Saturday, November 24, 2012


"Someday you'll learn," were the parting words of the Cowboy as I hobbled out of the barn, a lovely purple and blue hoof print encircling my knee cap.

The lesson was to work the horse until she was tired before doing something new. It's obviously a lesson one should learn early on, if they're going to work with mustangs, or any youngster for that matter. But such is life, eh? Sometimes 
we slip up and do something that doesn't seem like such a stupid idea at the time.

I'd led Flirt into the big arena rather than the round pen today. Rope, coat and plastic bag work had all gone so well, I thought maybe today I'd introduce her to the saddle blanket. 

That didn't go so well.

She was fascinated by the smells of other horses, burying her face in the blanket, but not liking when I tried to rub it on her neck, or bump her shoulder with it. No huge reactions, just stepping back and pushing her face into it again. I didn't press the matter, I didn't think. I simply approached and retreated, and as I retreated she would approach, wanting to bury her face in it some more.

Eventually I decided I'd walk her back to her stall, carrying the blanket with me. She followed on a somewhat loose lead, her muzzle at my pocket where she knew the treats were hiding. I finally stopped to rub her face and hand her one, but something got into her mind. Something that said, "Run, and kick that nasty saddle pad when you go!" And so she did. Except she kicked my knee cap instead, which dropped me to the ground in relatively short order. She then ran back to the front of the arena, where she paused at the small door that led into the barn. 

I hollered a few times before anyone heard me. There was a horse in the cross ties and I sure didn't want her getting into a wreck. Someone finally heard me, but of course by then Flirt was trotting through the small alleyway out into the barn. She was led back out by someone who was just a little intimidated by my oversized, somewhat frightened yearling (why? I can't imagine, lol), and I managed to get myself up and over to her, led her back to her stall and put her way.

My knee? Oh, a lovely shade of bright purples, blues and black. Swelling? Well, a little, I suppose. Drenched it in DMSO, then vet wrapped an ice pack to it, after which I drove the half hour home. And here I sit, telling you my story so that you make sure you work that horse until it's tired before you go introducing a saddle blanket, okay? Okay. Once I get this unwrapped, I'll take a picture and share the beauty of it with you!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

To Lance or Not to Lance?

Flirt has become a mooch.  She sees me walk past her stall window and feels the need to stick her nose in hopes that I'll notice her and perhaps offer up a few more pounds of tasty grain.  It makes me smile every time.

When I came home from the Cowboy's a couple nights ago, I noticed that the punctures where the darts had hit Flirt were seeping a yellow pus.  Ick!  When she moved, it was obvious that her left hind leg was uncomfortable.  Really?  How was I to doctor a half wild horse?  

I'd managed to change Flirt's halter to one that was a little larger than the yearling one that had been on her to begin with, and her drag line was now off, since she'd been seeking treats from me.  But despite that small step forward in gaining trust, administering penicillin shots was probably not going to earn me brownie points.

Thankfully, the vet felt that we could start with a powdered antibiotic, and since the mooch was more than happy to gobble up her grain, that has been an easy route to take.  If it didn't work, I was told, we'd need to switch to daily injections, and if the punctures began to abcess we'd need to lance them to drain.  Yikes!

After two days, her attitude and appetite are good, the oozing seems to have dwindled and she's not quite as lame.  There is definite swelling that I'm not fond of, but it's down low on her leg, not at the point of entry, so we'll just keep on doing what we're doing and hope we can get over this sooner rather than later.

Today I opened up the gate between her paddock and the round pen for the first time, giving her a great deal more space to move around in.  When I walked out tonight, she came straight to me and checked out my pockets.  Treats?  

Yes, Flirt, I have treats.

Pocket Pony in the making!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


The morning dawned bright and ever so cold. Our first real frost of the season covered the ground as well as the windshields of our vehicles. I tossed hay to the wrangler horses who were in my barn and waited for Wendy & Ramona to show up.

Wendy had discussed the situation with the BLM vet before heading north. He ordered some unpronounceable drug (not to mention impossible to spell) with whic
h to dart Flirt and had it FedExed overnight up to Kulshan Vet. It was supposed to have arrived on Wednesday...yesterday...but it didn't. And that is why we were sitting at my kitchen table with Wendy mixing up concoctions and filling needles and darts this morning.

New friend and Flirt fan, Dawn, had offered the other day to bring her game camera, and to climb up into a tree and sit and watch to see if she could spot Flirt out there in the woods. Once we found her, Dawn again volunteered to be there to help out. And so it was that the five of us, Wendy, Ramona, Dawn, Katie and myself, headed up the road armed with dart gun, horses and plenty of rope.


Wendy's plan was for to walk in, along with Dawn, and use her gelding Houdini as a shield. I was to follow a short distance behind on Witchknot, then slip over to the left to block a possible escape out toward the road. Katie and Ramona were on foot behind me, staying toward the opening where we'd just crossed the bog.

The dart can be a tricky can hit a horse and take them out in just a couple of minutes...or it can startle them, get their adrenaline running, and send them running for up to 15 minutes. This was NOT what we wanted to have happen, as Flirt could easily get tangled up in our dense underbrush. 

"Witch Knot"

While Witchknot and I worked our way into place, Wendy, Dawn and Houdini moved forward and disappeared into the trees. We hoped that Flirt was in the same basic place as yesterday, and it didn't take long to realize that was indeed where she stood. We couldn't see a thing from where we waited, but as we listened we knew when the first shot was made. We heard Wendy's voice as she talked to Flirt. No craziness, no sudden flight. It stayed quiet for a moment, and we heard the second dart go pop out of the gun.

It must have been 20 minutes before we were called into the trees. Flirt was on her feet, two dart marks with blood dripping from her hindquaters. Her head was hanging low. She was doing her best to walk, as Wendy and Houdini guided her to the fence behind her. No way were we going to attempt the bog with this super drugged up horse! Thankfully, there was a gate in the barbed wire fence behind us, and we were able to go through that and follow the old road out to a nearby farm.

Flirt wobbled and weaved, but eventually we were out in the open again. Ramona had brought the horse trailer up the driveway and turned it around so that the back end was facing us. The door was opened, and Wendy rode Houdini up to it. She'd thought to just ride right in, bringing Flirt with her, but realized as she approached that this trailer was a bit too low for that. As she climbed off Houdini, Flirt stepped forward and climbed into the trailer. Wobbly, didn't matter. I think this girl is a trailer loading fool!

A few minutes later, Flirt was back home. Sound, but looking like she dropped 100 lbs, she went quietly with Wendy out of the trailer and into her paddock.

Flirt his home...tired and hungry. She's not left her food since arriving. She let Wendy rub all over her neck and face (with a little effort) and is now snugly tucked inside for the night. We've draped tarps over the fence where she went through to help her rethink that exit plan, but for the moment I just don't think she wants to be anywhere but where she is. It's dry, there's food. She's home ♥

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Cavalry has Arrived!

Today is day 9 of Flirt missing.  Wendy and Ramona from the BLM drove up from Oregon to help locate her.  From Flirt's facebook page:

Wendy and I headed back up the logging road on horseback, searching out every possible off shoot. Because I'd been leading the mares back and forth, we had to go quite a ways to get to where we may be able to find fr
esh tracks. And fresh tracks we found...but they led to a dead end. The old road stopped, and though we'd spotted one pile of manure (first time since the two down below on Sunday), there wasn't any indication that she was nearby. Wendy got off and scouted round under the brush for several minutes, but it looked as though Flirt had traveled up, then doubled back.

We found several spurs that left the main road, but all ended in a dead end, and other than the first one we'd taken, none showed any indication that she'd been there.

We returned to the catch pen at the bottom where we were greeted by a whinny from Ebony. I told Wendy that there was another direction we could head, and that it would be a good place for a horse to hang out. I'd not been up there on foot, though Katie and I had scouted the area last week. Flirt would have had to go through a little camp site, which included two buildings, a tractor, a gate leaning up against a tree and a little fire pit. It seemed unlikely that she'd want to cross through all that, but it was the only place left that we'd not traveled.

Just as we were heading out the back side of the camp, we spotted a fresh track. A glimmer of hope!

On the north side of the camp, a trickle of water runs through. It's fed by an underground spring and the entire area, especially this time of year, is nothing but bog. Houdini crossed it relatively well; I was riding Witchknot and he wasn't quite as happy about feeling as though he would be sucked beneath the surface. This was another reason I'd not thought Flirt would be back there...not something a horse really wants to cross on their own.

Once we got the horses through the mud, the ground got drier and we continued through the young trees toward an older grove. We were heading toward the water tower, which is fenced off. Just as we reached the tall stand of trees, I spotted a pile of manure. It didn't look real fresh...had one of our horses dropped it when Katie and I rode last week?

Then there was another, not ten feet away. Another 20 feet, another! This was more manure than we'd seen anywhere...and all in one little spot! We had to be close...we just HAD to be!

Question was...was she in the tall trees ahead, or was she hiding from us behind one of the smaller trees planted in the old pasture to our left? 50' told the tail...there she was. My beautiful Flirt!

She was hiding from us, head low so as not to be spotted. We looked at each other, turned and left. It's getting late and we don't want her to be disturbed and move this close to night. I think she'll stay put. I hope she'll stay put. We'll see in the morning.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Things have not gone according to plan.  We hauled Flirt home and arrived Monday night at about 8:30 pm. The following morning I hauled the second horse out to deliver her to Skagit County.  Neither Tika or Max were at home; both had been left with the Cowboy so that no one here had to deal with chores while I was away over the weekend.

Flirt didn't like being left alone.  She crashed through the 6' wood fence, breaking the top two boards.

Neighbor kids saw her running down the road, followed by a white van (kids thought the van was the owner.)  The driver eventually contacted 911, but it wasn't until he'd arrived in town.  By then, she had vanished.  No one has seen her beyond 1/2 mile of the house.

We've been out searching the roads, logging roads, fields and into the woods.  Fly overs have been done by many volunteers, including the Heritage Flight Museum, who took their P51 Mustang out to look for MY mustang!  Still, nothing spotted.

Local Search & Rescue has been out.  They asked their dog team, but handlers said they didn't like to use their dogs on horses due to the prey drive.  We were disappointed.

Someone contacted me on Facebook last night to say there IS a dog search team that will find horses.  I've lain awake half the night and finally got back up to look at their website again.  It's ghastly expensive.  But seriously...driving up and down the road isn't exactly cheap.  So I emailed them and will await an answer.  Hopefully they can come in the next couple of days.

Flirt has her own page on Facebook.  If you're a facebook user, please visit it often for updates.  I post a few times each day.