Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sunny's New Home

Snow, that objectionable white stuff, fell from the sky on Monday night, covering our land with a wet, white blanket. I'm not a snow person. It's pretty up there on the hill, but I'm not fond of it when it interferes with my life. And Tuesday morning when I got up, I felt interfered with. Sunny was to be going to her new home, and I didn't want to have to deal with poor road conditions.

Thankfully, the temps rose up to 40 and the roads, although wet, were clear. The day proceeded as planned. Well, almost. I was going to borrow Nancy's horse trailer but found that my truck lights weren't compatible with her trailer lights. Thankfully, Nancy also owns a truck and the two of us piled into it, along with Molly the Pug, and continued on with the day's plan.

Sunny wasn't sure about the trailer. It's been nearly 10 months since she was last in one, but she didn't panic or throw a hissy fit. Rather, she stood on the outside looking in until I decided we'd looked enough and ran the rope around her back end. Still took another minute, but she jumped in and made the ride without any complaint. Unloading was easy as pie. Such a sound minded little horse! I guess every horse has to have a hang up; too bad Sunny's hangup is her fear of people.

In anycase, I felt good about her new owner. I think I'll have them shorten up the length of her pasture until they can get a bit more familiar with her. It's much larger than she's used to and I know she'll use it's size to her advantage when it comes to catching her up. A smaller space will mean she'll have to work harder to stay away, and since she already knows she'd prefer not working in circles, it shouldn't take them long to get her mind on track (and behavior!) Once she gives up in the small pen, she'll be fine in the large one as well.

Hope you enjoyed the journey with Sunny here on the Diaries. Here are a few last photos of her settling into her new home.

New owner, new home.

Sally the mustang and a gray Arab say hello.

Sunny loves dogs...good thing because they own three!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Does it need a frame like the one below?

To pass the time these past couple days I've been playing a lot with Photoshop and some pics that I took while in Burns. There's a lot I really don't know how to do, but just sitting and working on it layer by layer helps. Biggest problem is I forget how many copies I have, some with merged layers, some without, some I save as jpg and others I forget...before long I've got a dozen of the same photo saved and when I go to find it in the files, I can't figure out which one is the right one for the job!

Curiosity killed the cat, which is why this foal is rather cautious.

Mares at dusk

"The Old Man"
Beatty's Butte Stallion

Sunday, November 25, 2007

You Scratch My Back...

...but don't expect me to scratch your's in return.

That's become Firecracker's motto these past few days. She's graduated from the lariat to the back scratcher. I tried using the handle end of the apple picker first, hoping it would be a good substitute for the bamboo pole I don't own. However, Firecracker wanted nothing to do with it. I got a pretty strong fear response, so set it aside. Wondering what else might work, I spotted some long, thin branches that had come down in last weeks windstorm. Perfect!

There's no reason why the branch should work when the handle of the apple picker didn't. But then, there's no reasoning with the psyche of a horse, either. For whatever reason, the branch was acceptable and after a less than frantic trot around the paddock with the stick sitting upon her back, Firecracker turned to face me. I began working the branch back and forth over her shoulders and withers. She stood patiently, a bit tense, licking her lips.

Over the weekend I've managed to get into her space, providing I've got that branch. Without it, she moves away. With it, she settles down and lets me into her bubble. I've even gotten a couple of passes with my finger tips across her shoulder and down her barrel before fright takes over.

She's not as lopsided as Sunny; although she bends more easily to the left and wasn't sure about me standing on the right side, it's the right side is where she's the most comfortable after a week of my coming and going. Not as supple, but she's learning. One thing that always brings a smile to my face is that I can reach over with the branch and lift the lead rope up off the ground, and as soon as she sees it she stops and follows it. I can almost lunge her with a dead tree branch, lol!

In other mustang happenings here, Sunny's prospective owner called this weekend and she's gotten approval from her fellow land owners to bring Sunny home. We'll need to get her official paperwork filled out, of course, but we're expecting to be able to move her this week. For all the distress I went through with this girl earlier this fall, wondering just how I'd be able to give her up, I'm feeling really good. They clicked~connected. I have no doubts that this is going to work for her and am happy to see her in a good, loving home.

Another change will be happening this week as well, one that brings tears to my eyes. Quiet Storm has been sold. I've only ever cried twice before when parting company with a horse, and I never expected it to happen with this one. But it has. She's headed to a wonderful, caring home in Oregon, but the chances that we'll ever see her again range somewhere between slim and nothing. There is just something extra special about that filly; she's been my daughter's best friend, her confidant, and her esteem builder. To watch them both learn together has been a treat few people ever witness. Even City Boy's face fell when I told him her new owner's would be here on Sunday to pick her up. He considers Quiet Storm to be his puppy, his barn building buddy.

And so it is that we head into a difficult week, one that will be filled with bittersweet rides and goodbyes.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Firecracker is learning that all good things come from me. Well, at least food. She perks up her ears and waits for me to walk into her paddock with an armload of hay each morning. The other horses are nickering, but she stays silent. She's not looking forward to it that much...not yet.

The past couple of days she's allowed me into her space and even reached out with her nose to sniff my face and blow warm air out her nostrils, fogging up my glasses in our cool November air. I have to bend down a bit before she feels comfortable, and usually its in 'her' corner, where she stands alongside the fence with Quiet Storm acting as her moral support system on the other side. Whatever it takes, right?

I may go out and get a pvc pipe such as Nikki suggested. The rope doesn't bother her coming either from the left or the right. Although she's definitely more left sided than right, it's nothing like Sunny and I can still get over on that side and she's learning to give a lot more readily than she was a week ago.

She's also letting me approach into her space to pick up the end of the lead rope a lot more willingly (as in, I can get within 4 feet of her before she becomes nervous), and when it's in my hand she immediately turns towards me, ready to take a step or two forward. I think I'm going to rearrange my panels, though, when I get in to work with her from now on. She's needing something a bit more round in shape to keep her from getting stuck in corners.

Hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Daily Grind

And so the daily grind begins.

I'm upset with myself for trying that short little rake. Not long enough to be effective. In the video it looks like I'm chasing her with it, but it was positioned there at her hip for the most part and even sat on her a couple of times. I can see how the bamboo pole would work, but for me the lariat will suffice. It takes a bit longer, but has the same effect.

Yesterday I was able to rub the coiled end of my rope on Firecracker's nose. She's reached out to touch me and yesterday she ate out of my hands while I held the hay. After just a few days she's already working out the fear issues that have plagued Sunny all along. If we could just get some dry days, I'd be able to spend a bit more time with her and she'd likely come along quite fast.

Speaking of Sunny, someone came to see her this weekend. She put on her frightened little horse show for them and they weren't scared away. They're big into Parelli, and while I'm not a fan I know that they'll have the skills needed to work with her at this stage of her training. After spending a few minutes with her, Sunny began to relax and do what the woman asked as far as giving to pressure, leading and even trotting for her (we've done that a few times but I didn't expect she'd trot for a stranger.)

That was Saturday; the woman left saying she was in love but that it was something they needed to discuss as a family. I didn't hear back on Sunday and was disappointed. But yesterday she called and said they just needed to work out a few details, but that they wanted her.

I feel very good about this match. The woman was soft and sensitive to Sunny's fears, but also didn't back away from her when Sunny refused to do something. She seemed to know just when to stop asking and recognized when the eyes went soft and willing. They've already got 2 mustangs, but haven't ever had one this green before. Sunny's the perfect step for them as she's always wanted one that's wild; with Sunny she'll have the opportunity to work on developing trust and a bond without having to mess with the 'how to touch a wild horse' or the added fencing requirements. She also uses Cheryle as a farrier, and Cheryle gave her a good reference. That gives me a peace, because I've been so concerned about finding the right home for this girl. She'll always hold a special place in my heart.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Little Darlin' Has a Firecracker!

Darling was having a hard time coming up with a name. A Spanish online translator was in use every spare minute as she searched for the perfect description of her horse. Nothing she found either sounded right or could be pronounced by our thick German tongues. While the two of us sat and watched a couple of music videos Saturday morning, Josh Turner's Firecracker came on. I laughed and said that would be a good name.

Darling had yet to see her new girl get down and dirty. "She's not a firecracker, she's too calm," was all she said. I just smiled.

Later in the day Darling brought her camera out while I went into the pen with the nameless filly. She'd been dragging an 8 foot lead rope; not long enough for me to just pick up the end of it and start working her with bending and giving to pressure. It was long enough, however, to get me hurt if she decided to turn and kick in fear should I reach for it. So what were my options?

You already know I'm not a flag person, but I must admit to being intrigued by Kitty Lauman's bamboo pole method. I had nothing that was light weight and eight feet long, however, and the next best thing was my little rake with the flag at the end of it that's I'd used on Sunny a couple months ago. reason not to give it chance number four, right?

The goal was to reach out and place the rake on her inside hip, letting it ride along as she circled around me in hopes that she'd get used to something touching her and realize it wasn't going to eat her. That was the goal...but here was the reality:

I should know better. I don't like flags or sticks and neither do my horses. I'm sure part of the problem was that my stick was just too short to do the job...but you know what? I've got a rope! I love my lariat and it does the same trick, only it's softer. Sunny accepted it straight off and so did...yes, Darling decided after the gate crashing incident to call her Firecracker.

A couple of jumps to avoid the swinging of my arm, she came to realize that nothing bad was happening and stood with the rope dangling over her back, allowing it to fall over her shoulders and down the off side, bumping up against her legs without being frightened.

That was Saturday. By the end of 15 minutes, she was letting me pick up the end of the lead rope and giving her face. Sunday she let me touch her nose. Briefly, but it was a touch. With the weather being cold and nasty, I'm only spending a few minutes at a day with her, so I'm very pleased that she's allowed me into her space. She gave nicely to pressure, turning both left and right and came to the realization that nothing was going to eat her.

Friday, November 16, 2007

She's Home

Darling's new filly came home last night. The weather was wet and wild, and we didn't get her home til nearly dark. Still managed to snap a few new photos of her.

She didn't have any trouble figuring out how to eat from a manger, but the water gave her difficulties. Not that it's anything extraordinarily different; it's just a tub with water in it parked out in the paddock. But for whatever reason she felt disinclined to drink from it. Hence, when I went out this morning to feed, she was all tucked up and looking a great deal thinner than she had when she climbed out of the trailer last night.

At some point during the day she determined that she was thirsty and that the tub wasn't so terribly bad after all. Of course it was after I'd been out cleaning and she'd ran over it and dumped the water all over the ground. That left her with an empty water tub rather than one to gain refreshment from. She grabbed at it and lifted it into the air to protest it's emptiness, then dropped it and placed a hoof inside and tried to dig for something wet. When that didn't work, she left and returned to her hay and I came with the hose to fill it. She didn't bother to say thank you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What is it About Kigers?

Aside from the small bit of white on her forehead, this mare has near perfect markings.

To be honest, I don't know. Walking around the corrals this weekend I found myself drawn to very few Kigers, but several other mustangs from Beatty's Butte or Jackie's Butte. And yet, Kiger's have managed to capture the hearts of many.

I suppose it's like any breed of horse and their following. Quarter Horses, Arabians, Halflinger...they all have their 'peeps' who swear there's no other. I'm just as bad with mustangs, although I'm not limited to one particular type of mustang. I just love the blank slate they come with.
Gray is not a desirable color as it creates a silver dun in the offspring; highly undesirable in a Kiger breeding program. This stallion is 17 and was captured at Riddle Mountain.

Kiger Mustangs are different than the other free roaming horses in the west due to their Spanish heritage. While other herds are a blend of ranch horses, cavalry mounts and the like, Kigers are the direct descendants of the horses brought over by the Spanish; they're thought to be the purest strain of Spanish horse left in the wild today.

This pretty boy had many people talking. Exhibits the classic Kiger look, but because he was captured at Beatty's Butte, he can't be registered.

The original Kigers were found on Beatty's Butte by BLM employee, Ron Harding, in 1971. He noted that these horses were different than the other mustangs that the BLM had been dealing with. A group of these horses were gathered, genetic testing was done, and high levels of Spanish markers were found, linking the Kiger Mustang to the horses the Spaniards brought over in the 1600s. Two new Herd Management Areas (HMAs) were set aside so that these horses would continue to remain pure. They can be found in the Kiger or Riddle Mt HMAs.

Group of Kiger colts waiting to be adopted.

There are currently three different Kiger registries in the U.S., all of them battling it out in terms of what's acceptable and what isn't for a Kiger. The original registry is the Kiger Mesteno Association, founded in 1988.

When it comes to spending big money on a Kiger, the public is looking for color. Classic coloring for a Kiger is dun with a black mane, tail, dorsal stripe and stockings. Black muzzles, webbing on the face, tips of ears, tiger striping and shoulder barring are highly sought after. White is acceptable, but not desirable. Long, blond streaks extending from the crest of the neck down into the mane are prized. Many people also are drawn to the grulla coloring, a lovely smokey blue with dorsal stripe such as the colt below.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

When Does No Not Mean No?

I like this photo...Darling took it.

When your 13 year old snatches your cell phone away from you and answers (after seeing it's her father)..."Daddy...???"

So there I was, shivering in the cold of south eastern Oregon, telling everyone that no, I was not bringing home another horse, my barn is full, when DD effectively bats her eyes at a man who doesn't give me the time of day, and over the phone at that, manages to talk him into letting her buy another mustang. "I'll sell Quiet Storm..." she says sweetly. I had told her she needed to sell first, but did Daddy? [I]Nooooo[/I].....

But wait, I didn't sign up to bid on any Kigers, so I was at least safe, right? No, they'll let us take one of the other horses through the walk up adoption process. Silly me...I should have known. DD marches herself straight on down to the mares and fillies, finds a couple and we ask The Nice Wendy Lady if she's had them there long enough to get to know them. Not really, but the couple DD has picked out didn't stand out in her mind as being crazy. However, she'd say they were 4-5 years, and luckily that's older than I wanted DD to take home.
Brown Kiger

Not that we had a truck or trailer with us. But as a friend said before I took off, "Any fool knows you can rent a truck and trailer..." Didn't take DD long to find my former friend Steve and ask for a ride home for a horse. Didn't take my former friend Steve to point out there had been a nice little Kiger filly left behind during the first round of bidding because she wasn't a dun (the sought after color.) Also didn't take my former friend Steve long to hand DD his bidders number when I said we couldn't because we hadn't registered. Steve is no longer my friend. But he[I] is [/I]DD's friend...

Somehow I'm feeling plotted against. But I must admit that I think DD got a steal of a deal. She paid the base price of $125 when the other fillies in this age range were going for $2000, and only because she was the wrong color. Of course, we've never paid more than the base, but the reason I'm rather smiling over this one is that the filly was likely mis labeled...she's got a very clear line down her back if you get close enough, which we did with the telephoto lens of the camera.

Friday, November 9, 2007


A couple quick pics for you this morning! Couple of horses in the corrals plus Kitty Lauman during her demo. We're running late so gotta go for now!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

On the Road Again

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Darling and I are headed out in a couple of hours. Not sure how far we'll get or if we'll even get a connection tonight, but I'm bringing the laptop and camera (of course!) and should be able to give you up to date coverage of the Kiger adoption this weekend.

The adoption is being held on Saturday, with loading of horses Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Darling and I will have our little booth there and hopefully sell enough to make the trip worthwhile. Or should I say, make me being stuck inside the vendor area rather than out looking at the horses worthwhile! Of course, we'll still get plenty of photos for y'all to drool over.

I'd better run outside and feed my own girls, then I've got to finish packing and run pick Darling up (she's only taking two classes so we can get an earlier start!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Got a Little Wild Yesterday

Alladin, a Spanish Mustang

Yesterday I grabbed my friend, Steve, and we headed down to check on a mustang. Alladin was part of a 30 horse seizure earlier this year, unfortunately just one of many such cases that Animal Control has been called in on. He was placed with a young lady south of Seattle. Unable to do much with him, she handed him over to a friend, who decided that perhaps she, too, was in over her head.

Alladin is about 4 years old. It turns out he was a rather a friendly sort. According to his owner, he'd supposedly even been ridden at some point before he'd been removed from his former home. But given half the opportunity (and stealing away with the rest) he'd managed to convince everyone around him that he couldn't be handled. He'd let you stand next to him, he'd check to see if you'd brought any treats, and he'd sometimes allow you to touch him. But that was it.

Steve brought his handy lariat along and we set out to catch us a wild horse. Steve is also a volunteer with the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program and is the person who'd kept Sunny earlier this year while we were waiting to process paperwork. Sunny had rubbed her halter off as well...twice...and Steve had roped her in order to get it back on. I figured he'd be useful to have around.

Steve got out his rope and made an attempt at throwing it over the horse's head. Missed. Another toss. Another miss. Alladin's pasture was just too big for someone on foot to get a good shot, especially when that someone doesn't throw ropes for a living. A smaller pen and he'd have had the horse in no time. But with enough room to outrun the lasso, we had a lot of close landings but nothing more. Alladin had been roped before and knew to duck his head just enough to send the rope skimming across the top of his head. close!

After playing cowboys and wild horses for a good 20 minutes, Alladin decided he needed a break. He ran to his favorite corner to hide; except I was there. That's when the game switched to good cowgirl, bad cowboy. I was the lesser of two evils, so with one eye warily on Steve, the gelding stood and let me scratch his neck for a minute before taking off again. Another 20 minutes of this game and Alladin began to wear out. It didn't matter where he went, he was either dodging ropes from Steve or finding himself standing next to me and my halter. The halter was beginning to look like the easy way out. A couple minutes later and he was allowing me to slip the halter over his nose. We left the halter on him hoping that he wouldn't rub it off and that his owner would now be able to catch him and work on handling him a bit more.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Almost Too Much...

I wanted to talk about Sunny and our walk yesterday. But really, it was uneventful. Which is good, and I could elaborate, but something else has popped into my little brain here, and it's filling it up with thoughts that I simply must put somewhere.

You may recall my posting about a rescue that was advertising a couple of mustangs at a feedlot in Washington. They've gotten a pretty bad reputation, especially when people began finding out that these same folks had run another rescue which was shut down due to neglect.

Compared to the rescue I read about the other day, they look like saints.

A message popped up at the mustang forum, it was titled "Mustangs Needing Help." Of course, that got my interest up and I read the message:

"Mustangs must go.
It comes down to the sad truth of the matter. Due to the drought and the
lack of concern for horses by most people (you all are excluded) the
mustangs must go and go now I can’t feed them anymore. There are being fed
but hay is just too much to buy and have shipped here. For us to have enough
have it would cost $15,000 (hay and shipping) and we are tired of footing
the expense from our personal funds. These unwanted horses need a home ASAP.
Please don’t donate any funds it is over and we are tired of fighting the
rescue will be shut down as soon as the paperwork can be done. Thank you for
your support I am sorry to be such a failure. Tom"

His website was attached, so I went for a visit to see what was going on. The home page was a plea for feed. They had 18 horses to feed and nothing to offer them. As I read, I was appalled. These horses had been rescued from SlickGardner originally; he'd had over 500 horses, half of which were BLM mustangs, and was charged with 9 felony counts. Several rescues stepped in, one of those being the Laughing Horse rescue run by Tom.

Slick Gardner's mustangs in a holding corral

The fact that Laughing Horse stepped in to help should have been a good thing. But as Tom said on his website, they'd thought they were getting six horses, but instead there were ten delivered. Nearly double what he expected. Tom didn't bother to separate these horses, and unfortunately he had both stallions and mares. The result? Those mustangs of his bred more successfully at his supposed rescue than they would have if they'd been left in the wild. Three years later he had 18 horses; they'd nearly doubled in herd size!

The Laughing Horse website claims there's no such thing as unwanted horses...or at least it did until Tom put up his new home page. I'd link to it, but it was totally off color. Tom's not happy with what people are saying about him, it seems. But it doesn't appear to be the fact that he's been irresponsibly breeding horses that are unwanted, rather that someone found out he was using these same horses for a little bestiality side business.

I know...not what you wanted to read this morning. Me either. Maybe I should have just stuck to Sunny...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Remember, You Saw it Here First!

I've posted before about my friend, Curt, and his bull. He trains cutting horses here in WA state and for as long as I've known him he's been using this wonderful creature known as Hdra Bull.

The Hydra Bull keeps your horse on a fresh cow all the time. Cattle, like any animal, can get sour when over used. The cost of feed is sky rocketing out of control. Hydra Bull eats very little in comparison. And he's light on his toes. Er...wheels.

Seems Curt and his good friend Bob (who's daughter I used to ride with way back in the day...although she was a little girl) have joined forces and are now producing ol' HB for use by other trainers. They've even setting up clinics! I want to ride in a clinic...but I'm broke. Not to mention my horse isn't trained. Do you think Curt would mind my untrained horse coming to a clinic? Yeah...he may.

I think I'm going to send Curt some photos I've taken of HB and maybe he can use them on his website.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Got Kigers?

Going to Kiger Fest? Looks like Darling and I will be! We'll hit the road as soon as she's out of school on Thursday of next week. Being as it's a very long drive, and we're getting a late start, we'll have to spend the night somewhere along the way. I'm considering the Portland area, but not sure yet. May try traveling to the east a bit.

I've been working on getting products ready, such as the image above. That's Riddler, a Kiger Mustang that lives at the Wild Horse Corrals. I'm putting him on some T-shirts. I've got his image on bumper stickers, mugs and more on my Cafe Press website as well as a few other Kiger images. They'll only be up for the month of November, so if you're thinking you'd like something Kiger keep that in mind.

My goal while there is to "Fill the Barn" by selling enough products to purchase a couple hundred bales of hay. I'm setting up a raffle and will be raffling off six felted horses, all modeled after one of the Kigers that will be there for adoption. Karen Noland, who's husband Ted was in the Extreme Mustang Makeover, will be donating a copy of her book, Providence, as well.

Naturally, I plan on having my camera and laptop along with me so as not to deprive you of photos of the event while it's happening!

I'm also taking a few more orders for felted horses. If you want one by Christmas let me know. $25 each, s/h $5 for up to five ornaments. Do I sound like a major blogging infomercial these days, or what? this, buy that, visit this site and that...LOL! Well, so be it, at least for today.

For anyone wondering how they can help the horses in San Diego, Kate from High Sierra Wild Horse Sanctuary has provided a link. Just click on the donations page. They're trying to get hay delivered for anyone with horses in need.