Saturday, December 30, 2006


So, I suppose it's obvious from the post about the headstall that Tonka wore a bridle and bit for the first time. It was pretty low-key. It took a while for him to be okay with that big strange leather thing going over his face, but then it was no biggie. The bit, however, was unwelcome. He actually seemed a little scared about it being in his mouth. I let him fiddle with it for a few minutes, then took it off. Soon I would like to put it in his mouth and then let him get used to it for a while, maybe do some other work while he wears it, or take him for a walk, so he can think of other things and then come back to the idea, etc.

The above picture is from tonight, when I was trying the new headstall on Danni. Tonka was convinced that just possibly that camera was a treat in disguise.

I traded the Old Timer headstall in for a different one. Will post pics when he wears it. I know it will fit him, and it will look nice, although it doesn't stand out like the other did. I wish the other had worked out, but in the end I had to admit that the browband was just too small, which put too much pressure on the back of the ears. This one is nice too. More conventional, with a browband knot and some rawhide and conchos to pretty it up.

Well, I must be off to bed! Need to get some rest in preparation for a long day tomorrow (hopefully with some horseplay involved), and much fun for New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006



I got a new headstall, a kind I really like the look of, and I’m not sure I like it on my horses with a snaffle bit. I’ve been told by one person that it just doesn’t look right with a snaffle, it needs a shanked bit to look right, but I ride in a snaffle. Here are pictures. One of Tonka, who had never had a bit in his mouth before, thus the funny face, and it wasn’t adjusted quite right, the sides needed to come down farther to cover up the sides of the bit. The other is Danni, and I think I had it adjusted right on her, with the bit hidden better. I can take it back and get something more conventional, but I don’t know whether I should. I really like this type of bridle. But the more I look at it the more I wonder if it really does look stupid. (It’s going to look bad enough riding Danni in an English saddle with western tack otherwise, until I find a western saddle to fit her). What would you do? Take it back or keep it?

By the way, if you're reading both my horse blogs, sorry that the last few posts have been duplicate. Just want to make sure I cover all bases with these two. And I don't know why this is in bold...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Here is an interesting Fall 2006 article from Cowboy Magazine by Dr.
Robert M. Miller DVM that I saw posted on an online group, but it is
also posted online at
http://www.equine-reproduction.com/articles/Horse-Lovers.shtml

"And They Call Us Horse Lovers"

By Robert M. Miller, DVM

The Nation was shocked when Barbaro broke down shortly after
leaving the gate at the Preakness. I saw the repaired fractures in
TIME magazine. What I think happened is that the sesamoid bone
fractured, a common injury. As a result, the fetlock collapses
causing the pastern bone to explode into multiple fragments, probably
with the next stride or two.

The last time the general public was exposed to a racetrack
tragedy like this was when the great filly, Ruffian, fractured; the
injury eventually resulting in her death.
The news media focuses on great champions like these, but what most
people don't realize is that such injuries are relatively common
occurrences in horse racing.
Part of the cause is that we have bred athletic power into our
racing breeds far exceeding what nature requires for the horse to
survive in its natural environment. All wild horses need to do is
outrun a big cat. We have selectively bred for speeds that the
anatomy of the horse cannot always cope with.
In addition, we train and race them long before they are mature.
The immature are often capable of spectacular athletic performance.
Every time I watch an Olympics and I see gymnasts as young as 13, 14
or 15 years of age, I wince at the thought of the damage I know is
occurring to some of their bodies. I started a year of gymnastics at
17 years of age, and I wasn't very good, but I still managed to do
damage that manifested itself many years later. Fortunately, I was
drafted into the Army at 18, which ended my gymnastic career.

Half a century ago, when I was cowboying, "colts" were started at
four years of age or older. Once in a while, one might be started as
a three-year-old.
Despite some very hard work, barring accidents, those ranch horses
were still sound and working into their 20's.
I'm not opposed to racing. It's a great sport and has motivated
mankind to produce truly great horse breeds. But I am opposed to any
practices which contribute to premature crippling of otherwise
healthy horses.

Some years ago, the annual convention of the American Association
of Equine Practitioners (A.A.E.P.) was held in Dallas. The same week,
the national cutting horse futurities were being held in nearby Fort
Worth. Three colleagues from Sweden told me that they wanted to see
the cutting horses.
So, one evening, after the day of scientific lectures had ended, I
accompanied the three Swedish vets to Fort Worth.
After watching several horses perform, the senior Swede, a professor
from the vet school in Upsula, Sweden, said, "This is incredible! It
must take many years to obtain such performance from a horse."
"But," I answered, "this is a futurity."
"I do not understand this word," he said.
"These are colts," I explained. "These are just three-year-olds. "
He looked shocked, turned to his companions and explained to them in
Swedish and then said to me in English, "I have only two comments:
One, it must take great skill to be able to train a horse to do this
in so brief a time. And, two, what is happening to their poor legs?"

Today, we have all sorts of futurities - reining, cutting, barrel
racing, etc. I have tried many times to get owners to postpone
arduous training to give the colt a chance to mature. Most of the
time, I was ignored.
The lure of winning something or making some money was too great
to resist. My strategy when the owner insisted on going ahead with
training and/or competition that I felt was premature was to
say, "That's okay. You go ahead. What you are doing is very good for
my business."

Why is it that the protests against over-using young horses come
primarily from the people who profit from such abuse - the
veterinarians? Is it because we best understand the trauma being
inflicted upon immature skeletons, joints, ligaments and tendons?
Just as I am not opposed to racing, if properly conducted, I am not
opposed to horse shows or competitive equine events.
Horse shows, like all livestock shows, were conceived of long ago to
"improve the breed". They were designed to demonstrate and reward the
people who were doing the best job of breeding, of selecting
bloodstock, and of creating superior bloodlines.
Unfortunately, human nature, vanity and greed have corrupted the
horse show industry.

We see grotesque caricatures of the original character of each
breed. Stock horses, the working ranch breeds, are shown in Western
Pleasure classes traveling in a manner that would drive a working
cowboy crazy. With lowered heads, going in a downhill manner, these
horses greatly magnify the forces placed upon the forelimbs. Once
again, good for us vets. It produces income, but the horses suffer.
The wonderful Tennessee Walking Horse is shod and shown in distorted
gaits that can only be called "grotesque".

If it weren't for the frequent veterinary checks, which are
mandatory, can you imagine how many endurance racing horses would die
because of their riders' consuming desire to win? I remember the
early endurance races.
Saddlebred, with surgically distorted tails, and gingered anuses, are
exhibited with the pupils of their eyes dilated with atropine.
How many people who sincerely consider themselves to be "horse
lovers" wean foals at three months of age, or even earlier, which
nature never intended?

How many horses, a gregarious species, spend their lives locked in
box stalls? How many horses in the U.S.A, like so much of our human
population, are damaged healthwise by excessive nutrition?
Such abuses exist in ever breed, every discipline, in every equine
sport. We need to step back and analyze what we are doing.
One of my clients was a prosperous, educated couple. They were very
congenial, and they owned three Quarter Horses. One day, they called
me to come to their home to worm their horses and check them over and
booster their vaccinations. When I arrived, I found only two horses,
so I asked where the third one was.

"Oh, he's in training as a reining horse, with ____________ " (a
successful and notoriously brutal trainer who also happened to be one
of my clients).
I said, "Oh, I see."
Then the wife said, "We know how cruel he is to the horses, but he
wins!" I never felt the same toward those people, again.
This same trainer (he's been dead for many years) once said to
me, "Doc, why can't you guys cut the tails on my horses? Why do you
make me drive 300 miles round trip to get my tails done?"
He was referring to the illicit surgical paralyzing of the tail,
common in reining horses so they can't switch their tails. ALL of the
horses in his barn had their tails cut.
I said, "Were you ever beaten in a show by a horse that you knew had
its tail cut?"
"Oh sure," he said. "Lots of times."
"Well," I told him, "I didn't cut the tail nor did my partners. We
won't do anything against the association rules."
This same guy, a world-class competitor, kept every horse in his barn
on Serpecil, a tranquilizer not approved by FDA for use in horses. I
have no idea where he got the drug, but somebody was selling it to
him.

I believe that a conspiracy exists in the horse show industry. The
trainers are judges, and the judges are trainers. Too often, they
scratch each others' backs.
If Western Pleasure horses were shown as they were 50 or 60 years
ago, a good amateur could turn out a champion. But it takes a real
pro to produce the freaks seen in today's Western Pleasure classes.
And, after the horse goes back to the owner from the trainer and is
no longer winning, it has to go back to the trainer for a "tune-up".
A few days before I wrote this article, I got back from Bishop Mule
Days, a unique event I attend every year that has no equal anywhere
in the world. I had the pleasure of seeing Western Pleasure mules
that WERE NOT "peanut rollers".
The trend began some years ago, but the mule people balked at it and
ruled it out. GOOD FOR THEM! You see, to be a mule lover, you REALLY
gotta love horses!

_____

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2006 edition of
<http://www.equine- reproduction. com/cgi-bin/ AX/ax.pl?
http://www.cowboyma gazi
ne.com/> Cowboy Magazine

Tuesday, December 05, 2006



Now that I can post pictures again, here are some of the $25 horses available during the December promotion. Of course, don't hold me to it, the horses could be adopted before you get there...

Friday, December 01, 2006

They are SO taunting me! The BLM sent me an email today about their December promotion. At the Burns Oregon corrals there are about 80 studs and geldings ages four and up that are available for $25! Plus of course any other horse for $125. And they'll haul them up to 400 miles one way for free! We're within that distance.

I was going to post a beautiful picture of some of the available horses, but I foolishly updated to the new and "improved" Blogger and cannot post pictures. Hopefully that will resolve itself in time.

Anyway, if you're looking for a wonderful smart horse, and have some training ability, maybe you ought to think about a mustang.

Monday, November 27, 2006





Tonka was such an incredibly good boy for his trim today. I just trimmed his fronts, because I know how hard it is for a young horse to stay focused on one task for long, and I'm not a very quick trimmer. As it was he was mouthing my back and licking snow off the leadrope and basically being distracted. He stood like a rock whenever I picked up his foot though. Then when I'd put it down he'd do a little bit of defensive behavior, backing up and facing me and all the tools, like he'd rather I wasn't next to his leg. But when I went back to work he was still as could be. Well, other than the snow licking and such.

Then I trimmed Lyric's fronts, because I may as well get 4 hooves done. Tonka thought he needed to hang around for moral support, and then help with the tools when I left them alone for a minute. Later I was taking pictures and Soxy decided that I really should be petting her, so she came up behind me and nudged me. It was very sweet. I wish I had more time just to be out in the pasture hanging out with them. It's nice when they include me in their lives.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Last night Della and I got to go out for our birthdays (6 months late). Part of the deal was that John would feed the animals if I got the feed all ready to go. I got home before he fed, but he fed anyway. It was really seeming like it was taking a long time, but I don't know how long it usually takes me, I just do it. Then he came in and told me that someone had gone through the part of the fence that's just 3 strands of cheap electric tape, and Soxy, Tonka, and Lyric had been out. Soxy went in with just a little fuss. John opened the narrow gate for Tonka, and Tonka just walked in like, "Oh yeah, this is where I need to be, thanks." This is a gate he usually stops to think on before going through. This he did with no halter, in the dark, with Lyric being a scaredy cat nearby. And John never handles or messes with him, so I think it's awesome that Tonka trusted him. John didn't realize yet that the fence was down, so let him back into the area where there was essentially no fence along one side. But Tonka followed him through another gate and into the big pasture where the fencing was still whole. Wow, that's my boy. He's amazing.

I went out this morning to check them over thoroughly, and nobody is hurt at all. I wonder why someone went through the fence. Maybe a moose came through? The dogs were barking madly about an hour before John went out. I wish I knew what happened. I'll look for tracks when I go fix the fence.

Another funny story from the other night: I took Maya, my dog who loves to do chores with me, out to help me feed. I was walking through the area where I feed Tonka, Lyric, and Soxy. They usually come in from the pasture and get there just after me. Maya knows better than to go into the fenced area unless invited, but I heard a very quiet noise behind me, so I turned around, saying, "Maya?" RIGHT in my face was Tonka, blinking and flinching from my headlight shining in his eyes, and looking totally innocent and curious. He snuck up on me! I don't know where he came from, or how he got that close without me knowing. Silly boy.

I sure do love my mustang!

Sunday, November 12, 2006



Here are some pictures of Tonka from yesterday. He really is growing nicely, but he still looks like a baby to me. I've spent some time with him the last few days, just grooming and messing with feet. He's a sweetie and I am so looking forward to our lives together. I have very high hopes for this guy. Not that I expect him to become famous or great or anything, but I do think we'll have a lot of good times together. I really can't wait to see what he looks like next summer, and 3 years from now, and...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I have not posted, nor done anything much of interest with the horses for about a month. My daughter got really sick starting on the day of that last clinic we went to. For about 10 days we thought she had the stomach flu. I would have taken her to the doctor earlier, but I talked to the nurse and she said that these bugs can take up to 10 days. Finally Katia's stomach cramping got bad enough that I took her to the doctor, thinking they'd tell me that it's just a bug and to go home and wait it out. Well, we got out of the hospital 2 weeks later. Her appendix had ruptured and she had the equivalent of 2 pop cans of pus in her abdomen. They had to very carefully clean it out from around her intestines and take out her appendix too, of course. The infection was system wide, with even her blood infested with bacteria. She couldn't eat for over a week, couldn't even have intravenous nutrients until the bacteria was out of the blood. Finally at about a week and a half they gave her the okay to eat. Appetite was nil, and she was still running a low-grade fever so they thought she might have new abscesses forming that they may have to insert new drains for. This we found out about after they had just pulled the original drains, which was horribly excruciating. Went in for another CT scan and found nothing new to drain. Wonderful news! Then they started talking about a going home day. So she came home last Sunday. During the two weeks she was in the hospital John and I took turns coming home feeding at night, staying in a real bed, and feeding again in the morning. Of course the first night and the night before the second CT scan we both stayed in the hospital. We were, and are still, exhausted. Katia is still on IV antibiotics, for which we hook her up to the machine 4 times a day, for a half hour each time. With prep time it takes a little longer. The midnight dose is a bit of a nightmare. Hard to keep your wits about you, but very important not to mess up! The 6 AM one isn't much better. We also change her wound dressing twice a day. Originally the plan was to have a nurse come out twice a day, but we've proven to be quite competent and she's only coming out once a week to change the dressing on the PICC line, because it has to be absolutely sterile. (The PICC line is like an IV, but can be left in longer, and runs in a tube from her elbow almost to her heart.) The nurse is very nice, and also has horses. She does search and rescue, which I am going to have to ask her more about next time she's here. Katia's staples came out yesterday. There were only 3, because the wound had to be left mostly open so it could be packed to wick the infection out. She also got the go-ahead to shower. She's really healing well! It's no longer an interior wound. The doctor compared it to a scraped knee. I disagree, it still looks pretty major! But in terms of getting wet and such it can be treated the same way.

In the horse department all is well, if a little short on attention... Except for Soxy, who got sick at about the same time Katia did. Just a little depressed, slower, less interested in feed. Couldn't figure out why until 2 weeks later she got a big lump on her chest. Pigeon Fever. Took her to the vet on Monday and they lanced it. Grody. Luckily I am not too phased by grossness. Baseball sized abscess full of thick yellow pus and blood and other fluids. It's still draining some pretty nasty stuff. I am keeping her isolated (poor girl!) and luckily I don't have to flush or mess with the wound in any way. Just giving her some bute to help with the pain and inflammation.

Tonka is looking more handsome every day. He's really growing into himself. His winter coat is really thick and soft. He's always been soft, but with the added thickness he's even more of a teddy bear. The farrier, because of some scheduling problems, is about 4-5 weeks late coming to trim. I really need to work with Tonka again before Friday, but I don't know if I'll be able to. Last trim cost me $10 more just because it took a little longer. More of a training session than it should have been. Not that he was "bad" and of course it didn't get violent, but he kept backing up... Just required more patience.

I'm off to bed...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tonka has been watching the house all day since our work we did earlier. I really think he enjoyed getting out and is eagerly awaiting the next session. I sure hope so! He's such a cutie, with his ears always "watching" me.
Tonka loaded! All four feet in. Forgot my camera AGAIN.

He loads fine, eats grain, somewhat worried what boogiemen are outside that he can't see. Unloading is scary, he rushes. The step, I think, is what bothers him. I hope that with practice he'll get over that.

Kept the trailer part short, loaded him 3 times and let him eat his grain, then walked around the property. Found some scary stall mats to stand on. Ground changes are probably his biggest hang-up. But still manageable. He rarely panics. He's a good boy.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Trailer loading time! I finally got around to it today. There were a lot of grain pellets toward the back of the trailer that were left from when we brought the steer home, and he found those very tasty, but when he went to step in the crushed pellets made his hoof slip. At that point the trailer was parked kind of on an incline that made the step up very high, just at the bottom of his knee. The fact that he was willing to put a foot in at that height was very impressive. At one point he put his foot just on the very edge of the trailer and pumped it up and down like he was testing to see if it was safe to put weight in the trailer. Smart boy! John came out with the truck keys then and I asked him to back up just enough that the trailer would be a more manageable height to step in, and at a better angle for Tonka's foot not to slip. Strangely enough it took longer after that to get him to step in. Oh, it may have been because John and Della were standing by the door talking, and he was worried about what they might do if he stepped forward with them out of his sight behind him. But anyway, eventually he did get two hooves in and ate his grain that I had brought as a treat. He was very watchful and tense, worried about what might be lurking outside that he can't see. I could have asked him to bring all four feet in, but I didn't need that much try today. I wanted to keep it low key and as relaxed as possible.

I asked him to back out and closed the door to the trailer. Meanwhile he was being naughty! He was at the end of the rope, pulling against me trying to eat grass while I was trying to latch the door. So we did a bit of respect and attention getting work. Yielded hindquarters and a bit of back and forth lunge type work. He trotted sound! This is the first time I've circled him since the splints popped up. He does seem a little stiff in his right hind, which is where he has a big scar from some kind of trauma when he was wild. He threw a few minor fits, launched himself UP and forward when I asked him to switch directions and continue on instead of eating grass. Once he tried to run off instead of circle. Minor stuff, but obviously not happy. We ended when he had more of a "Yes, ma'am!" attitude. Then went through the narrow gate twice to put him back. While I was latching the gate Lyric spooked or something behind us, and Tonka hit me in the back of the neck with his nose. Didn't hurt but he drooled on me a bit. And that's not okay. So I popped him with the end of the rope and he did a lot of dodging and circling before facing up at a respectful distance. Then I twirled the rope to drive Lyric in front of us and Tonka got scared! He can side pass very nicely! I walked forward like nothing was up, twirling and driving Lyric ahead of us, while Tonka side passed next to me with his eye on that rope. Eventually he walked normally again and we called it a night. By that point Liam was screaming and crying back at the house and I thought maybe he was hurt and for some reason John and Della didn't know. Visions of a broken arm or poked out eye... The mom instinct kicked in.

Did some steer breaking today too! Halter work. Interesting, it seems like maybe cows lick and chew when they're catching on just like horses do. Or maybe he just needed to wipe his nose... But it really seemed to be at the points where he was thinking, "Oh, okay." He was kind of giving to pressure, but half the time when I gave back he would take back... So I was really happy when he learned to stand still instead of twisting all over the place throwing his head and trying to get away. The halter construction doesn't help a lot with giving. It makes him give by tightening down on his head, but when I try to reward his give with a give in return it stays pretty tight. Slack in the rope is good, but less pressure on his head would be even better. Eventually I could work my hand up the rope and slacken the loop around his nose. He's sure not going to be as easy as Tonka. But we did make a lot of progress today. And he will now let me pet his head and neck while I'm standing, instead of squatting, next to his grain bucket. That's something for sure.

Lots of good things going on!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Tonka and I did went for a walk the other day. He was happy and relaxed and a very good boy, out in the fields. I took him to a nice green spot to graze, then we went through shoulder high grass and weeds for a long time (stickers getting caught in the lead rope, should have worn gloves). Lyric was hollering the whole time, and dashing back and forth across the pasture. Tonka was content to follow me, and ignored Lyric. What a wonderful thing!

We went to the top of the hill behind the house, where there are trees and water is running loudly underground. Tonka was a little worried about the water noise. But not too bad. Then I took him over to a pile of brush. I asked him to cross it, thinking he'd just step through it like I do, picking where to put his feet. Well no. He stepped on a branch, it moved, scared him, he got his foot hooked in a crotch pulling back, and it went with him! I had to let go of the lead rope he was backing so fast. So it took a minute for him to stop moving and let me catch him. Was a little worrisome, but we were in the middle of the property and I had him blocked from heading up the driveway. We went back and worked on crossing that same branch for a long time. Finally he crossed it from both directions. His problem with it was that it curved up into the air, and every time he touched it the whole thing would move, and the part in the air a few feet away scared him. Then I introduced him to the steer. He was mildly curious, not at all afraid. The steer was the same. Wants a friend I think. Then away we went, back into the pasture. Oh, I forgot to mention I took him out and in through a narrow gate for the first time. Most of our gates are 8 foot, this one is probably 3. He did pretty well. Had to think about it but not for long.

Today I think we'll work on trailer loading in the evening, and probably some tying, if things go well. Next weekend there's a clinic on how to do trail competitions. I'm going to go and ride Danni, but I'm going to ask if I can bring Tonka too and do some of the easier things in-hand. Katia and Soxy are going too. Fun fun!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I have done pretty much nothing but feed and occasionally pet Tonka for the last month or so. He is still a good boy but we do need to start working again. My neighbor asked if I'm riding him yet, and it got me to thinking I should quit slacking! Not necessarily ride him immediately, but get back to work.

This morning we didn't work but I did move Tonka to a different pasture. He startled at Baab the sheep stepping on some sheet metal in the junk pile. I think that's reasonable. Other than that he did great. He didn't forget that gates are okay to walk through like I had expected.

I think I might shirk my housewifely duties today while Liam is at preschool and take Tonka for a walk around the property. I will start ponying him soon, but I want to use Danni because she doesn't get cranky about it like Soxy does, and Danni has an owie on her neck where the reins sit so she's on vacation.

On another note, we got a steer! Kind of a runt, one of the neighbor's culls, but it's what he was willing to give us in exchange for the hay he got off our property. I want to semi-tame him so we can handle him easily. Some people think that's a bad idea, they want them to remain afraid of humans so they don't crowd you and stuff. I need to gather more info on it I suppose. This morning I did start the process of "gentling" him, just like I would with a horse. Sat on a bucket somewhat near his hay. He wasn't liking it at first, but after a while he got within a foot of me, with his neck stretched out to sniff. He also thought the sheep were great when they stopped by his pen to visit. We're going to get another one soon so he won't be lonely. And when the time comes we can eat one and sell the other. And Tonka can learn not to be afraid of livestock! He's not at all worried about the sheep, so now on to cattle!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This is just one of the wonderful horses that could be going to slaughter on Monday, the 25th of September.

Can you help me spread the word on this? If you can’t donate, if you could pass the word on I’d appreciate it.

Up to 32 horses are going to be shipped to slaughter on Monday the 25th of September. If people donate to their cause some (maybe all?) can be saved. I am working with the rescue and they okay’d me to bring home two horses. But I can’t pay for them to get them out of the hands of the slaughter man, I can only afford transport, hay, care, etc.

If people could even send just ten dollars it would add up.

A list of all of the horses in danger can be seen here:
http://www.columbiabasinequinerescue.org/DEF-HorsesList.asp?PageType=Feedlot

I am trying to save two of these three, but I can’t be sure which, because they could be adopted at any time, and I hope they do get adopted! I chose these because they are broke, good sized, and not over 20 years old. I don’t have time to take on the untrained ones right now, and I am hoping to keep one for trail riding. I would like to be able to get a better assessment of them and then re-home one of them, which is a lot easier to do if the horse can be ridden.

Murphy still needs $675. Here is his profile: http://www.columbiabasinequinerescue.org/DEF-HorsesProfile.asp?HoID=367

George needs $700. Here is his profile: http://www.columbiabasinequinerescue.org/DEF-HorsesProfile.asp?HoID=395

Spud needs $825 (prices are based on weight, and this guy will provide a lot of meat). Profile: http://www.columbiabasinequinerescue.org/DEF-HorsesProfile.asp?HoID=390

Please feel free to donate to ANY of the horses, not just the ones I am hoping to help. Donate to the one that grabs your heartstrings. Or simply donate to the rescue so they can decide who to save.

Your donations would be tax deductible, since Columbia Basin Equine Rescue is a 501c3 non-profit organization. To donate go here: http://www.easycartsecure.com/CBER/Donations.html Donate the desired amount to the Pull Fund, and when you finalize your “order” you can specify which horse you’d like to save in the “special instructions” box. Or just let the money go to whichever horse they want to put it toward.

You can also donate via PayPal by using the address cberpal@yahoo.com. If you want it put toward a specific horse, the Pull Fund, or just whatever they need it for, specify it in the notes.

Or you could send the money to me but I would not be able to give you a receipt for tax deduction. Contact me via comments for more info on that.

Thank you for caring!

Monday, September 04, 2006

I just went out in the dark to make sure everyone was getting along. I made some herd changes at dusk, which I normally don't like to do, but with this sedate bunch I figured it was no big deal. I put Lyric and Soxy, the fatties, together, and moved skinny Coda in with the rather trim Danni and the growing but not thin Tonka. Danni and Coda haven't been together before, but know each other over the fence and seem to like each other. And Tonka and Coda have been together, but now that Tonka has had two mares for a while I wanted to be sure he wasn't beating on poor old Coda. Herd politics, ya know.

All is well. I think Tonka has been ostracized by the other two. I went out and kissed at them and announced my presence, and Tonka came in from the pasture to say hello almost immediately. What a nice boy. So I scratched and petted him for a bit. Then I imagined getting on, so I pretended I was putting my foot in a stirrup. Boy did he think I was going to kick him or something! He scooted away and came to a stop, then let me do it again and pet his ribs and shoulder with my toe. Then I did it on the other side, the "correct" side. So now he thinks it's just another weird thing people do. I put my hand on his wither and back and hopped up and down and he wasn't at all bothered.

It's really weird, getting used to a new horse. I just thought of it because of how much Tonka and the others do for me with no halter. But Danni, who has been handled in a more conventional way (tied when saddled, etc), and I should point out she is very well trained, is having a hard time understanding that she's expected to stand still when I'm saddling or grooming her. I could tie her, but why? I saddle her in an enclosed area, so I should just be able to saddle her. She really is starting to get the idea, and it's amazing how they can learn to do things "my way" without formal "training." All I do when they wander off is place them back where we started and continue on with what we were doing. And all new horses get it, after a while. Although I must admit that Soxy wandered off with the saddle pad when I started to saddle her the other day. We ride her so much bareback I think she was saying she prefers not to wear a saddle. But to pony Tonka I needed it. Really though, having a new horse is an eye-opener. I'm so comfortable with my bunch I forget they aren't all that wonderful. Coda is a good example. I let him out, completely loose, no halter, to eat his beet pulp, then went to take a shower. He did wander a few feet to eat some grass when he was done, and Lyric was hollering that his friend was not where he was supposed to be. So I went out and wrapped my arm under his jaw, took him to the tape gate, opened it and sent him through. Awesome good horses.
I just went out in the dark to make sure everyone was getting along. I made some herd changes at dusk, which I normally don't like to do, but with this sedate bunch I figured it was no big deal. I put Lyric and Soxy, the fatties, together, and moved skinny Coda in with the rather trim Danni and the growing but not thin Tonka. Danni and Coda haven't been together before, but know each other over the fence and seem to like each other. And Tonka and Coda have been together, but now that Tonka has had two mares for a while I wanted to be sure he wasn't beating on poor old Coda. Herd politics, ya know.

All is well. I think Tonka has been ostracized by the other two. I went out and kissed at them and announced my presence, and Tonka came in from the pasture to say hello almost immediately. What a nice boy. So I scratched and petted him for a bit. Then I imagined getting on, so I pretended I was putting my foot in a stirrup. Boy did he think I was going to kick him or something! He scooted away and came to a stop, then let me do it again and pet his ribs and shoulder with my toe. Then I did it on the other side, the "correct" side. So now he thinks it's just another weird thing people do. I put my hand on his wither and back and hopped up and down and he wasn't at all bothered.

It's really weird, getting used to a new horse. I just thought of it because of how much Tonka and the others do for me with no halter. But Danni, who has been handled in a more conventional way (tied when saddled, etc), and I should point out she is very well trained, is having a hard time understanding that she's expected to stand still when I'm saddling or grooming her. I could tie her, but why? I saddle her in an enclosed area, so I should just be able to saddle her. She really is starting to get the idea, and it's amazing how they can learn to do things "my way" without formal "training." All I do when they wander off is place them back where we started and continue on with what we were doing. And all new horses get it, after a while. Although I must admit that Soxy wandered off with the saddle pad when I started to saddle her the other day. We ride her so much bareback I think she was saying she prefers not to wear a saddle. But to pony Tonka I needed it. Really though, having a new horse is an eye-opener. I'm so comfortable with my bunch I forget they aren't all that wonderful. Coda is a good example. I let him out, completely loose, no halter, to eat his beet pulp, then went to take a shower. He did wander a few feet to eat some grass when he was done, and Lyric was hollering that his friend was not where he was supposed to be. So I went out and wrapped my arm under his jaw, took him to the tape gate, opened it and sent him through. Awesome good horses.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006



August 29, 2006

I finally ponied Tonka! I think we did pretty well considering none of us had done it before. He lagged a little behind where I wanted him, but not always. He did really well when we turned toward him, but not so well when we turned away. Soxy did not like doing it. She was very mad about it, swishing her tail and pinning her ears. Luckily Tonka isn't too easily intimidated. Then she kicked him! He went out toward the end of the rope but he stayed with us while I got Soxy stopped and spanked her! She didn't do anything like that again, and no more tail swishing. you know, she may have ponied horses before. Supposedly she was a Forest Service horse (no US brand though) and if so you'd think she'd have had a pack horse or maybe a pack string with her at some point. But maybe not, or maybe she's just a grumpy mare. They don't recommend using mares to pony horses for that reason. But Soxy is a pretty even-tempered mare most of the time.

Next time I'll take him out in the pasture so we're not stuck in a smaller area constantly maneauvering. And when we've got it down we'll move out into the world. What fun!

Soon we'll be working on trailer loading and tying. I can't wait to be able to haul him places!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006



August 23, 2006

I know I haven't written in too long. I don't have a lot to write about Tonka, since we haven't really been doing anything. He is becoming more comfortable with me going up to visit him, and rubbing him all over. I think the time off has done a lot of good, just to make him feel less pressured. Not that he was being exactly evasive when I'd visit him, but he was a bit tense. I did "force" him to wear a fly mask the last couple days. He doesn't like it. By force I mean I insisted, without a halter or any restraint, that he do something he doesn't like. And he did it. He is a good boy. The flies are bad enough that their eyes were looking irritated if I left the masks off. Not his, but the other horses', so I figured it was time for him to get used to it.

On a non-mustang subject, we have a new horse! I was looking for a horse for John and an opportunity came that I couldn't pass up. Unfortunately she probably wouldn't be good for John at this point, but she would be great for both of us to take lessons on. And a wonderful trail horse for me. Her name is Danni, an 18 year old Thoroughbred mare. She raced as a youngster. She lived with one family until she was 15 and then with the people I bought her from. She was a 4H horse, did some dressage. Her girl is going off to join the Marines. When I went to try her out we went on a 2 hour trail ride and played around in a deep pond. Lots of fun. We'll be going on the same trail this Saturday, only going a longer route. I can't wait. Katia's going to go with me on Soxy, who is now Katia's riding horse. That is, if we find a way to deal with Danni's hooves before then. One of her front shoes came off, so I took the other off, and the guy can't come to fix her up until next week. I thought my appointment was for today, but it's for next Wednesday. So I'm going to go out and buy her some Easyboots today. It must be a sign, NO SHOES! I was going to go against my beliefs and have her shod just through the fall, so I can ride her without worrying, then transition her to barefoot. Now I'll just have to make the transition sooner, if the boots work.

One of the pictures is of Danni hopefully sneaking up to Tonka, wanting some of his grain, while he edged his feed pan backward, not wanting to share. The other one shows her in the background. She's a sweetie, and she fit right into our herd here. Tonka loves her.


August 23, 2006

I know I haven't written in too long. I don't have a lot to write about Tonka, since we haven't really been doing anything. He is becoming more comfortable with me going up to visit him, and rubbing him all over. I think the time off has done a lot of good, just to make him feel less pressured. Not that he was being exactly evasive when I'd visit him, but he was a bit tense. I did "force" him to wear a fly mask the last couple days. He doesn't like it. By force I mean I insisted, without a halter or any restraint, that he do something he doesn't like. And he did it. He is a good boy. The flies are bad enough that their eyes were looking irritated if I left the masks off. Not his, but the other horses', so I figured it was time for him to get used to it.

On a non-mustang subject, we have a new horse! I was looking for a horse for John and an opportunity came that I couldn't pass up. Unfortunately she probably wouldn't be good for John at this point, but she would be great for both of us to take lessons on. And a wonderful trail horse for me. Her name is Danni, an 18 year old Thoroughbred mare. She raced as a youngster. She lived with one family until she was 15 and then with the people I bought her from. She was a 4H horse, did some dressage. Her girl is going off to join the Marines. When I went to try her out we went on a 2 hour trail ride and played around in a deep pond. Lots of fun. We'll be going on the same trail this Saturday, only going a longer route. I can't wait. Katia's going to go with me on Soxy, who is now Katia's riding horse. That is, if we find a way to deal with Danni's hooves before then. One of her front shoes came off, so I took the other off, and the guy can't come to fix her up until next week. I thought my appointment was for today, but it's for next Wednesday. So I'm going to go out and buy her some Easyboots today. It must be a sign, NO SHOES! I was going to go against my beliefs and have her shod just through the fall, so I can ride her without worrying, then transition her to barefoot. Now I'll just have to make the transition sooner, if the boots work.

One of the pictures is of Danni hopefully sneaking up to Tonka, wanting some of his grain, while he edged his feed pan backward, not wanting to share. The other one shows her in the background. She's a sweetie, and she fit right into our herd here. Tonka loves her.

Saturday, August 05, 2006





Pics of my boy and his new feet. Hopefully in before and after order...

Friday, August 04, 2006

August 4, 2006

Tonka got a good trim today! I am happy with this new trimmer. The trim is funny looking because he takes the breakover back so far and the hoof ends up kind of square. But he's made a lot of lame horses sound. He worked really nicely with Tonka, basically doing what I had done wiht him. Taking it easy on him for the most part, but when Tonka took his foot away (only once) or backed up too much trying to avoid having his foot picked up, Don (the trimmer) made it harder on him by backing him up longer and faster than Tonka wanted to go. He really liked Tonka's big feet, said he'd like to see domestic horses with feet like that. And when I told him Tonka's name he said, "Awesome." That's another thing I liked about him, he asked the horses' names. Well, the horses he liked. He really liked Lyric and I think he liked Tonka. Or maybe just knew he needed more understanding. But he raved about Lyric. Loved his hoof quality and his good-boy personality.

My preparatory work on Tonka didn't make him perfect, and I'm not sure how much it helped, but Don was really appreciative that I had done it. I think he gets a lot of customers who won't prepare or even reprimand their "babies." Yeah, I love my horses but I also require them to be handleable! Apparently he had someone who thought he was abusing their horse by backing it up the way he did Tonka. Whatever.

Anyway, I'll post before and after pics tomorrow. No time today to take after pictures. Sigh. I am so exhausted lately. So much to do, so little time and energy to get it done.

Happy Trails!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

August 3, 2006

More footwork today. He did great! I am very pleased with him. No trying to knock the stand over or take feet away or anything. No worries about the trimming tools. Just one thing, he moves his hindquarters away when I approach them. I think it's a mixture of me inadvertently asking him to move (I'm not very careful about my body movements sometimes, especially when flies are bothering me), and the fact that he's still a little uncomfortable with his back feet being picked up. But he's not doing anything really wrong. I just hope he doesn't do anything worse for the farrier. It's always different with a new person.

I should have time this afternoon and tomorrow morning to fiddle with him before the trimmer comes at 12:30. I can't wait to see his new feet!

This guy that's trimming for me is supposed to be really good. He wasn't accepting new clients for the longest time, but has shrunk the area he's working in so he can stay more local, so he's now accepting clients. I am so glad. He's a Gene Ovnicek (sp?) follower, and very pro-barefoot, although he does still shoe using Natural Balance methods (www.hopeforsoundness.com), but only if he thinks it's really necessary. I'd rather have a trimmer that follows Pete Ramey, but we don't have any of those around here, and I really think this guy will do well with my horses. I'm very excited to see how the oldsters improve. Soxy should do better with her breakover back, and Coda, well he's got such messed up damaged feet I'll be surprised no matter what. One front is probably navicular and the other was torn partially off at some point in his previous life, so it's all weird. Anyway, I'll try to remember to mention how that goes.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

I haven't written much lately, I know. I really haven't done much with Tonka. I worked with him a bit today, just to work out the kinks from too much time off, and get some more hoof trimming practice in. Just a couple circles to get his attention in some situation, I don't remember what, caused his leg with the splint to hurt. So it's obviously not healed. So I toned it WAY down and started working on his feet. With splint boots on, although I'm not sure that really helped. I only worked on his front feet because the kids got bored and wanted to go in. And we had to take a break in the middle because Liam got shocked by the fence. Poor kid, it really popped him.

I picked up the feet, fiddled, rubbed, patted, flexed them out away from his body, then brought it around through my leg like the farrier does to work on the bottom of the hoof. Fiddled more. Brought the hoof forward over my knee. Got the hoof stand and did some minor rasping. Brought the hoof around between my legs again and pretended to nip. I was very careful to occasionally obnoxiously "accidentally" bump him under is belly. That's where they seem to jump and misbehave the most, when you goose them.

He did very well.

I'm off to play Backyardigans with two very sleepy boys.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


July 25, 2006

Tonka is still on vacation. I really need to be working with him on hoof trimming practice, but I haven't been. It's been HOT. And I've been really busy with family visiting and other stuff. Seems like there's never a dull moment. Now I've got a cold but I'm still functioning okay. But anyway, back to my mustang, not me... I don't know if his leg is still sore or not. He looked great running through the pasture yesterday (I can't wait to ride that boy!) but that's not quite the same as training.

I finally got to ride with my husband again! It's been about a year. My dad's horse is here again, so we rode the two Sox's again. But this time I rode Sox, my dad's horse, and John rode Soxy, my horse. He got a little irritated at her wanting to go too fast, especially through ditches, but other than that I think it went well. Sox was pretty good for me. Same problem with the trotting when I didn't ask him to. I had John ride Soxy in a halter and maybe that wasn't the greatest idea. But anyway, I'm hopeful we can do this again sometime. Preferrably out on a trail or something, but I don't think the horses are in condition to carry us for long yet. Oh, and if you hadn't already guessed because we were riding her, Soxy didn't cough once. Awesome.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

July 20, 2006

I got checked by the BLM today. The guy called last night and came out this morning. He was very pleased with how well-behaved and gentle Tonka is, and how well he's taken care of. I was proud of my boy.

Not much new going on lately. Tonka wore a fly mask for a while this morning, until the BLM guy came. He was a little jumpy about it at first and then didn't care. He stiffened up a bit when I took it off and the velcro made a noise, but other than that it wasn't a big deal.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

July 16, 2006

This morning I went out to medicate Soxy and Tonka volunteered to come into the inner pen, where we often do training. So I loved on him a little then went and got my hoofjack and trimming tools, minus my precious nippers. He's not ready to try that anyway, and I don't want them accidentally damaged! Put his front hooves forward on the stand, and did a little rounding with the rasp over some small cracks that are forming. Then switched to the cradle and worked on the bottom of the hoof. Took out a little dead sole, not much because it's so hard and dry. Rasped a little on the heels that are out of balance. He took his foot from me once, and tried a few other times. I gave him some breaks to keep it easy. We probably only worked for 10-15 minutes total. Then I let him out, unhaltered, petted, and visited with Lyric who has a very itchy belly. Then loved on Tonka some more.

I'm hoping to get an appointment with a barefoot trimmer who is finally accepting new clients. He has a history of not showing up for appointments or being like 4 hours late, so I don't know how that will go. But it's worth a try. So I'll keep messing with Tonka and not do a real trim unless I find that I can't get an appointment with the guy. His hooves have a strangeness that I'd rather have a professional deal with.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


July 15, 2006

Tonka went out for a walk -

Wait a minute. I think I failed to report how he wore the saddle for the first time the other day! Well, he did. And he didn't do anything exceptionally over-reactive. He did give a couple half hearted bucks when he was lunging. Something spooked him and he sped up and then I assume he noticed the saddle again and bucked a couple steps then went on. It was kind of cute. He got his first sweaty saddle marks. It was warm out, and we worked for quite a while, lunging and flagging with the plastic bag again.

Tonight I saddled him and took him out. Was going to go for a walkabout around the property but we didn't get far. There's a tent set up in the front field from a sleepover the kids had, and that was scary. The lawnmower was scary. A tree was scary. It took a while for him to mostly accept the tent. Touching it with his nose really made him feel better. Then we moved on to the trampoline. Didn't take long for that to be okay. Then we worked on stepping on a board. Eventually got 2 feet on it. Good boy. Then went back to unsaddle, by which time it was mostly dark. The light/dark contrast from the spotlights was freaking him out a little. We did some lateral flexion before I took the saddle off, and it relaxed him pretty well.

He almost ran me over twice tonight. I'm not sure if he didn't of his own will or if I just got lucky, but it was close. Once he spooked and once I was in his way when he was avoiding something. I swear his spookiness has gotten WAY worse since Lyric has been pastured with him. Not good. I may have to separate them, but I hate to do that because they really like each other. They hang around itching each other's backs.

There's a bad development in one of his legs. Nothing permanent, but I don't like it. I noticed him pointing with his front right foot the first time I saddled him. You can see it in the picture. I thought he was just nervous, he was walking very carefully with that cinch behind his elbows. Then I briefly worked him yesterday, and I didn't like the way he looked travelling to the right on a circle. Tonight I SHOULD have checked out the leg BEFORE I took him out. I didn't, but I did put splint boots that Amy lent me on him. Well, he was still travelling funny on that side. So I tried to keep him mostly calm. Should have stopped, but I wasn't all that worried about it. When I took the splint boots off I checked both front legs very well, and he does have a splint. It's a bump, an inflammation between the two bones there. Not a huge big deal but he'll need time off. Darn it. One website I looked at said a month off. One of my books says to ice or hose it. We haven't worked on hosing, so I'm sure that wouldn't be a restful activity. I'll talk to the vet Monday. I have to talk to her anyway to give her an update on Soxy.

I sure do like the way he looks with his saddle on. What a big boy!

Thursday, July 13, 2006




July 13, 2006

What a wonderful day! I finally got up early enough to work with my boy. We sacked out with a plastic grocery bag on the end of a long crop and with a big garbage bag. Then strapped on the bareback pad with cinch and breastcollar. No big deal! Lunged a bit, worked on our stop and yield. More with the grocery bag and we were done.

With the plastic bags I started with the grocery bag on the end of the long crop, for more reach. Whacked the ground with it, rythmically. Worked closer, whacked all around him. Whenever he wanted to sniff it I'd stop and let him. Rubbed shoulder, stop. Rubbed shoulder, work over back, stop. Et cetera until we were rubbing all over. Ears were a big no no spot. He didn't like that. Took a long time. Then started "pouncing" it on him. Like whacking the ground but softly, starting at the wither. Stayed at same spot until he gave me a big sigh and a lick and chew. Took FOREVER! I got bored. But kept at it. Did same on hip, then worked on wither and hip on other side. Went on to the grocery bag. Rub rub rub, then flick flick flick all over his body. Oh, another thing I made sure to do a lot of with both was moving over his back from the side I was on to the other side, as my leg and body will do when I mount. That is an absolute "have to" in my opinion. A lot, if not most, wrecks happen when mounting. The horse knows you're on the one side, but then you're suddenly on the other side! Ack! Buck!

Then I briefly worked with a saddle pad. Up on his back, off, up again, then knocked it off onto the ground. Both sides. Then walked around with it on. Then moved on to bareback pad with scary attachments. He wasn't scared. I basically just put it on and cinched him up. Wow. Lunged. Went back to plastic bag on a stick around his head. Done. Good boy!

Monday, July 10, 2006

July 10, 2006

Tonka met the vet today. Soxy needed to be checked out for her cough so I had a bunch of other stuff done too. So Tonka got his teeth looked at and we talked about how much riding to do and when. She said his teeth look good, not much to see or do at this age. I was a little worried about his overbite but it should be fine since the teeth do come together so he can cut grass. For riding she said short rides would be fine, and short trail rides in about 6 months. After watching him playing with all the buckets she said it'd definitely be good to keep him mentally occupied! Poor guy gets bored. He was locked in the smaller pen while he waited his turn and boy did he do a lot of running and fidgeting and playing.

Soxy doesn't need meds immediately. If she's still coughing later this week we'll start her on a bronchio dilator. I think she's already improving though, I haven't heard her cough today other than when they made her cough. Mainly we just have to reduce the dust, which I've already done by getting her out on pasture. She did suggest using a muzzle to help control her weight. I hate doing that, Soxy gets sores on her nose. But obviously I don't want her to founder.

Coda got his teeth floated. He didn't like that! We had to use pretty light sedation because of his other health issues, so he fought it. Stepped pretty hard on the end of my toe, it still hurts! He also got his sheath cleaned. We talked about his constant diarrhea and she had a few suggestions.

They also looked at one of my dogs. Maya has a skin problem again, because she was on cheap dog food for several days when John couldn't make it to town. So I got some ointment. They really liked Angus too. He's such a big gorgeous sweetheart (great dane rott cross).

I'm off to re-pot some plants.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006





July 4, 2006

Well, the horses lived through the firework ordeal. Lots of galloping around and a couple of booboos. This was also Tonka's first time in the same pasture with Lyric and Emma, so there was some chasing and nasty-face-making going on.

Saturday, July 01, 2006





July 1, 2006

I got back from Hawaii today. Here are some pics for you to enjoy.

Have petted all the horses, dogs, cats, and sheep, and sweet-talked to the turkeys and chickens. Rode Soxy just now for about 5 minutes, hanging tightly on to my sandals with my toes.

All is well on the farm.

Monday, June 26, 2006

June 26, 2006

Last night John and I took Tonka for a walk. He was kind of more in my space than usual. Not the entire time, but enough that he got worked hard when we got home. Every time he'd see something he was worried about he'd try to walk sideways behind me, and once kicked my foot as he walked. Not okay. So we lunged and backed and had a bit of a fit, and finally settled into the work and lunged past and stood next to the scary object without trying to run me out of the way with his shoulder. In this case the scary object was a gate. The lunging was a bit rusty at first. He wants to go around once and then stop, and thinks he can get out of it if he finds a special place that facilitates stopping. Or if he runs over feed tubs or salt blocks. He was pretty well sweated up by the time we finished, but he'd done very well.

Oh! We got to deal with cars going by for the first time. The first one he was facing away from and he kind of ran backwards once it got past us, then stoppped. The next one scared him a little, he was also not quite facing it. Then the next one, with a trailer on back, didn't bother him much. He was facing it, knew what was coming, I think that helped. The last one he just watched.

I will be gone for a week starting today. In Hawaii. I'm going to miss being home! I am such a homebody. There's so much to do here, I just don't want to leave. But it'll be fun.

Sunday, June 25, 2006



June 25, 2006

This isn't mustang related, really, but it was horse time and we had a blast! I invited Kaia and Della out to ride with me yesterday since I had no kids. Then I got to thinking, if we took Soxy and Coda out and left Tonka, he'd have a fit and probably hurt himself. So I got Lyric and Emma and moved them across the property to the pen next to Tonka. That was interesting, leading them both. They did really well until we got up near the house where there are more things to be wary of. I had to ask Della to come out and help. Lyric pushed her around! Big dork! I would have sworn he'd be really good for her! But no... In his defense, all the horses were really excited, but I was still not too happy with the two we were leading. So Em and Lyric met Tonka up close for the first time. It was pretty anti-climactic. Some running around. Emma got shocked by the fence. I let them adjust for about a half hour and the we got Soxy and Tonka out and went for a ride around the property. Coda was feeling good! Even with both Della and Kaia on him (together they must weigh like 150), he was feeling the need to trot around. It's so nice to see the older horses feeling good. We had a lot of fun.

I am concerned about Soxy's eye. There's a bump on the third eyelid that doesn't look normal. And since Appaloosas are very prone to eye cancer and other problems of the eye, it has me pretty worried. I think I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and have the vet out. But I leave for Hawaii tomorrow. I hope it can wait. Will see what the vet says when I call tomorrow.

Emma is sold! Her new owners are very nice people who know what they're doing. So she'll be going to her new home sometime in the next few weeks. They're moving and they didn't want Emma to have to go to their place, and then to a new place, all in a short period of time.

Friday, June 23, 2006

June 23, 2006

Today is very busy, there isn't time to play with the ponies. So I didn't take him for a walk this morning. As I was walking around getting stuff done he just stood at the fence and stared at me. Not like Coda, who was facing me and dozing, but actively interested in what I was doing. Kind of intense. I think he missed his morning walk. Poor kid.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

June 22, 2006 - Day 33

Last night I just couldn't sleep. Which is weird for me, normally I can fall asleep within 5 minutes no matter what time of day! I was kind of half in and half out of sleep when I heard a horse call out. I recognized Tonka's voice. I've heard him do that in the night before, but was a little worried. Decided to ignore it. Well, once he'd whinnied twice more I decided to go out and check, maybe he somehow got out and was upset that he couldn't get to his buddies. So it's midnight, I'm wearing a purple nightgown, John's canvas coat, and my muck boots, and I head out into the cold darkness. I was really hoping the unrest wasn't caused by a predator nearby, and I almost took my dog out, but if he was loose that sure wouldn't have helped me catch him. So off I went, all alone, with the darkness playing tricks with my eyes. I was getting the creeps. Soxy was there, happy to see me, and I could see Coda, but didn't see Tonka until I got into the pen, and then it was just his ghostly white blaze in the distance, and I wasn't too sure it was him. I called him and after he stared at me for a minute he came on in. There was nothing wrong or out of place at all, that I could see. So there I am, shivering, and Tonka just wants to visit. Then to top it all off when I came back in the front door I scared my poor son and he screamed. I don't know if he saw some strange apparition walking by outside his window and then come in the front door, or if just the door opening scared him. I felt so bad! I hugged him and reassured him, and then back to bed I went, and finally fell asleep like I normally do.

This morning Tonka and I went for a walk up the road again. Same route as yesterday, but farther. He's awesome. Beginning of the walk he was trying to stay behind me, drifting into my space, stuff like that. But by the end of the walk he was relaxed & staying where he should. He actually jumped a little bit sideways for the first time today, because of a culvert and a little pond that must have suddenly made an ugly face at him. No biggie though. We went all the way down to where the road Y's, right by the lumber store. The oiled road was interesting to him, and he's very aware of shadows, like the shadows of telephone poles and such. Changes in the ground bother him a bit. We visited some more garbage cans and mailboxes (what people must think, with me tapping and whapping their mailboxes). At the end of the walk there were 4 horses that really wanted to visit, galloping up to see us. One was a very cute little foal who was just glued to mamas side. Adorable. When we got home I got the mail, waved it at him, he said, "whatever," and we headed down the driveway. I decided to try to kick down some of the bumps in the driveway. He didn't know what to think of that at first, but eventually started grazing, as if to say, "Go ahead and do your silly dance lady, I'm going to eat." I put him up, picked all four feet, and fed them, and that was it for the morning.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

June 21, 2006 - Day 32

It's been one month! He came home on the 21st of May. Pretty cool. Seems like a lot longer, like he's always been here...

We went for a pretty long walk down the road today. Past a very suspicious white vinyl fence, several sinister mailboxes, horse-eating-cows, scary old tractors and a garbage can. Probably about a 1/4 mile round trip. Good boy! No real problems to report, other than he just needed to check some things out. We stopped and talked to my neighbor for a while, and Tonka was pretty good about standing patiently while we talked. He fidgeted some, called to a cow he thought might be a horse, and ate some grass, but mostly stood nicely. My neighbor is a nice old guy, has lots of funny stories about the people who used to live here. He's going to come check out our grass and hopefully he'll hay it for us. A truck went by while we were talking, probably about 75 feet away, and Tonka shied a little but didn't actually move his feet too much, other than to try to get to where he could see what that was. Oh, and the cats on the porch, a litte ways away, were very interesting to him. He looked and looked. One of them used to by my cat, but apparently found he liked it better at the neighbors. He's a good cat, I'm glad he didn't get got by a coyote, which was what I thought had happened before I saw him over there. He was pulled out from under a burning house as a kitten and we got him from a rescue. But I digress. We had a good walk, looking forward to more of the same, only better!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006




June 20, 2006

Here are some pictures of Amy (my sister) working Tonka yesterday. I worked him a little too but had the shakes from allergy meds so I didn't do much and then Liam hurt himself so I had to race to the rescue.

Amy has Clinton Anderson's stick, not sure what it's called, but it's his version of the Carrot Stick or a fancy lunge whip. She LOVES it. You can remove the lash and the end of the stiff part is rubber so you don't have to worry about poking them if you have to whack them, and whacking doesn't really hurt. it's hard to tell but she's rubbing his forehead with it in one picture, with the lash attached, and he's not worried about it. Happy to be standing still!

He ended up very light on the line. Really he started that way, but had occasional stubborn spots, dragged her around a bit. Not much fun with that ditch in the middle of the pen. But at the end he was very light, yielding nicely.

Today was yet another uneventful day. I worked with Emma to get pictures of her so we can do a better job of selling her. So I didn't really get time to work with Tonka. But tonight when I went to feed Soxy I hung out with Tonka for a while. He came in from the field to see me, which he almost always does. So sweet. (I do believe he thinks I'm the lunch wagon.) Then we just stood together. I didn't pet, since he doesn't really like it yet, and he didn't look unhappy or pressed, but his attention was on me constantly, in a positive, inquisitve way. He sniffed, with his adorable ears perky and forward, and sniffed some more. "How ya doing? Whatcha wearing? How come you're wearing a coat? Can I chew on it? Whoops, sorry! Can I hang out with you? Where ya going? Can I come too?" He was ultra sweet. So flattering that he wanted to be my buddy and follow me everywhere. Then I went to visit Coda, who has been kind of aloof lately for some reason. I found some good itchy spots on his chest and neck and he seemed quite happy to have me there. Tonka drifted up and Coda wanted to tell him firmly to leave, but I didn't let him, so Tonka got to carefully hang out with us too. Then Coda got tired of it and I said good night to Tonka and came in. Really very relaxing and nice. I'd like to do more of that, but still continue to move forward with training. Hard to find a happy medium. I think we're doing alright.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue News and Events
Check out this new blog (the above text is a link to it) about a new mustang sanctuary. It starts a new chapter in the lives of two older mustangs, Lewis and Clark. you can see their whole story here: http://www.mustangs4us.com/lewis_&_clark.htm (You might have to copy and paste that into your browser.) It's an amazing story, I've been following it from the beginning. I can't wait to hear more about them and about the sanctuary. Their website is listed on their blog as well if you want to check it out.

I am wiped out. I didn't feel too hot today and didn't plan on doing anything strenuous, but the horses decided I should put up a gate. They (probably Tonka) kind of tore up the fence where I'd had gate handles on the electric. I decided to go get the gate from the mustang pen, since we don't need that anymore, and put it up there. It was hard work! The post hole was huge, the post weighed about 300lbs, and it was not much fun! But it looks awesome, civilized. Not some saggy electric with a bunch of gate handles attached. Nice. So now I'm going to take a bath.

Oh, my sister and I worked with Tonka today. Mostly my sister since i couldn't breathe well. We worked on lunging. He did great. Smart boy. A little stubborn too, but he's still a good boy. He learned fast.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I should talk more about introducing a horse to a saddle. How I would do it anyway. There are lots of ways to get them used to the existence of the saddle. Some leave an old nasty saddle on the fence or in the pen. I would do that if I had one. Willow liked to chew on my old nasty saddle when I was getting her used to it. Some ask the horse to work everywhere else and rest only where the saddle is, so it becomes kind of a buddy, a home base, a good place to be. Some just throw the saddle on. The way I did it today, because it worked with the pad I was using so I continued it with the saddle, was that if he tried to walk away from the saddle while I approached, I continued to approach, basically circling him around, until he stopped. Then I didn't throw the saddle on, I released pressure by stepping back, putting the saddle down. Eventually the release of pressure was just me stopping, not moving away. Then the saddle went on, off, on, off, on more vigorously, jiggle and smack the leather, wiggle the saddle, jiggle, wiggle some more, take it off. Do it all over again on the other side. Then walk with the saddle on his back. Whoops, slight spook when his body bent to make a tight turn and the saddle didn't bend with him. Nothing serious. He never dumped the saddle. I didn't ask him to move around quickly, I didn't want him to dump the saddle. If he had dumped it we'd have worked through it but I'd prefer he didn't.

I have to say my elbows were killing me most of the day, and my arms were worn out from all that saddle hefting, and it isn't even all THAT heavy. Probably 25-30 pounds. Some roping saddles weigh about 60 lbs. I'd have found a different way to work with a saddle that heavy!

Now to the most important thing. When I do cinch up the saddle the first time and every time, I cinch it up! I don't make it nice and comfy and loose. I do it slowly, I don't just yank it on up, but I do tighten it up all the way. Why? Because if he were to start bucking, which I encourage (more on that in a minute) that saddle could flip around to his belly or even just his side if you're using a breastcollar. Talk about terrifying! I've heard of many horses that were "ruined" by such an accident. Broke through fences, just about killed themselves, and would never wear a saddle again. (I think the right training and trust could "cure" them, but that's a different subject.) As they say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Now, I wasn't worried about that at all today, because there was no cinch. If he bucked or freaked out, the saddle would fall off but it wouldn't stay attached to him and eat him alive. No big deal.

Next, once the saddle is on, I will either "round pen" him or longe him. I prefer a round pen but I don't have one right now. I want him to feel that saddle moving with him and not moving with him and doing whatever it's going to do, at all gaits if possible, turning, etc. Basically just get him comfortable with it. That's what I meant when I said I would encourage him to buck. If he's going to, I want him to do it when I've set him up for success, not with me on his back or when it's a bad situation.

A lot of people already know this, sorry if it was redundant to you, but I thought it was an important subject to cover.


June 16, 2006

Man am I tired! He made me work this morning. We've done the saddle blanket thing already but for some reason he wasn't comfortable with it today. It was a different pad, thicker, stiff, and light colored. We ended up working on lunging a little too because his feet kept sticking. I really didn't think we'd get the saddle on today but we did! Cool stuff. I didn't cinch it. I actually didn't even have the cinch on it. The jingly bits were too scary. Save them for another day.

The saddle you see isn't the one I usually ride in. But mine wouldn't fit him, and cost too much too be putting on a greenie anyway. I think I'm going to have to get used to riding in this saddle, unless he gets a lot wider with time.

Oh, I finished up his braids too. Added a picture of them for Laura to see. For some reason with the braids he reminds me of a barrel racing horse.

Soon I hope to be able to show you a picture of him with saddle and pad, cinch and back cinch and breastcollar, all decked out the way he should be. But probably not right away. I think our next session had better be something more fun, like going for a walk, so he doesn't start to resent the time we spend together.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

June 15, 2006 - Day 26

What a wonderful morning! I managed to get up early and get my butt out of bed to go play with my horse. I haltered him and asked him to come in the stall with me, since it was a little nippy and breezy. He wasn't too sure about it but decided to go ahead and come in. He wanted to be facing the door just in case. Coda came up outside and that was especially distracting, but Tonka seemed comfortable once I showed him that I wouldn't let Coda come in and bully him. I groomed him and put some braids in his hair with neat rubbler bands specifically colored to match a sorrel horse. (Thanks for letting me use them, Laura.) Looks pretty good. He got tired of the braiding so I only got about half of his mane done. It was taking a while and I got tired of it too, so I took pity on us both and quit.

Then we worked on "roping" his back feet. He wasn't too sure about it, but he did pretty well. I put a 12 foot soft lead rope around his back leg, with both loose ends in my hand, so that it wasn't a completed small loop that could tighten on his foot. I wiggled it around then worked it down to his pastern. Pull forward, wait for hoof to give, release. Eventually pulled and asked him to set it where I wanted it, forward of where it had been. I couldn't really pull to the side or backward since I was holding the lead rope. Repeated for the other side. Worked on front feet with the rope. Picked up front feet and pulled them forward to rest on my knee as I would if I were trimming.

We moved on to another exercise with the rope. I wrapped the rope around his girth, tightened it and waited for him to quit moving, released. He didn't really do much moving, just kind of fidgeting and creeping forward. But we waited until he stopped to release. Wiggled rope around to where the back cinch would go. Wiggle wiggle wiggle. Tightened it. Moved to the flank. That's where they put the strap to make a horse buck. I tightened it slightly but mainly pulled toward me, with the goal that he would move his flank toward me, giving to the pressure. It took a LONG time. And yes, he did buck a little. But I kept the pressure on and kept hold of his lead so he couldn't end the lesson on his own. I was giving when he'd stop, then asking again. So mainly teaching him to stand for it. When he got that down pretty well I asked for the movement toward me again. I had to put my hand up to his neck and keep him from moving his front end toward me before he realized that he was supposed to be moving his flank toward me. It is a lot like turning his butt to me, which I've made clear isn't okay, and it's a very uncomfortable sensation, so I understand why it would be hard for him. He did it maybe 2-3 times on each side and each time I stepped completely away from his body and released the rope on his flank. He sighed and licked and chewed. Good boy.

Then I picked up his back feet with my hands. Carefully, very carefully. Keeping the lead rope loose enough to not be asking him to move around toward me with his head, but tight enough that if he got scared he couldn't pivot that hind end toward me and kick me. Eventually got his leg stretched out behind him and over my knee. Wow. Then the other one. Very carefully and gently, keeping in mind that this is a LOT to ask and I need to be prepared to immediately give him a break if it was too much for him. He was dozing. I went and got the hoof pick, and I picked out his back hooves! What a good boy! He has very nice hind feet, by they way. I did the fronts too.

Then I just stood with my Tonka, my good friend. He was dozing off. Coda was lying down, nickering and twitching a little in his sleep, with Soxy standing over him taking a nap. I rubbed him in small circles with my fingers all together, like a mama loving on her baby or a buddy giving a nice wither rub. Then I just rested my hands, and pretended to doze with him. It was so relaxing, standing in the mild breeze with the sun shining on us, and my horse falling asleep under my hands. Beautiful. I suddenly found myself with my hand on his withers, my eyes closed and tearful, my head bowed, in an attitude of prayer. Now, I am absolutely not a "religious" person. Religion turns me off. I found myself saying, praying I suppose, with tears in my eyes,

"Thank you. To whoever cares to hear it, thank you for this horse."