Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bad Reputation, Under Saddle!


With the snow melting, it was time to get back to business with Bad Reputation. A few weeks ago, Darling climbed into the saddle for the first time and I led her a few steps around the pen, and we called it good. Yesterday, all saddled up, we asked the Cowboy before we headed out if he wanted to be there. Generally, he likes to tell me to wait for him before doing something stupid. A dyed in the wool quarter horse man, anything I do with a mustang would qualify as stupid.

Yes, he said, he wanted to be there before Darling climbed up, so off the three of us went.


Rep was feeling a little frisky after having nearly 2 weeks in her stall. She's a lucky lady in that her stall is 10x30, but she still had a tiny little head toss when the Cowboy sent her around at the end of the lead rope prior to Darling getting on. After messing with her from the ground some, he had Darling bounce in the stirrup; first on the left side, then the right. On both sides, he made sure she laid across the saddle and patted Rep on the opposite side. Then quick as a wink, Darling was up in the saddle and the Cowboy sent Rep around in a few circles at a trot, first to the left, then to the right, while Darling kept one hand on the horn and the other held the reins down on Reps neck.

And that was it. Quick, painless, and easy as pie.


Today, same routine. A few circles without a rider and the Cowboy slapping the reins around to see if he could get a reaction. He did...not much, though. Just a step back and a look to ask him what he was doing? Then Darling bounced in the stirrups, then up onto the filly's back. Trot, trot, trot, whoa, turn, trot, trot...whoa...unclip the snap and away she went on her own! The cowboy dictated the direction and set the pace. Darling sat light and relaxed in the saddle, this time two hands on the reins, listening to the Cowboy's directions, stopping, turning, going off at the trot, and then the Cowboy slapped the rope out there on Rep's behind and she picked up the pace to a lope! Was just a few strides, but it was enough, and she stayed quiet and relaxed and waited for whatever else was going to be asked of her. But that was about it. Another stop, another turn, and a whoa, good girl, time to dismount. Five minutes. That's enough for this baby girl. Just enough to put some basics onto her, so that she knows how to start and stop and turn left and right. Enough for her to know that she's safe. Good girl, Rep. Good training, Darling!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Objectionable White Stuff


For those of you on facebook, Dario has his own page, and his fan club is growing fast and furious! We'd hoped for 500 fans in the first week, but we're just 100 away from that goal in the first 24 hours! If you're on facebook, please visit his page and 'like' Legendario!


Around here? Snow, snow, snow! Just doesn't want to stop. Objectionable White Stuff, as many of you know I call it. The only thing around here that I like in white are Dario and Darling's pretty dresses. And maybe my truck. But the ground? Nope. It can leave anytime now, thank you!


Monday, January 16, 2012

A Winter's Day


"Mom? You wanna take some pictures?"

Uh, sure! Yes! Absolutely! Of course it took her 30 minutes to get that red lipstick on just right. And her hair to curl under the way she wanted it (it didn't happen, she'll say.) But we did manage to get out there before it was dark. Dim, it was. But it was not dark.


Only thing that would have improved things out there would be if Dario was ready to pose with her!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Great Chicken...



I'm not sure who the bigger chicken is, to be honest. All have feathers, but some are braver than other. Not others. Just one other. The four legged gray other. Jumpy, at first, and at second and third. Legendario isn't sure of his life here just yet. But chicken trainers...I couldn't survive without them.


For instance, when you're thinking about getting close to those stout, faster than lightening hind legs, it may be best to send a chicken in first. They'll spot a speck and jump up to peck at it, expecting a tasty insect. This gives you the opportunity to see what your wild horse's reaction will be. Will he simply startle with a mild jump? Or will he kick your chicken like a football across the goal line? Better the chicken than your head...and of course you can have chicken dinner if it's the hen (obviously not, if it's your head!) Lucky for the chicken, Dario merely startled...meaning I had tacos for dinner.


Legendario is getting over his fears, thanks to my hens. They roost in his stall with him. Soon, I'm sure, they'll offer to take the first ride, just as they have with Impulse. This, I'm certain, will set the new adopter's mind at ease. I can tell him his horse has been ridden bareback...and by a real chicken. He may be confused, thinking I'm talking about a fearful person, but I can't be worried about that. It's his responsibility, after all, to read my blog and learn of my training techniques.

Hmmm...you know, this may not be a good deal, telling y'all my training secrets. Next thing you know, we'll be seeing chickens on RFD with Clinton, Chris and Craig!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's MOVIE Time!

Legendario, still in the stallion pen at the BLM in Oregon.

South Steens Excursion!

Ditto and Jingles (the old mare, now 28), and Juniper make their way across the desert. The bachelors...or are they former bachelors?...way out in the distance, include Dibs, Little Brother, Red Vogue and Yellow Boy. This spring you may recall Red Vogue actively pursuing a mare I dubbed Fruit Loop (Lupe is her official name.) Here, he seems hardly his virile self, which has us concerned. Yellow Boy (last clip) has two mares and a yearling colt with him now. These mares were with McCloud just 10 days earlier. We are left wondering what has happened that McCloud would lose all of his mares (a coming 2 year old is also now with another stallion) in the past couple of weeks.


McCloud, photographed in May, 2011

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Legend is Here


The weather went from snow to 40 plus degrees on Tuesday. Crazy, bi-polar, Harney County weather. I must say the drive home on Wednesday was less than ideal. Two solid hours of heavy fog in 12 degrees does not make for carefree driving. Thankfully, it was sitting just high enough above the road for us to have good visibility...but we sure were happy once we were over the hill and away from it!


We arrived on Monday afternoon in plenty of time to stop and take a visit at the corrals. Plenty of lovelies waiting to be adopted, including these yearling fillies. Don't you just want to bring a dozen home?


We'd wandered two thirds of the way around before we came to a pen full of recently gelded stallions. It took me a while to realize that Dario was among them. Why it took me so long, I do not know, as he stood out like a sore thumb in that pen of dark horses!

Our goal had been to make it up to the South Steens by sunset. Alas, we were running late, and by the time we unloaded our belongings into our rented cabin, the darkness had settled around us. With a nearly full moon, however, we decided to hit the trail into mustang country just the same.

In the dark, everything looks different. Spotting horses can by tricky enough in the daylight, but in the shadows of the sage, it would be nearly impossible. Or so I thought, until Deb hollered out, "There! See it? I see a horse like shadow."


We carefully picked our way across the desert floor towards the shadow, which for some reason wasn't moving any more than the sage around us. But there was no mistaking the outline of a horse...so just who was this mustang before us?


A few more yards and we could make out Holly, the coming two year old daughter of Noelle. She was sleeping contentedly until we had stumbled upon her. Never one to have been very fearful of us, Holly continued to stand, relaxed, as we photographed her in the dark. This truly is a lovely young mare. If she is gathered off the range next fall (which is the next scheduled gather), she will make someone a very nice horse.


Wednesday morning had us up early, ready to load up and head home. Legendario was waiting. I snapped a few photos, and sent one to his future adopter via my cell phone while I was at it (don't you love cell phones and what they can do?!)

Aside from the fog, the drive was smooth sailing. It's a 12 hour drive from my place to the corrals, and by the time we arrived back here, Dario was exhausted. I can't even imagine what must go through the mind of a mustang in the months between gather and becoming gentled. Thankfully, they are a very forgiving and adaptable creature. Let's hope Legendario makes the transition smoothly!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Call of the Wild

I am a little fish
with great big Dreams
Sometimes my dreams are so big
I feel my head may EXPLODE

My dreams lift me high
like a hot air Balloon
Where I float and soar
in my Fantasy World

Until someone comes along with a pin
and POP!
my dreams are deflated...
and I wonder, shall I'll dream no more?



Allow me to introduce you to Legendario

Dario was eight years old when gathered last August from Riddle Mountain in Oregon. He is one of the famous Kiger Mustangs...though not in the preferred (and usual) color. Dario is, obviously, gray! This made him less sought after than the other Kigers, and during the adoption in October, he (along with most other aged stallions) was passed by.

All Kigers who were not adopted in person while we were there last fall were placed on the online internet adoption a month later. All horses, including Legendario, received bids. Except that something happened...and we soon heard that the bidder on horse number 1230 was not taking him. My guess is, they bid on a couple of horses, and they won the bid on more than one, so took their favorite and backed out of the other...being this gray stallion.

Now, I just happen to know someone who'd looking for a nice, stout horse. A mustang, of course. And he's been wanting me to locate such a horse and gentle it for him. I'd found a couple of nice two year olds and we'd planned on picking one up at the first of the year (when they are officially three and eligible for the trainer incentive program), but they ended up being shipped east to another facility, so that was a no-go.

But when no one took the gray, I asked the BLM if they'd consider placing him as a TIP horse. Normally, a gray horse isn't eligible (people tend to leave bays, blacks, sorrels and browns behind, while fancy colors get selected for adoption), but due to his age, they opted to allow it.

And so the gray stallion was gelded the beginning of the year, and today...this afternoon...I will head south to pick up this living legend, this Kiger of a different color. His would be adopter hadn't come up with a name for him, so I did it for him. It's fitting, I think.


photo by Matt Clark

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rep...First Ride.


Darling drove down to the Cowboy's today so that she could help out with Rep. I had her saddled already and had lunged her for the first time in a big arena. There's a slight difference between a round pen, where walls hold a circle together, and an arena where a horse can drift. Rep walked a nice circle, but when asked to trot, she opted out of the program once she ran out of wall. It took some convincing, but with a little work she decided that she could, indeed, continue a circle even if a wall were not alongside her to help carry her around.

What I love about this girl is how she never gets upset. If she doesn't understand, she tries something that she 'gets', until you can explain what you're after. At that point, she does what you've shown her to do.

I'd turned Rep around from the ground before, but Darling hadn't, so when she arrived I put her to work while I snapped a few photos. Rep had no problem following the rein as Darling pulled it over the saddle. Darling stood on Rep's left side, pulling the right rein so that Rep had to turn her nose away from Darling. You can see the rein over Rep's back. As Rep turned, Darling stepped back a bit and allowed Rep's butt to swing around. Easy as pie!


After this we went to the round pen to see if she'd ground drive. Not a problem. Nothing different than being turned around, thought Rep, as she followed the direction of the reins. Everything was so quiet and nice, that Darling donned her helmet and up into the saddle she went. I led her in a nice, quiet circle, first right, then left. Darling then dismounted, gave Rep a treat, and we were done. A very nice morning, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Rep moved to a new barn the other day where we'll start her under saddle. Once she's titled in a couple months, she moves to the Spokane region with her (soon to be) new owners.

Today she stood tied to the wall during lesson time, fully saddled, six horse trotting and loping past, giving them little to no heed. THEN the engine of the HydraBull revved up...and...and...and...

...nothing. She stood like a pro.

Untied her, led her over to where she could watch, leaned my hip into her ribs like it was a leg, had my arm drapped over the saddle and hand down on her opposite side, patting and moving like it may be another leg. She just stood and watched the goings on. I think I could have been sitting on top of her without her skipping a beat.

Bad Reputation. So much for living up to her name!