Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lefty's Video

As promised, the Lefty's Lesson video!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Time to Get Busy

Despite the aching toe, it was time to get busy. I loaded Lefty into the trailer, he turned around and backed into his corner just like that's the way you're supposed to do it. He learns quick, that's for sure. I tied his head alongside the hay bag and swung the divider closed in front of his chest.

"Just remember, I'm leaving for work soon, so no breaking down or getting hurt!", City Boy called to me. I wonder if he was speaking of the truck breaking down, or me?

I hopped into the cab of the truck and off we went.


I was hoping no one would be at the riding club, so that I could simply back up to the big door and unload Lefty straight into the arena. If he bolted, I wanted him to be safe. As I pulled up the driveway I was relieved to find that we had the parking lot to ourselves...that made it easy to back up to the door.

Lefty was nervous when I opened up the trailer doors. He stood there all tense and wide eyed, but since he was facing me I was able to simply stand there and talk to him, convincing him to relax before I opened the divider and untied him. It only took a minute or two for him to soften up, and rather than bolt from the trailer after his ride, he stepped quietly to the edge, stopped and looked around, then exited like a gentleman.


While we were there we played with the big red rubber ball, backed between ground poles and even laid out a couple of barrels and backed between them. I took video. Have I edited said video? No. No, I have not. But I will, and I'll show you! It was nothing short of fabulous for both of us. Bolstered my self esteem as well as Lefty's. He wasn't too sure about all the 'toys' I had out, but he did what was asked and I was so very proud of him.

Meanwhile...down south a bit I've begun riding the half sister to the big red mare I was riding earlier this year. Chica is also a granddaughter of the great Peppy San. She's big, she's black, and she's just a little scared. My kinda girl! The video is my second ride on her. She's only had roughly 7 months of riding her entire life, and this is following a 7 month layup.

Please excuse the fact that the camera seems to be focused in the rafters...

The following day, Chica got scared while I was on her. She struggles when she sees things out of the corner of her eye, and while we were standing in the arena she turned her head and spotted me. Panic city! She bolted forward with lightening speed, me with droopy reins and totally unprepared. But I managed to get my 'breaks' collected and hollered whoa, and she came to a stop. After that, she spooked a couple more times, but I managed to get her back under control each time.

It was good for me. Really, really good, because this is what I've been afraid Tika will do. Of course, Tika's not got the breaks that Chica has, but my confidence level bounced up for the second time that day, and I'm feeling very good about where I'm at mentally. And all it took was a run away horse!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kiger Video!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lefty's Lesson


Lefty and I worked on my fear issues today. His, as well. I backed the trailer up to the gate and tossed in a flake of hay, then led him over and let him load himself up. It's been a month, just over, since our accident. My toe was throbbing as I led him to the trailer. The muscles in my leg still reminded me of my crash into the dirt. Our last attempt at working on Lefty's trailer issues had nearly landed me in a more dangerous position as he panicked, turned and kicked on his bolt from the trailer.

So there we stood at the door, him looking at the hay, me taking a deep breath and tossing the lead over his back.

Let me step back in time a couple days for you. City Boy was out cleaning paddocks, me sitting here editing photos from my trip, when he called me on the cell to ask if Steve Holt! and Lefty could be turned out together. Sure, I said. They'd gotten along well enough last time. It wasn't more than a few minutes when I received another call with a laughing City Boy at the other end. "Steve Holt! wanted to play, but Lefty didn't, and he ran in here and stood behind me with his head buried in my back!" Someone should tell Lefty that he's too big to hide behind his human. But it was a good move, because Steve Holt! wasn't going to come get him as long as he had City Boy to protect him.

And that's the personality I'm dealing with. One minute, he's a two year old hiding behind you. The next? He's a two year old lashing out with hind feet due to fear. Which one was standing at my side right now?

Lefty stepped right into the trailer, leaving me standing on the outside. Good...nice to know I can send him in. I let him bury his muzzle in the alfalfa, and shut the doors behind him. I began to set up dinner for the other horses, leaving Lefty for a few minutes. Then I returned, ready to let Lefty face his fear...unloading.

After being hauled, Lefty has exited the trailer like a bottle rocket. Right now, as the doors swung open, he definitely made a hasty exit, but nothing like the last few times. Better yet, he turned around and immediately loaded himself back up in an effort to finish his hay. I shut the doors again.

I stepped up on the wheel well and talked to him now and then. For the most part, he was rock steady. He flinched a couple of times as I bounced up, but settled right back down. I opened the doors again, and this time he walked out a bit more quietly. This time I picked up the lead and sucked it up. I stepped into the trailer with him, but only allowed him to enter with his front feet. He stopped when I asked him to, I gave him a pat, then asked him to back up. He stepped right back out without any argument. We did it again, and the third time I let him step in with all four feet. And with all four feet, he backed right out when asked.

Now I was beginning to feel confident, as was he. I led him in and turned him around so that he was facing the doors. It had been suggested by Wendy at the BLM corrals to tie him in backward, so that he was facing the doors, so that when I entered the trailer I was at his head and not his hind end. Brilliant! Why hadn't I thought of that? Why didn't you think of that and tell me?

I didn't do it. I exited the trailer and closed the doors. I stood on the wheel well and Lefty looked up at me, letting me know the hay was about gone. I grabbed his halter, then the lead, and from the outside of the trailer (far safer there), I tied him. Then I went back to the doors, took a deep breath, and opened them.

Lefty didn't pull or panic. He waited. I reached in and rubbed his nose. But I couldn't quite bring myself to step up and untie him. Instead I walked outside and pulled the lead, undoing the knot. Lefty stayed put, not knowing he was able to exit on his own. I went back to the door, reached for his nose, grabbed the halter and my courage and stepped up into the trailer. I took his lead, and together we walked out quietly.

I feel better now. Inside, that is. My toe still hurts.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Later That Day...

After leaving the South Steens, we decided to head down toward Diamond and visit Pete French's Round Barn. Deb had been there years ago as a child, and Pam had never been there. So off we went...and made a wrong turn, which they are blaming me for. Why me? I was in the back seat, not at the wheel! Just because I was there just a couple months ago...sheesh!

We found ourselves heading up a gravel road that, at the base, a sign saying Welcome To Diamond had been waiting to greet visitors. Deb drove right past, not noticing it. I saw it, even from the back seat, and wondered if we'd passed that on the last trip. I didn't think so, but...what did I know? I may have been asleep on the first trip, who knows?

About the time I was letting them know that I thought maybe we'd taken the long way around the loop, we spotted another sign: Kiger Herd Management Area. Sometimes wrong turns can turn out to be a good deal.


Kigers are a man made mustang. They were noticed by Jim Harding amongst the Beaty's Butte horses many years ago. They looked different, and were completely isolated from the others on that HMA. Jim got permission to pull them out and set them aside. He made it his mission to find others with a similar Spanish look to them, and before long the Kiger Mustang was born.


Kigers can be found on two different HMAs; Kiger and Riddle. They're close to each other, but not to any other HMAs. The primary color is dun...from grulla to red dun to what we once referred to as a line back buckskin. Other colors can be found there as, bay and brown are all acceptable colors.


Kigers are somewhat elusive. Most people feel privileged to find a band of 3-6. Know how may we spotted down there on that road? 21! And then Deb looked up on a ridge and spotted the backs of 3 more.


Needless to say, we were quite happy to have taken a wrong turn!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wild Horses!

South Steens HMA

Caution...picture overload!

(That's what you wanted, wasn't it?)


Blue and One Ear check each other out.


Jingles, an extremely thin mare, and her colt, Juniper. Say a prayer for this pair, folks, for as thin as she is, it'll be a hard winter to survive.


Juniper and another South Steens colt bonding.


Buckskin mare with a GA branded on her hip. This indicates she's been given the PZP hormone that prevents conception. Sad part is, it doesn't stop her cycles, which means she'll have stallions battling over her all winter long. In fact, she's got three that follow her everywhere.


Father and son...also known as Black and Blue. These two are nearly carbon copies of one another. Blue, you can see, has an injury on his neck.


Buckskin mare


This older stallion wasn't allowed to join the other bands, but made to stand out on the outskirts. We spotted him in February of this year as well, again, alone.


No clue the age of this young stallion, but he's a definite looker! He stays very close to the buckskin mare and her filly from this year.

We spent quite a bit of time up on this ridge with the horses. The wind was blowing and there is no question that winter is howling just around the corner. Thanks to a bit of rain earlier this month, the grass had a second burst of green, giving the horses one last little bit of nutrition. But within the coming weeks, it will diminish, and what they will be left with is a wee bit of scrub and straw like grass. Life is hard on the mountain...

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Hello from Oregon!

I'm sitting at the Silver Spur after a long day up on the South Steens with friends McDebbie and Pam, and of course Maggie & Farrel. I was so happy to have remembered my zoomie zoomie lens! That means getting up close to the horses with some beautiful images.

But I forgot I didn't get photoshop reloaded onto my laptop, so you're forced to wait until I'm home to see them. I know! I'm disappointed, too.

You'll be so excited to see some of the shots I've got this time around. And there's a new baby! An old pinto momma and a sweet silver colt at her side. But the sad, sorry fact is that this mare is super thin. So many people share photos of fat, happy horses that many people are frustrated that horses get gathered. Well, here's a mare that we hope survives the winter. Seriously, she is that thin. And if the mare doesn't survive, neither will her colt.

Well, on that note, I suppose I'll sign off for the night. Not sure what we're up to tomorrow...guess we'll find out when it happens!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Decisions to Make...

...and Soap, Too!


I've been asked by the BLM if I'd like to attend the gather at Warm Springs in a few weeks. If you're deaf or blind, you'll not have noticed the fire the BLM has been under regarding gathering wild horses off the range here recently.

Harmful, wrong, cruel...tearing apart families, injuring foals or worse, killing them during their stampede for freedom as a low flying helicopter sweeps down upon them. Rushing terrified, headlong into traps where they'll be pulled away from their sons and daughters, foals and mares screaming, stallions fighting, broken legs and broken necks. Bodies pulled away while frightened band members watch.

It's not pleasant. Not by any means. I haven't got an answer to the gathers, just know that the horses are there by our hand, and by our hand they must be managed.


I know I've said it before, and you've listened and agreed. It never hurts to open up discussion once again, however. The lands where these horses roam are dry and least the HMA's I'm familiar with in Oregon. Lava rock covers much of the ground. One stumble and a horse pulls up lame, struggling to keep up with his band in the face of danger. Grass is sparse outside of spring and early summer.

Many feel that if cattle were not there, the horses would have a plentiful supply. But how? They'd merely multiply and be faced with the same problem, just ten to twenty years down the line. And in the meantime, what about native wildlife? Deer, elk, antelope...they all deserve a bit of grazing land, don't they?


Solutions are never easy. Far easier to grumble and complain about the way it's being done, pointing the finger at someone else. Why is that?

It's been a couple of years since I've made soap around here, but I'm thinking it's time to put up some Soapy Six Packs for folks. Money earned helps cover costs to see the gather., and then give you a first hand report back. If not enough are sold...well, I guess money helps cover costs of a mustang mouth in my backyard, eh?


If you're interested in a Soapy Six Pack, you can paypal $28 (includes shipping/handling in the US & Canada) to me at

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fancy Pants

The other evening Darling and I went shopping. Not to a mall or thrift store or anything of the sort. We went shopping in a box. The box we shopped at was inside the house of my good friend, Linda, who just happened to be, once again, cleaning out her closets and placing her belongings into a big box, the contents of which she intended to haul off to Goodwill or some other charitable organization should Darling choose not to shop.


Darling chose to shop. Darling shopped so much that Linda was left with an empty box.

Darling's closet is now jam packed full of dresses from the 50's, 60's, and perhaps a couple from the early 70's. Some of these dresses were gathered from the box last year. There are no more dresses left after this year's shopping spree. Darling opted not to be polite this time around.


Naturally, I couldn't resist a little spree of my own. A photo spree, that is, and Darling was of course a very willing subject and it didn't take much convincing to get her out in the cold October air wearing barely anything nothing on her shoulders. I'm not sure how the kid does it, but I'm thankful she does!


Co-model tonight is the Beautiful Wadatika, who has finally decided that Darling is trustworthy enough to go on walks.


Though why she's made that decision is beyond me...


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fear or No Fear... goes on!

The other morning I loaded Tika up and hauled her down to Curt's where she and I worked on something totally new...and completely frustrating for her...ground driving. Tika's fear of being wrapped up in ropes or drive lines stems from her experience with barbed wire, or at least that's what I assume. Scars on three of four legs tell the tale of her life on the range, and who wouldn't be a bit touchy when they feel themselves being caught up in drive lines?

Tika's trust level has increased enough over the past year, thankfully, that there was not a full blown panic, and although I was not directly behind her, I was able to get some forward motion out of her from a position which left her somewhat uncomfortable. And she did what I hoped...she responded to pressure of the bit when I asked for left and right turns. wasn't pretty, by any means, but I called it successful.

Coming home, I told myself I needed to get out there with the big, black and white monster boy.


This was actually the second time I've saddled Lefty since our mishap last month. I tied him off to the left, then the right, so he could learn to follow his nose and give to pressure. He did quite well. I also grabbed a 'flag', which was actually a whip with a big ol' plastic shavings bag tied to the end, and sacked him out with that. I worked it from his ears, down his back, between his hind legs (those big, powerful hind legs!), under his belly and around his front legs. A little ticklish in some places, but he didn't attempt to kick it. Which, oddly enough, I was disappointed about, as I need to find something to trigger that fear reaction in him so that I can correct him...but in a safe way for myself. Guess I'll need to keep searching for the trigger!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Red Headed Fury

As I reflected today on my time with Sandy, I remembered a little note sent to me by a friend about how God puts people in your life..."People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime," it begins.

Sandy was here for a reason...and a season. How blessed to have two of the three! I learned a lot from him about myself and what I'm capable of. He also gave Darling a good start to becoming quite the young horsewoman. We've been blessed to have him in our lives. But for whatever reason, God had me wondering aloud one day about letting him go...and in stepped Valarie and Dave. And so my season is done, while Dave's reason, season or lifetime is just beginning.


And into Sandy's place steps Tika. The Beautiful Wadatika, who has stood patiently waiting for over a year now for me to step up and give her a reason to be in my life.

Tika was meant to be a TIP that came, was gentled, and then left with a new adopter. One that wasn't given much thought again, other than mentoring should problems arise in her new home. But by the end of three months it was painfully obvious to me that Tika simply was not a candidate for just any home. She was fiery and fearful and quite aggressive when she felt threatened. Where on earth could this lovely girl go? She simply was not a horse most people would be willing to deal with...and she had at this point captured my heart.

The other day I decided it was time to get serious with Tika. Again. She'd not been handled (again) for a good 2 months. Why is it that I work with her for three or four days, then leave her for 2-3 months? I don't know why...but I do. Something always stops me from moving ahead with this mare, despite her being completely ready for me to take those final steps with her.

Saddled and bridled the other day, I stood next to my red head. And I began to tremble. Fear gripped me. Why? What did I have to be afraid of? It was unreasonable. I took a deep breath and bounced up into the stirrup, my body and weight lifting up above the saddle. I didn't swing my leg over. I don't know why. I just stayed up...then lowered myself down.

Tika stood there quietly, patiently, wondering what the heck I was waiting for, no doubt.

I stepped up again, and again. And finally I lifted my leg across her back and settled myself into the saddle. And I sat there...for 10 seconds at least. Then I was off. Off, trembling, shaking, and crying. I buried my head in her mane, arms wrapped around her neck, tears running down my face.

Why was I crying? What was I afraid of? Tika turned to look at me with those most beautiful eyes of hers. I felt my burdens lifting. How is it she can lift me up? I pulled the saddle from her back, led her to my makeshift mounting block (an upside down water tub), and slipped onto her back. This felt good. It felt right. My butt fits Tika. My legs felt just right laying against her sides. I asked her to move, and she didn't. So I asked again, and got a couple of steps.

Fear was still there. I'm a mind over matter kind of girl, and this had me frustrated. Why was fear not leaving? So I asked Tika to move a few more steps, which she did, hesitantly, and I then slid from her back. I hadn't conquered the fear. But I had gained ground.

I've been told that it's a normal reaction after having been hurt. My toe is still broken, after all, and my right leg has deep tissue bruising...I feel mild pain all up and down my thigh, knee and calf. Self preservation, they tell me, is what has me rattled. I suppose that's true. I've been very protective of my leg, knowing that it's not got it's full strength. Could this be what's slowing me down?

My confidence, it would seem, needs boosting. And for this, I look to Tika, the red headed fury. God doesn't only place people in your life...he places beautiful mustangs with you, too.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Saying Goodbye


Goodbyes are never easy. It doesn't matter what the relationship's hard to say goodbye when you know that it means you may never see the one you've poured your heart and soul into again.

I'd love to have photos and video of Beamer and Darling's last day together for you. In fact, she's been working all week on her video, but youtube refuses to allow it to upload. And so we are without that goodbye...which may be a good thing in the long run, though it would have been nice to be able to share the competition with you.

Darling and her filly did quite well, finishing fifth out of ten. Beamer, not having learned to trot until 2 days before the competition, did not hesitate to pick up the pace each time she was asked. She trotted over poles and did her best to trot a serpentine around trees in the trail class. Despite never having worked on sidepassing, she did her very best to try to figure out what Darling was asking for. We've never been asked to sidepass at any of the makeovers and I simply didn't make it a priority for either of the girls here to learn...but there was a LOT of sidepassing in the trail portion, as well as in showmanship.

The competition was stiff, to say the least, and I believe Darling was quite happy to place as well as she did. And I know she loved the trainer's belt buckle that she earned!


Beamer was not the only horse we parted with recently. Sandy left for his new home yesterday.


Darling took him out to groom him so he'd be beautiful when Dave and Valerie got here with their horse trailer.


Naturally, I had to go and make myself all sentimental by hauling out the camera and taking shots that showed a relationship...and by the time Dave and Valerie showed up and asked me (hesitantly) how I was doing, I got all weepy eyed on them. Thankfully, no one was taking photos of me yesterday!

After picking up Sandy, Valerie and Dave picked up her young gelding, Stetson, and the two horses went together to their new home. Valerie emailed to say they'd settled in together just fine. The new barn has two stalls and separate paddocks so that they can be buddies without anyone picking on anyone else (you hear that, Sandy? No picking on poor baby Stetson!)

For some reason, I've got Roy and Dale singing Happy Trails running through my head. I'll miss my boy...but Dave has fallen in love with him. Happy Trails, Dave and Sandy, till we meet again!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mr. Snavely comes to Dinner

Twas the night before YAY and all through the house...

Oh, never mind. I'm simply not feeling creative enough for that sort of nonsense. Let me just tell you like it is. Pigs lie. Remember that.

Darling had Beamer trotting. Finally! Only 2 days from showtime, but it was enough. Like everything else, once Beamer knows how to do something, she does it. And honestly, she knew how to trot, she simply had refused up until Thursday. But on that day, she became a trotting fool; let's trot here, let's trot there, trot trot trot trot trot. And all was good.

Both yearling's had their brands shaved. Dave (Sandy's new owner) stopped by to trim their little footsies. Those little last minute training touches on Friday evening were being applied, but other than that, they were as done as they were going to get.

And then? I decided there was just enough time to go get the pig.

At the fair in August we'd committed to buying a pig from an FFA student. He'd agreed to keep the pig until we got back from Oregon. But when we came home, we simply didn't have time to run over and get him. After all, we'd just adopted Lefty, so Darling & I were back on the road almost immediately. Then I got kicked. Then the Cascade Horse Fair. Then...well, the YAY show. But hey, it's been a long time! And we need to pick up the pig. So off Darling and I went.

Off we went to pick up the pig.

The black and white hog loaded easily into the horse trailer. On the way home, we stopped to top off the tank of gas so that we'd not need to do it in the morning. The pig sat silently in the trailer. Not an oink or a grunt or a squeal. We drove the rest of the way home, and I'm assuming the pig was just as silent the remainder of the journey.

Upon backing the trailer up to the pig's new corral (four round pen panels had been set up by City Boy earlier in the day), we opened the doors to find the pig quite content, laying down in the bit of hay that the horses had left behind after their last ride. He looked up at us and grunted, but did not move.

I climbed in with the pig and urged him forward, and he walked to the edge of the trailer where he looked out...then down. "I can't step down there," he grunted, and promptly turned around and headed to the front of the trailer where he again laid himself down with a soft thud.

I explained to Mr. Snavely (as I began calling him...his former owner's last name was such and it seemed to suit him) that he must exit the horse trailer as it was now dark and I had horses to load in the morning, at 6:30 to be precise, and I could not bring a pig with me to the horse show.

Mr. Snavely wasn't terribly obliging. We coaxed with grain and cucumbers from the garden, and placed the wooden trail bridge at the edge of the horse trailer in hopes of Mr. Snavely deciding it was safe to step onto it. Mr. Snavely did not. Though he did rather enjoy chewing on the wood.

For an hour my son and I stood out there, talking, pushing, prodding, coaxing, cooing and bribing. But Mr. Snavely firmly refused to exit the horse trailer. I got behind him and began pushing, and Mr. Snavely moved towards the edge, but as soon as he saw the step he plunked down with a thud and refused to move.

We gave up. City Boy was at work, and wouldn't return until 7 am. I'd simply get a late start in the morning.

Before City Boy arrived home the following morning, I decided to grab a long rope and wrap it around Mr. Snavely's mid section, behind his elbows, and attempted to pull him out.

Which is when Mr. Snavely promptly told the entire neighborhood that someone was being murdered...skinned alive! my backyard. You've heard the expression 'Squeal like a pig'? Well, let me tell you, this pig tells lies. Mr. Snavely fought and squealed and screamed and cried loud enough to wake the dead...and then some. After five seconds I gave up. Half the neighborhood had already called 911 thanks to that pig. Rope still around his middle, Mr. Snavely promptly laid back down when the pulling stopped, and there he waited until City Boy made it home. And then? City Boy walked to the back of the trailer, picked up the end of the rope, gave one big heave, and before Mr. Snavely could get half a lie out of those thin pig lips of his, he was out of the trailer and laying on his side on the ground.

He looked around, blinking his eyes, gave a small grunt and began eating the grass that was now beneath his feet as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

Forty-five minutes late, two yearlings were loaded into a trailer that smelled much like a pig and off down the road we went. And Mr. Snavely? Trust me...that pig is coming for dinner.