Thursday, October 30, 2014


I really thought I would blog more now that I have a mustang to gentle and train. No such luck though. Mostly it's lack of time. I am still working more than intended, but it's okay because no matter what, I don't work over 40 hours a week. And it's only temporary.

Anyway, Luc is coming along slowly. He is an interesting one. At first glance he seemed so easy, because of his busy curiosity, but he gets overloaded easily, and backslides sometimes. He is easy to read though. If he's uncomfortable he walks away and starts pointlessly fidgeting with a spot on the ground, or the corral rails.

He has less of a tendency to put himself in the corner and stick his head through the fence now. I make a lot of noise when he does, to discourage him. He will pretty consistently turn and give me both eyes when I ask. In terms of round pen work, we have kind of done something similar, very slowly and only until he faces up, which is usually after half a trip around the pen, if that. Just to regroup and come together again.

It took me over an hour to put a halter on him on Monday. We'd done it plenty before, but suddenly it was totally not okay with him. I had to keep my cool, and be patient and persistent. And I finally ended up using food to keep him busy while I slipped it on.

Leading work is coming along well. We are still not moving totally smoothly, he has certain spots where he sticks or rushes forward, but he responds well to direction changes. I asked him to back up last night and he was clearly not ready for that. We had to go back to easy stuff and lots of praise to ease his worry.

I wonder how much of his interesting mix of insecurity/boldness come from growing up without the lawful and calming influence of a mare. Obviously he had his mom and other mares until he was weaned, but since then has been running around with a bunch of teenage boys. I wouldn't trade him, but I think growing up in a holding facility is not near as beneficial as growing up as nature intended, whether it be in a wild herd or on a farm.

I have to get ready for work. Hope you all have a grand day!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Test Results

Luc is negative for type 1 EPSM. That's all the news I have for today!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Words, words, words

On Thursday Scout got to see the equine chiropractor (who is also an experienced equine vet). He watched Scout move, then checked every joint and adjusted where he was stuck. Which turned out to be all over the place. Jaw, atlas, neck, wither, rib, pelvis. Scout really enjoyed being fooled with, and after each adjustment his eyes would get all dreamy and he would lick and chew.

He took a good look at Scout's tail and confirmed that it has no feeling at all and he did break it. He is pretty sure it will never have feeling again and will always just hang there. I was still holding out hope. :(

We are cleared to ride! I got him out yesterday with that intention but his stifles were popping so loudly I decided to introduce him to Luc and then walk him instead. We need to slowly build up fitness, I think. Without circles!

Luc is doing just fine. So far he isn't loving halter training. Sometimes it's smooth as butter and he just follows me, and sometimes he really wants to throw a fit. I thought it was funny a while back when I was reading up on donkey and mule training, that so many people pointed out that they naturally push/pull against pressure, unlike horses. Not a good comparison at all! Horses do it too, in the beginning.  I think people don't see that because horses learn so fast to give to pressure, and many people have never started a horse from the very beginning.

When Luc gets willful I try to keep a happy medium of enough pull that I don't lose him, but not so much that he completely freaks out. And if he's just feeling adversarial we take a long break. Most of the time he gives to a polite request, but after a bit he gets frustrated. He is a baby who hasn't learned to deal with duration yet. Mind you, we only just started hooking on the lead rope yesterday, so we ought to just keep getting better and better.

Today I have great plans for horseplay and fence mending! What fun!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Haltering Difficulty

I don't know if I mentioned how hard a time I was having getting a halter past his busy mouth. I would try to slip it around his nose, but he was lightning quick at sucking it way up into his mouth. Then a laughing game of tug-o-war would ensue. He cracks me up.

Of course I also had to get him to accept my arms going under and over his neck with a halter dangling. He was understandably very nervous about this, but yesterday he decided it was fine.

I finally had the good sense to give him something else to play with while I slipped the halter on, and voila!

Of course, since he ate his halter I had to use Pedro's, which is a bit loose around the nose.

I didn't ask anything of him with the halter, just wiggled it around on his face and took it off.

I did ask him to give to pressure on his face for the first time with just my hand. I expected some resistance, but there wasn't much. Just thoughtful pause, and a very slight give. We will build on that. I also asked him to move his front end away from me, which he did beautifully the first time, and more hesitantly but still good enough the second and third time. We're starting some real work. What fun!

Monday, October 13, 2014

On the tenth day...

He has a name!

Meet Luc

Luc (Luke) is a Welsh or French name meaning Light or Illumination.  To me, light is the ultimate "is," affirmation, or "yes!" Light is. Darkness is not, it is simply nothing, an absence of light. (I also love the darkness, but only as defined by the light of moon and stars, or a candle's glow, or the lights of home on a dark night). Then we have Illumination, which is just Wow. I don't know why it took me so long. This name has been on my list all along, and it fits him, but I kept thinking of Luke Skywalker, who is a bit whiny. So he will be my Luc.  Lugh.  Lughnasadh.  Harvest, bountiful, fulfillment long awaited. 

Today Luc is having a hard time.  It's windy and he's unsettled.  He was actually trotting back and forth in his pen this morning, which I have not seen him do before.  Remember, having lived only in holding facilities in the desert, he's probably not used to grasses and trees rattling in the wind.  The coolness of the morning didn't help.  He seems a little more relaxed now that it's warmed up.

I took a bucket in to sit on, and I figured I'd let him explore it first.  Which he quite thoroughly did.

He likes to paw things back underneath himself and then act surprised about it.

He was playing too vigorously and cracked it, so I took it away and sat on it.

We just hung out for a long while.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I'm Having SO Much Fun!

Isn't he just absolutely handsome?
Pay no attention to the fact that I'm just pitching his poop to the other side of the fence.  Truth is, I'm afraid to take the wheelbarrow in there.  He'd play with it and probably get a leg caught in it or something.

I just love my handmade coffee cup given to me years ago by a wonderful woman who also made it possible for me to bring my real horse home.  I am forever deeply grateful.

I'm not sure how I'm going to get a halter on him again.  He is lightning fast at sucking it into his mouth.

I tend to forget that not everyone knows that a BLM mustang is untouched, unhandled, unhaltered, except by force in a squeeze chute.  This guy did accept pets on his face before I brought him home, but that isn't the norm.  You can't just halter them up and lead them around.  You can't even necessarily expect them to keep it together when you enter their pen.  Every little thing is a huge accomplishment.  I LOVE this part of the training. 

To begin with, all I could do was touch his face.  Then he allowed body rubs with the training stick, then he allowed my hand but only when starting with the training stick, then he allowed my hand but only on one side while he was eating.  Now I can scratch him all over both sides from face to hip, put my arm over or under and scratch the other side of his neck, and even rub his tail head on one side.  I had one hand on his shoulder and my body against him when I rubbed his tail, which is a HUGE step.  Not just two hands, fully body contact! 

I'm being cautious about his hind end because I don't have control over his front end.  He has only offered to kick a couple times, but I admit I pushed too hard those couple times, and it wasn't about touch, it was about proximity and speed.  He does not want to be chased around.  I am respecting that right now, not because he kicked out at me, but because it made him uncomfortable enough to think about escape, mentally and physically.  I don't really enjoy chasing them around anyway.  I want them to want to be near me, not run from me.  Later, when he is ready, we will learn about movement, speed, etc.  We have all the time in the world.

Here he is uncomfortable. He decided it was okay for me to rub his poll, but he still has reservations.

Here he is checking me out while I rub him, which I like.  I'd rather have him interacting than have him standing and enduring.  Later on I even had him wiggling his lips in enjoyment of a good wither scratching.
I try to pay attention and move away before he does, and give him a lot of releases (walk away) even if he's not looking overly uncomfortable.  My being next to him is still a bit of a stress, and he deserves lots of breaks.

I pushed his mane over and had a clear view of his brand for the first time.  Not that I can read it with his winter coat coming in.  It almost roughly looks like it says "Unity."  But of course it is not made up of letters, it is a string of symbols representing numbers.

We made so very much progress today, and we both enjoyed it.  At one point he was looking very sleepy, and started licking and chewing, so I left.  He stuck his head through the fence and wanted to follow me.  Happy, happy day.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I still haven't named him. I haven't had a lot of time on my hands to think about it though, between my regular job and my equine dentistry job. I have spent short sessions just rubbing on him and showing him things like halters, brushes, lead ropes, different foods. He puts everything in his mouth immediately.  But he says apples and carrots are not food.

He's a little difficult to photograph. Always questing with that mouth of his.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Trip of a Lifetime

On Thursday we headed out at dawn on a long journey to the Boise BLM Wild Horse Corrals.  The first half of the trip was absolutely gorgeous.

We stopped once on the Salmon river to enjoy the beauty, take pictures, and look at rocks.  There are so many different kinds of rocks in that river.  And the water there has so many different voices. 

The sky was amazing, and the morning light made everything soft and magical.

Not long after that we came to the town of Riggins.  Everything was so beautiful and perfect that I decided that if I got a gelding, I'd name him Riggin.  At that point I still had my heard set on the little grey filly though. 

We got there and found out that she's pretty standoffish, which isn't really a bad thing, but wasn't what I wanted to hear.  She kept to herself, and stayed out of any drama that came up.  She also hadn't been there long and was just settling in.  The BLM official who met us there said she was his pick of the yearlings.
There were a couple other yearlings I liked, but not a lot.

Then we looked at the 2 and 3 year old geldings.  It's interesting how at first they're just a bunch of horses, then some start to catch your attention.  This one stood out, with his long legs and bright bay color.  I'd seen one picture of him before and liked him.  I noted his tag number.

But it wasn't long before this one was the one I kept my eyes out for.  (Not how wild and crazy the red horse is.  There were a lot of them like that.)

The horse on the other side of him was also pretty cute, but  little pushy.

Eventually he came up and made friends, and I even got a pretty good look at his teeth as he explored me with his mouth.  I figured he was a 2 year old, but one of the guys swore he was a 3 year old.  He was one of the largest in the group, but we didn't have their paperwork, so I figured I'd wait until morning to find out more specifics.  At this point I still thought I was considering the other two horses.

The next morning we got there just after dawn to watch them during feeding time, and make our final decision, although I was pretty much decided at that point.

Here are all the yearlings.  The big one in the middle is the only 2 year old.  She was sensible and loving. The one on the left is an awesome coloring - primitive bay pinto.  She's a filly also.  Click to enlarge, if interested.  The red babies were very sweet and inquisitive, demanding attention.  Not many of them were shy.

I just like this picture.  That's my guy in the center background.

When we first got there, only two feeders had hay in them, and they were jockeying around for spots at the feeder quite a bit.  My guy spent a lot of time not eating, trying to figure out how to get in for some food.

Then he came to say hello again.

Here he is a little worried about something.

What a handsome guy!

Buddy horses could be adopted for just $25.00, and I was tempted to take this one as well.  He was even bigger, and really just a gentle giant, and seemed to be hanging around with my gelding a lot.  But I don't have room for two wild ones.

When they went to sort him off, something really amazing happened.  The corrals are set up with big square enclosures all along both sides of an alleyway.  My horse was at the feeder on the alleyway side, with plenty of room to eat and no reason to do otherwise.  When they opened the big gate and walked in (not near him, heading toward the center, they were still looking for him) his curiosity was piqued, and he walked with interested purpose right into the alleyway, completely by himself, comfortable, and not directed.  Just looking for adventure.  Absolutely amazing. 

When we went in to sign paperwork, I found out he is only two years old, and he is from Nevada, but they don't know specifically where because he was born in a holding facility.  So he has probably never seen trees, or uneven ground, or even green grass.  It made me consider changing my mind, but really there was no doubt in my mind that he was the one I wanted. 

They trimmed his hooves on a tilt squeeze chute, and wormed him and put his halter on.  I think they may have vaccinated him too, but I need to look that up.  Then they ran him into the trailer and he quietly rode the 7 hour trip home on the winding road.  What a big day!

He is definitely a watcher.  Everything interests him.  He doesn't seem spooky or over-reactive at all, just curious and sometimes concerned.  If you look closely here you can see a boat drifting by outside the trailer door.  He thought that was really weird.  The river itself was also pretty strange to him.

When we got him unloaded he talked to the other horses a bit, had a big long pee, and started eating tumbleweeds.  He really is a big goof.

It's now Monday, and I've played with him a bit, but I'm also trying to let him settle in.  I got his halter off because the fiador knot had come loose and the noseband was huge, just asking to snag on something.  He will let me rub my hand on his forehead, lips, under his jaw, his neck and shoulder, and he will let me rub just about anywhere with the training stick or poop fork.  He is very inquisitive, and as soon as something new appears (including people) he just can't help but come up and start messing with it.  He is something else.  I just love him.

But I still don't have a name for him!  Any suggestions?