Friday, May 31, 2019

Such Fun!

We've been having all the fun lately.

Juniper wants to make sure she doesn't get left out.

Ariel and I have been riding a lot. I'm so glad she has time to ride with me! Sometimes she rides Sawyer and I ride Scout, and then I appreciate Sawyer all the more. Scout is a bit of a klutz, and needs to watch his feet rather than looking for boogey-men and spooking at tweety birds.

We also went for a hike and looked at flowers and found a few morel mushrooms.

Well, this photo of Buster loaded out of order... We finally got the saddle rigged right. I had to order a new cinch and some more latigo straps. Donkeys are narrower up front, so it works to double cinch them with the back cinch back around their belly to hold the saddle back, and cinched tighter than the front cinch but not too tight.  The britchen and breastcollar are only needed in mountainous territory. We will need them. It's important to stay off a donkey's shoulders, even more so than a horse. They move up and down like pistons, they don't move eliptically like a horse's shoulders. We are riding treeless so far so at least there's no tree to hurt his shoulders.

Back to our hike. I love this little hidden creek. We've ridden along it a thousand times but never gone into the trees to check it out because the horses don't fit in there.

I let Winston hike off leash and he actually stayed with us! He didn't get stubborn and stay with a pile of gross bones or anything. Here he is happily perched over a rotten deer leg, but ready to move it we try to take it.

I just liked this picture of Bella. She wanted food. She's obviously starving. I think she needs to live with the donkeys. Pretty much everyone except Sawyer and maybe Scout needs to be on a diet.

We went on a camping trip to my sister's favorite place in the world over the long weekend. We were going to scatter her ashes but my brother-in-law broke his pelvis and dislocated his hip (and he's still on the tractor every day!) so he can't walk well enough to get to the aspen grove she loved.

There's a cattleman's association that has corrals out there and they don't mind of we use them, as long as they don't need them. The cows weren't out yet, and the boys enjoyed having a comfortable place to sleep.

Buster sure is an explorer!
I saddled him up and tried riding him down the road, but the horses were behind him and that scared him, so he just took off and we had no brakes. I just let him go and talked sweet to him. Eventually he slowed down and walked, then a forest road gate got him worried again and off we went again. Liam picked up a trot behind us to catch up and the sound caught his attention so he stopped and I hopped off. Obviously we weren't really ready to ride yet, but oh my gosh his gait is to die for! So, so smooth. I think it's a pace, but I'm no expert on gaits. I'll have to get John to video it sometime and ask you guys.

Liam and Sawyer look so good together.

This meadow. Oh my. I wish my camera had picked it up better. The purple camas flowers in the grass... The aspens. Wow.

Have you ever heard of Pack Burro Racing? The burros/ donkeys carry a symbolic pack, not much on it, and the person and burro run miles through the mountains. Sounds hard. I guess there's good prize money in it. Enough that people who know nothing about donkeys rent them and run with them. Not quite fair to the donkeys. Hopefully it's the people who love their donkeys and train all year who win. Anyway, they run behind their donkeys, like this:
I was working on my "walk on," and "whoa" cues. He was doing great. He's very forward on the trail to we had to work a little extra on "easy."

The guys, trying to coordinate their guys for a photo. They look good!

After we got home Ariel and I went for another ride. She finally found a farrier foe her horse, Cowboy, and got some shoes put on, but one came off after our ride. :(

Her dog and my horse look great together. :)

Cowboy isn't a big fan of having his picture taken, but at least his ears aren't back in this one!

They look good together. :)

This weekend I'm headed to Mule Mania in Dayton, WA. I can't wait! I hope they have plenty of donkeys there. Maybe next year I'll take my longears. Although I suspect I'd rather be in the mountains than showing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Riding Buster and Stuff

If I don't post this now, I never will! 

Buster is doing great! I love riding him. His forward momentum depends very much on where his buddies are... We need to work on that. I think ground driving comes next. I still need to introduce the bit too. 

We've been playing with saddle rigging. I definitely like it better with 2 cinches one set far back to hold the saddle back. I had to order 2 new latigos, this setup with the rear cinch straps doesn't work well. I also sized my britchen to him finally. Man, I hate to Conway buckles.

I gotta go, the farrier is coming but enjoy the pics. Check out my new duck's feet below. It only took me a couple weeks to notice how cool they are.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Buster Goes to the Dentist

This guy. He's the best. He wasn't worried much about anything.

Look at him stepping on that ramp like it ain't no thing.

He loaded right up and we got to work. No trouble at all. Except the wolf teeth.

He had four of them. The bottom two were tiny and barely rooted, thank goodness. The top two were really awkward and pointed forward and sideways. Would have been uncomfortable with the bit. They were really pointy too. They had to come out, and it was hard work. Like pulling teeth.

Scout went too and was a bit of a booger. He has too much energy and a busy mind... Unlike Buster his points weren't very sharp since he had his teeth done a year ago, but also unlike Buster he has very little room in his mouth so even with just moderately sharp teeth his cheeks were abraded. Not ulcerated yet though.

Sarah, my dentist vet, fell in love with Buster. :) Love that. He is an impressive critter. Such a good boy.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

First Field Trip

I couldn't be more pleased with what I learned about Buster on our fist trip to the mountains.  His name should be Busta Move.  He's fast!  When you get into the brush though, he's a perfect gentleman and slows down to negotiate terrain, getting far enough behind when you ask, crossing water, ditches, logs, etc.

Here he is with my niece while I got my stuff together.  Huckleberry was screaming his fool head off because he had to be on a leash while there was another dog at the trailhead.  So unfair.  But he can be a real jerk at times, so he's not allowed to socialize.

Liam led Bella, who hasn't been anywhere since she went to the dentist about a year ago.  She was a bit stompy in the trailer, but otherwise very good.  I adore that horse.  She would walk through fire and put her feet exactly where you ask.

Buster is so cute.

He did well with the dogs running all around. (Winston has to stay on a leash, he's not smart enough to stick with us.)  You can tell he's not used to dogs but it wasn't an issue.

This was our second creek crossing, and it was a little harder because he was distracted by Bella's distance from us, and there was a big squishy drop down before the water.

He decided to ask the photographer if there was another way to go.

Since letting him just follow me didn't work, I had to bring him back to the easy spot and show him this was where he needed to come down.  He was still looking at Bella, not his feet.  But with some time to think, he figured it out.

No problem!

Later in the evening I was wondering if any of my headstalls would fit him.  I tried my sister's special headstall that she gave me.  The length works, but the browband is too small.  I can't remember what I did with the headstall I used to use for Pedro.  I have one more place to look before I give up.

 He did not like the bit.  He was a broken unit.  He couldn't move.  A lot like a cat with clothes on, except he didn't topple over.  I can't wait to get his teeth fixed up tomorrow.  His canines are sharp.  Everything is sharp.  I think his owner didn't know how important dentistry is, and last time he had his teeth done he didn't like how many times they poked him to find the vein for the sedation. He was pretty soft-hearted about his donkey.

They're grooming each other!  I scratched on Buster, which made him Scratch on Juniper, and she tentatively scratched on Buster, and when I removed myself from the scene they kept it up.  Yay!

The donkeys have joined Halla and Sawyer for morning turnout, and there is no drama.  Happy family.  I love it.  I might add Bella to their herd so she can get some exercise on the hill.  Scout is such a pill he'll have to stay separate.  I won't have him picking on old Sawyer.

Tomorrow is dentistry day for Buster and Scout, then Tuesday we have farrier day for everyone except naughty Juniper (I still trim her).  Then we will have all the adventures!  I wonder if I can pony Buster on the trail with Sawyer.  He might be way too fast!  It's good for me to hike with him though.

Friday, May 10, 2019


We have a new friend.

Isn't he just downright adorable?
Buster is a 10 year old mammoth jackstock donkey gelding.  Now don't be calling him a mule, he's a whole ass, not a half ass. He has extensive packing experience, has gone on overnight trips in the backcountry, and as you can see, he's seen some interesting places.  He hasn't been ridden other than to be sat on and led around, but he knows how to sidepass and he has an understanding of lateral flexion, he lunges, and he basically has a really good training foundation.
He and Juniper weren't too sure about each other at first, but they were polite.

He's so fluffy!

This is my favorite picture in a long time.

Doesn't he look like a thinker?

Buster leans on his halter in the trailer, which made his nose sore, so his previous owner hauled him in a collar, and to simplify things he just rigged up this setup for a halter. It works just fine but I ordered him something prettier.

The Ez Fit treeless saddle ought to work just fine for him.  (Have I written about how much I love it?) I didn't have a pad handy, but really it's all padding anyway.  I may have to play with whether to put 2 cinches on it or leave it rigged as is.  I should also dig out my britchen and fit it to him.

He lived on a quiet hillside with an older gentleman and no other animals, and the ducks and dogs and traffic are new to him.  He thinks they're pretty interesting.

He is so happy to have a friend.  That was why he was for sale.  His owner loved him very much and couldn't have two donkeys, so decided to find him a donkey experienced home.  He was so particular about Buster's care I was afraid he'd get here and say this isn't good enough - there's too much green grass, it's too wet, too messy (this guy was very neat) or something.  But we passed the test.

This will be my excellent view one day when we ride.  I am going to get John's help with our first rides so we can get forward motion without too much confusion and make sure he understands the basics.  First I have to get his wolf teeth pulled and sharp points taken care of, and then introduce the bit.

Meeting the neighbors.

Trying out his new halter from Outfitter's Supply.  I've since oiled the leather nosepiece and tried to shape it a bit so it will conform to his nose. It looked a little uncomfortable.  The sizing isn't perfect, but I don't think I could have gone down a size and had it fit his nose.  It's a mule halter.  I guess mule proportions must be different.

They even eat together peacefully.  You couldn't take 2 horses and just throw them together like this.  Of course there was some donkey drama.  Juniper wanted the upper hand.  But it wasn't violent.  She didn't really get him moving like she wanted to, either.

I went ahead and let Sawyer and Halla mingle with them today (day 3 - they know each other over the fence now) and it was a non-event.  The only real problem horse is going to be Scout.  He's a bit of a butthead.

It's interesting re-integrating an animal who has been without his own kind for a long time.  We did the same with Sawyer.  They are so happy to have friends again.  I think it makes me want to take it slower with them, in some ways, because I want them to know they have a stable family now, and every time we walk away it's not forever.  So we go away and come back, go away a little farther and eat grass, then come back, go meet some cows down the road and the neighbor horses and then come back, etc.  (I tried taking both donkeys for a walk and that was a bad idea - one was slow and the other was fast and I just ended up frustrated.)

I'm excited to see what the future holds with our new buddy.