Friday, February 27, 2009

Expo Calendar of Extreme Events

For those who've decided to attend the Northwest Horse Fair and Expo, you may want to know where to go, what it will cost, and what day is best to attend.

The Mustang Makeover begins on Thursday night at 5 pm. Tickets are only available at the gate and are $10 each.

Friday, Sat, and Sunday tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the gate. Getting your hands on tickets may prove to be a bit of a challenge if you live in WA as there is only one location where you can pick them up. Try contacting Linn Co. Fair & Expo Center at 800-858-2005 where they'll hold your tickets til you get there.

In addition to the Extreme Mustang Makeover, Craig Cameron's Extreme Cowboy Race will also be kicking off it's preliminary round on Thursday night. The ECR will begin at 4 pm in the Silverlite Arena, followed by the In Hand competition with the mustangs.

The rest of the weekend, at least for the mustangs, will see the riding course (trail) on Friday night, then on Saturday the finals.

Don't forget we've got a name the ram lamb contest! Leave your suggestion between now and Sunday, 8 pm pacific, and we'll announce the winner on Monday!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2, 3, much more?

It would seem eight is the number we stopped at. Eight inches of fresh snow sitting upon my ground. Eight inches of white mud...not nearly as lovely as Texas Tea, nor as valuable. But it's here. Again. I only hope it's a far briefer stay and that our roads are passable with a horse trailer by the end of the day.

Steve Holt! had a couple of nice work outs both Sunday and Monday. I spend a fair chunk of time setting up obstacles such as poles and cones, bridges and streamers in an effort to both desensitize him and get him thinking about where he's placing his feet.

In addition to working on trail, I'm taking a firm stance on head set these days. Sort of. Okay, maybe not firm enough. At the walk we've rather got it, but ask for a bit of speed and up it comes! But if nothing else it would seem I've got my left leg back where it belongs a bit more consistently.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's a Boy! It's a Girl! It's Twins!!!

Marybelle looks on in you think she knows she's next?

It started like any other morning. 5 am and I couldn't sleep, so I got up, played on the computer a bit, then went out to do chores. Bessie's udder had been a wee bit fuller and tighter the night before, but not so much as to cause alarm and a sleep over inside the barn. And since shew as still in one piece and hungry for her flake of alfalfa as I tossed everyone their breakfast, I didn't give her another thought as I came inside for me own nourishment.

A lot can change in two hours when it comes to sheep. Breakfast finished, I headed back out and what did I hear? A very faint, sheepish baaa met my ears. I picked up the pace and headed to the stall where two newborn lambs were wobbling about and wondering why they'd been dumped from nice, snug, warm home and were now shivering in the cold air.

I had a couple of towels there waiting for their arrival, so I grabbed one and briskly toweled off the lamb closest to me. Bessie has lambed twice before, giving me three ram lambs. Taffy, the other dairy ewe we had, only gave us ram lambs as well. So when I looked underneath this lamb wrapped in the towel I was not at all surprised to see that this, too, was a ram lamb.

I reached over to the second lamb to give it a brief rub, lifted it up and...hey! It's missing the boy parts! Could it be I've finally gotten my ewe lamb? And from my beloved Bessie, at that? Oh, joyohjoyohjoy!!!

Bessie's little girl.

Darling will name the ewe lamb, but y'all get to offer your suggestions for the ram. He's the guy under the heat lamb in the top photo. Big droopy ears just like his daddy. What do you think we should call him?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Boys Will Be Boys

You buy them new clothes and tell the to play nice...and what do they do?

Photos by Darling

What are you lookin' at?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Stills

The assignment this week for Sunday Stills was Architecture. Preferably no barns, it was noted. How anyone could expect us not to flock to barns for this assignment is beyond me...or perhaps that was the point? Barns are my passion, though I also love photographing churches and old brick buildings. But as I'm rather tied down with Steve Holt!'s training, I'm not venturing very far in search of unique structures, meaning I went back into the archives in search of something that may be of interest.

The first thing that caught my eye was Stonehenge. Not the Stonehenge, of course. No, this is a monument that is built above the Columbia River in Maryville, Washington. For those of us who can't make it overseas to see the real deal, this one comes pretty darned close as it is a full size replica. It was built by Sam Hill, a road builder, in memory of the soldiers of Klickitat County who gave their lives during WWII.

One would have to ask themselves "What was Paul Allen thinking?" when they visit the Seattle Music Experiment. Was this his vision...or did the architect come up with it all on his own? Were they both on drugs, like so many of the artists featured inside? Or was this what they assumed the singers such as Jimi Hindrix and Janice Joplin were seeing when they looked out into the crowds of people at concerts? In the bottom photo you can see a reflection of yet another unique bit of architecture. Do you recognize it?

Okay...I had to have a barn here! This was built by my great-grandfather, Erdmund (later Edmund) Peters. My grandfather was 8 years old when the barn went up. It's where my grandparents raised my mom, aunt and uncle. I learned to ride here at this place...bareback and bridleless on the back of an old Guernsey milk cow. My aunt and her husband still live here on the family farm.

Looking up to the hay mow

Darling climbs up into the hay mow, just like her mother, grandmother, great grandparents, and great-great grandfather did before her.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Boots and Saddles

The other day City Boy took Darling and I out to look at boots. We happened to stumble across more than that, however, down at the Bony Pony. I couldn't resist a walk around the store and peeking back in the corner where saddles are stacked from floor to ceiling. The smell of the leather just draws you on I had to walk around a bit in the boots to make sure they fit, right?

And as it would happen there was a lovely saddle begging me to haul it off it's rack and plunk it onto a stand where I could sit in it...because of course I had to see how the boots looked in the stirrups...right? Not because I had any intention of buying it.

Oh, you can stop rolling your eyes now, City Boy!

Darling also found a little saddle that she rather liked, and before you could say Bob's Your Uncle, both saddles were coming home for a test ride. Darling just got new boots as well, you see, so we both needed to know how they'd work (really, it has nothing to do with wanting new saddles!)

Unfortunately, the saddle that fit me my boots so well is a bit on the heavy side for Sandy, and I simply cannot justify spending the money on a saddle for Steve Holt! when I don't know if I'll be keeping him or not. So today I'll make the drive and place it back on it's rack and take joy in watching Darling in the saddle that she's planning on keeping. may want to hit mute before watching...Darling did something funky and ended up with the music playing twice and overlapping. Crazy!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

House Committee Gets New Mustang Bill

From The Horse

February 13 2009, Article # 13613

Wild horses and burros could get more room to roam under a bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee on Thursday by Committee Chairman Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

The Restoring Our American Mustangs Act (HR 1018), amends the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 to allow the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to increase acreage available to free roaming herds, and to develop wild horse and burro sanctuaries on public lands.

The bill also forbids the killing of healthy animals, and allows greater public participation in herd management decisions.

The BLM currently manages more than 33,000 wild horses and burros on public land. The new bill implements Government Accountability Office recommendations to improve BLM herd management.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Did you ever wonder why you had to repeat the washing process when your mum washed your hair as a kid? Lather it up, rinse it out and find your eyes burning as watered down shampoo ran across your face...only to have more shampoo squirted up there and another sure 'bout of the back in your eye burning sensation. It seemed like a never ending, painful process that served little purpose, because just when you thought your hair was clean, it was time to wash it again.

Steve Holt! is a little like that right now. We're in a holding pattern of sorts...where we appear to be making a little progress only to find ourselves back where we were two days earlier and starting all over again. I've become somewhat discouraged when watching the video clips. At times I think I can feel a bit of progress, but then I watch and wonder just what it was I thought I was feeling?

I had music selected should I qualify for the finals; it was a combination of Chris Tomlin's version of Amazing Grace and Toby Mac's Extreme Days. I'd wanted to only use Amazing Grace, but Darling pointed out that Steve Holt! wasn't near slow enough to make it work, so Extreme Days was blended in. I thought it was a fitting title for the Extreme Mustang Makeover, don't you? But while Steve Holt! surely has the speed, right now there's no control. I played the music while riding this weekend and it didn't come close to working.

Now...the music in the video here today...that might work.

Tonight Darling went to youth group with her cousin. It was up near the fairgrounds and the arena is open to ride in on Wednesday nights, so I hauled Steve Holt! up to gain a bit of exposure to a new arena. The place was crowded with a lot of folks who are 'gamers'; that is to say, they do barrel racing or pole bending or other fast paced events. Mixed into this crowd were a handful of fast paced 4-H kids racing around and having a grand time. Steve Holt! wasn't too sure what to think at first. I led him in a couple of circles and let him relax, then climbed on.

Oh...where was this horse while the video camera was on?! Sure, his jog was more trot, but he listened and worked at dropping his head. He also picked up leads again, did a couple of simple changes without panic, and crossed the arena from one corner to the other and performed a lovely stop with his hind quarters (as opposed to planting his front end and trying to toss me over his head!) was one of those relief rides that tells me I just need to relax.

Video! Darling on Steve Holt! plus Sandy Bridleless

Darling and I hauled up on Monday night for a ride where she spent some time riding Sandy with the new neck rope she braided. Afterwards I asked if she felt like hopping up on Steve Holt! for a couple minutes in the round pen. Think I had to ask that question twice? Heh...nope.

Monday, February 16, 2009

An Early Morning

Steve Holt! waits patiently before hitting the trail

Steve Holt! and I went for a quiet trail ride yesterday. Quiet in the sense that we weren't with Darling or any other horses. The sun was out and plenty of folks were walking with their dogs. It was nice and relaxing for both of us.

I'd decided that since it was relatively peaceful outside to attempt leading him down to the tree farm rather than warming up the truck and hauling him. He's not been around cars yet so I wasn't sure how it'd go. The first vehicle that passed us was coming towards him on the opposite side of the road. He lifted his head and tensed up as I waived to the neighbors as they approached. Piece of cake...oops, not! Right as they drew alongside us Steve Holt! did an amazing airs above the ground lateral move that landed him five feet off to my right and in the dense brush alongside the road. Good thing there hadn't been a ditch there!

That was the only vehicle that passed us on our way down, but on the way home we were passed by four more, all of which were coming from behind. Being as there was now a deep, narrow ditch on this side of the road, I was happy that he didn't attempt to jump away. He was never too relaxed, but he did stick with me and listen as I talked him through it. Cars, it would seem, are this boy's downfall.

But enough about Steve Holt!. There's something else happening here at Carpenter Creek right now. Something that had Darling and I puttering around in the dark last night and me out of bed long before the birds. Upon pulling into the driveway yesterday afternoon I glanced out at my sheep and...Bessie's tummy has shifted. That is to say, it's dropped, and further back.

This will be Bessie's third lambing. She gave me a single the first year, and last year twins. I'd expected her to lamb mid-month but until yesterday she showed no real signs that it would happen. And to be honest, she could still be a couple weeks off...but I'm thinking sooner rather than later. Her udder swelled up yesterday, too. Not tight enough for me to think it would happen last night, but big enough for the lambing stall to be set up, the light on, and Bessie removed from the flock.
So, people...any guesses as to when Bessie will be a mommy?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Steve Holt!, week 10


Does that really say 10? Which means in 5 weeks, it's all over.

Steve Holt's week was one of repetition for the most part. More work on picking up leads, more work on consistent speed, more work on keeping his head at an acceptable level. His stride is so large and springy that it's tough to get a western jog/trot, but at least it's sit-able now.

He's also picking up his leads a bit more readily...that is until he starts to get worked a bit harder. Yesterday we were at a lesson and Curt was asking me to do a little one rein stop each time Steve Holt! picked up too much speed. This began to frustrate Steve Holt! and the leads began to come wrong. I'm not sure why everything falls apart, except that maybe he's just mentally not ready for this? Once it begins to fall apart with him, I feel it beginning to fall apart with me, so that's something I've got to work out. I think I have to listen to my instincts here and not worry so much about speed as long as it's consistent and under control. I know that the slower speed will come, and I can't let that looming deadline rattle me.

We've done a lot more trail class work this week, setting up obstacles all over the arena (and hoping that those who show up to ride while we're there don't mind!) I found a huge piece of cardboard which is doubling as a bridge. It's funny how the horses will walk over a raised wooden bridge but freak out over cardboard on the ground. Sandy refuses to walk on it; it makes funny noise and dirt scatters across it when he snorts at it. Steve Holt! hasn't got an issue with it, though, and walks over it each time.

Sidepassing is giving Steve Holt! some issues and I'm wondering if it's a calf knee thing. He just seems to bump into himself rather than getting those cross overs. To avoid knocking his legs or trying to cross over, he steps forward and backward and is always knocking into the pole. Whatever the reason, we've got to figure it out and get it corrected. There will be no finals round for horses who cannot negotiate the obstacle course!

Steve Holt! has some rubbing from his saddle pad back on his hip. This will not help us during the body conditioning portion of the competition. I've been looking at new pads, but lets face it...there's no guarantee that it won't rub, and I've got only a month to fix it. So I've decided to order a new Aussie pad and will start riding in the Aussie saddle. Anything to keep the pressure off those points. Body conditioning may only be 20% of the score, but can make or break you if the competition is close.

Darling did get a snippet of video while we did some trail yesterday, however she's yet to get it onto the computer. She was a bit obsessed with her new boots and created a video of those!

If you're planning on attending the Northwest Horse Fair and Expo, be sure to visit Steve Holt!'s official fan club store so that you're easily spotted in the crowd! Just click the photo below and go!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Git Along Little...Dawgies?

So often I'm seeing photos and reading of experiences out there on the range, where women drive cattle from one pasture to the next, or bring them in for branding...and this wonderful, romantic notion fills my head. be able to experience it first hand!

But a creative person makes due with what they have.

"Darling, get out there and chase them sheep! Momma needs a photo for her blog."

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Keep movin', movin', movin',

Though they're disapprovin',

Keep them doggies movin' Rawhide!

Move 'em on, head 'em up,
Head 'em up, move 'em out,
Move 'em on, head 'em out Rawhide!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Meet Isabella...

Not a mustang. Not even a BLM Burro. So what the heck is she doing here at the Mustang Diaries? Expressing a bit of Donkitude, that's what!

I made the drive to Sedro Woolley to visit Quiet Storm and Mist, convincing Debbie that we could help her get her hands on hay to get her through until spring. Steve met me there to sign off on Mist's BLM paperwork. While there, we were led into a barn full of minis. Mini horses and mini donkeys. I jokingly asked which one they were giving me to use as a livestock guardian. "Whichever one you want," was the answer.

No, I didn't want. I couldn't...could I? No...City Boy would flip his lid. I couldn't.

Somehow those crazy people had me backing my truck up to the barn and loading little Isabella into its bed. The horses were mystified at first. But they now think of her as a long eared sheep who's baaaa needs a bit of oil.

City Boy expressed that he was not entirely delighted with the prospect of a donkey and has made me promise to sell a couple sheep if we keep her. I think deep down he likes her, though...she's so cotton pickin' cute!!! And full of Donkitude...

Surely you'll grow to love her, City Boy!

Baling Twine...the Farm Diva's Friend

Have you ever wondered what to do with all that baling twine you've managed to collect over the years? Aside from rolling them into a large ball in an attempt to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records, that is? Well, this Farm Diva is here to help you out with that age old question.

The obvious thing to do with baling twine is mend fences. In the photo above you can see that I've used it to tie the round pen panel, which is doubling as a paddock divider, to the barn using a lovely blue twine. You can also tie toys to entertain your equine friends to panels or stalls with twine.

Darling likes to use twine as an emergency lead rope.

I've used it as a neck strap around Sandy's neck to help guide him while I'm goofing around bareback and bridleless.

When I was a kid, I braided several pieces of twine together and fashioned a harness for my horse and forced him to pull me through the snow on my plastic sled.

Baling twine makes a nice shoelace.

Take it apart and use it as dental

How about can use it as streamers at your cousin's wedding! And absolutely you should use it as the string for the helium balloons and to tie those beer cans to the back of the newlywed's car. Okay...folks may consider you a bit of a redneck if you were decorating with baling twine, but who cares, right? You're recycling, and that's good. Not to mention you're getting rid of the baling twine, which is even better.

For a few more ideas on what you can do with baling twine, I've give you these links. And please feel free to share what you do with baling twine at your place!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Steve Holt! meets Dr. Plotts

Steve Holt! and his entourage made a drive up north to Kulshan Veterinary for a quick visit with Dr. Plotts. Nothing wrong...just a training session and an opportunity to meet a vet and get a lesson on the state of unwanted horses.

Steve Holt! had not seen a vet before, and as we all know, they smell funny! But Dr. Plotts is a great one for buddying up with a horse before asking it to do anything strange or out of the ordinary. Just as he did with Sandy, he began by petting, rubbing and scratching; finding his soft spots and concentrating on making him feel good before beginning to explore the rest of his body.

He checked his eyes, looked inside his mouth, and made an attempt to take his temperature. That last part wasn't on Steve Holt!'s to do list, however. The two of them had a bit of a converstaion, and a compromise was met...the thermometer slipped in beneath the tail for just a moment and the good Dr. called it good.
The interesting part of all this today was when the mouth was opened to reveal the new teeth coming in. Steve Holt!'s got a couple of caps which his adult teeth are pushing forward and out. Horses loose teeth at 2 1/2, 3 1/2 and 4/1/2. Based on the information from the BLM, Steve Holt! should be loosing his 3 year old teeth...but he isn't. It's his 2 year old teeth that are being pushed out! Dr. Plotts was pretty sure that this horse is not a coming 4 year old, but closer to 2 1/2 or three. Of course, he said that this is only if Steve Holt! follows the pattern.

Then the good Dr. began feeling his jaw, and once again said he was feeling the molars erupting that would take place in a 2 year old. Upon examining his knees, he said they are not closed up and are the knees of a 2 year old. Knees close up somewhere between 36 and 40 months.

I don't know if the BLM will change the paperwork or not. The only concern would be that if someone else adopts him, I'd like them to realize he's still pretty young and that they ought to wait another year before really doing anything stressful.

All in all, Steve Holt!'s visit went very smoothly. After we got home I gave him a bit of a break, then hauled him to the riding club where I set up a few trail obstacles. I've decided that I'm only going to work on obstacles for the next week to see what happens.

And might I say that we had the BEST. RIDE. EVER!!!

The last ride on Monday had been so stressful that I'd hoped it was one of those break through type rides, and after having yesterday off, it would appear that it was. I'd set up ground poles, some pole bending poles (to back between), and another trot over pole that was raised a few inches. I started out doing some in hand work, then saddled and went out and began walking over poles. As he loosened up he broke into a jog. JOG, mind you, not trot, and he kept his head at a reasonable level and stayed at a steady speed with little help from me. We did circles and went over the poles, and he easily broke into a lope...left lead...relaxed...slow... Unbelievable!

All I did was circle around the obstacles, occasionally breaking to back between poles, then back to some circles and trotting and eventually loping over the ground poles. How I wish I'd had the video camera there! His reins were pleasure horse, noodle loose at the lope, and while it surely wasn't a finished horse lope, it was actually quite nice.

I was very proud of my boy today!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Go, Speed Racer

Steve Holt! was in fine form this evening when I hauled up to the riding club. Typically, he begins at a nice, easy pace, walking all relaxed around the rail and not really caring much when we move up into a trot.

Not so tonight. He was ready to trot immediately, and from a trot he wanted to move into a lope. I let him, and he stayed fairly soft and easy. I'm finding it odd that a week ago he couldn't manage a soft lope to the right, but now it's the left that he's struggling with. But that's just the way he's operating right now. So to the right we went and things were good. He even whoa'd when asked, changing directions and picking up that left lead which was so elusive yesterday. Too bad it was taking him 5-6 strides to do it.

At first I let it go, happy enough that he was picking it up. But after a couple of circles and starting and stopping, I began suggesting a bit more firmly that he pick it up sooner. He insisted equally strong that it wasn't going to happen like that. Before long we were both having a melt down as we battled over the lope.

Frustration is never good. Before I'd begun to ride, I'd set up three pole bending poles in a tight V, as well as 3 ground poles to practice trot overs. I decided it really didn't matter if Steve Holt! had his act together or not picking up leads and doing circles if he wasn't able to negotiate the trail obstacles. One cannot make the finals, after all, if one can't do trail. So I rode him over to the upright poles and asked him to back between them, then around the point (which would be the bottom of the V), and back up through the top poles again. He did it with relative ease considering we'd never done anything like that before. I then began to do some trot over work, and a bit of side passing. His heart rate went down, as did mine.

I've been wondering if he'd tolerate me carrying something while on his back. Sandy freaks over fluttery stuff, but Steve Holt! appears more sensible with such things. There was nothing to nearby suitable for carrying, however...unless you counted the pole bending poles. I aimed Steve Holt! towards one, lifted it up and asked him to cross the arena. He was aware that something was there and that it was coming along with us, but he wasn't bothered. I picked up all three and transported them from one side to the other (one at a time, of course), and he stayed relaxed through it all. And in case you didn't know? Those poles are heavy! At least the base, and my arm is sore tonight from carrying them around.

Twenty minutes later I turned him back towards the center of the arena. I asked for a lope to the right. He stayed relaxed this time. I only made one circle, then asked for the stop. He did it nicely. I asked for the left lead, and again he took too many strides to pick it up, but his pace was slow and his whoa was there. I asked for a few steps backwards and got them, so I dismounted and called it a night. What started off as rocky ended well. I've just got to get the whole ride like those last few minutes!

To Spur or Not To Spur

Click to Mix and Solve

That would be the question.

Jeanette popped me an email the other day and we've been discussing Steve Holt!'s shoulder issue. Whether he struggles to keep them up, or whether he's too lazy, and just how do I encourage him to stop drifting to the outside while I make circles?

As it stands right now, that boy has a lot of flexation going on in his neck. He can bend it straight back to my knee and lope a straight line. Yesterday we loped circles to the left, and I tried to spiral him down into something smaller but aside from his nose, not much else moved.

Okay, so that may be a slight exaggeration. He did make smaller circles, but it was a lot of hard work on my part. Left hand into the center so he'd follow it, right hand crossing over towards my shoulder for a brace to help; left leg away from his side so he had somewhere to go and right leg making every attempt it could to encourage his body to move willingly to the inside. But what my right leg met with was the ribcage of resistance.

So I'm thinking perhaps it's time for some spurs to help nudge him along and help him better understand what I'm asking for. We'll see.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Stills

This weeks assignment was reflection. I'd thought about doing a horse eye, but everyone is doing that these days. Besides...the best one I've got has snow reflected in the eye and undoubtedly MiKael the northwest weather woman would come along and mention how we have no snow this week.... =>

So out into my big backyard I went, certain there was nothing at all unusual or super fun or lovely. Sure...there are trees reflected in puddles back there on Carpenter Creek. But bare trees in water are not really exciting.

I was certain that's what I'd end up with, though. That is...until the cat came along!


To see who else is participating, go visit Sunday Stills.

Steve Holt!, week 9

I'd forgotten what it was like to see that little ticker on my blog. I sign in and there it is, reminding me that I am no where near ready.

Yesterday Darling and I went down to the trail with two other women, but our time was limited. Steve Holt! wasn't sure about the other horses at first. After all, there was an Arabian there, and he most definitely did not like that little horse. Eventually he forgot the horse was there (probably because it was in the lead, and he was at the end of the line) and walked nicely down the trail following Sandy's tail. Eventually we changed positions, and he led for a short bit, then Sandy jogged past us and led the rest of the way back. It was a nice break from the arena.

I rode in the Aussie saddle for the first time yesterday, first on the trail and then in the arena. I was thrilled to find my leg back where it belonged. I'm wondering if it's just the stiffness of that particular western saddle that has me swinging forward so much? Whatever it is, I'm going to use the Aussie for a while so that I'm in a more user friendly position with that right leg.

I've not got much of a list when it comes to new accomplishments this week.

1) His feet were done for the first time. Just a bit of rasping, enough to relax and get used to them being handled. Plus, it was his first time allowing a man inside his private circle.

2) Riding on the trail in a group setting.

Aside from those two things, we did a lot of review. More circles, more working on getting those shoulders where they belong, more effort poured into setting up for picking up correct leads. My friend Shelley said recently that training horses is boring work. And when you get to this point...yes, it truly is. Repetition, however, is what we need right now.

Peek A Boo!

For those of you in the northwest, you may be interested in a Steve Rother clinic that is coming up. Jamie Thomas, another EMM trainer, is organizing the event and asked me to pass along the information. You can contact her at

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Trouble with Video Is...

Doesn't Steve Holt! look happy?!

You know the trouble with video? You're forced to look at each and every flaw in your riding style! Oye, vey... Well, according to the little ticker up there on the right side of the page, I've still got 40 days to fix not only myself, but get Steve Holt! spiffied up a bit more as well.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Poor Quiet Storm just can't catch a break. About a month ago I received a call from her new owner, sobbing, in tears, telling me she'd have to give up the mustangs. She'd just been through heart surgery and the bills were coming in. I asked if I could buy her a couple months time, would that help? Yes...she said.

And so the word went out, and a few extra bales brought in. And she was overjoyed. But she's still struggling to get things straightened out with the hospital, trying to get a payment plan that will work, and tonight I heard from her daughter saying that her mom had decided she just can't take any more charity and has decided she needs to give the horses up.

Which means that our dear little girl is again in need of a home. If anyone here is in the northwest and would like more information on this now 4 year old sweet as can be little mare please let me know.

Also available is Mist (Firecracker). For those of you who've not been at the Diaries for long, she's a 5 year old Kiger mare. Debbie has been on her, although I don't know how many rides.

Should anyone want to help contribute to their care until we can rehome them, I'd be much obliged! You can paypal where an account has been set up especially for them.


Yesterday Lynda the reporter and Alan the photographer were back. We met them at Curt's place so they could watch while I took a lesson, plus Jay had promised to meet us there to give Steve Holt! his first trim. Darling had her camera, but when I asked if she got video of Steve Holt!'s ride, she said..."Um...No." What?! Sigh...what will I do with that kid?

Curt had offered to let Lynda ride one of the cutting horses, and Darling did get that recorded. She also got Steve Holt! being introduced to a pedicure.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It was June When I Met These Horses

I first wrote this story in early June and posted it at Carpenter Creek with a "To Be Continued" promise...and until last week there was no continuation...

A herd of domestic~turned~feral horses.

An idyllic scene greets your eyes. Tranquil. Peaceful. Picturesque. The long, narrow valley filled with daisies in early June, the foothills of Mt. Baker creating the perfect backdrop. A small herd a horses grazes peacefully. The mares are fat with the spring grass, their foals napping in the mid morning sun. Nothing at all to make you think things were out of place.

So why has Animal Control been called in?

This little herd, which looks so harmonious, has spent the winter fending for themselves. Before the spring grass, it was the harsh, cold winter with nothing but snow and tree bark. Rather than fat and shiny, they were starved, ribs and hips poking out from shaggy winter coats. Two stallions, two mares, and their offspring were given freedom to roam not only the valley, but the hillside across the dangerously narrow, winding road without any regard for motorists or logging trucks that may be making their way up or down the mountain.

A palomino mare approaches cautiously, protecting her colt.

Typically in the wild, there will be one herd stallion who will chase away his offspring by their second year. This keeps herds from inbreeding. Young stallions band together in what are known as bachelor bands until they are able to steal a mare from an established herd and begin their own. But in this situation, both stallions, ages six and seven, were born on the property and live a daily existence with the two mares. They get along, so long as there’s not a mare in heat. Once one of the mares is in season, the battles begin. Rearing, striking, biting and kicking. Battle scars mar both bodies. Wounds have festered and sport proud flesh due to being left without treatment.

Wounds left to fester on the side of this stallion have created scar tissue.

The hooves of these horses are long. The ground is not the hard desert rock that most wild horses travel across, so there is no natural wearing. When they get too long, they chip and break off, sometimes leaving the hoof so short that the horse ends up lame. Thankfully, these horses haven’t the need to travel 20 miles to find water, or they’d never make it. In fact, aside from the summer grass, the only blessing to these horses is that there is a creek running through the property which gives them fresh, clean water to drink.

Stallions, aged seven and six, run free with the mares.

Neighbors have complained for years. They’ve seen the horses in winter. They’ve slowed down for them as they’ve crossed the road. But because there are stallions in the mix, finding suitable homes or rescues is difficult. When a warrant is issued, the animal control officer (ACO) has just 24 hours to move the horses. Because this particular band hasn’t been handled, capturing can be rather tricky. On the first attempt, only two of the ten were caught and relocated. Now the ACO is struggling to get her crew back together on a single day that works for everyone. The crew being a band of volunteers with enough trailer space to haul two intact stallions, two yearlings, and two mare and foal pairs.

And so the little herd waits in the sun, unaware of their future, content in a field of daisies.

A curious stallion stands watch.

Last week I spoke with ACO. Skagit County has had their plates full with abandoned and neglected horses, not to mention the recent puppy mill bust of nearly 600 dogs. Snow up on the mountain road has made it impossible to get trailers up there, but feed has been brought in. The 'owner' has skipped town. A rescue effort is back in the works. With any luck I'll be able to attend and get more photos for you of this little herd.