Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hey, I know her!

I tuned into KMPS radio yesterday to hear Ichabod talking to a young bride who'd absolutely lost it during her wedding when her groom said he'd take her as his Waffley Wedded wife. I had to come home and search you tube to see if I could find it. As I watched, I thought I recognized someone in the audience at the wedding. I started to pay a bit closer attention...then realized, "Hey! I know that bride!"

Turns out it was the younger sister of a boy who was in my son's class at school. You may have already seen them, but if not, welcome to the Waffle Wedding...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Transformation

Wow! Look how things are changing around here!

City Boy was loaned the use of The Boss's big orange tractor four weeks ago. Since then, things have been changing. A lot! A trench was dug and filled with drain rock in the paddock, road fabric placed over top, and pea gravel over that. Now my paddocks don't hold rain and I'm looking forward to a mudnure free winter!

But why stop there? I've been dying for sand in the round pen. Club Sand sounds so much nicer than Club Dirt, don't you agree? So the other night City Boy ran the big orange tractor around and prepared the ground for yesterday's delivery. A full truck load of sand doesn't go as far as I'd thought (or hoped) it would, but it went far enough to give me a few inches of footing.

Hmmm...looks like someone had to mark their territory already!

Apple Pony watches intently.

Drainage and round pens were not the only thing getting attention this past few weeks. City Boy has also been busy taking down some of the smaller alder trees behind the house, opening it up to some light, creating a new park like area for a fire pit and seating, and then...then... the very back we found some nice little dips and hills, so I asked if we could place some logs and create some natural jumps for the horses. Next thing I know, there are two jumps in place! One (above) with an old telephone pole that Norman the cat enjoyed popping up and down from, and another with two logs stacked on top of each other.

Too bad the rains have returned and we're heading into fall, as the footing is too soft to do much cantering along. That didn't stop Darling from leading Steve Holt! through her new cross country course, though! (Check out her new video)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Apple Pony

I first met him in late spring. Or was it early summer? I'm not really sure. It doesn't really matter, other than it was several months ago. I received a call from a woman on the islands about a mustang she'd ended up with when the owner decided he wasn't really on her list of high priorities. Trouble was, he didn't find humans on his list of high priorities, and his new owner was struggling to convince him it was okay to allow a halter on and off and be handled. That is...unless she had an apple with her.

The mustang and I got along well enough on that first meeting. He got curious about the stranger in his field, and it was driving him nuts to have my back turned to him. It wasn't long before his big, pink nose was in the back of my head, breathing deeply into my curls. I ignored him for a moment, then reached up to touch his muzzle. That lead to rubbing his face, although he wasn't convinced this was the smartest move on his part. Still, there was no halter or lead, so he tolerated quite a bit of rubbing and scratching before moving off a few feet to further assess the stranger.

September is when children head to school, said his owner, and so it was with Apple Pony as well. So I drove back to the islands with my trailer to pick up my new student.
It was a foggy morning. Normally you'd see well out into the channel at Deception Pass while crossing. Not so on this morning. Visibility was low and traffic was slow.

Apple Pony was out in his field, unaware of how his life was about to change for the next little while. I was handed several apples and as his owner finished up with the equine massage therapist, I walked into Apple Pony's pasture, refusing to look at him, munching on a juicy sweet apple and approached the horse on the other side of the far fence. I handed the sorrel a bit of my apple, which he took and enjoyed.

The big palomino could barely stand it. He came over, softly snorting at the apple toting stranger who dared to feed his neighbor and not him. I continued to ignore him while feeding the sorrel, and Apple Pony was beside himself. His muzzle was pushing on me as he demanded attention. I stroked his face and gave him a bite, then began to walk towards a catch pen that was at the end of his pasture.

By this time, his owner was there opening the panels so that we could walk inside. She was surprised at how eager her hard to catch boy was to follow. Typically he'd shy away from the pen, knowing what was going to happen. "Nothing magical or mystical...just like a kid who doesn't do something for mom but will obey a stranger," I said. And that is really all it was. He had no reason to believe I'd betray him. His focus was simply on apples, which he was not receiving nearly fast enough.

It didn't take much to get the halter onto his face once he was inside the smaller pen. There was nowhere to go, and he was still thinking about apples. This was the part his owner had been most concerned about, as he has a tendency to reach his head up high and avoid the crown piece as it reaches over his poll. And indeed he was tense, but again, being a stranger worked in my favor.

Once haltered, Apple Pony is a real gem. He leads and ties and stands for the farrier. He was cautious about loading, but we did get him in without any real struggle. Wish he were still loading that easily now that he's here! But alas...after a week I'm no longer a stranger, but the person who makes him stand still for haltering and if he doesn't, I make him trot circles until he decides standing for the halter is the easier option.
Apple Pony was broke to ride at some point, as his former owner did ride him when she tried him out. But once she got him home, he opted not to be caught, and that was that. No saddles or bridles or riders for a good couple of years made this pony happy. Doubly happy when there were no riders, but plenty of apples!

Of course, since he is now learning to be caught, he is also standing and allowing me to saddle him up. I thought he'd look cute in Darling's little English saddle, but Apple Pony needs a larger girth. Look at this boy! He's huge! Jay came out to give him a trim on Friday. I commented on how I thought there must be Belgian in this boy, and Jay suggested perhaps sorrel Percheron. Whatever it is, it's drafty. And I don't mean the wind whistling through a door draft, either. Apple Pony is one stout boy!

And he's cute, too boot!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pssst...Pass it on! And Win!

Saturday is National Wild Horse Adoption Day! We've got a goal...adopt out 1000 horses nation wide! How can you help? Get the word out! Post this on your blog either Friday or Saturday for your chance to win a prize from the folks at Mustang U! Let your readers know you support mustang adoption, and you could find yourself with a $65 gift certificate to Outer Sports!

Once you've posted, leave a comment on the Mustang U blog. All who respond will have their names put into a hat (cowboy, of course!) and the winner will be announced on Monday morning.

Pass It On and WIN!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Lesson

Well, it was exciting, let me tell you! First, here's a tidbit of Barb's bio:

* Rode & studied with General Geagos & Captain de La Garza of SanMiguel de Allende of the Mexican Army. At the time, these were the top horseman in the world. While in Mexico she trained for Dressage, Cross-Country and Stadium Jumping.
* Trained with Pam Arthur from Vancouver, BC for Hunt Seat and Eventing. Pam was a well known jump rider and course designer.
* Trained with Gene Lewis of California for Jumping. Gene has just been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 USA Equestrian (AHSA).
* Trained with Margaret Cabell Self, a trainer and published author in Dressage.

Needless to say, a lot of background here. She's been teaching kids to jump since I was a tot, and gives them a very solid foundation.

So today we show up with Steve Holt!, and Darling was trotting him and Barb was working on her leg position, then calls her over to where we're sitting and says, "You're going to think I'm blowing smoke up your skirts, but I think you've got a jumper on your hands. He's got a nice, big, loose stride, the kind you see on the big time horses. Look at (insert name of little gray horse) and you'll see how neat and tight she moves. She moves like a hunter, she looks pretty over little fences, but she hasn't got the movement that this boy has. Let's see what he says about a ground pole..."

And off she went for the ground pole. Darling trotted around the arena and came to the pole, which Steve Holt! promptly half halted for with a "Hey, where'd that come from?" expression on his face before he stepped over. Barb giggled and said it was good that he noticed, and great that he continued on.

And with that, Darling went back to the rail, Barb asked if she could canter him and she said sure, and off they went. And as Barb turned her attention to another girl at the near end of the arena, my gaze went to the far end where Steve Holt! and Darling were crashing to the ground!!!! :o He'd hit a slick spot and his back end just slid on out, and down they came.

Darling was standing there bewildered as she couldn't walk, Steve Holt! stood at the fence wondering what had just happened. Both were covered with dirt. I jogged down and Darling put her arm over my shoulder, said she couldn't put weight on her leg. I asked her to wiggle her toes, and she could. We tried to walk with her hanging on me but it didn't work out so well, so she gingerly put it down and limped a couple of steps. And then a bit more weight, and she was sore but before we got to the center of the arena she was walking it off. Then back into the saddle she went, no more cantering but some trotting both directions to gain some confidence back.

"You're a tough kid! That's good, I like that. Makes a good jumper!" said Barb with a smile.

A bag of ice on the knee and things all seem to be getting better around here. Thankfully, no serious injuries!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pop goes the Pony

Well, if you were to watch this, you'd ask yourself "Why on earth does Darling want a different pony to pop over fences with?" We finally pulled out the tape measure to see how high this rail was, and weren't we surprised when it was 24"? Yes, indeed, we were! And look at that little Sandy just bouncing right over it! Sigh...if only he enjoyed it.

Darling and I hauled Steve Holt! over to BB Stables, which is where we're hosting National Wild Horse Adoption Day on Saturday, and she took her second ride on him, the first one in an arena (not counting the couple short, five minute round pen rides she's done.) He worked nicely for her and I pretty much left them alone as I talked with Barb about adoption day, mustangs, and our dream to be able to afford a place like the old Alpaca Farm.

I also told her I needed to find a trainer for Darling so she could start jumping, and out came the calendar and the question, which day? "Really? I'd heard you weren't doing lessons any more, that you'd retired," I said. "Only to a select few," was the reply. Woo Hoo! We're select! So Darling and Steve Holt! will begin their lessons this afternoon. Barb also said she could help us with a lease horse if we needed it, but watching Steve Holt! trot around, she didn't see why we wanted one. She loved his movement and said they'd try a couple of ground poles and maybe a tiny jump to determine if he would make a suitable jumper or not. If all else fails, she's got ponies in the barn that can assist Darling with the whole wings that work issue.

Don't forget that National Wild Horse Adoption Day is coming up! Your chance to win great prizes if you copy the image below and tell people about our event in Bellingham!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Searching for Wings

Darling has been searching for wings. Her time on Marti is over, as he's moved back to Canada with his owner. Since Sandy truly does not enjoy being air born, and since Steve Holt! is still a baby when it comes to...well, anything...we've spent the past couple of weeks looking into the care lease option.

Have you ever done a lease? Let me tell you, it is not easy! We'd like a free/care lease on a sound horse who can go over 24" jumps easily enough that Darling can just sit and concentrate on herself, not the horse. After all, it's difficult to get into a good two point position when you're struggling to get the horse to face the jump.

So far we've seen two lame horses (they've never been lame a day in their life...uh huh...), one who was supposed to be suitable for beginners that tried to run off (hello...leasing a horse? Try riding it more than once a month before marketing to beginning riders), one who we were told hadn't been jumped in a few years who turned out not to have been ridden in three years, and one who backed out of the verbal agreement once the lease contract came out.

How will I ever steal my pony back if I can't find wings that work for Darling???

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I may never ride Steve Holt! again...

The little thief is at it again! Who is that girl on my horse?! And wow...will you look at that nice, long relaxed stride he's got? Just walkin' along, covering ground, and poor Sandy beneath me having to jog to keep up.

Do you think I'll ever get Steve Holt! back?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fitz's Adventures

My parents are out running around the countryside, spending my inheritance on a motorhome and a cat called Dude. And all I get is the responsibility of putting up a blog!

Go Visit. Make my efforts worthwhile. Fitz's Adventures...they're in Niagara Falls right now. (Some day Mom will figure out the blogging thing...I'm certain of it...and then you'll get the full meal deal rather than my hastily edited rendition!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nothing says I Love You like...


And I'm not talking the shiny kind you string around your neck or wear on a finger. Oh, sure, there are those of you who'd expect something of the diamond variety for your 30th wedding anniversary, but not this Farm Diva. No...around here, gravel is a girl's best friend!

It was time for the annual paddock re-do, and this year, thanks to a friend in the construction business, I had been blessed with some of that road fabric stuff. City Boy scraped the paddocks down and dug a big trench, filling it with drain rock which will (or should) help with the water issues around here. The fabric was put down on top of that to prevent the clay (aka, winter mud) from oozing up between my toes.

Now I'm sure you're wondering what the heck I'd be doing out there with bare feet, but in the past the clay has been so thick that it's sucked my muck boots straight off, and while a farm diva mud treatment is nice and all...well, I'd prefer to skip it this year.

On top of the fabric went the rocks. I had a difficult time deciding which kind to order and lay down. In the past it's been 5/8ths minus. That, however, packs down like concrete and it's only taken me two years and someone saying, 'hey, dummy' for me to realize that perhaps this is why I'm struggling with drainage? So I spoke with the folks at Cowden Gravel and while I'd been thinking of 5/8ths clear, they said maybe pea gravel would work better. So pea gravel it was...or is.

So there you have it...a romantic Farm Diva wedding anniversary gift. Isn't City Boy the best?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lovely September Weekend

Darling and Sky Bar

Darling and I hit the trails for the first time in months this weekend. Saturday was Steve Holt!'s first ride in weeks. He was a bit fast paced, and of course Darling had decided she was just fine without a saddle...yesireebob it was an interesting ride! But we made it back alive and had enough fun that we went out again on Sunday.

This time I suggested (strongly) that Darling plunk a saddle down onto her trusty steed's back. She wasn't too keen on the idea at first, but in the end? I'm thinking she was a bit thankful. You see, we headed down a hill and through a creek full of boulders (not the way she wanted to go, but I prefer it to the iron bridge.) Steve Holt! crossed it nicely, but Sandy? Well, he decided last minute to play jumping pony. He hesitated at the edge, then boom! He went sailing over the top!

I heard a small yelp behind me and turned to find Sandy and Darling behind me, no reins in my child's hands, but rather Sandy had them around a leg! Seems the unexpected flight pattern caught Darling off guard, threw her forward and somehow the reins went flying (caught on a branch and ripped out of her grip?)

She was shaky and I suggested she climb off and get her reins. Sandy was uncooperative; he wasn't having fun on this ride. Darling struggled to get him to pick up his foot on the narrow trail, and he outright refused, so I climbed off Steve Holt! and we switched places. There are days when Sandy can try one's patience, and this was one of them as he seemed to have that foot firmly attached to the ground. I finally made him see things my way (backing up down the trail wasn't fun), and Darling and I decided to switch horses for a bit.

Sandy was being a twit, there was no doubt. Walking sideways and refusing to step out in front of Steve Holt! to lead the way, but a good set of spurs does come in handy in times like these and again, he saw things my way.

Darling enjoyed the rest of the ride on Steve Holt!, who's laid back, easy going attitude on the trail is hard not to enjoy. Rather than jumping up over rocks and logs, his long legs take nice, long strides and he walks quietly over them. All Darling had to do was sit and smile.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pryor Mountain Mustangs

There's been a lot of hype, talk, and squawking of late regarding the Pryor Mt Mustangs. A small, isolated HMA known for their high Spanish blood, this is where Cloud calls home. Whether it was right or wrong to gather the horses, I cannot say. I'm not there, never have been. Haven't got a clue as to the condition of the rangelands.

Some say the horses are fat and healthy, and that there's plenty to eat. Others, Ken McNabb among them, say the ranges are limited in what they can support. So who's right? Who's wrong? I don't know. I do know that I found a lovely blog, thanks to my good friend Lea, called Pryor Wild that documented the entire gather. If you'd like to see everything up close, from helicopters swooping in to Cloud following the Judas horse into the trap, go check it out.

While I was cruising the blog, I found a link to the Pryor Mt Horses website...which in turn led me to a photographer by the name of Pam Nickoles. I've seen her work before; been to her website and admired her work...and admit to just a wee bit of jealousy that she's been to so many different HMA's. But something caught my eye today that I hadn't seen before. It's the story of a Stallion and the Foal...Chaco and Little Medicine. You'd better go read it.


Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm Hot, Sticky, Sweaty...

The sun has come out again here in the northwest, and rather than out for a nice ride I've been unloading hay. I've barely ridden at all this summer, and I'm really wanting to hit the trails before things get too wet, but seems my time is slipping away.

I spent a bit of time messing with Sky Bar's Chance this week. He's had the saddle blanket on and off a few times, but he's a bit nervous about it flapping on his sides. Need to work on that. He appeared completely clueless regarding the snaffle when I put it into his mouth, tugging this way and that. It's hard to determine if he's been ridden or he just naturally accepting after 4 years in captivity? Or has he had some miles put onto him?

The other day we took our first walk 'outside'. We left the stall, walked down the alley way of the barn, and out into the driveway. Sky's first week here, he'd been kind of nervous and pulling or pushing when led into new spaces. We'd concentrated on going up and down the alley way and in and out of stalls to help him relax (all with the big barn doors closed, of course.) But once outside in the open air he was completely fine. In fact, he was wonderful! Where other horses (mine, in particular) would be diving down for a fresh blade of grass after being all cooped up, Sky Bar walked pleasantly as you please down the drive to the arena.

Once there, I worked on lunging, which he wasn't so certain of. Without the round pen wall to hold him up, he pulled this way and that, which isn't at all abnormal for a young horse with no training, but definitely a tell tale sign that this was as unfamiliar as the bit had been. Once he figured it out for the most part, we walked to the wall where I let him stand with the rope wrapped around the post. Wrapped, because I didn't want him to come to the end of it and panic; this way there'd be some drag, but also some movement to give him a feeling of security. Rather like the blocker tie ring...only cheaper.

Sky Bar stood pretty nicely. He's impatient, though, and did a bit of pawing until he realized he could manipulate the rope into lengthening. Okay, smart horse. Before trying out the saddle with him, I tossed my long rope over his back (another area we need to 'fix' on him...he's uncomfortable with things like the rope flipping about) and pulled it tight under his belly like a cinch. No response, so out came the saddle. Aside from the flapping of cinch and stirrups, he was fine, and we ended our session with a bit of lunging. No buck, just an "I'm not sure about this circle stuff" attitude.

Darling and I agree, Sky Bar is a lot like Sandy in attitude. Sure, he's got a few holes that need plugging, and we don't know what he's like to ride (or if he has been, but I suspect so), but there's something very familiar about him when you just hang out together. He's not lovely dovey, but you know he likes you.

National Adoption Day is September 26...better show up and bid on this pony.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Help Me, I Think I'm Falling...

In Love Again!


Her eyes call you in. She's got that something special look that can't be ignored. Darling is never wrong, you know...she always picks good, and Tika was her pick at the corrals a couple weeks ago.

So far, at the ripe old, unadoptable age of seven, Tika has learned to give to pressure on her halter and leads (a bit stiffly, but forward motion is there.) She's gradually allowing my fingers to slip down her neck and quietly untangle her long mane. And just yesterday she loaded in the trailer and went for a ride.

I went to grab my camera, and when I came back I spotted her feet.

Peering through the apple trees, I saw her sniffing at the base of the trailer.

Standing at the door, wondering if she should throw me her glamour look or just climb in?

She opted for the look (top photo) and waited for me to encourage her into the box on wheels. No fighting, no panic. Just a simple assessment and acknowledgment that this is where I wanted her to be, and in she climbed. I let her settle in before driving out to the road. No jostling or turning or pawing to get out. What was the point in that? Good hay was found inside, and eating is one of Tika's favorite activities (gotta love a food motivated horse!)

Darling wants her. I wouldn't mind keeping her. But she's up for adoption on Sept. 26. No room in the barn for another horse this winter, I'm afraid. So my heart will break...but yours..well, you could fall in love...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gotta Love the Lighting

Darling and Sandy were out for a ride in the evening sun. Doesn't Sandy look good? All nice and shiny and filled out. Hard to believe what a scruffy thing he was when we brought him home.

We've not had much riding time of late. In fact, I believe it's been nearly a month since I've saddled up my boy. Darling took a tumble off Sandy, and the rule is, if you fall off you buy a new helmet before climbing back on. Well...we didn't have much time for helmet buying what with the fair and then the trip to pick up horses, so Darling began riding with my helmet. And that meant I was grounded.

This past weekend we went shopping at the Bony Pony, though, and picked her up a new one, and let me tell you, she's riding in style! Lookin' mighty fine, that girl and her pony. And perhaps I'll be able to squeeze in a ride or two now as well.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

80 acres and a Tiny Little House

It doesn't look like much. Just a tiny little mobile...and a bit on the older side at that...but it's been updated a bit inside with new counter tops and fresh paint. There was this tiny little laundry room/mud porch that has been added onto the backside, and up front another covered porch where you could plunker down a couple of chairs and look out across your front yard to where antelope play in the fields across the road.

The perimeter of the yard is fenced in this most adorable wooden fence. The skies are blue out yonder, and the evening sun still warm on our skin as we walked about the vacated property. Grasshoppers flitted and flew about as we crossed the backyard and walked out towards the driveway.

The land was flat and we could see well beyond the property line out into the sage. The 80 acres has been well maintained, the former owner growing his own hay while still grazing his cattle; totally self least where forage is concerned...what would that feel like, do you suppose? Not having to worry about finding hay to put into the barn?

I needed to remind Darling that despite there being enough grass and hay to feed our horses, we'd still need the tractor and equipment to get the haying done, which promptly put a damper on our dreams. But for that half hour we walked about that sweet little spread, it was sheer heaven.


Interested in updates on Tika and Sky Bar? Visit them at the Adopt A Living Legend Blog!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cattle Drive!

Naturally, a trip to Burns is not complete without a phone call to Andi where we plead and beg for her to drag our sorry hinies up to the South Steens for a glimpse at wild ponies. This time they weren't too far from the paved road, and most any other day we'd have jumped from the moving vehicle in an effort to get a little closer. This time, however, there was something in our way. Rattlesnakes! Ick. I'm not too familiar with desert critters, especially snakes who want to kill you and eat you. Oh, sure, you may say they're more afraid of me than I am of them, but chances in the 100 degree heat were not what I wanted to take. So we settled for photos from the window of the car. Which was air conditioned.

The South Steens is scheduled to be gathered next month, although exact dates have not been given. Darling and I have our names on the list to see if we can be there to watch, but it's unlikely unless a few others ahead of us drop out. It could happen though, right?

While traveling up the long, dusty road we came across a cow. Or two. Or twenty. And a long line of dust, through which we were able to make out a rider on horseback.
On our way back down the highway, post wild horse sighting, we came across the tail end of the same herd of cattle being moved on down the road. The watering hole on the other side of the fence was too alluring and many cows and calves jumped the fence for a cool drink of water after their summer up in the high desert.

So many cows slipped through the fence, in fact, that a neighboring outfit showed up with a couple more horses to help get the girls moving in the right direction. We followed slowly, Andi keeping pace so I could play tourist and take loads of photos. Not that I've never seen a herd of cattle traveling down the road before, as I did learn to ride on the back of a Guernsey cow hoofing it home from her day of grazing back to the dairy barn on the Hannegan Rd. But it's not every day we see that around here any more, and Darling and I both enjoyed the scene.
For those who enjoy the fast paced bustling of a big city, Burns is not the place to go. But for Darling and I, who enjoy the slow paced, rustic, rural life style, it's a place we'd like to some day call home. Convincing City Boy may be a challenge. Then again, surely the big city of Bend has a Starbucks to make him feel at home?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Where to Rest One's Weary Head?

Darling and I stopped for dinner shortly after crossing the Washington~Oregon border. We needed to get out and stretch our legs and lay out our plans for the night. Should we find a hotel, or just grab a few winks in the cab of the truck at the Walmart parking lot? We decided on the latter, so once we paid for our dinner we were off in search of Wally World.

Up here where we live, lots of people camp in the Walmart parking lot. In this particular town there were signs saying overnighters weren't allowed. Darling and I wondered if cat winkers were okay? We tried our best, but the last thing I wanted was to have my window knocked on just as I drifted off to sleep, so we pulled out in search of a better parking lot. It didn't take long to find a nice, quiet strip mall up the highway a bit; lit just enough to keep on safe, and the Dominoes people were showing up for work (at midnight?), so we felt comfortable enough to doze off for a bit.

An hour later I felt rested enough to pull back out onto the highway and over the pass we went. Three hours later we pulled off at the rest area, an hour out of Redmond, and slept until 6. Then it was back on the road, rested and feeling pretty darned good considering our crazy beginning the day before.

I call her Mona...she's 15 years old and in need of a home.

Darling and I stopped to visit a good friend, Shelley, in Redmond after breakfast. It was nice to see her place and hear about her business. Shelley and I competed together in Sacramento and again in Albany with our mustangs. She's got several in for training right now and we were able to meet them all before we headed to Burns.

With National Wild Horse Adoption Day coming up, I'd promised the Mustang Heritage Foundation I'd pick out two horses to gentle. The goal is to find 1000 horses homes this month...hey, people, if you've ever wanted to adopt, now's the time! I'd hoped to find a nice, sturdy gelding, but was told all the geldings were gone unless I wanted an older one. I didn't mind taking something slated for Long Term Holding. After all, those horses are the ones who are facing the greatest danger right now since the BLM announced plans to begin euthanizing them last year. So it had already been in my mind to snag an older horse.

The mares were pretty much just as scarce, not because they were all gone, but because so many of them still had foals nursing. Two very striking bay mares really jumped out at me while we were driving around the corrals, but both had foals with them. The rest of the younger mares appeared to be in duns, which are off limits for the TIP program. So once again, an older horse seemed like it would be the best fit.

This pretty bay gelding is 12.
Look at those soft eyes!

Darling and I made the first trip on foot, then, since it was somewhere in the upper 90's, we got smart and made the second lap in our truck. The mares were difficult to pick out, intermingled with foals and always at a distance that made it difficult to see their numbers. With the corrals closing in less than an hour, we drove around the corner to get another look at the geldings.

As I stood at the fence scanning the herd through my camera lens, I noticed a set of eyes staring back at me. A pretty sorrel and white pinto was taking note, watching me as I watched the geldings. He was cute, but being a pinto I figured someone would pick him up. Besides, I didn't see the hip number that identified him as a Long Term Holding horse. So my cameral lens changed direction and I continued to look. Curiousity got the best of the pinto, though, and before long he was at the fence questioning our business there.

Hey, you! Whatcha doing on that side of the fence?

Darling grabbed a horse treat out of the truck and the friendly gelding lipped it up out of her fingers. Her hand slipped alongside his face and rubbed his cheek, gradually working back to his neck where she actually got in a few pats.

"I think we found our first horse," I said, as his hip number became visible now that he was up alongside us.

The following morning we headed back to the corrals bright and early, and Wendy brought the pen of available mares up where we could see them. Many duns, very few bays or blacks, and several six and older. Six and up meant Long Term Holding, and again, color was no longer an issue. Darling and I really liked a black mare, but upon seeing her move I knew right away that the mother and daughter who'd been there the day before had taken her. They'd been looking for a heavy built, nice moving horse for dressage. This black filly absolutely floated! And indeed, it turned out they'd spoken for her.

Darling and I continued to look. The bay? No, too snotty. The little black? No, she's kicking. She's a pretty one...but 15 may be a bit too old for this project. A long, leggy sorrel was watching us, standing apart from the rest. A closer look and we see the line down her back; a red dun without a hip brand. I sighed and looked at the paper we'd been given that told matched the numbers with the mares in front of us. The dun's number was there...and her age...and hey! Look at this! She's seven, just not branded yet because she'd been with her foal.

And there we had it. Our second horse picked out and ready to come home.

Tall, leggy red dun mare stands apart from the rest.

The third horse in the trailer was a lovely red dun mare, three years old and let me tell you she's one quick moving, smart little horse! I'm a bit envious of her adopter as she's just the sort of thing I'd be looking for in a cutting horse.

With the three horses selected, we were ready for a little fun.