Friday, August 31, 2007

Despite his pretty coloring, this five year old pinto was hard to adopt

The longer a horse has lived their life wild, the longer it takes to gain their trust and confidence. You can tell them till you're blue in the face that you only want what's best for them; that fences are there to keep them safe from semi trucks passing down the road or cougars out in the trees. They don't understand you, of course, and they take a long time to convince.

Some can never be convinced. We can offer food and water and shelter...but they'll turn their backs on us. Sunny is proving to be like that. She wasn't even that old when captured or adopted, but she's made up her mind that she doesn't want to be handled or taught to do things that she thinks are unimportant. She gladly accepts food from my hand, but doesn't want to repay the kindness with any form of relationship.

Quiet Storm, being adopted at such a young age, came around very quickly. Jet's natural curiosity has made her even easier. My farrier, Cheryle, has a gelding that wasn't adopted until he was 5 (or was it seven?), and he's proven to be a real challenge. He's taken a long time, just like Sunny, to win over. The older they are, the harder it is.

Quiet Storm and Darling buddied up quickly.

Domestic horses are introduced to a concept when they're young; at birth, for most of them. They're taught not to fear and can be approached in a completely different manner than their wild counter parts. I once bought a filly who, at age three, had yet to be halter broke. Still, she'd lived her life around humans and didn't have any fear of us when we haltered her for the first time. Her relationship with humans had begun at an early age, even if formal training hadn't.

Quiet Storm was a baby and her fear and distrust disappeared rapidly. Jet, a bit older, was naturally curious and came willingly. Sunny, no matter what I do, still hangs back. I offer her everything that is good for her, but she'd prefer to turn her back on me. Imagine how much more fearful she'd be if she'd been a couple years older before finding herself in captivity?

My horses are all offered a choice; a choice to trust and become productive members of equine society. Jet and Quiet Storm have made that choice; they've become willing, valuable partners. If for some reason I were forced to give them up, they'd stand a better chance of finding homes that would care for them. Sunny has yet to make the choice. She's come close, but not totally given herself over. Right now, Sunny is a prime candidate for slaughter, or worse yet, be be left abandoned or abused by someone who just tires of her and gives up. Which is why I don't give up. Sunny has great value to me in that I know what the outcome will be if she's allowed to stay the course she's currently chosen. It may take years, but I'm unwilling to give up on her.

Sunny sees herself as capable of taking care of herself in this world. She's the independent sort who thinks she doesn't need anyone else to see her through. You and I know that isn't true; she's very dependent on her owner in order to survive.

These reflections caused me to see a distinct similarity between my relationship with these horses and Christ's relationship with us. Some of us are introduced to Him at an early age. It may be an introduction like the three year old filly; we know He's out there and that He brings us good things and that there's nothing to fear, so that when formal training happens later, we're not shocked or opposed to it. It could be that we're introduced a little later, but still with open and curious minds. Or maybe...maybe we're like Sunny. Maybe we don't want to believe that there's someone out there that will love us unconditionally, no matter what choices we've made in the past or will make in the future. But just as I will continue to give Sunny every opportunity to make her choice, Christ will do the same for us. Yet his rewards will be so much greater.

Sunny struggles to accept the gift that is freely given.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sunny Evening

Two weeks have gone by...or is getting closer to three?...since I last worked with any of the horses. Too long for Sunny, or so I thought. Tonight as she and Jet were finishing up their hay I wandered out into the pasture. She moved away, white of her eye showing. I can't imagine what it must be like to be harboring so much fear.

I let Sunny lope down to the end of the field and waited for her to turn back towards me. I knew she would, as facing up has become routine for her. Once she was looking at me, head in a semi-relaxed position, I began to walk closer. Some folks would say to just stand and wait it out, but hey, this is Sunny we're talking about, right? There is no out waiting this filly. So walk towards her I did, coming to within ten feet or so before she showed signs of stress. I stopped and let her gather her thoughts.

It may seem odd to a non-horseman that a horse would have thoughts, let alone that you'd allow them to gather those thoughts. In fact, it would likely irritate some folks who consider themselves horsemen to do so as well. But I want Sunny to make the choice to do what's right. I can force the issue, but I don't want a horse who needs to be forced; I want one that has decided to work with me. Sunny may never enjoy the work, but I never will enjoy the fight, so we're working on meeting somewhere in the middle.

After a few minutes, Sunny allowed me to walk up alongside her and stroke her neck and shoulder before moving off. I had the halter in my hand and had thought I'd lead her back to the barn, but now my objective had changed. Sunny took a couple steps away; she was protecting her right side again, but not in such a fearful way as she'd done a few months back. She just didn't want to give me access to that side. That was okay by me. I reached out for her again and this time she stood still, allowing me to run my hand over her neck and rub on her mane, eventually reaching over to take the halter that my left hand was holding beneath.

The white didn't leave her eyes, but Sunny stood and allowed me to halter her. I gave her a good girl rub, then took it off and walked away. That was enough for her first day back in the 'work force.' Tomorrow we'll step it up and see if we've really lost any ground or not.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Sunny stands in the old paddock.

I can't believe the sun is shining! And am I getting ready to work a wild horse or two? Or even three? No. I'm getting the kids up and ready to leave because the Keizer meats is coming today to butcher the pig. No one really wants to be here when it happens, so we'll head off to town and do a bit of shopping to distract ourselves.

The weather report sounded good for today and tomorrow, but instead of mounting up, which I'd dearly love to do, I think I'll just be leading through the field and trees. City Boy has begun working on the barn extension, and the paddock that served so well as a place to start the youngsters is not only reduced in size, but has all sorts of tools sitting in it at the moment.

The round pen is also out of the question as it's been housing Pig these past couple of months. Instead of in a nice, cleared area conducive to riding, it's found itself encircling a patch of blackberries (which pig was supposed to eat, but didn't.) Perhaps this afternoon I'll sweet talk City Boy into helping me move some of the round pen panels out into the pasture to create a safe place to start working the horses again. None of them has had anything done since the before the fair.

Have any of you got RFD TV? Last night they aired an episode on the Extreme Mustang Makeover. It must be a series of programs as last night was mostly short interviews with the trainers and the folks who are sponsoring the event. It was kinda fun to put faces to the names, plus see some of the trainers that we're following via their websites and blogs. If you get a chance and haven't already done so, visit some of the trainers' sites that I've got listed in to the right. It's pretty amazing what you can do with a wild horse in such a short time!

Sunny relaxes long enough to allow her eye to be photographed.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Riding for a Fall

Darling and I went to the rodeo last night. It was outdoors, so no good bull riding pics. The bulls always go last, you see, as they tend to be the most exciting. We find the whole thing quite a bit of fun, to be honest.

I know that rodeo gets a bad name among some. But then, some folks think it's cruel to teach a dog to walk on a leash. My take on rodeo is that it's preserving certain skills that are still necessary out on the ranch, such as calf roping and steer wrestling. Bull riding, of course, is sheer entertainment, but undoubtedly something the cowboys need to do just to keep their spirits up while out in the middle of no where with little else to entertain them.

If you take a good look at the horses in both bareback and saddle bronc riding, you'll see they're in pretty tip top condition. Better than most horses that are kept in folks' backyards across the country. And eight seconds isn't a terribly long time to work for that care, truth be told. More often than not, when that eight second bell sounds, those horses slow down with the bucking. The cowboy hears the bell and stops working so hard to get the buck, and the horse knows it. It's kind of like clicker training. Funny, if you think about it, isn't it?

Rodeo, to my way of thinking, isn't any harder on the animals than any other sport involving horses. Most of them wouldn't go out and jump Olympic courses or trot around arenas on their own. Show horses have to put up with a lot more abuse than most bucking stock.

While we were watching the bucking, I leaned over to Darling and told her I thought that there were a couple of mustangs out there. She stiffened. Had I seen the brand, she wondered? Not BLM horses, I said, but reservation mustangs. She relaxed. It's illegal to use BLM mustangs for bucking horses, and she knew it. But there was a definite look to a few of those being used that couldn't be denied...

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A week later...

What? You didn't expect to find sheep here?

So here I am, back home. It's been over a week since I had my fun little encounter with Sunny and Quiet Storm. My knee is bruised and the leg still sensitive. It must have twisted pretty darned good, that's all I can say, as walking across the not so even pasture puts stress on it and I don't move very fast. Flat surfaces, however, are easy to negotiate and I can get to the barn and back with no feelings of pain.

It's been raining since we've returned home from the fair; the paddock is slicker than snot on a door knob. No working horses with footing like that. Jet is still her curious, friendly self. Sunny has done exactly what I feared she would do if left unattended; she's reverting to wild. It's hard to believe that just a week without being handled would have her so stand-offish again. She'll grab hay from my arms, but she doesn't want to stand to be touched, instead turning her butt towards me and moving away. With the slick footing, I'm not going to pressure her. No point in either one of us slipping out there.

I don't expect it'll take much to turn her around. She's had people walking in and out of her paddock to feed while Darling and I were gone, so she's not gotten back to the hard core fear. Just prefers not to be handled. I don't expect she'll ever be a buddy of those that truly bonds with someone. It would be nice if she found that someone out there, but she would appear to be the type of horse who'll always hold a bit of mistrust close to her heart. Sad, isn't it? To live a life that way, never feeling confident enough to totally relax around someone?

Let me tell you just a little bit about our week away! The fair held it's first ever dairy sheep class, and of course we made up the bulk of it. Four of the five sheep were ours, and the fifth one is one we sold to her current owner. If you're not familiar with 4-H, it's judged on the Danish system, meaning everyone gets a ribbon. It's rather like grades at school, some kids get A's, some B's and so on. Darling earned blue ribbons in all ten of her classes. The other girls in our club also earned blues in all of their classes. The club earned a plaque for Inspirational Club of the Week. All told, it was a great week. We're glad to be home, however, and in our own beds!

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Saturday, August 11, 2007


Quiet Storm was a bit of a pain yesterday.

Actually, a big pain.

It all started when I decided to go out and get on Jet in the early morning before anyone else was out of bed. I'd been on her the night before, asking her to turn left and right and getting her used to me asking for things from on top of her. The following morning I mounted up again and this time encouraged her to step forward a little. We did some lovely turns and even got some figure eights.

Once finished with her, I brought Sunny into the paddock and saddled her. As I'd done a couple times before, I put my foot into the stirrup to get her used to the mounting motion, lifting myself up and laying across the saddle on my stomach. We've done that before, and she's beginning to accept it. This time I decided to push for a little more and ran my hand over her butt to give her the feel of a leg crossing over. I almost wanted to just do it, but instead resisted and let my hand reach down onto that sensitive right side instead. I moved the stirrup a bit, and that was enough to set off the fireworks. Out she shot from under me; leaving me in the dirt on my hands and knees with a twisted ankle and bruised, sore knee. I was pretty shaken as I made my way to the rail to just sit for a moment.

It stung, and my ankle was hurting. Not broken, I didn't think, just a bad twist. I shook it off and walked back to Sunny, who was now standing on the opposite side of the paddock with a dazed look on her face. I walked up to her and, despite the stiffness that was beginning to set it, bounced back up and down in the stirrup so we could end on an upnote instead of leaving her with images of me in the dust. She stood and tolerated my bouncing from both the left and right side, and I then turned her loose and fed her breakfast.

An hour later the farrier showed up. Cheryle was there to do Jet's first trim, and Quiet Storm needed to be done as well. My knee was swelling and getting stiff, my ankle was less than good. Darling started out holding Jet, but a friend came over to groom sheep with her, so I was then left with holding onto a two year old who wasn't so sure this pedicure idea was the best idea. But, she was good and aside from being on my feet longer than I probably should have been, both she and I were fine.

Then it was Quiet Storm's turn. This girl's been done before, so there shouldn't have been any problem. But...she's impatient. She doesn't like to be told what to do, either. And the fact that there was green grass beneath her feet didn't help matters at all. She pushed and turned and was acting like a spoiled brat. But the real stinker in her came out when she decided to reach out and strike with her front leg...and what did she connect with? My bad knee!

Let me tell you, I completely forgot that I could barely hobble as I sent her backwards faster than she's ever gone. Stinker. The word is too good for her! She was nearly as hard as Jet to get done, except with her it was just orneryness. I think we'll have to do her hoof work in the paddock where she's not distracted by green grass.

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

First Ride!

Jet makes a smooth turn while in the pasture.

Two firsts here today!

Although it was the second time swinging myself into the saddle on board Jet, today was the first time I asked her to move while I was up there. She wasn't so sure about the whole forward motion thing while I was up top instead of leading her, but she tried.

Actually, what she did was turn. Close enough to forward, right? I asked her to give her nose and her shoulders just followed. And man, oh man! What a smooth turn! Poll level with her withers, not raising her head up a bit, she just began crossing those front legs over and pivoting so smoothly that I was shocked nearly out of the saddle. I've ridden a number of broke horses who couldn't turn so well! No photos of the event; Darling was out in the woods somewhere and City Boy has been fired as my back up photographer :)

Eventually we managed a few steps forward. They were sandwiched in between left and right turns, but that was okay. She was calm and quiet and cautious; far preferable to jumpy and nervous. All in all, I was on board for about five minutes. Five wonderful, glorious minutes.

But those five minutes weren't alone in our firsts today. Sunny also had a first. I'd never figured I'd be the first one on her, given her small stature and my, er, not so small size. No, I figured her good friend, Tait, would be the first on board. As it turns out, Rufus was the one who sat in the saddle first. Yup! Cowpup Up!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Every Now and Then...

...I take a peek at my blog stats. Blog stats are fun because you can see how many people visit your site on a daily basis, where they come from and how long they stay. It's not 100% accurate, of course, but it gives you a feel for whether or not your blog is being seen.

Around here, I get a whopping 20-50 readers a day; usually closer to the lower number. At Carpenter Creek, that number is just over 100 per day. Nothing compared to some blogs out there. Fun, just the same, to see.

This evening I was taking a look see at the stats for the Diaries here and noticed that one of the referring links was this one: Interesting, I thought; an EMM blog that I haven't seen before! Naturally, I had to click the link and check it out. Not many posts, but certainly gives you a feel for how quickly mustangs take to training.

I recently came across someone who stated they'd never met a trainable mustang, nor one that was good looking. They were pleasantly surprised by pictures of both Jet and Sunny, and seemed genuinely interested in knowing more about their trainability. You know me...think about turning the knob on the door and you'll have me barging right on in with my mustang love!

But back to the folks who came to visit...they haven't got a place to comment on their blog. I was so disappointed, as they even have a link here to the Diaries, and I wanted to thank them. So Zane and Holly, if you read this...Thank You for adding my blog to your links. And please, please enable comments to your blog so we can visit and tell you how wonderful we think you're doing. And be sure to know that I'll be sending folks who doubt a mustang to can be trained to see the quick progress of Algore (good golly, you crack me up with that name! And I really think you need to explain yourselves, lol!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A busy couple of weeks

Next week is our local county fair. Darling and I will have the sheep up there and be camping, so no horsing around. In fact, we've been pretty darn busy of late just getting prepared, so the horses have been a bit neglected.

I set up a few panels between the stalls, making a rather creatively shaped coral off from each stall. With the gate from the round pen panels that City Boy bought me a couple months ago, I can lead horses from one side to the other. What I can't do is get the wheel barrow back and forth because the ground is uneven and the gate is six inches off the ground on one side. Thankfully, Sunny poops pretty close to the gate, making it easy to scoop up and carry to the wheel barrow on the other side.

I know...just the sort of thing you wanted to come and read about, right? But what I was meaning to say is that I've now got three paddocks, one for each filly, so that they'll be safely confined while Darling and I are away. Not happy, but safe. They'd much rather be out in the pasture even though there's a severe lack of grass.

Sunny is becoming more and more comfortable of late, even so bold as to snatch a mouthful of hay as Darling was carrying a flake to Quiet Storm. She's still turning her hind quarters towards me some days, but can be caught without too much effort even in the pasture. She's far better when she's out there alone; if there's a buddy with her, she moves them in between us and hides. Smart girl!

Three things for you to do...

Thing 1: Click the button that says Vote For Me over there to the right. Yes, that's the one; the one that mentions visiting me at Carpenter Creek. Click it. Click it now.

Thing 2: Click the other link; the one that says something about top horse sites. Seems to be a very small following and really relates to nothing in terms of good horsey blogs to read, but I do so enjoy seeing my name up in lights. I'd just prefer to see it in the top ten than the top twenty. So click, click it good.

Thing 3: Put up with my goofy photography today.

From this...

to this...

"No, officer, I haven't been eating any mushrooms today...why do you ask?"

From this...

to this...

Why? Because I can... And because you'll come back for more...

Okay...that's all. Nothing more. Git along, little doggies. (For whatever reason, blogger won't allow me to stop using the bloody annoying is that?)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Sunny finds a home

Sunny, still down at Steve and Janice Reppert's back in January

At home, missing her lead rope and full of lice.

If you pop into Carpenter Creek on a regular basis, you'll know that I've been contemplating Sunny's future of late. Because of a lack of stalls here, keeping her through the winter isn't a possibility. But sending her to a new home isn't something I'm completely comfortable with, either. Who will put the effort into that little filly the way I have?

Well, several people; any of you, undoubtedly! But finding folks who'll understand and appreciate her in the local scene will be a difficult task to say the least. My biggest fear is that someone will become frustrated when she doesn't respond like they think she ought to and end up losing their temper. The best intentions often fail us, but Sunny deserves not to be failed. She's come so far!

The lice were so thick that they looked like fleas. Sunny had huge bald spots for a couple of weeks.

But it seems that a home, at least for now, has been found for Sunny. One of my readers took pity on me and offered her a home. And just who would that reader be? None other than City Boy!

Not a huge fan of horses in general, he had no problem telling me that I'd 'never be able to train that horse'. He's also a reader of my blog and when he read how concerned I was about this girl, he broke down and pulled money out of his retirement savings so that we can afford to add onto the barn. Meaning that until Sunny is truly ready to move on to bigger and better things, she's got a home here with us.

Sunny's $300 hoof trim would have sent any non-horsey husband over the edge!

These days, Sunny shows great promise.


A quick post script here! There are new designs at Mustang Fever! Great back to school T's, too, featuring wild horses, and western theme photography. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Jet, the day she came home.

I'm not an expert in this area...are you? I've not had a horse with them before.

While we were at the adoption in June, one of the fillies that really caught my eye also had some scaring on her pastern. It was open and bleeding a bit, and I wasn't sure if it was a fresh wound or an older one that had been banged up a bit on the trip from Burns to Monroe. That, combined with the fact that Darling really preferred Jet, caused me not to bring her home.

At the adoption; do you see the splint and scar tissue?

I tend to go over the horses with a fine tooth comb, even if they aren't on my potential adoptee list, when they're in the adoption pens. Which is why I was blown away to find a splint on Jet's left foreleg when we got her home. Not only that, but she appeared to have some swelling in the pastern. At first I thought perhaps she'd banged herself up in the trailer ride home, but Darling said she'd seen it while in Monroe. Way to go, Darling...pick your favorite horse and don't tell Mom you see a potential problem! But in all fairness, Darling had no clue what a shin splint was.

Not only had I not seen the splint, I didn't notice what appeared to be swelling on the pastern. Jet's left foreleg was all scuffed up, so I hoped the the swelling was just temporary. But after a couple of days I was up close and personal enough to realize there was scar tissue.
A close up of Jet's foreleg...same pic as above.

So, here's the deal: I'd been toying with the idea of doing some reining with Jet. I've never done it before, but it's always seemed like so much fun. But the splint may get in the way of that, right? I've been reading up on them and it would seem they're more cosmetic than harmful as time goes on, but that hard work may be worrisome. So...reining at the higher levels most definitely would be thrown into the hard work category, don't you think? And the scar tissue on her pastern...who knows how that's going to effect her as time passes. No clue if Jet has the talent...or me the money, for that do anything more than a few fun, lower level classes, but should I even go there if this is something that is going to put too much stress on her foreleg?

"Scars tell a story", says Darling. I wonder what Jet's story is? How did she end up with these scars at such a tender age? And how will they effect her as she matures? Perhaps those trail challenges and extreme cowboy races will be more suitable to her than reining?