Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Adoption

Another donation! Circle A Trailers of Bellingham is letting us use one of their rental trailers this weekend!

Darling is taking the day off from school tomorrow so that we can get an early start to the adoption in Monroe. My son will drive us up to get the truck, we'll then swing over to Hat's Off in Lynden to pick up the T-shirts she's making for us. From there, a quick trip to Costco for some food (we're donating a lunch of sorts for the volunteers and BLM workers after the horses are unloaded), and over to pick up the trailer.

After that, it's time to load up and hit the road!

I've got my camera all charged up and will bring the lap top along, be sure to check in for updates straight from the event. Lady of Chaos will be meeting me there, I'm excited to meet her!

Now, take a look at these horrible feet! Sunny hasn't been trimmed in over a year. She was adopted from the Monroe adoption last year, then relinquished when her adopters relocated eight months later. She'd rubbed her halter off at some point and they'd never gotten a hand on her. I think we're going to have to tranquilize her in an effort to get her to relax enough to just get those front ones shortened a bit. Won't be pretty, but right now they're beyond ugly!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A HUGE Thank You!!

I want to offer a HUGE Thank You to Pioneer Ford of Lynden, Washington!

I drive a Ranger. It's a nice truck, but it can't pull a horse trailer. Which really hasn't mattered much, because I haven't got a horse trailer to pull. This, of course, makes it difficult when Darling and I want to head out with Quiet Storm to do talks and demonstrations on wild horse adoption.

Yesterday I swung by Pioneer Ford and asked if there was any chance they'd sponsor us. I explained how we were trying to get out once a month to visit schools and attend events, including the upcoming three day event in Monroe, and that we were sadly lacking in transportation.

And he said YES! They'll loan us a pick up!

Now all I need to do is concentrate on a trailer...

Monday, May 28, 2007

Shedding Out

Quiet Storm is having a good time playing in the pasture! She's nearly shed out, a bit of dark hair is still left on her neck and she's still a wee fuzzy. But over all, she's looking pretty sleek, showing off her cavalry horse heritage in good looks.
She'll never be very tall, I don't think; lucky to make 14 hands at this rate.
One can never tell for certain, of course. She's just two, and the bulk of the growing tends to be done between two and three. Still, she's never gone through that gangly stage, instead always looking like a scaled down horse. Plus, she's got a very short back. At this stage of the game, I'd expect more length if she were going to shoot up. She stands just over 13 hands right now.
Er...below? No, Darling isn't thinking of leading a parade. This is the 'behind the scenes' shot. Quiet Storm would just stand around all day and barely move if she didn't have a little inspiration! Darling makes a great assistant, marching and racing back and forth behind me with that long piece of fabric. Not that Quiet Storm was frightened, she just took it as her cue to race around and play in front of the camera!

In Memory

"It is by no means a pleasant thought to reflect how little people at home know of the non-fighting details of waste and suffering of war. We were in the field four weeks, and only once did I see the enemy, even at a distance. You read of Stoneman’s and Grierson’s cavalry raids, and of the dashing celerity of their movements and their long, rapid marches. Do you know how cavalry moves? It never goes out of walk, and four miles an hour is very rapid marching "killing to horses" as we always describe it."
Charles Francis Adams, Potomac Creek, May 12, 1863

It seems only fitting that while the rest of the Nation is paying tribute to those who've served our country, that the Diaries here would honor those four legged wonders who served as well. Two horses, in particular, come to mind. Comanche and Black Jack.


Comanche was a Mustang Morgan cross, purchased by the US Army in 1868. He was selected by Myles Keogh of the 7th Cavalry. Comanche was wounded several times in battle, most notably the Battle of Little Bighorn, also known as Custer's Last Stand, where he is the only known cavalry survivor. He was found two days after the battle, nursed back to health and retired with instruction that he never be ridden again. Comanche died in 1890.

Black Jack

Black Jack was the riderless horse that participated in more than 1000 full honors military funerals, most of them in Arlington,that included Herbert Hoover, Lyndon B Johnson, Douglas MacArthur and John F Kennedy. He was the last government issued horse, dying in 1976.

Both Comanche and Black Jack are the only two horses to be buried with full military honors (although Comanche wasn't actually buried, but stuffed and is standing in the Kansas University in Lawrence.)

Interesting Tidbit: Did you know that the 3 Day Event was a test of military skill? In the past, civilians could compete in dressage or jumping at the Olympics, but the 3 Day combined training event was for military personel, where they showed how their horses were able to move from dressage to cross country, then back into the show ring after a long days work for stadium jumping.

More interesting websites regarding horses in US history:

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Sunny didn't skip a beat while I was taking time off to heal. I was so pleased with her! While she still isn't an easy catch, I'm just as likely to be able to walk up to her right side as her left. She's currently playing hard to get, but at least when I do get her, I can move onto her right side with little resistance.

At this rate, I'm certain she'll be allowing the saddle at some point this summer. I still may not be catching her easily, but some horses you just never can. She doesn't appear to want to be your best friend, like Quiet Storm does, but she's very responsive and she let's you know she's fond of food with soft nickers when she sees you near the paddock. At least she's not totally stand offish!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the paddock fence... Quiet Storm has become adjusted to the fact that the saddle will be sitting on her back. Gone are the jumpy, fidgety two year old antics. Instead, she's adopted the "I'm so totally bored" pre-teen attitude. I've yet to cinch it up, just getting her used to it being lifted on and off, with the stirrup flopping down on the other side.

Er...somethings on me.

I think you misplaced this. Doesn't it belong on the rail next to Sunny?

Yes, I know I look danged good...but I looked good without it, too!

Notice anything different about her neck? The mane used to fall on both sides, but Darling has been spending time grooming and putting it into pony tails. That mane is thick enough for two horses, so she's got quite the job cut out for her. The Monroe adoption in next weekend and we hope to bring Quiet Storm along with us. Darling wants her looking her best, and folks love to see those brands!

Speaking of the Monroe adoption, I think I'm going to offer a contest to celebrate! I'm not sure what I'm celebrating, aside from the fact that it's close enough for me to commute back to my own bed all three days. That is definitely worth celebrating, as I sure can't afford to be an hour from home and pay for a hotel with uncomfortable beds!

So...I'm going to give away a t-shirt! Leave a comment this week, on any post between now and June 2, and I'll toss all the names into a hat (the cowboy variety) and draw the lucky winner while I'm in Monroe. And be sure you're popping back in over next weekend, as I'll be posting pics of the horses as they unload as well as videos of them in the corrals.

Image on t-shirt

Want a sneak peek at what will be there? Click the link!

And if any of you live in Western Washington, why not stop in on Sat or Sun and say hi? I'd love to meet you!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Application for Title

Quiet Storm, May 21, 2006

Quiet Storm's application for title came in the mail last week! On Wednesday I had Cheryle, my friend who is also authorized to do inspections in this area, come over to fill out the paperwork. (You can also have your vet, extension agent, or I believe a certified farrier sign off on your title.) So there it is, all signed and everything. All we need to do is get it into the mail and wait for the official title to come back to us.

If I hadn't mentioned the requirements before, I'll do it now. The BLM requires that ungentled horses under 18 months have a fence at least 5 1/2 feet high and horses 18 months and over need a six foot fence. The corral also can't be smaller than 400 square feet (20x20) or larger than 1600 sq ft (40x40). This makes it harder for the animal to jump out, plus gives them enough room to move around but not so much that it creates a problem with gentling.

The application for title states that you are not to sell the horse to slaughter or use as rodeo bucking stock. The inspector has to note whether the horse is in good condition, whether or not it's been vaccinated or had hoof care. They check to see that the fencing is safe and sufficient, that there's water and check off what type of feed you're using.

Of course, I've been emailing pictures of Quiet Storm to the Oregon BLM office all along, so they already knew most of that stuff.

Won't be long now before Quiet Storm is officially ours!

A couple days after getting home.
With Darling and her cousin at Super Saturday

Discussing the issue of saddling

Best Friends

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ups and Downs

It was a good weekend...sort of.

The saddle was set onto Quiet Storm's back last week, and Saturday I brought a long piece of fabric out, tying it around her middle to simulate a girth. She didn't mind, standing tied while I worked with Sunny a bit before being led around.

Sunny made an huge decision. She let me touch her right side! And not just a brief touch, either. I scratched under her mane, on her withers, and part way down her back. I was on an incredible high.

Yesterday morning, Mother's Day, I began feeling tingling in my arm, pain in my chest and upper back, and feeling just a bit nauseous. It was 4:45 am when I got City Boy up and had him take me to the ER. They found nothing with the EKG, but the results of a stress test this past Thursday looked 'mildly abnormal', they told me, so they wanted to do an angiogram.

The results were good, my arteries are 'beautiful'. lifting or anything else for five days. FIVE days! I'm devestated, of course, because I don't want to lose that time with Sunny. But since there's an incision opening into an artery, I suppose I'm going to have to do as they say. Wouldn't do anyone any good for me to bleed to death after all this, eh?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Saddle...again.

After a few days of the saddle just sitting by the wayside, and the blanket resting near the feeding area, I decided to have another go with Quiet Storm. Our she came to visit the saddle in a non-threatening way. I set it on the ground nearby and allowed her to graze around it.

I also showed her the blanket again, this time without the 'kill it!' reaction she'd had a couple days ago. She questioned the wisdom of placing it on her back by stepping to the side a bit, but after rubbing it along her neck and shoulder, she stood still and I tossed it on. And that's how we spent the next 20 minutes. Blanket on the back, saddle on the ground. The grass was just too sweet and green for Quiet Storm to worry about it.

Grazing near the saddle.

What's this doing down here?

The following day I approached her while she was tied to the paddock post. She eyed me dubiously as I approached, as I had the saddle in my arms. I walked all the way around her, rubbing the saddle on her shoulders where she could see and sniff it. With the saddle in one arm, I offered her a bit of grain out of the scoop that I held in the other hand. Good thing the saddle is light!

When she finished the tid bit of grain, I set the saddle on her back. Quietly, gently...and I never let the stirrup fall onto the other side. I just wanted her to get used to the motion of it going up over her and being set down. And although she wasn't entirely sure of what I was up to, neither the saddle or I were harmed during the process =)

This surprised me!

Look at the difference! That old, patchy stuff has been shedding out, and she's looking so sleek! It was quite by accident that I found these two pics and had them on the screen at the same time. A wonderful contrast, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Surprise, Surprise

Sunny gives me her right eye

Life is full of surprises. Surprise number one was a most pleasant surprise! Sunny has made great strides over the weekend. She's continued to allow me to move all around the left side of her body. She's not willing to give up the legs just yet, but an incredible leap of faith on her part was dropping her head down to my waist and allowing me to stand directly in front of her while massaging her poll, right ear, and down the right side of the crest of her neck. In fact, she enjoyed it so much that yesterday she turned to face me and physically reached out towards me! It still took a bit of coaxing to get her to relax, but she knew what she wanted.

The lariat swung over Sunny's withers

Amazingly, she didn't seem to mind the rope bumping her down on her leg. This will make saddling so much easier when we get to that step! And yes...we've had rain, which combined with Sunny's feet, made mud.

While I'm not allowed to approach too closely, I'm able to leave the lariat over the top of Sunny's head. She's not too terribly concerned with it passing back and forth over her eye and ears, and although she felt it was a rather silly headdress, she let me take this picture!

Surprise number two was less pleasant. I've left the saddle sitting out so that Quiet Storm could become accustomed to it being nearby. In fact, it'd been left for a week over the rail between their stalls, and QS didn't appear to care much one way or the other after that initial shock.

Yesterday I brought her out and thought I'd toss the blanket over her back while she was tied alongside the saddle. Should be a piece of cake, right? After all, we had that old flannel sheet all over her a month ago, and she'd had my heavy coat tossed on and off her back over and over without flinching.

Evidently saddle blankets are different. They are to be avoided at all costs. In fact, one should attempt to kill them.

I'm sorry I have no photos of the event. I couldn't hold onto a stomping mad two year old, the saddle blanket, and take pictures all at the same time. Hey, I'm good, but not that good!

Quiet Storm pinned her ears back and struck at the blanket while tied. I figured I'd untie her, walk along with the blanket in my hand and have her follow. I didn't really want to be in a tight place alongside the fence the way she was reacting. So out into the yard we walked, ears pinned back the entire time. I turned to face her, shook the blanket at my feet and out off to the side a bit.

And that's when she tried to kill it. Ears pinned back, she did a half rear and lunged at the blanket! I took a step back, gave a quick pop on the lead rope and continued moving the blanket (although admittedly a little less vigorously now.) Still, I wasn't planning on giving up. I continued to lead my mad tantrum thrower around while moving the dreaded saddle blanket, and she followed along, making her displeasure known.

This behavior is exactly what she'd offered up back in late June when I introduced the fly mask to her. She'd wanted to kill it! I left the fly mask hanging in her stall then, and I left the blanket hanging over the fence rail alongside her hay last night. I'm sure by this morning she'll have forgotten all about it. At least...that's what I'm hoping!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Dancing the Two Step

I'm not going to look at you. If I can't see you, you're not there!

I'm not really sure what got into Sunny this weekend, but she was certainly a challenge. It was if we were right back to where we were three months ago, with a wild eyed, snorting red head...and I don't mean me!

Trying to catch this girl has become a problem. She's recognized that corners, of which we have six, can be used to her advantage. And use them she does. She's also realized that I step away from her when her butt is turned towards me, and uses this to her advantage as well.

On top of the snorting and butt turning, while sitting in the 'grain chair' with her pan of gain in my lap, she actually pinned her ears back at me! This was something totally new, and completely unacceptable; she was attempting to take the dominant position from me. I was beginning to feel as though I was losing ground. So, while sitting had helped her build confidence, it was obvious that on this day I'd need to stand to show her I was still the dominant one in the relationship.

Aside from standing, I began bringing a long rope into the paddock with me. Instead of trying to get her to work off pressure to face me, I just kept her moving in circles. Normally, when I'd step out in front of her to get her to turn, she'd swing her butt to me. This time I made sure she knew first if that butt came my way, it'd get a slap with the rope. Now, when I stepped out in front to turn her, she'd swing her head towards me instead.

Me, 1; Sunny, 0.

After ten or so minutes of trotting and turning, Sunny was getting both tired and a bit more relaxed. Yesterday I had the lariat instead of the usual soft cotton rope. When Sunny finally decided to stop trotting, I worked my way to within five feet. She looked at me from the corner of her eye, ready to dash should I attempt to come closer. Instead of reaching for her, I used the stiffness of the lariat to my advantage and tossed it towards her hind end. Because I was standing towards the forequarters, she didn't feel comfortable jumping forward, and allowed the rope to bounce off from her without fleeing. I did this over and over, working from her withers to the dock of her tail, even letting it fall down behind her haunches and bounce off her back leg. She just stood there.

At that point, I was able to quietly move close enough to pick up the end of her lead rope. I switched it for the long cotton rope and led her out into the pasture. I didn't want to let her loose to run, but I did want to give her an opportunity to associate being led and handled with something good, and that goodness came in the form of green spring grass. She never tried to pull away, and she let me lead her back into the paddock after we'd been out there a while.

Once back in the paddock, I began brushing. As mentioned, Sunny has a love hate relationship with grooming. She's shedding and loves the feel, but she's not fond of the touch. But yesterday? Yesterday Sunny was in love! She let me work from her poll, down her neck and shoulder, the front of her chest, down her back to the dock of her tail, along her barrel and even a bit behind the elbow (that last part she wasn't sure about, though.) She even let me reach over her neck to the right side and brush under her mane! This is the first time she's allowed me to venture into so many areas without having a major fit, and to do it all in one day had me walking on air.

Of course, now that she's got me feeling so good, no doubt today we'll slide backwards again! That's okay, as long as we can work a few positives in to keep me encouraged now and then!