Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sandy Learns a Lesson

See? There's a line!

Crazy days ahead. Curt heads in for surgery tomorrow and will be spending the night at the hospital. For most folks that alone is bad enough, but they've got a barn full of horses that need attending to while they're gone. Unfortunately, one of the mare's is due tomorrow as well, and she's been waxing up the past couple of days.

Tangy isn't a very big mare, but her belly is huge! In fact, when I first got a good look at her a month ago I had to wonder if it may be twins. I was told by someone else that she always got big and it was just her diminutive size. But this morning Curt said with a bit of worry that he was afraid this was either one big baby or twins... Tangy has had trouble the last two pregnancies, so Curt is especially concerned that somethings going to happen while he's away.

Jay popped in about 2 this afternoon. I'd had Sandy out earlier in the day and worked him in the round pen as well as over the poles. I saddled him up a second time and handed Jay the reins as I went for my helmet. Jay headed to the round pen and when I caught up, Sandy had put it in park. Jay chuckled that he wanted his mamma, I smiled and walked past them into the pen and assumed Sandy would follow. Nope. Nothing doing. In his mind he'd worked once and that was it.

Jay's a big guy. He wasn't going to put up with Sandy's refusal. He stepped back alongside and swatted him with the end of the lead rope in an effort to send the horse forward. And so began the battle! Sandy shot backwards just as he'd done here at home so many times early on, but Jay is stronger than I am and didn't let go. His dad used to train race horses and Jay's job had been to hang on tight! That early training has served him well when it comes to battling a horse and Sandy had no clue what he was in for.

Jay sent Sandy in small circles at the end of the lead rope, then tried again to lead him into the pen. Again Sandy refused, and again he felt the end of the rope. Over and over, around and around, the two of them spent a good ten minutes out there in the driveway. Sandy splashed mud all over both of them. At one point he decided he was going to try to rear just like he used to do at home; he popped up and threw his weight into his shoulder in an attempt to break free. Jay is one tough cookie, though, and gave a strong pull which caused Sandy to lose his footing and sent him rolling to the ground.

Still...he was a glutton for punishment. Each time Jay thought the horse had had enough, he'd stop and pet him, tell him he was good and try to lead him forward once again. And each time they reached the gate Sandy would plant all four. Finally Jay had enough and led him briskly to the outdoor arena.

"Don't want to work in the round pen? Well, guess what?"

And before long Sandy had a sweat worked up from trotting hard, fast circles in sloppy, wet sand. It was much harder to do that than anything else he'd been asked to do! After another ten minutes, Jay handed me a second lead rope and told me to follow along and if Sandy acted like he was about to apply the brakes, to 'encourage' him from behind. My pleasure! I swung the rope about at my side and that's all it took for the horse to see out of the corner of his eye. He trotted right out alongside Jay and walked promptly into the round pen!

After that, life got easy. He stood for me to mount and let me walk and trot in circles, stopped, did nice pivots and turns. His whoa is getting better, he struggles a bit with turns to the left, but overall both Jay and Curt feel good about me riding without the lead in the coming days!

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

And We've Got A...

...line backed dun!

Sandy is shedding out nicely this week, and I was just a wee bit delighted in the fact that the stripe down his back has stayed while the rest of his winter coat has changed to a deep, dark gold. Not sure how he got labeled bay by the BLM; must have been his winter coat when they decided on his color. He's even got barring on his shoulders!

Jay's been away the past four days, so Curt came out with me today. I'd been working Sandy for about 20 minutes from the ground when he showed up at the gate. He's not worked with Sandy before due to his bruised ribs and aneurysm, but he knew I couldn't stay on the ground another day so out he came. Sandy gave a wee snort, but nothing much, and before long he was learning to work for Curt. Curt's body language is different than mine, so Sandy wasn't completely convinced at first, but after a few circles each way Curt decided it would be fine, so off to the round pen we went.

Curt works differently in the round pen, too. He expects more of a horse. Sandy's got a good foundation and Jay works nice and quiet. Curt moves a horse out a bit more, and I was told to sit down and hang onto that horn. It was a good thing I grabbed hold quickly because he sent Sandy right out into a brisk trot. Before we completed the first circle there was a bit of air between me and the saddle! I don't know if that back end of his dropped out from under him as he started to scramble for a lope or not, I just did as I was told and hung on! The reins were lose and Sandy was back under Curt's control before two strides had been taken, facing up to the old trainer and wondering what he was going to be asked to do next.

The next ten minutes were filled with fast stops and rollback turns as Curt sent us first one direction, then the other. It was fast paced and Sandy learned that whoa meant right now, today, and maybe even yesterday! Set your a$$ in the ground and stop, in other words!

And that was it. Short but sweet. Later in the day I walked Sandy out to the front thinking I may turn him out into the outdoor arena, but we'd had a killer rain last night and the sand was far too slick. Curt had been gone and pulled his car into the driveway while we were out there. He opened and closed his door a few times to see what Sandy's reaction would be. I smiled and gave Sandy a rub on the face, my back to Curt but knowing what he was up to. "You got ahold of him?" he hollered, and I replied that I did. He then cut loose on his horn. It didn't phase Sandy in the least.

For those of you of a praying mind, Curt is headed into surgery for his aortic aneurysm on Thursday. Please pray for a speedy recovery!

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Week Seven Review

He likes me! He really likes me!!

Two and a half weeks until Ride The West and the Spokane adoption.

Four weeks until I pack up and head out for Sacramento.

Five weeks and it will be finished.

I think I'd better talk those cowboys into letting me ride just a bit more, don't you? I'm not too concerned about loping at this point. I want a rock solid walk and trot in the next two weeks, then we'll start loping. And he's got to learn not to fret when there's a crowd. That's number one on his to do list.

Sandy's Seventh Week:

1) Rode in arena

2) Turn out in outdoor arena and introduced to traffic (no big deal!)

3) Lunged in arena with another horse

4) Stood at arena gate while the Hydra Bull was running inside

5) Saw cattle on the other side of the arena fence

6) Comes up to be caught, even outdoors

7) Nickered when he saw me!!!

It's a short list, but powerful. He relaxes quickly now when new things are introduced. He's happier in larger spaces (no surprise to me) and outside than in the round pen. This week's goal is to get him used to working with several horses in the arena at the same time as him, and of course to start riding solo!

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


This is why we suffer through months of wet torture...the sun was out and it was a simply stunning day! Snow still sits up upon the hills in the distance, the sky is blue and the air is fresh and warm. Perfect for a day outside in the outdoor arena!

This was Sandy's first trip into the outdoor arena. I led him around the rail when we first entered, then turned him loose to play. He stood there and wondered what he was supposed to do, so I swung the end of the lead a few times. He finally began to trot around me, but wasn't too excited. A few cars, trucks and even motorcycles went past without rattling him. Curt came out after a little while and did a bit of whistling as Sandy circled me on the lunge line. He never did snort, but looked at Curt with some doubt and side stepped to avoid him. After a few minutes he relaxed and trotted past without much concern.

After a while I turned him loose again. This time he tried a little harder to play, took a few strides of lope and did a half hearted buck, but it wasn't long before he was waiting to see what I had in store next.

'Next' turned out to be a photo session, where I asked him to trot a little more, but he didn't really want to play and instead came up and asked if perhaps the camera were a giant horse cookie.

Curt has commented more than once how smart this horse is and quickly he picks things up and wants to please. He introduces me as a 'Mustanger' to all his friends; a title I happily accept. I'm thinking before we head to Sacramento I may just have Curt a Mustanger as well!

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Today Was Great!

I'm trying not to look at that little ticker. The headline in another trainer's blog the other day stated we were at hump day...halfway to Sacramento. In reality we're past that if you consider travel time. So while the ticker tells me 42 days, it's more like 38.

Thirty-eight days...

But I'm not looking at the ticker. I can't. I need to put a foundation that will hold up to thousands of people onto Sandy. He struggles with two or three folks nearby; imagine his surprise when he finds himself at the Expo!

Today was ride #8. We started in the arena rather than the round pen today. Jay's been handling him from the ground before I get on, encouraging more forward motion from him that I seem to be able to get. I wear out! I'm puny. Jay's in shape and keeps up with my horse. Plus, it's helpful to both of them to know what to expect from each other once I'm up in the saddle. Not that Jay's had much control terms of direction once I'm there, but a good understanding and trust is essential to my safety.

But back to the ride itself! After working on the lungeline for the first time (rather than his lead rope), I mounted up and we used just half the arena; the half without the bull parked in it! Sandy listened to my hands and legs just as though we were in the round pen. After moving to the left, we reversed and went to the right. He got a bit close to the gate and my foot banged up against it, but that didn't seem to rattle him. He did, however, startle at something just a stride or two past the gate. He lurched backward and began to spin his body to the right; I dropped my hands, one grabbed the horn and the other his mane which kept me off his mouth. Jay stepped in closer, but Sandy settled himself back down with my 'Whoa' and we continued on.

Before long we were trotting both directions, he was relaxing and giving. We worked again on serpentines and figure 8's, only the second time he's been asked to do them. He was great! Jay's unable to come tomorrow, but I'll be there working him in the scary end of the arena alongside the bull so he's ready when we move down that way.

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hold Onto the Horn!

Because life isn't crazy enough...
I've taken on a bottle baby!

Rides five and six are done. Jay came back Tuesday and spent a bit more time with Sandy while I stayed on the ground. Got him moving out with a nice, light step and even encouraged him into a lope! That's something I've not been able to get him to do in the round pen. The footing is a bit too slick and hard for Sandy to really get comfortable, and I tend to wear out before accomplishing much. Jay, however, seems to be able to keep up the pace and Sandy got to booking!

Along with the lope, Jay encouraged some pretty quick, catty turns out of my former dead footed mustang! We all three nearly dropped over when my boy started getting under himself and using his body.

Sandy's first week

Once the edge was worked off, it was time for me to climb on. Sandy's been shifting a bit to the right the past few times I've mounted, but Tuesday he stood still. He'd been working quietly and responding well to my legs and the reins, moving at a nice trot when Curt began talking about loping. Didn't say I had to do it, but I think he was implying that I ought not be just hanging out in the saddle like some kid who'd paid for a pony ride, so I began working Sandy into a faster and faster trot. So fast, I was sure we'd turn into butter as we were circling Jay in the center. But lope? Well...
Six weeks later, a much prettier face!

I'm not really sure what happened, to be honest. One minute I felt like there's no way we could go any faster and the next I was being bounced all over the flippin' place! The right hand that'd been hanging onto the horn (to keep me from using too much hand on his light mouth) was now hanging on to the reins. I could feel myself falling back behind my center of gravity and saw the wall of the round pen spin past and recall thinking how lucky it was I had a helmet on. I've no clue what Jay was saying...I could hear his voice but not words. Curt, however, broke through my daze as he hollered at me to grab the horn!

How I was supposed to do that I had a hard time processing. I was leaning back and had to pull myself upright before letting go of the reins with my right hand. Once I had it back on the horn and my balance back in the center, I managed to drop my left hand and relieve the pressure on Sandy's mouth. He stopped instantly!

To hear Jay tell it (or at least my somewhat scrambled memory's version), Sandy's butt dropped down as he tried to scramble into a lope with me on him. That drop threw me off, which then spooked him and sent him rushing. Never bucked, though, I was told. I'll take his word for it. It honestly all happened so fast I don't really remember anything.

We went straight back to work, but by now Sandy was too pooped to even think about loping. We trotted some more just so he'd end on a positive note.

Today Jay and I decided loping in the round pen probably wasn't going to work. Instead we concentrated on Sandy's directional skills. Jay's still got the lead , but stands at the end and is only there for emergencies (like yesterday.) Sandy worked into doing tight little serpentines and figure 8's at the trot. He's getting quite good about following his nose. Tomorrow if all goes well the plan is to do a little riding in the arena!

Monday, April 21, 2008 Promised!

243 digital photos later...

Lunging in the big arena

Darling went just a little crazy with my camera. The batteries on her camera died just as she pulled it out for a video. Creative as always, she decided to snatch up mine and shoot 30 frames per minute as I was leading Sandy across the property, thinking she'd piece it all together into one video. Heh...Good luck with that, Darling!

Lifting feet over poles

Lunging in round pen

Jay was taking Sunday off. The plan was to climb back on today (Monday), but as it turned out he ended up with four extra horses to trim. Can't turn good money like that down! So Sandy had two days off from riding. We did spend some more time on ground work, though. Looking at the photos, I can see we really need to work on him walking at our sides rather than lagging behind. That's the beauty of can see things more clearly. The ugly side of that is you can see things you don't want to see more clearly (like the way you look in that particular pair of jeans!)

A nice walk

Left hind is the hardest!

Usually snorty with most people, Sandy seems to think Darling is okay!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sandy's Sixth Week

By now you've likely read the post from last night. I was ever so thrilled with my boy's progress! He's looking to me for reassurance, but his confidence in himself is growing daily. Compared to so many out there, we're slow as a pair of turtles, but that's okay. I want him as solid as can be at the beginning, not only because it will help keep me safe, but his new owner has the right to obtain a horse who's not got gapping holes in his early training. So while the excitement of his Saturday has me thrilled in how things are clicking, I remind myself how Sunny would slip backwards after huge strides forward and know that the same may happen here. We can only do what God is willing to allow us to do here.

Now, on to Sandy's accomplishments for this week!

1) Lunging in the big arena. He's become soft and responsive, no longer moving in flight or fright. In fact, he's gone so slow and come so close to me that I've been able to reach out and give him a pat on the rump with my hand to keep him moving.

2) He's walking around cones. Seems simple enough, doesn't it? But when I left them sitting in the arena one day and turned JoJo out, she thought her world was coming to an end! Cones can be frightening if a horse hasn't been exposed to anything like that before, and Sandy certainly did his fair share of snorting, but he now has no problem with maneuvering around them.

3) Sandy is giving to pressure on his barrel. While saddled, before climbing on, I began pushing on his middle while bending his nose just slightly. Rather than turning around me like some would do, Sandy moved off my hand as though it were a leg in his side, leading off with his shoulder and doing the nicest half pass!

4) He got a pedicure! Although he backed himself into the corner of his stall (he feels comfy in corners), he stood real nice as Jay sweet talked him into lifting all four.

5) He had his teeth floated and wolf teeth pulled. Despite the drugs, he was 'on the verge' throughout the entire process. He was very much aware that he was tied in a stall and that a stranger was messing with his mouth. I think Curt held his breath the entire time, but Sandy maintained his composure.

6) Trotting in hand! Sandy has up until now become somewhat frightened when I tried to encourage a trot from him; rather than coming along with me, he's hung back and even come to a stop. As of yesterday, he's felt confident enough to try to catch up with me as long as I provide plenty of clucking and kisses for encouragement.

7) Poles, backing and turn arounds! At first he lifted his feet high over the poles, but after a couple of passes it was just too boring to deal with and I began hearing clunk clunk clunk as he drug his toes over the poles. That's okay, though, as bored is better than excited. The fact that Doxee was busy showing off for him inside the arena at the same time had me grinning from ear to ear; he didn't care one bit about her squealing and clanging on the gate!

8) I've ridden! Four rides, trotting both directions, giving to the bit and legs, figure 8s in the round worries when my foot banged up against the wall, figured his way out of a potential scary situation when the lead rope ended up behind his butt. I Am Pleased!

That about wraps up the week. Darling will be driving down with me this afternoon and I promise photos!!! Y'all be careful with those Arabs and Quarter Horses, y'hear?

Little of Curt's cutting horse prospects.
Sandy would never waste this much energy!

The Riding Course

Katee has written once again, giving us an up front look at the riding course from yesterday's competition at the Midwest Mustang Challenge:


Saturday Riding Course:

Well, i have to start by saying again just how many people are here at this fair. The traffic this morning was backed up for a couple miles coming in. Once out of your vehicle the throngs of people were a bit intimidating, but some bobbing and weaving got me to my seat just before noon.

Event was scheduled to start at noon, but started about a half hour late. The event prior to our mustangs ran a little late, the Judges were late and there was a lot of discussion about the set up of the course. It was pretty impressive seeing all of the trainers walk into the arena to check out the course. Very fun to have a chance to cheer wildy for them without having to worry about spooking a horse!


lead horse in


jog over 3 ground poles

canter right lead


canter left lead


spin 270

canter right lead

walk over single pole into L

back through L

spin 270

trot around cones

walk onto bridge


The only real tricky spot was the second canter--the one on the left lead. In total, for even the smallest horses, the space for that canter was at best 5 strides. It was tough to even get into a canter for these green horses in 5 strides. Most of them gave a good hard mustang look at that bridge, but ultimately walked over quietly.

The 2 minute free time was nice because it allowed the trainers to demonstrate any special things they'd taught their mustangs as well as to simply show off their gates. A couple strides of canter/trot here and there throughout the pattern really wasn't enough to show how smooth these mustangs can move.

There were some really well trained horses. A couple with trots that looked ready for the western showring, some flying lead changes, bridle-less riding and even a piaffe! There were a couple of horses that looked super green. No WAY I woulda been on those horses in a big scary show ring like this.

Only one mishap and I admit it was my fault. Ok. Not just and all my fellow audience members got a little excited and clapped wildly causing a big crash. I don't remember the riders name, but he was a 68 year old Vietnam vet and cancer surviver. He was riding the biggest horse I'd seen all day and had a pretty good ride. His freestyle concluded with some pretty nice bridle-less riding. To really put a big finish on it, he stood his horse, still bride-less, on the bridge then stood up on top of the saddle and waved his hat to the crowd. We went wild! The wild mustang ran to the gate. The rider fell with a big BANG flat on his back on to the bridge. He was able to walk out on his own and appeared to be in one piece. There was a lot less wild clapping after that.

More on the finals later....just as a teaser you should know that the 6,000 seats of the Coliseum were full and there were so many people standing in the aisles that the fire marshal was literally threatening to shut it all down! The mustangs certainly didn't let the crowd down.


What an unfortunate incident with the gentleman who came off. I think folks are so excited by what they've seen with Stacey Westfall that they forget a very important thing here: These mustangs have only been in training for 90 days! I can forgive a crowd for their excitement; many of them are truly clueless regarding horses in general, let alone green horses. The trainer really did accomplish a lot with his horse, but should have realized that standing and waving a hat on a green broke horse was not the wisest decision he could have made. I'm glad no one was hurt!

I'm waiting for results on who placed in the top ten; as soon as I find out, I'll let y'all know!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sandy's Terrific Day!

Sandy's day was so spectacular I can't even wait until tomorrow to share it!

This morning I set poles out for the first time. I layed them out so that we could walk over them, back a straight line between them, and stand inside of a box and turn a circle. This was the first time Sandy had seen poles so I didn't know what he'd think. He tends to be a little concerned about things he finds on the ground. After a cautious snort and sniff, he stepped right over them like an old trail horse pro! He walked into the box and turned without bumping any. He backed between them. I even had him sidepass a couple of steps over one; the first time he's ever been asked to do that!

We then wandered off to the round pen where I asked him to lead with me on the off side. If Jay was going to help us trot this other direction, he'd have to be over on Sandy's right. At first Sandy wasn't sure what I wanted, then he stepped right out.

He's struggled so much with traveling alongside me, and when I start to run in an attempt to get him to trot he tends to put on the brakes in confusion. Well...not today! Today we trotted, not only in the round pen but out in the field and along the driveway as well. He also walked past all sorts of scary things like piles of wood and tires, not to mention he saw his reflection in a window for the first time! At one point he thought perhaps we needed to hustle on out of there, but rather than try to drag me back to the barn he realized his pace was quicker than mine and he turned his head around to reach for me, as if he could grab my hand and hurry me up.

When Jay showed up this afternoon, it was back to the round pen all saddled up. Sandy was feeling a bit lighter today, probably because we've had a temp drop again and fresh snow in many areas. Chilly weather gets them feeling a bit frisky, so Jay lunged him in soft circles until he began to relax. Then I stepped into the saddle, and from there we did some walking and trotting in both directions. We stopped and started, I directed him towards the rail rather than him depending on Jay for support. A couple of times my foot bumped up against the wall, but Sandy didn't seem to mind. I've ridden broke horses that would have gone sailing over things like that, but not this boy! We ended with a couple of figure eights. Sandy wasn't too sure about giving to the bit as I pulled his head around even though we've done it from the ground, but he figured it out really quickly and was unbelievably good.

I'd hoped to make the trip to the upcoming adoption in Odessa this next weekend, but it doesn't appear that will be happening. Instead, I think I'll put as many miles on Sandy as possible this week and perhaps some time soon I'll head out and hit the trails!

A Note From Katee

Got an email first thing this morning from Katee, one of our loyal blog readers who's attending the Midwest Mustang Challenge in Madison and thought I'd share:


I have never attended the Midwest Horse Fair before and I was truly unprepared for the sight I encountered when I arrived at the Alliant Center in Madison. So many cars. So many people. It took about a half hour to find parking and then hike in to the event.

I was told when I called for tickets months ago that there was no reason to have reserved seats for Friday because they weren't anticipating a lot of people attending the in hand portion of the Challenge. Wrong. The small arena was packed full of people. Any seat with a decent view of the action was taken. I was disappointed not to be able to see everything, but thrilled that so many people had shown up to support the mustangs.

The arena was small and the building itself pretty tight. Spectators were only a few feet from the action. Coming into the arena, most of the horses seemed well prepared and ready to go. Moving towards and through the serpentine meant moving towards and past the crowds. The people sat mostly quietly, but were scary nevertheless. At the end of the serpentine, the mustangs had to stop and stand still for hoof lifting right by the crowd. None of the mustangs enjoyed standing by the crowd for this, but many of them did do it. The rest of the course went well for most of the horses. The trailer was scary, but most did go in. The back through was done with ease.

I walked through the barn afterward and was happy to see lots of interested people asking great questions. The BLM had information tables set up in the arena, the barn and a third one in the main Coliseum.

Overall, I think the mustangs handled the crowds and action really well in the barn and arena. I can not wait to see the action today when they are under saddle in the main Coliseum arena. It's a bigger and to me more intimidating space, but the crowds are farther away which might help the mustangs feel more secure.

I've got reserved seats for today's riding and finale events and I'm gonna budget a LOT more time for parking!


And for another look at what's going down, visit Jessie and Remington! Jessie is a bit disappointed because Rem had a case of nerves, so head over and cheer her up!

Around here, Sandy has no clue what will be asked of him in another 47 days. He's happy when we can sneak out into the lush green spring grass for a bite to eat. Yesterday was ride #3 and it was beautiful. We trotted for the first time! And man, let me tell you, I've never ridden such a smooth gaited horse! No motion to jar you around in the least; I could have set a glass of wine on my head and not spilled a drop. I was super impressed because typically a young horse is trying to figure out if they can actually move and carry you at the same time; their balance always seems to be thrown just a bit off those first few attempts at a faster gait, but not Sandy! I gave a few clucks from his back while Jay moved a couple feet away from him and gave him his head. He stepped right into a lovely, smooth, forward moving jog trot. Nothing fast or unbalanced about it. His head was relaxed and he even slowed down into a Western Pleasure jog at one point. I can't even express to you how happy I was with how well he handled it!

Now if we can just get over the snorting issues...

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Open Wide, Say Ahhhh

Sandy had a special visitor yesterday. The vet. In case your horse has never told you, vets smell funny. Even a horse who's never met a vet will tell you there's something to be very wary of when they meet up with one.

Of course, Sandy snorts at everyone, so we were completely caught off guard when he immediately accepted Dr. Hansen's presence in the stall with him. Oh, sure, he snorted a couple of good ones, but he let the vet come up and pat on him and give him some happy drugs without flinching.

Happy drugs? Sandy was getting his teeth checked! Lots of sharp points it would seem (I'd rather thought so as he isn't able to digest his grain) and wolf teeth like Dr. Hansen has never seen before. As big as molars and very difficult to remove. Of course, each time a vet encounters something like this on a mustang they start talking evolution. Here, however, is my counter thought:

I could maybe buy their theory of our mustangs being more primitive if we hadn't been tossing domestic horses (ranch, cavalry, etc) out with them over the last 100 years or so. There's no way that the teeth of domestics are going to be that changed in such a short matter of time when nothing else evolves that quickly. Sometimes you just get a horse with bigger teeth is my thought. I wonder what the teeth are like in some of the more primitive Spanish bred horses? It'd be interesting to see, wouldn't it? When Jay did Sandy's feet the other day he said the walls of his hooves resembled the Andalusian horses in that his walls were so thick, yet a lot of people would say that's a mustang thing.

My Mouth Feels Funny

In anycase, the teeth were done, Sandy was good, and all is well. We decided to ride him while he was still feeling the effects of the drugs, thinking that'd have him a bit relaxed. Wrong. He seemed to realize he was in a groggy state of mind and compensated for it with a few more spooks than we suffered through the day before. Nothing bad, just appeared to have made one too many trips to Starbucks! He was jittery down to the bone, but listened to Jay and came back down each time he thought about jumping. He stood nicely for me to dismount, though, which I was thankful for.

The Midwest Mustang Challenge starts today in Madison. I'll try to update as I get info, but it may be best to keep an eye on the Power Guides in the left column on the side of your screen. Jessie will be trying to blog from the event, although she's bound to be too tired to do much. However, if you see her blog (Jessie and Remington) or any of the other Midwest trainers showing up there, you'd best go check it out! Best of luck to all the competitors!

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Yesterday I saddled Sandy up and worked him in the big arena...from the ground. He was soft and supple just like he'd been on Monday. I tied his nose around to both sides (but not at the same time, of course) and he gave just like I knew he would. He's very soft like that. I also began walking alongside of him, pushing into his side with the stirrup as though it were my leg. He did some nice yields in both directions.

Again, I had no one to assist in my climbing on. My mouth was watering for a ride. I popped my foot into the stirrup and bounced up and down a few times. His head stayed low and he was completely relaxed.

Not smart, I told myself, to climb on with no one around to dial 911. It was all I could do to resist. I gave him a pat and put him away.

Not long afterwards Jay the farrier showed up. He went out to visit Sandy, and aside from me, this is the first time Sandy relaxed for anyone. Oh, sure, he still snorted, but he stood quietly enough that Jay decided he may as well give the boy a pedicure. Sandy stood better than many a broke horse!

Jay has helped out when it's been time to take that first ride more than once for Curt. Since Sandy seemed so smitten, it was a no brainer to ask him if he'd be willing to help me out. First thing tomorrow morning, he said, 9:00 am.


And at 9:01 Jay kept his word, pulling into the driveway. I went out and saddled Sandy and handed the lead over to Jay, who then led him to the round pen. Sandy had to stop and snort, protesting for a moment or two before coming inside. Round pens mean work! Jay led him around as I adjusted my helmet on my head. That's chances being taken here! If I'd have a mouth piece, I'd have been wearing that too, lol!

Sandy stood nice as you please for me to mount. We stood still for a minute or two, letting him get the feel of my body weight on top of his back before I asked him to move forward. His ears twitched as he listened. Jay walked closely, then began to give him a little more slack. Sandy was listening to my voice, hands and legs as he hesitantly moved around the pen. At one point, something scared him and he spooked. Jay grabbed at the lead as I picked up the reins. The close contact just made it worse, so Jay relaxed his hold and Sandy relaxed as well. We stood another minute as I patted him and told him what a good boy he was, then we began moving again.

Both directions, nothing bad happening. He relaxed more and more as time went on. Not much time, mind you; nothing much over five minutes. Enough for him to get the feel of things, though. Dismounting sent him off to the right as he was concerned about seeing me suddenly appear out of nowhere, but it wasn't so fast that I found myself in trouble.

And that was that. Sandy's first ride is completed!

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Only a Little Bizarre!

As long as I live, I don't think I will ever understand this relationship!

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Monday, April 14, 2008

April 15 Deadline

If you're sitting on the fence and unsure if you should enter the Extreme Mustang Makeover...better climb off onto one side of the other pretty quick! The deadline for entering is Tuesday, April 15. Take a deep breath, say a prayer, and get those applications in!

The weather has been unbeatable these past few days! Sunshine and pleastantly warm. Sandy is beginning to shed out those big clumps of matted hair and before long will look like a real horse.

Today I saddled him up. Curt felt well enough to come out and watch me work with him for the first time. It was great to have him there to point out what I could be doing differently to help soften Sandy up. By the end of 30 minutes he was trotting softly in small circles around me, both left and right, coming to me and then easily being sent off in the opposite direction. We ended with him being bitted and tying his face first to the left, then to the right. Curt was impressed with how quickly he caught on to bending, never fought, and how when he turned he even had a cross over with those front legs.

That's where we ended it today. I didn't have much time to spend, but tomorrow will be there longer.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sandy's Fifth Week

Sandy's day was rather full yesterday. The sun came out and the temps reached the low 70's, making it a wonderful day to put a horse to work. First, however, was a trip to the arena where he was turned loose for a second time. Friday he stood at the gate and wondered why he was in a dark box. Yesterday he realized he could play. Being the lazy bloke he is, it didn't last long, but it was nice to see him stretch his legs just a little and he seemed to enjoy rolling in the soft, dry dirt.

A bit later I saddled him up and headed back to the arena for some lunging. I really feel it's okay to climb on board right now, but I had no pit crew available, so on the ground I stayed. Sandy got quite the workout and the heat helped wear him down relatively quickly. He's not liked leading all the way around the arena without stopping, but once he was dripping with sweat he didn't have it in him to argue. This was the first time I'd worked him to that point, and you can be sure he's got just a few more of those coming!

I really haven't got a list of what Sandy accomplished that was new this week. We built on things he's already been introduced to and tried to smooth things out. He stands 95% still when being saddled now rather than backing in circles. All four feet come up off the ground easier and I can reach under his belly to grab the cinch without him flinching. With more room to work, he's learning to lead in straight lines as well as around cones and past blue eyed monsters. He still snorts at everything in sight...

Well...nearly everything. There is one new thing to tell you about. Sandy made a friend. A new creature came walking onto the grounds yesterday and was put into one of the outdoor runs alongside the round pen. When the new creature spotted Sandy out walking, it let out an amazing, wheezing heeeee haaaaaaw! It's voice perked Sandy right up, and do you know how he responded? He whinnied! Not only once, but twice that mule brayed and twice Sandy answered the call. So the boy has a whinny box after all.

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Note From Sandy...

If you were to ask me, which no one has, this is the way I'd spend my time. Grazing away on the sweet spring grass that's coming up all over down here. Apparently, my opinion counts for nothing...

Rather than filling my belly, I'm subjected to all sorts of horrors. I'm put into the round pen and made to trot circles with a saddle on my back. Round and round and round like some whimsical merry go round pony. Thank goodness they haven't painted me pink and plastered huge yellow daisies upon my chest.

I've also been led into this huge, dark box. No, not the horse trailer. This box is bigger! They tell me to run and buck and play, but it just seems so unnatural to do these things inside a box. They lead me in circles around the box, and down at the far end stands this horrible monster, black and white in color with creepy blue eyes that stare right through me. I snort to warn it off, but it doesn't listen and continues to stand in the same place. Mom tells me some day I'll get used to it and maybe even chase it around the arena.

No way, Mom! You need to get your head examined. No way, I repeat, no way will I ever be following that thing around the box. It creeps me out!

Nope. Not liking the dark box and the creepy blue eyed monster. Other than that, this place isn't too bad. The staff feeds me well and I don't have to share my breakfast with that ridiculous ram anymore. There's this cute little filly who lives next to me and she's always flirting. Makes a guy feel kind of special. If they'd just let me spend my afternoons out here in the grass, life would be perfect! But then...they never ask me.

* A note from Tracey

Curt came back from the doctor yesterday with the news that he's not cracked any ribs but they're just bruised. However, the aorta aneurysm is a wee bit longer than they'd like it to be, so he's got another specialist to see in a couple of weeks. He has, however, been cleared to ride again when he feels up to it. Sandy, I believe, is ready for me to climb on. I just need my ground crew ready should there be pieces to pick up!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

No Whinny?

Sandy is adjusting to life in a barn quite well. Now that he's dry, I can start working at getting that mud off of that shaggy winter coat of his! He's become quite tolerant of being handled around his hind end, so I may just try playing some with that tail, too! He didn't drink at all the first day, but by yesterday late morning he finally decided to forget about the different taste and take a few sips. He's looking a bit tucked up, but at least he's eating which is more than he wanted to do when he moved here.

We made two trips out of the stall yesterday. The first was just to walk around the property a bit and let him relax. I'm beginning to think Sandy has no whinny. He's never so much as nickered at me when it's feeding time. All I ever get is snort. Snort, snort, snort. He stands at the gate and looks pleasantly towards us when it's feeding time, but then he snorts when we enter with food. Yesterday while I had him out, the filly who lives next door to him whinnied a couple of times at him. He looked her way, and I could hear some funny little half squeak in his throat, but nothing ever came out his mouth. That happened twice. Too weird, eh?

I brought him to the round pen a bit later and this time we managed to get some movement. He trotted out nicely...well, nicer than before. He wanted to stop multiple times but I kept him moving. My greatest weakness is being too soft with a horse. I have a hard time stepping up and driving them forcefully, so this is good for me. When we'd made a few laps each direction, I stopped Sandy and worked some more with leading and even got a trot out of him. I think we'll head to the big arena today for a bit of something new to look at and more room to practice our in hand skills.

Join the Hay Burner's Club and donate $15 towards Sandy's upkeep and I'll send you a 5x7 photo (once the horse is here, of course.) Or buy advertising space in the form of a button.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

No Photos?

How dare I??? I had my camera with me and everything...just didn't seem to get it out to where Sandy was. For shame...

Yesterday morning I found Pokey the ram in the trailer (his favorite place of late) and Sandy standing half in and half out wondering where breakfast was to be served. I tossed hay into all the barn mangers in hopes of distracting Pokey while I loaded Sandy. No such luck. The minute he heard Sandy's hooves step back up he came baaaing around the corner of the barn and jumped in. Breakfast must taste better served in a trailer is all I can guess. Since I was the only one out there and I didn't want to unload Sandy and start over, I just left Pokey in the trailer as we headed south. I'm guessing by the end of the day he was sorry he'd come along as he spent the next ten hours hanging out alone while Sandy went to his new stall.

Sandy adjusted pretty well to his new surroundings. Early in the day Curt had some folks come to take reining cow horse lessons, so he was running the bull. Sandy's stall faces the arena and he was just a bit concerned about all the noise and commotion he could see. Lots of snorting. But a bit later he followed me out to the round pen without too much trouble. We made a second trip out later in the day as well. Both trips were pretty uneventful. He walked through some puddles that didn't make him happy. I thought perhaps he'd try to nibble on the green grass a bit, but he didn't.

Inside the round pen I worked on his pivots; he's crossing those front legs nicely now and picking up speed in his turn. I stood with my hands on his neck and back as though I were going to mount him and bounced up and down. He sidestepped away a bit, but it wasn't bad. I tried working him...I mean, really working a circle, snapping the lunge whip behind him, but he's a lazy bloke. He really didn't care to work. Forward motion is his hang up and that's going to be what gets us into trouble. Today the goal will be to get this boy moving. That...and to take pictures.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Moving Day

Sandy's new home

Yesterday I drove down for my lesson only to find Curt on his way to the doctor. Finally! I stuck around the barn and cleaned stalls. I came home filthy, stinking of horse pee, and very ready for a massage.

Curt came home with the news that he may have an aorta aneurysm. He's got an ultrasound scheduled for Friday. You'd think they'd have tried to get him in sooner, wouldn't you? But in the meantime I'll be cleaning a lot more stalls, it looks like, as he's under strict orders not to lift, push or pull.

One of the many stalls I cleaned was Sandy's new home. It's a nice big stall that generally houses a broodmare and foal; plenty of room so he won't feel boxed in. I'm anxious to get out of the weather. I knew when I signed up for this event that it'd be raining...after all, that's what keeps Washington green, but until you're out there working in it, you really don't realize just how limiting it is to horse training. Of course, the biggest issue isn't getting wet, but slick footing here on our clay. Rather detrimental when mounting up for that first ride. I envy the scores of horse trailers I see down at the trail head and often think if I'd just spent a bit more time last summer on Jet, that'd be me down there riding all winter as well...except without the trailer. But I digress...

I turned JoJo out while cleaning her stall, and knowing that I like mustangs, she did her best wild horse impression for me!

Look at me, I'm wild!

She bucked and played hard while I tried to get a few decent photos, but it was dark in the arena (gee, why didn't I think to turn on the lights?) so I didn't get many. She's a big, stout mare with a tremendous amount of stride and talent. Curt had me work the hydra bull with her last week and I felt like a little rag doll on top of her being tossed all about.

JoJo at play

I'd best start packing stuff up. I'll be hauling out at breakfast time with Sandy. I need to make an appointment with a farrier for him as well as a vet/dentist while he's down there. And I can hardly wait to get all that mud off from him!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sandy's Fourth Week

Yesterday we introduced something new. I borrowed Cheryle's big stock trailer and backed it up alongside the barn. The space is roughly 8' wide and 12' long. I put a round pen panel behind Sandy after leading him into the space. He wasn't thrilled with this new situation, but he wasn't frightened, either. And although he would walk up to the back end of the trailer, he wasn't inclined to step inside.

I'd left Pokey the sheep in the space with him for company and put alfalfa down on the floor and left him for a bit. No doing. I tried waving a flag behind him. Nothing. So I went and got his number one enemy; the blue tarp. I had to rustle and rattle it a bit before he decided to climb into the trailer. The moment his front feet were inside, I stopped making noise with the tarp. He stopped for a moment to contemplate whether it was safer to be swallowed whole by a trailer or face the unknown fate of a tarp.

Being swallowed won. I think it was because it meant he could eat his dinner in peace. He'd made it to the front of the trailer at some point and eaten the alfalfa that had been left in the manger (out of Pokey's reach, as that sheep will consume alfalfa faster than a hoover sucks up dirt.) When I placed his breakfast in there this morning, he was completely relaxed and went straight in.

Now all I need to do is convince him that the tarp really isn't going to eat him! I had second thoughts about using it, but loading is a must if I'm going to get down to Curt's. He didn't appear too concerned with it this morning, thankfully, as he stood between it and the trailer. In fact, it looked like he may have actually stepped on it at some point.

Sandy's accomplishments this week are:

1) Picking up all four feet.

2) Loading into a trailer.

3) Dropping his nose to the ground when asked.

4) Leading past scary tractors and trucks nice and light on the lead rope.

5) Letting me touch his back legs.

6) Letting me reach under his belly (I'll be able to grab the cinch now!)

It's not a terribly long list, but I think it's shown the most progress so far!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

One, Two, Three, Four

I woke up yesterday morning and looked outside to see Sandy standing as far as he could get from the blue tarp. He'd not eaten a bit of his dinner. I went outside and encouraged him to come closer, then slid the alfalfa to the edge where it was easier to get to. It still made noise when his lips picked through it, but eventually dinner was eaten...for breakfast.

A bit later I decided that since he'd been so good at making the choice not to pull back the day before that perhaps he was ready for a walk outside of the fenceline. It would mean no safety net if he got scared and went backwards, but I figured we had to do it the first time at some point. City Boy had left the tractor sitting outside the big gate, so I led Sandy to the man gate alongside it. He had to walk through mud, which we know he's not fond of. He was also concerned about both the tractor and the narrow gate. He promptly planted his feet deep in the mud and expressed his concern. His attention went back and forth between the tractor and me. I, of course, was already on the outside and he was pretty sure the tractor would swallow me whole. He didn't want to be next. But after a minute he shakily jumped through the gate and into my arms.

Okay, maybe he didn't land that close, but it was obvious that he was going to stick with me. Small worry snorts escaped him; he was half crouched and ready to spring into action. I gave him a pat then led him around to the front gate of his paddock, one he hadn't passed through since his escape from the trailer when he first came.

Sandy's time on the outside didn't even last two minutes, but it was long enough for him. He was happy to be back where it was safe. I was pleased that he opted to stick with me and know that I was the safety net where mustang eating contraptions are concerned. He still needs to boost that confidence so that I can actually go somewhere while on top of him, but this was a good first step.

Before dinner we made one more bit of progress. Sandy stood quietly while I handled his hind legs. I ran my hand all the way down to his feet and with some coaxing he even managed to lift them just a wee bit off the ground for me.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Close Encounter of the Blue Tarp Kind

What's that ticker say? 63 days???

Sandy was very, very good today. I started out cleaning down at Curt's place this morning, then came home for a little training here. Sandy's been rather wide eyed since our bit of chasing the other day. He's not been real sure if he should let me come up close or not. I brought a handful of grain with me today and was immediately forgiven. He's been very good about picking up those two front feet. I'd anticipated him trying at least one more time to avoid it, but he hasn't. In fact, I can lift up the left side, then walk to the right and he's already beginning to lift on his own! And he's totally relaxed about the whole thing. This weekend we'll work on the back end.

The good thing about living on clay is that once the sun comes out, the water dries up pretty quickly. This afternoon I led Sandy out to the round pen. He followed easily out, then led alongside me like I'd hoped he would once inside. He kept his head alongside my arm regardless of whether we were going straight ahead or in circles. I still had to cluck and encourage him, but his self confidence since what in my mind is 'The Tying Incident' last week has doubled. It's odd how something that we think of as being too scary will build them up.

Sandy's trying really hard to figure out what I'm asking when we pivot on the hindquarters. At first he couldn't quite grasp that forward motion thing and he'd not cross over with his front feet the way he should. But with his new found confidence, forward motion is coming and cross overs are happening, both to the left and the right.

But the biggest change has been his lightness at the end of the lead rope since Ken's advice the other day. This afternoon I hauled a big, blue, mustang eating tarp out into the round pen. Sandy greeted it with the same greeting I get each morning: SNORT! Thankfully, I'm now getting love snorts, but this blue monster was not loved in the least. As I led him around, I could feel his hesitation and at one point his desire to fly backwards and rear was obvious. But instead, he only rocked back for a moment, then leaned forward and waited for my cue to begin walking circles around the terrifying tarp.

Really...I'm chasing a cow, not scared of a tarp!

We worked for 20 minutes walking around this way and that way, left and right, and eventually up to the tarps edge. At one point he accidentally put his toe on the corner of it. He stood for a moment, then cautiously looked down at the tarp and saw what he'd done. Yikes! He jumped backwards with a snort, but didn't pull and run. This is a completely new horse!

It looks like a clear night, so I left a flake of alfalfa on the tarp, along with a bit of grain, in hopes that at some point he'll decide it's not going to eat him.