Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ride the West was really great, from what little I saw of it. I watched a bit of Eitan, the western dressage guy, and he was great. There was another western dressage type guy from Washington, I don’t remember his first name but his last name was Villasenor, he was good. He trains and gives lessons, for those of you who may be near him. He seemed more personable than some of the others. Charles Wilhelm was there. He isn’t one I normally like, but his production was alright. He’s a bit to commercial for my taste. Josh Lyons was there, I only watched a few minutes of his stuff. I missed Steve Rother and some of the other clinicians completely. I had planned to be watching something pretty much every hour of every day, but the mustangs distracted me.

I watched Lesley Neuman, the mustang trainer, work with one of the mustangs. I was absolutely in tears. She is so good! She wasn’t spouting commercials for any products or videos, she was just passionate about what she does, and you could tell. She said things that I have thought for a long time about communicating with horses and listening to them and how it’s never the horse’s fault. She said a lot of things that were new to me, but were very right, and I couldn’t believe I didn’t already know that. When the horse was moved into the round pen he was terrified, running and running and looking around, covered with sweat. After Lesley came into the pen it didn’t take long before he was relaxed & feeling safer. She never ran him. She never yelled at him. She didn’t even really wave her arms much. I’m thinking of the aggressive way John and Josh Lyons move horses (I do like some of their methods though), and this was not at all like that. Her presence kept him moving, and she allowed him to see that she was the safe place. She asked him for something new when he could handle it and allowed him to decide when it was too much. Eventually she told him he just had to deal with a couple things, and he did. I was amazed. But her passion about the horses and all of their little triumphs was what really got me. I will see her any time she’s in the area. She also offered me some good advice on the horses I was looking at adopting, and was there to talk to anyone who had questions. The question I asked was whether the fact that my big bay was dominant would mean that he would be harder to gentle. She thought that it wasn’t a good indicator, and he probably wouldn’t be any harder. Her theory was that after so long in the truck, with none of the personal space that is so important to horses, they were just trying to establish their own space. It turned out that the big bay wasn’t the most dominant at the end of the adoption, he was about second or third in their group of 5.

They were supposed to unload at 4 on Friday, but they were late, which was actually a good thing because there was a HUGE thunderstorm right at 4. A total downpour, it looked like a waterfall, with huge crashing booms right above us and lots of wind and lightning. Some of the outdoor booths got blown apart by the wind. I love a good storm so it really inspired me, got me thinking that maybe it was a sign I should adopt. (I was really reaching for reasons to do what I wanted to do!) It died down and then the horses got there. The unloading was pretty rough. You’d think they’d be dying to get off the truck but they were scared. There was some fighting going on inside.

I fell in love with my first choice horse immediately, he was a big bay that just gave me goosebumps. HUGE boy, and built like you wouldn’t believe. There was a sorrel in with him who was absolutely stunning too, compact and built like a tank. Another bay was my next choice. Then a grulla mare who was so sweet. She actually touched my hand yesterday. I spent long hours looking at them, watching how they behaved. Some of the really nice looking ones were disqualified from my list because they were just so scared and reactive. The red dun didn’t look like much to me, and didn’t have the smoothest gait, AND it said he was a stallion. He wouldn’t even have been on my list but he was so sweet and quiet and willing to stand by the people to get away from the horses that were picking on him. He came up and sniffed me Saturday night.

Sunday when it came time to bid I was a nervous wreck. My boys were in pen # 2 and one in #3, so they were up pretty quick. The big bay was first. I was very quickly out of the bidding with him. He went for $700, which turned out to be the highest for any horse there. Next was the sorrel tank I loved the look of. The bidding stuck at $130 and I was a wreck, not sure whether to bid. But the dun was my second choice, I kept my bidder’s card in my lap while my heart raced. So the sorrel went for $130, a steal for such a stunning horse. Then was my dun. A mom and daughter were also bidding on him. I think he would have been a 4H project, and they were very nice people who had adopted before, so I felt kind of bad for out bidding them, but not that bad! I cried when the bidding on him ended and he was mine! It was wonderful! When I went to get my paperwork in order I found out he’s a gelding, not a stallion, and was very happy about that! He was rounded up in February, gelded in March. What a year it’s been for him!

I had to wait several hours for the vet to get there and do the health certificate I needed to cross into Idaho. I stood around mooning over him a lot, and talking to people, and getting teary eyed when I told them he was mine and thought about how great it would be to get him home. I was glad I had my sunglasses on, I don’t like to cry in front of strangers!

All of the BLM staff and volunteers were wonderful people, very much into what they do. I talked a lot to Rick McComas, the Spokane guy (I don’t know his title but he’s the main Wild Horse and Burro guy around here). He’s a real nice guy. I’d dealt with him before with my first mustang but never met him in person. He was very disappointed in how the adoption turned out. I think when I left there were 15 horses out of 40 that hadn’t been adopted. He said there were half as many people there as there were last year. Not sure why, maybe gas prices? There were a lot of very stunning horses left, mostly the bays and sorrels. But even some of the duns got passed up. There were only 2 horses there I would have passed up. One with a deformed hoof and one that was beautiful beyond belief but very small. The rest were all going to be great horses (not that those two wouldn’t be also). Well built and good sized.

I have to go, it’s taken me half the day to write this because I keep going outside to play with him. Guess what!!!! He lets me pet him all over from face to his flank and the top of his butt, leg touches are allowed but not liked, he’s leading like a dream, I brushed him a bit with a brush, picked up both front feet briefly, he drops his head to the ground if I ask and I put a nylon halter over his rope halter no problem. I’m going to go back out later and at least take off the drag rope and possibly the halter, once I’m absolutely sure I can get it back on. WOW!!!!!!! I’m seriously not lying, I just brought him home yesterday. This boy is THAT horse for me. The one. I hope you get what I mean.

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