Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Darling's Lesson

Darling had a lesson yesterday. As usual, I was instructed to get photos and video. Since the video camera's batteries were so low, I ended up doing still shots. Sort of.


Darling was not impressed with my selection of photos. Seems the small distractions were too much for my feeble mind and I simply could not concentrate on the little punk riding the big bay horse. But tell me...if this had wandered in front of your viewfinder, would your lens have strayed?


With those lovely, soft green eyes could you have resisted?


Especially when he fell over at your feet and exposed his vulnerable underbelly to you?


Well...I surely couldn't resist, that's for sure!

At least...

...until I saw THIS!


Sorry, Darling!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Available for Adoption

I love it when something tickles my memory and I think to go looking for information. One such tickle happened each time I looked at our scruffy little, trailer tailing, bay filly at the corrals.


For some odd reason, I found myself emailing Wendy at the corrals to ask about the mud muffin, telling her I never did get a good shot of her neck tag, but it was white...and just what was the number, did she know?

Honestly? Who would link the shaggy beast above to the slicked out yearling in the photo below? But as I suspected, it was.


Darling loves her winter appearance and has dubbed her 'Monkey'. "Think of all the music I could put videos to if I had her!" Indeed, there are a plethora of tunes that could be used. Or any number of songs sung by the group sharing the same name. But I digress...

If anyone should be interested in this adorable little mud monkey, let me know. A trailer is heading to WA in a couple of weeks. I'd love to be able to put her into a home. She's obviously looking for a new best friend. Better pop me an email at and I'll get you the adoption application.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Don't Blink!

Seriously, it's so may just miss my feet coming up off that mounting block as I straddle the red headed fury here. Though she doesn't appear to be so furious, she certainly was fidgety!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Red Makes Headway

Red is finally making some progress. After being away 4 days I wasn't sure where we'd be when I came home, but he didn't loose ground (though...what ground had we covered that could be lost?) On Monday morning he finally let me touch him for the first time. A full month...and finally I got to touch him.

The video is long. No fun music, just the crunching of rock beneath his feet. He's turning left and right for me, allowing me to get a little closer and rub on his back. That's the only place I've been allowed to touch before he goes bolting off.

Biggest, most exciting thing from this video was that he stopped while moving to the right. That's his tough side, and with the end of the lunge whip resting on his back, he managed to come to a complete stop three times. HUGE strides for him.

And by last night? Well, I got to scratch shoulder an withers. This is a very sensitive area for Red; when the lunge whip touches him there, he bolts in panic. So I was thrilled when for just a moment he let his guard down and his lips quivered with enjoyment as I scratched. Then he spotted a little clump of hair falling to the ground, and off he went!

You may need to let the video buffer a little bit before playing as it tends to stop for brief moments. It's also seven minutes long, which can be a bit tedious I suppose, but it gives a good idea of where we're at for those who are interested.

I've also got Tika news...I sat on her yesterday. Video of that experience tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wild Weekend!

Been too busy unpacking and working with Red yesterday to get the photos uploaded from the weekend, but I sure did want to share this video of Matt Wilson and Patience. Trust me, the next ten minutes will warm your hearts! And I'm ever so pleased that Ramona Bishop at the BLM linked Mustang U up with him so that he could begin work on the Gray Mare later this month. What a blessing, don't you think?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Watch Your Bull

It's an early morning. Darling & I are heading south to Oregon for the Northwest Horse Expo down in Albany. We'll be working the Mustang U booth, which is shared with Equiscience. If you're in the area, look us up! We're in the Santiam building, same as the Mustang Heritage Foundation and BLM booth.

Darling has been folding brochures all night while I supervised City Boy's framing of photos. I won't have many there, but a few of Honor and the old buckskin stallion, plus a few posters and some notecards. I've been slowly adding to my stash of goodies, and now it's time to make them all go away. Hope someone shows up to buy them!

Of course, there will be more than just booth time and photo sales at the Expo, as the Northwest Extreme Mustang Makeover is happening! And you know I'll be out getting a few shots of the activities for those of you who won't be there.

In other news...Sandy's cutting skills are coming along nicely. We started the lesson without the camera on, which was a shame as Sandy was fresh and full of life as Curt worked the bull. Doc rode Rose on the opposite side, and as Rose is a finished cutting horse, Curt made sure he was giving the two of them a good workout. Sandy did well...and Curt wasn't happy to hear I hadn't turned the camera on before the ride, hollering over the roar of the bull, "That was a good one!"

Typically there are two workouts during a lesson, and we give the horses a chance to relax and catch their breath between them. Since Sandy's first go had been a very good workout (and longer than usual), his second work, the one in the video, focused on our weaker areas. Curt slowed things down so I could figure out my timing.

"Get your nose, get your rib cage, get your hand out towards me...," this is the sort of thing I hear. And the sort of thing you hear in this video since I didn't dub it with music this time around!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tika the Diva

The wind was blowing, and Tika was beckoning. "Time for my close up," she called.


If there were a Miss Mustang America contest...Tika would win.


She'd toss the judges her "Look at me!" pose...


...and blush charmingly when she won.


And there's no doubt that she'd be made the new header, at least for today, of the Mustang Diaries Blog!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Caution! Eye Candy Ahead!

Okay, so it's muddy eye candy, but I dare you not to swoon!


Two super sweet and adorable geldings currently at the corrals. The bay actually came up and began sniffing my hand. He's only 3, so a lovely candidate for an easy training job for someone!


Yeah...that's him! I think he thinks I stink...


This little girl desperately wanted to climb onto the hay wagon with us.
Two years old...$125 and she's yours!


I dare you to deny him.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Red Headed Fury, pt 2

I walked out into the field, eyes fixed on the red beauty some 200 feet away.

"Tika," I called over the wind.

Her head came up and our eyes met. She began to take a few hesitant steps. I wondered momentarily if she would make a mad dash in an effort to escape. After all, this was only her second day out in the big field, and it was quite the blustery day. I didn't have to wait long to find out as the mare broke into a fast canter, mud splattering left and right as her hooves pounded the ground. But rather than veer off to the right, my girl kept her eyes on her target and came directly at me.

My lips curved into a smile as I watched that long mane whipping around in the wind. I wondered if she'd be able to stop before mowing me down in the slick mud, but she seemed to know just when to slow herself down, transitioning into a graceful walk the last few steps. She reached out to me, wondering where her treat was, picking it up in her lips and crunching on it's apple flavored goodness.

It was a scene from a dream. Who didn't have dreams of a wild horse galloping up to them and only them? Of course, most people's dreams aren't covered in a half inch of mud, which Tika currently was.


Yesterday, as you were all reading of our current dilemma, I was actually on a bit of a high. Tika's toes were getting extremely long, and something needed to be done. When we'd trimmed Sunny, the vet had stayed through the entire process, and with a slow farrier it had taken over two hours. That was a bill too high to afford, so I'd been considering doing my own trimming. But I didn't know where to start, so I asked Curt.

I swear sometimes that man must just want to roll his eyes back into his head at me. He sighed and said to just bring her down and he'd get the drug of choice (I can't remember what it's called...started with a W, I think) and have Josh do the trim. Sounded good to me. A new customer just happened to be there that morning, and he was also a vet, and as luck would have it, he had the happy drugs in the trailer along with tiny little needles that would be helpful in getting the drug into Tika. So the plan was to bring my girl back the following morning and we'd get her all doped up so Josh could take care of those nasty looking feet.

I didn't have my camera with me...couldn't hold on and shoot at the same time, but I'll tell you her toes had grown a good two inches from this point!

The following morning, Tika and I arrived just prior to Josh. We were in the arena, walking the perimeter and taking it all in. Curt came out and wondered if she'd try to bite him. No, I didn't think so. I led her into the light and stood at her head as Curt looked at her neck.

"Too much hair; not sure I can find the vein," he said, fingering her neck in an attempt to find the jugular. He shook his head and continued to push around. The needle finally was lifted towards her neck, the the instant she felt the prick of the pin, Tika jumped to life and flew backward and out of harm's way. Curt, too, jumped to a safe distance much like a cat. I followed Tika backward, settled her down and led her forward again (though now she really wasn't sure she wanted to be up there with me!)

Curt shook his head. "I barely even touched her...didn't even penetrate," he said, a bit of concern showing. Josh had returned from the barn at this point. I asked him to step up to her and he did, rubbing on her neck, wondering as well just where that vein was. I asked if he wanted to give it a try without the drugs, and he wasn't so keen on that. "I don't do broncs well," he said. After a couple minutes, Curt gave the needle another try, but the result was the same.

I settled Tika down again, and this time I picked up her front foot and put it down. Josh decided to go ahead and give it a try. He rubbed on Tika's neck and shoulder, then went for her left front foot. This has always been Tika's touchiest foot, but she stood like a pro and even let Josh put that foot between his knees! I was amazed, and I think both Josh and Curt were as well.

Before long, the first foot was done and it was time for the right side. Again, I had to pick it up first because she wasn't going to allow Josh access until I told her it was okay. Then he went to work and again, the hoof went between the knees and both the nippers and file got a work out.

The trim, while only the two front, took less time that it'd had taken Steve Holt! to get his last pedicure, and she was much better behaved! Josh took her from me and led her around. Tika tried sidestepping and avoiding him, but he didn't let her. He got into the center and made her move around him until she decided to focus and listen. He brought out another rope and started flicking it around her legs until she stood for him. It's all stuff she does for me, but not for other people, and this was so very good for her.

This is a place where Tika should be. She should be where there are a couple of experienced hands who are quiet and knowledgeable and not afraid to get into her space and make her listen. People who have the confidence to make her behave herself.

Too bad all of Curt's stalls are full...

Because if you haven't watched it, you should.
And if you have? You should probably watch it again!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Red Headed Fury


It's been a month of fear and frustration with my dear Wadatika. Something so deep and dark that I dared not speak it out least not type it where eyes outside of my own little real life realm would know.

While I was away at Color Fest, I called home and City Boy told me that Tika had come charging at him. He stood his ground, though, and she backed off. Such a wave of relief for me, since Tika has not taken much to City Boy. She is not a horse who easily makes new friends. The fact that she couldn't buffalo him out of her space was a very positive step in the right direction.

Or so it would have appeared...


In a call later that night, City Boy had a far different tale to tell. That afternoon he'd gone out with a treat, hoping to entice the red headed diva into his space. Tika, however, is not easily swayed by bribes, and she let City Boy know that in no uncertain terms as she not only charged, but reared and struck out at a him, missing his head by just inches. Thankfully, he had a fence between himself and her, that being the only thing that kept her from making contact. So close was she, in fact, that as she came back down to the ground, one of her hooves made contact with the fence rails and for a split second City Boy wondered how he would ever manage to get this enraged horse free. A second wave of thankfulness hit when she managed to pull herself free of the rails.

There was no mistaking City Boy's dislike of this current turn of events. He did not feel safe around Tika...nor did he think it safe for others to come near her when I was not there.

And this has been weighing heavily on my mind for a month. What to do about the horse who can't get along with her caretakers? If I'm present, she does well. If I'm not in the picture...well, I certainly never expected her to launch into attack mode. This was most defintely an issue that would require some serious thought and attention.

My problems were these:

I love this mare, and she's very affectionate with me, of that there is no doubt. She's relaxed, dropping her head down, wrapping her long neck around me, and blowing softly into my face. Parting with her would be heartbreaking...for both of us.

I could not in good conscience send her to another home. It would not only feel as though I was betraying her, but she could seriously injure someone else, and I surely did not want that happening.

Sending her back to the corrals seemed the only option (aside from keeping her)...but that also poses a problem. What if someone were to adopt her? I'm not saying no one else could ever handle her...but what if she ended up with some rough, tough, don't mess with me bloke? What if he challenged her, and she accepted? Or worse, what if she ended up with a wimp? The corrals, while safe on the surface, could pose a greater danger than either of the other two options, both for Tika and potential adopters.

Option number four waved out there in the back of my mind, not wanting to gain attention, but needing to suggest the one answer that solved the problem. Euthanasia...

Oh, just don't even go there with me, please.


I came home from Color Fest, dark images swirling about in my mind mixed with thoughts and dreams of all that could have been with my girl. How does one deal with a one person horse? A horse that isn't simply grumpy or difficult to ride, or too shy to come out and play, but rather a man eating, red headed fury?

It was with a heavy heart that I walked out into the round pen on Monday morning. Tika lifted her head and walked halfway to me, then swished and swayed and trotted a couple of circles around me, ears pinned, daring me to make her do my bidding. I watched for a moment, then moved towards her hindquarters. She turned and faced up, ears up, eyes watching intently.

"Come here, baby girl," I whispered, and we closed the gap together. My fingers slipped down her face gently, and my body leaned into hers, my face buried deep into her winter coat. Her head came around in her signature hug and we stood quietly. She'd missed me as much as I'd missed her. What on earth were we going to do?


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Are They Any Different?


It's a question that gets asked a lot, and this interviewer wasn't any different than anyone else. "Individual personalities aside, are they any different than domestic horses?"

My first inclination was to say, "No."

I mean...I surely don't ride Sandy any differently than I do a domestic horse. I can hand him off to a new rider and I don't have to tell them about the magic fairy buttons that are secretly hidden that make him respond differently. So no...he's just a horse.

But wait....

Didn't I say I wouldn't have anything else but mustangs? If they're not different, why won't I own another domestic horse? There must be something different...but what?

Smiles are smiles, regardless of wild or domestic.

I found myself stumbling for words. Certainly they were the same as your usual horse...once you got past the fright and the confidence and the trust issues...weren't they? Some have special talents such as working cattle, others fly over jumps. Some are western pleasure super stars and some are divas who want nothing better than to toss their long locks and be left alone. It has nothing to do with domestic or wild. So why would I say that I prefer wild, if there's no difference?

In my mind I tried to sort it out. Perhaps the difference is simply in the relationship that one builds when you work from a wild horse from the very beginning. You learn so much about yourself at the same time you learn about the horse. You build a partnership from day one. It's, the difference between being a teacher and then having a child of your own. You can care for other people's children and recognize their strengths and weaknesses and try to build on that. But it's not like having your own.

An insecure Sandy is similar to a newborn child.

Starting a mustang is like giving birth. There are labor pains involved...and you coax and coo and blow in their ear or face with sweet breath, letting them know it's all going to be okay in this world. You don't expect a newborn to not cry or wet it's diaper...they simply cannot know that. Likewise, your wild horse cannot know what it's three year old domestic counterpart knows. So you coo and coax and gently stroke it, just like you do the newborn, developing that relationship, that bond that is so often not there with a horse who's born in captivity.

It's just different...

But if I were to put someone up on Sandy who hadn't spent the time bonding and getting him over his fears, would they feel the difference? Would they say, "Oh, WOW, what a difference there is between him and my domestic bred horse!"

No, I don't think so. Because Sandy is just a horse. Granted, we love him. Everyone loves Sandy, but that's simply Sandy. But to get on and ride, he's just a horse. One who's been taught to carry his rider carefully, up and down hills, around in circles, f0llowing the cow, or wherever you point his nose. He's a good minded horse, but he rides like any other good minded horse.

There are no wings or unicorn horns hiding beneath wild forelocks. Nothing mystical or magical. They're just a horse...but they're a horse who for some reason own our hearts and become entwined in who we are, a horse who transforms us into something better than we were before.

So maybe they're not just a horse after all? Perhaps there really is some fairy dust or magic love potion, just waiting to be sprinkled on their next victim, pulling us into a world from which we never wish to return. Perhaps...just perhaps...they're not just a horse?

mustang,wild horses,flicka

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fishing is a lot like Gentling Mustangs

When I was a kid my dad would haul me down to the local fishing pond on derby day, fix up my pole with a Dick Knight spinner, and off to the races I'd go. I'd cast and reel it in, cast and reel in, cast, feel the bite, set the hook, and reel in. Over and over until my limit was reached. It was exhilarating. I loved the constant motion, and I was always in the prizes, so obviously what I was doing was right, right?

Other kids? Well, some used worms and some sat there with bobbers, waiting for the fish to strike. Of course, with a bobber you had to watch the little air filled ball disappear beneath the surface of the water before you picked up your pole and set the hook. Slow. Much too slow. And it had to be wrong, right? I hand was on the pole when that fish hit, and those kids with poles resting on little forked sticks had to bend down and pick up that pole before they could set that hook. Obviously, my way was superior.



Yeah, like a bobber would even work in that water.

As I grew older I began to realize that each fisherman had his own style, and the style that fit each fisherman may be a little different than it was for the next. Some people catch fish just fine with that bobber. Some can't sit still and need to cast that spinner out there again and again. And then there are those who can't settle on a method...the ones who start with a bobber, switch the spinner and then run to the store and pick up some power bait.

When it comes to gentling horses, I tend to be a lot like that last fisherman. The one who switches gears and can't quite seem to find the right speed to work at. I know...crazy! Look at all the horses who've come through here, right? And by and large, I've done well by them. And with each horse, I've learned a little more and become a bit more confident with the way I've approached them. And this is a good thing. It brings me closer to my own style.


Sandy's style gets squeegeed.

I have always loved my rope the best, but after watching many of Kitty Lauman's videos with Ranger and her pole, I found a great appreciation for that method and have found that using one of my little alder trees, or perhaps the long handle of a mop...or even my friend the 4' garden rake (jokingly known as the face rake) has added a new dimension to my gentling.

But I've come across a horse who's stopped me in my tracks. A horse who does not like spinners or power bait or the shifting of gimmicks or tools. And I've felt as though I've lost ground.

Although, not really. I mean...he leads. And rather nicely, too. He backs between poles and walks through gates and I can stop and open up the panels between paddocks and lead him through the maze fairly comfortably.

So what's the problem, then? Why am I second guessing my 'style'?


Curt has always said, in his kinda quiet cowboy way, "I always find a hand works best, but you go ahead and use whatever works for you." I always thought he meant that. Because obviously...the rope and the pole (or mop or rake) was getting me into the space of my wild ones. But then came Red. And Red does not want to be touched with a rake or a mop or a pole or a rope.

Sometimes I think Red looks like me as though I'm Sam I Am. That Sam I Am, that Sam I Am, I do not like that Sam I Am. I do not like her with a rope, or with a mop or with a pole...

Red is a smart boy, of that there is no doubt. He's simply not into gimmicks. He's fearful of those objects reaching towards him and he simply is not ready to give in. He's making me wait. He wants me to fish with a absolute worst nightmare as a fisherman.

And it has suddenly dawned on me that I ought to have been listening to Curt all along. Why on earth had I not? I should know better by now. Curt is always right. So much for round pens, square pens, and all the natural horsemanship wisdom. Good horsemanship, again, wins out.

"Better feed him," Curt said. Okay. I'll feed him.

Alongside Red's stall is Jethro, one of the lambs from last spring. I stood just outside of Jethro's stall and fed him through the panel where Red could see. Red watched intently, and finally decided to come and snatch a bit of hay for himself. He backed away and munched, then came forward again. At one point, his nose 'accidentally' moved up my arm to get a good sniff. It wasn't much, just a fish bouncing the bait around at the end of my line. But eventually he'll go for it, and he'll be mine.


Today's challenge on Sunday Stills is numbers. Actual numbers. No problemo, Ed. Got lots of that!


Numbers hang off the necks of those left behind.


They're spray painted on those found starving at the 3-Strikes Ranch, aka Mustang Outpost. (Thankfully, Jason Meduna, the man who starved so many mustangs to death, was convicted of animal cruelty. Too bad his sentence didn't reflect the suffering he inflicted.)


Numbers are freezebranded onto hips of those deemed 'too old' to adopt.


Even the wee ones are numbered and tagged.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Photo Enlargments...Help Me Decide...Please!

I'm just having the worst time of it. Deciding, that is. I'm horrible at decision making. Befuddled and confused. What should I order? How many should I expect to sell?

I don't know. I just don't know.

Help me, please. I need your help. In a most desperate way! In a couple more weeks I'll be at the expo in Albany, Oregon and at the Mustang U booth I'll have a handful of photographs that I'll be offering for sale. But which photos? And how many to bring? And what sizes should I have?

It makes my head swim when I look at all those that I've had sitting here on the hard drive for the past few years. Some that I loved early on are now only ho-hum to my way of thinking....I've simply seen them too often and am no longer swooning.

Take, for instance, this one. The lovely Beaty's Butte stallion we spotted during the Kiger adoption of '07. People still go weak at the knees over him, but I've grown accustomed to his looks and just shrug him off. So what do I do? Order a handful of note card sizes, and maybe a few 8x10s? Or should I expect that a dozen or more 8x10s would sell?


With the new Mr. Nikon, I can get a pretty decent sized enlargement of some of my more recent photos. But then I stop and ponder...does anyone really want a 20x30 for their living room wall? I mean...I know people buy them that big, but generally from better known photographers than this little po-dunk mustang pusher. So do I invest in a few poster sized photos?


And if so, how many? And do I stick to just the color version, or do I have a couple sepia toned images available as well?


Do you see my dilemma? Which images? How many? What sizes? And the hardest part...what sort of price point does one look at? I'm just so confused...


So you need to help me. That's why I have you, isn't it? To help me when I become befuddled?

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Buckskin

It's a redirect today, my friends. need to go to Mustang U and read about those pretty brown eyes, that's why.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I Was Sittin' Here Thinkin'...

...that it just may be time for a new pair of boots.


City Boy was thinking I needed a new pair, too. One day he hollered at me, "Hey, Desperate Horsewife, git yerself washed up cuz' I'm haulin' yer hiney off to Laurel Farm and buyin' ya a pair a boots."

Okay, so it didn't come out sounding quite so hick-like. After all, he's a City Boy and knows how to enunciate (even though the rest of the world can't spell enunciate...) and properly pronounce pronouns and other such words. I just like to make him sound hickish now and then for fun. But I did clean up and headed reluctantly off with him in search of boots.

My reluctance was not over the boots so much as I just hate to spend the money. Have you seen the price of new boots? I was busy checking tags and City Boy continually scolded me for it. "Stop looking at the prices or I'll just by the most expensive pair," he threatened.

Did I mention I hate spending money? Here is my solution to the problem of mud seeping in between my toes and permanently staining my socks (er...City Boy's socks...sorry, I stole another pair...)


Now...isn't that pretty? I thought it should work just fine. But City Boy was insisting he'd never be caught with me...not even dead...while I was wearing my patched up boots. So off to Laurel we went, and I began my search for a good fitting pair of boots, and City Boy threatened me over looking at the prices, and finally...finally I slipped into a pair that felt almost like I'd been wearing them for a year (minus the holes blow in the sides), and I said this is it. And I never looked at the price, but I could tell I didn't spend enough because when we went to the checkout stand, City Boy nearly went into a coma, and I'm sure it was because I had come in way under budget...don't you think?