling forward too much, or bracing with my legs too much. For some reason I couldn't find the "walk" button, just "trot," "stop," and "swish tail in an annoyed fashion." Totally not Teddy Bear's fault- she is a very honest mare. And she told the truth about me that day- I wasn't doing a great job of riding, hah!

But the next ride will be a different day and a different ride, and I'll be sure to stretch and loosen up beforehand.

After that, I hiked around and took some pictures for Bo with his camera.

So, it was a very full day, and a good day, and I was happy! Quite a bit of exercise, and 13 hours out of the house including the drive. That's something I wouldn't have even dreamed of a couple years ago!

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