Sunday, April 29, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
But that's not what I've got. And you know what? That's not what I am.
I'm not a sixty day wonder. I'm not one to accept what others insist is in my best interest. I'd rather make my own mistakes and learn things myself. Sometimes, the lessons are simple. Other times, they're hard. And if I'd just listen to those around me, those who are experienced, I'd save myself a lot of time and trouble.
The other day Darling and I were talking, and I don't recall the personality trait that the conversation brought up, but Darling said she didn't like it. She didn't want to be that way. But Darling is a work in progress. She's just 13, after all, and she's got plenty of time to grow and learn.
I'm far from being a teen, but I'm still learning and growing. I still make mistakes and I'm certain that the people around me get frustrated with my slow, stubborn learning style. And it's not just the people that I push to the point of exhaustion. I also push God. I know I'm not the woman God would have me be. I still question His wisdom some days. I still offer up my suggestions (as though God needs my input, right?) I don't listen that well when He points out the best way to go about things.
And yet, despite this, God still loves me. He's patient. He waits. He shows me the path that ought to be taken, and then steps back and allows me to make the decision, be it right or wrong. And when I chose wrong, I'll find myself in a mess of trouble. Like Sunny when she ran through blackberries the other day. I'm always finding myself in situations like that. Had Sunny just ignored the horses next door, had she allowed me to walk right up to her instead of rushing off in a panic, she never would have ended up full of thorns. But she chose not to trust me until after she’d gotten into trouble; something I can easily relate to!
Sunny is a gift from God. Through her, I see myself. I see how patient God is with me, not expecting perfection overnight, but allowing me to reach the goal at my own pace. He allows me to get into sticky situations, because that’s how I’ll learn. And because of this, I’m able to allow Sunny the gift of time as well. She’s not going to reach the goal over night. And while the going appears tediously slow, she is showing progress. Like me. Neither of us is a sixty day wonder.
Monday, April 23, 2007
First, why did I say I’d do a blog carnival about five things, when I can only think of four?
Second: I’m in mourning. The Ghost horse was sent to Utah, along with that stunning red roan. The Burns Corrals are being remodeled, so they’re holding tons of adoptions between now and the one up here in WA in June. Excess horses are being sent to other states. My two favorites were among them. Boo Hoo…
Third: I really like Sunny. Did you know that? I’ll be putting her up for sale once she’s titled (February 2008), and I think she’ll make a dandy all around horse. Not an all around show horse, mind you, but something that can be worked off of on a farm, or a nice trail horse, or some 4-H project. I don’t think she’s a jumper type, but who knows? Maybe even pony club.
Fourth: I wish I had a spare half million dollars. Don’t you? I’d like to completely re-do my fences, as well as subdivide them. Then I’d fence my neighbor’s property in. Afterwards, I’d put up a new barn. Nothing fancy, maybe just add onto the one we’ve got. And a truck and trailer…that would be such an awesome thing to have. Right now we're having to beg and borrow.
Fifth: We’ve booked another date for Quiet Storm. She’ll be visiting a local feed store in town the weekend prior to the Monroe adoption. The BLM sent me a gross of pencils, a bunch of postcards, and a handful of very neat pens to hand out. I think we’ll also make a few coloring pages for the kids, then when they’re given back to us, we’ll post them on the blog. I got that idea from Janey Loree at Mustang N Cowboys.
Wild horses in Burns
It's important for a horse to know how to react when they're 'trapped', or confined. Because I deal with wild horses, not domestic bred, they've never had the experience of being in enclosed spaces such as stalls or horse trailers, or even halters. While MiKael is talking about how she deals with domestic bred horses, and her technique varies greatly from mine, we are both after the same goal. The goal of having a horse who's relaxed and trusts us in any situation.
Sunny has been dragging a lead rope around with her here from two months now. For a wild horse, wearing a halter is feeling trapped. Dragging a lead, even more so. I'd love to take them both off, but she's just not ready for that yet. She'll come to me when I have grain; I've been sitting in the chair and letting her eat while I stroke her face. This also creates of feeling of being trapped for Sunny, as she's been terrified of having her face touched, especially on the right side. But this past week she's been allowing me to reach up and touch her right cheek and run my hand around her halter while she munches on the grain. Such a small step for most horses, and yet HUGE for Sunny. She's learning to relax and trust.
Being allowed onto Sunny's right side is a huge accomplishment and shows she's beginning to trust me more.
Dragging a lead is something most domestic horse owners would want to die over. The halter left on is horrifying enough, but dragging a lead? Yet for our wild ones, they learn so many important lessons from this. They become accustomed to the rope on their legs and learn to untangle themselves without flying into a panic. They step on the end of their rope and learn to give their head (which comes in very handy when you begin leading and riding!) Most of us never think of the valuable lesson this teaches our horses, but trust me, it goes a long way. Case in point:
The other afternoon I decided to let Sunny out into the pasture. She'd been out twice before, and while there's little grass for grazing, it does promote a nice emotional break from the paddock for her. While I can't just waltz right up to her, she does come to feed and she's proven that she's not a fence tester. I figured it was an hour before dinner, so I'd let her out while I did other chores with the sheep.
My neighbor has three horses. One of the horses is a gelding who's been proud cut. He screams day and night like a stallion at the two mares, and he's one nasty tempered boy. They only get turned out of their paddocks in the evening, and I'd never turn Sunny out while they were out because I don't need her thinking about this guy over there.
Sunny trotted calmly to the other end of the pasture. It was so nice to see her relaxed and not so flipping excited like she had been the first two times. She was quiet, calm, and content just to be out nibbling on the short grass. But no more than ten minutes had gone by when that all changed. The neighbor's horses came screaming out into their pasture, and Sunny heard the cry of that blasted gelding.
The beast was not nice. He reached over his fence (wood) and bit Sunny. She didn't know where to turn. In a hurry to escape his teeth, she dashed through the blackberries. This patch of berries is very thick, and there was no way I could walk through them after her. Sunny was now between the blackberries and the lower pasture. Vines were tangled around her legs.
Sunny has learned to give to the lead all on her own.
And this is where dragging that rope around was so handy! Sunny could care less about feeling those vines on her legs. And because I had grain, she stood trembling right where she was and waited for me to bring it to her. After a couple of nibbles and my picking up her lead rope, I began stomping down on the blackberry vines, hoping she wouldn't spook at my being so active in such a close proximity. She didn't. She was trapped and not flighty.
I got the vines down below her knees, and slowly Sunny began to follow me out of the berries. City Boy had cut the fence into the lower pasture open so she could be led through a narrow opening and back to the safety of her paddock. All the while, that nasty gelding was pacing back and forth along the fence line, pinning his ears back and shaking his head.
As if Sunny's trusting me to get her out of that sticky situation wasn't enough, when we got back to the barn I noticed thorns all over on her face. And while she'd just begun allowing me to touch the sides while eating, she'd never allowed me to do so without grain or while standing up. And yet, she stood right there as I plucked them from her face and cheek. One of them was 1/8 of an inch from her eye, and after tossing her head once, she stood silently while I got it between my fingers and lifted it out.
Thorns were everywhere, one of them right alongside her left eye.
Who knew that something as simple as dragging a halter and lead rope would lead to a wild horse knowing how to stand trapped in a thicket of berries? Who knew that the wee little bit of touching I'd been able to do up until that point would allow me to lead my otherwise sensitive horse calmly through a narrow opening and across the pasture, being followed by a flock of sheep, without her feeling upset or threatened? Heck, she doesn't lead well most of the time in the paddock, but if you'd stopped that day you'd never know it.
Sunny is proof that even the smallest steps can help your horse through a difficult situation. Allowing them to get stuck and figure out on their own that they can relax and get out of a sticky situation is a priceless experience.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
"You're joking, right?"
"I've obviously misunderstood you."
"Well, that ain't gonna happen!"
"How about if I kiss your feet? Does that get it?"
"It's getting late. Maybe we can talk about it tomorrow..."
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Then reality sets in. Suddenly you're faced with a wild animal that insists upon things being done their way. They take what you give, and force you to give more. And if you don't give it, you can find yourself in a difficult and dangerous position. Such was the case with our first mustang, Sassy. She was spoiled, taking food from the hands of her family, biting when they didn't have anything to give.
Today I was at a feed store when the woman at the counter saw my sweatshirt. I was wearing one of the Mustang Diaries shirts, and her eyes lit up when she realized I had mustangs. A customer had come in saying they had a yearling mustang from one of the reservations and they wanted to give her away. They'd had a halter on her, but couldn't handle her feet. Plus, the woman had been kicked twice. Since she wasn't far away, I drove over.
The filly is pretty. She stood on the other side of her round pen and enjoyed the scratching we did. The woman had bought her at auction; there'd been a tuckload of horses that had come in, and most of them went to the meat buyer. She had a soft spot for this filly and brought her home. Her intentions were good, but she's now realized that she's in over her head.
The filly, unfortunately, was easy to gentle. When horses are easy like that, and a bit less sensitive to touch, they can get pushy real fast unless the person handling them knows to prevent it. It's our nature to try to nurture, but with animal it creates a spoiled child effect. We do it with our dogs, and these folks were in the process of doing it with this filly.
We got the halter on her, though, and I led her around a bit. She'd pin her ears back, and she was a bit jumpy. Not scared, but she was using little things as an excuse to be stupid. Such as, the quiet hum of a nearby saw. There was very little sound, but the owner had her husband turn it off so the horse wouldn't spook. The filly had been tip-toed around so much that she was like a fussy princess. At one point she got upset, so I gave a yank on the lead rope to get her attention. She flew backwards and would have flipped herself onto her back if she hadn't been caught by the round pen panels.
While the rope gave me a bit of a burn, I didn't let go. Instead I took up the slack as much as I could so she couldn't try to wheel away. I made her walk around once more, made her back up and try to focus on me. At this point she was getting agitated, but she did manage to do what I asked. I then led her towards the gate and unbuckled her halter. She thought that meant she was done, so I put it back on her. I did that a couple of times, scratching her to get her to relax. Then she thought something scary might be out there, so she took a big lunge off to the side while the halter was unbuckled. Too bad, because that wasn't a good learning experience. Still, she'd probably been asked for more in that five minutes than she had been all along.
Because of her somewhat alpha temperament, I've decided she wouldn't be a good fit here. I'd be up for the challenge, but Sunny is already taking a lot of my time, and she's not a horse I'd feel comfortable having Darling walk around at feeding time.
I will, however, be contacting a few more horse savvy folks who may be capable of handling her. She's going to be a lot of work, because she has very little respect for people right now. A firm hand, a round pen, and a determination to keep her from trying to be a buddy (at least for now.)
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
How many pictures can a person take of one horse? Well, if that one horse is this roan, the answer is plenty! That mane of his shone like flames in a fire.
There are currently approximately 200 horses left in Burns; by June they'll all be gone as the corrals are being repaired. Horses that haven't been adopted or sent to prison training programs will be moved to other districts.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
She managed to open the gate by rubbing her itchy behind on it. The latch gave way, the gate swung open, and out she came! Thankfully, she's not wanting to take a vacation apart from her friends here, otherwise it could have spelled trouble.
Fortunately, Sunny resisted the urge to run frantically out into the road. Fortunately, I resisted the urge to run back inside to get my camera and document it!
When I got outside, she bucked and snorted, then settled back to grazing. I carried alfalfa to the sheep, grass hay to Quiet Storm, and wondered how I was going to deal with my wild girl. She didn't want to let me up close enough to grab the lead, but she wasn't being stupid, either. Just happy to have stretched her legs (oh, yeah, I could see where she'd been doing that) and eat a bit of spring grass.
Since the sheep were peacefully eating, I took a gamble and opened the gate, hoping they would be absorbed in grain and not notice that freedom was at hand. I then managed to get Sunny to move in the general direction of the open gate.
Lucky me! She saw the gate open and ran into it! She was in there running once before, and has seen Quiet Storm playing out there, so no doubt she associated that pasture with freedom!
Thursday, April 5, 2007
I went outside yesterday afternoon and practiced a bit. Here's one of Sunny. Short, and not terribly good. But hey, I've gotta start somewhere!
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
City Boy, Darling and I will be heading out early Sunday morning. Be sure to pop in here for my morning post. While I'd prefer not to be travelling on Easter, Darling is out of school that week, and we need to be back here for the youth fair on Friday. So, Sunday it will be.
Between now and then I'll be learning how to operate the video function on my camera...I hope! Say a prayer and cross you fingers that we'll actually find a real, honest to goodness herd of wild horses while we're there, too!