Saturday, June 28, 2008


What a busy weekend with Hoopfest 2008! My youngest son competed in it, so we've been there all day and preparing for it for weeks. We got home though, and still have time to string up the last strands of electric wire.

What a project! We had 400' feet of wood rails fence--1/3 of it over solid rock--so we had to build concrete forms. Then, about 7 acres of brown electric ribbon and electric wire--about 5 acres was already fenced that they've been on for over a year.

We let all the horses out tonight--well, 6 of the horses, that is, the mustang won't be out for a long, long time. There's another horse in the barn with her.

But I always worry when we let them into a new pasture because one time they broke the fence at night--probably trying to navigate a turn--and ended up almost to the Hwy!! We had just moved here and they didn't know anything about the area.

They're out there grazing right now and loving it--grass and alfalfa--but I'm going to put them in at dusk just to be safe--and let them out again in the am.

As for Beautiful, she hasn't been scratching her mane as much--so maybe the things I'm doing have worked. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to really work with her the last couple of days and I feel BAD about that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More Pics of Mane and Feet

This skin issue is weird. I started to think it could be so many things.

1.) Until she'd let us halter her, we used the rope around her neck and mane to get her to face up and stay with us--this could have irritated the mane.

2.) Lice: I don't see any lice--but she has been itching her mane like crazy--and she is next to the goats--can they spread lice to horses? I sprayed her with a lice spray and worked it all through her mane--just in case. And, I wormed her with a pellet wormer.

3.) Fungal infection: But that usually makes it come out in clumps, whereas this is itched off. Still, I treated her with rain rot.

4.) Selenium: I took away her selenium salt block since she's getting Horse Guard Vitamins.

The feet, as you'll see, were not filed down--that would have been asking too much of her. He simply took off a lot of heel, but not enough to lame her--and a little toe. I think it's good that she's not walking on her toes at all--which had been a concern of some people who saw her. It appears that she is actually back on her heel.

BTW, after he trimmed her, I saw her lope for the first time--three laps around her run. And, she hasn't shown any tenderness or lameness.

What's Happening to Her Mane?

This issue seemed small time compared to her feet, but last week when I started grooming her, her mane hair was coming out in clumps. It looked like she'd ratted it up by scratching it against the wood door. I looked at it and there didn't seem to be any signs of bites, open sores, etc., but there was what appeared to be swelling in tent like bumps. Her appetite is, of course, great and the rest of her body hair is fine.

Does anyone have any ideas what might be causing this--viral, stress, change in diet, too much selenium, bites, etc?

Thanks for any input!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What I Would Do Different: Preparation for a Mustang

I've been thinking about what I would have done differently if I had actually planned on adopting a mustang last month. Of course, first on my list would be PLAN to adopt a mustang. :):):)

This is only personal to me--I'm sure others would have different suggestions--but here they are.

How To Prepare for Your Mustang

1. Plan ahead: Study the herds, the BLM in your area (their practices, etc), track adoptions, watch their site.

2. Rent, borrow or buy Kitty Lauman's DVD "From Wild to Willing". Watch it over and over and over and practice on your domestic horses.

3. Take a friend or knowledgeable horseperson with you to the adoption and get there the first day to observe and hang out all weekend. Relax and enjoy--see which one your heart attaches to.

4. After watching Kitty's video--decide if you want them to halter your horse or not. If so, a nylon halter with long lead is best.

5. Make sure your pen at home is really 24x24 and tall and sturdy. There will be a lot of banging into the walls, so if you have a big boy or girl they'll demolish it or pull it apart. (Again, refer to Lauman's video of the mustang jumping into the side of the corral.)

I went with a bigger corral thinking I was doing my mustang a favor. Wrong. You can't reach them with the bamboo pole. Which brings me to number 6.

6. Find a 12' long bamboo pole. Good luck! I never found one and had to improvise with PVC. Oh, and buy more than one because there's a good chance it will break!

7. Buy a 25' or 30' long piece of cotton or yacht rope--soft and heavy. Either tie leather tassels to the end or tie the rope in a knot at each end--no buckles. You'll use this rope to go around the bamboo pole and then their neck. (Refer to video)

8. After an initial welcome home period--get going on the training--like the next day. The sooner they know they're going to be okay the better, and it will prepare them for farrier and vet care.

9. Get your farrier there the first day to assess those feet and tell you what to do to get them ready for a trim. Then do it.

10. Don't underestimate the importance of getting your mustang to look at you with both eyes--acknowledge you. One eye isn't good enough--it's okay at best. (Refer to video). Until they have looked at you with both eyes and allowed you to touch or pet between their eyes--you shouldn't try to get their feet.

11. Expect Respect. If your mustang likes to give you its hind end, like mine did, work on getting them to face up. If you don't know how to do this, hire a professional or get someone who knows how. Basically, make it uncomfortable for them to present their hind. My little girl loved to flip it around--it was her best defense even though it was a BIG bluff. If she does it now, I swat her with the end of the carrot stick (Parelli) and she either throws a little fit or turns around nicely and faces me. The latter is the only answer I accept.

12. Work with your mustang as much as you can each day. I would do an hour or so long sessions--multiple times per day. Set realistic goals and meet them ending on a positive note.

13. Don't underestimate the power of curiosity and then, take the time to let it work for you. If your mustang doesn't look at you, sniff you, look at the tools, sniff them--he/she hasn't acknowledged and accepted them. Give them time to do this and develop their curiosity and willing partnership.

14. My farrier recommended that 1.) If you don't have their head, don't go to their feet (as I stated above), and 2.) Spend a lot of time grooming them--especially around their legs and feet, and don't worry so much about picking those feet up as much as preparing them for being touched there and everwhere the tools might touch (under the belly, shoulder, etc.) 3.) Oh, and when petting the legs, go with the fur rather than against it.

Any Other Suggestions?

Monday, June 23, 2008

"T" Day

Today was "Trim" Day--"T" Day as I'll always remember it. I did not, in my wildest dreams, know how Scott was going to pull this one off without sedation, but he said not to do it.

When he started out and she wouldn't let him anywhere near her head or feet--I thought he was going to walk away and never come back--basically fire me as a client!!

But that's not how it happened at all. He knew exactly what he was doing and he went to work with patience, kindness, and wisdom.

First, he wanted her head--he wanted her to acknowledge him. Second, he wanted her feet. Two hours later he had all of her and could lead her around the pen, pet her face on, and pick up those feet and do his work.

When he gave her back to me she was so happy to be by her mama--she followed me around and wouldn't leave my side.

My farrier is phenomonal. He can train horses as well as trim them. He is a four time National Champion Farrier. He has his own magazine--Pro Farrier Today--he trains farriers from all over and he is the former VP of the American Farrier's Association. He chose us as clients rather than vice versa. Our vet referred him to us for Cowboy's P3 and after working on him a couple of times he said he'd decided he'd be our farrier.

Today we realized how lucky we were he let us be his clients. And, my mind is totally at rest about Beautiful's feet.

I asked him why he was against sedation and he said he doesn't ever trick a horse. It would be like giving her a date-rape drug, as far as he was concerned. The only way he wanted to do her feet was if she allowed him to do her feet. So, he made it very uncomfortable for her to be anywhere but by his side.

About her feet, he says she'll be just fine--her feet are upright anyway--she's an upright horse, but her conformation supports the feet--they go together. He said because she's upright and taller in the hind than the front--and hasn't ever been trimmed--she has been more on her toes and less on her heel. But he brought her heel down and will continue to do it as he can.

I am sooooo happy today. She's an absolute sweetheart--despite throwing herself over backward and once striking his arm--even Scott agreed she has a good temperment and isn't a mean horse at all.

"T"-Day was successful.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Get Thee To a Farrier

Today I did something smart--I called my farrier. I didn't know if he'd want anything to do with a wild mustang, or I would have done it earlier.

I have to admit, in the little over a year that I've been lucky enough to have him care for my horses, I have brought my fair share of hard cases his way and asked him to do miracles.

And, today, I am riding my gelding who had the P3 fracture--not because anything a vet did for him (in fact, despite the first vet who misdiagnosed him), but because of the quality work that was done on his hooves by Scott Davidson.

So, embarassed as I was, I presented him yet again with another hoof horror story--maybe the worst yet. And this is what he wrote back:

Do not sedate her . If you can get a halter on her that is good enough. Remember that I grew up with this kind.
This is not difficult at all - I can trim her feet even if you don't get a halter on her.
I'm in New York and will get home Sunday. Call Monday morning and we'll do her that afternoon. BTW this horse has a club foot but a good trim will help. If it lived this long with these feet it will live after we take care of them.

Now that's a good farrier--one who will put your mind at ease. I can't wait until Monday--I'll know a whole lot more than I do now--and I think it will go very well for Beautiful.

So, now back to the value of an animal--even one as young and recently acquired as this--I believe that every animal we are lucky enough to caretake has something to give us back. I know it's easy to add up the costs in hay, vet, farrier, and board and think--hey, this is a losing proposition. And, I'm the first one to draw the line at expensive surgeries--there is a practical element involved.

Still, within means, the ownership of a horse (to me) is more than being able to ride it. I learn something new every day I go out and work with Beautiful--in that way, she is a teacher and a giver.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Beautiful Gets Haltered

As you can see from the picture, I finally got the halter on Beautiful Girl. It wasn't easy for her. She was required to give up a lot of control in the last three days.

Today I went out every couple of hours and worked about an hour each time--giving her time to rest and think about the lesson in between.

This morning, I used the pole to put the rope over her back and work it up around her head. I controlled her movement away from me with the rope. I made a mistake during this process of continuing to put pressure on the rope until she gave. I should have been pull/releasing until she gave, and then released immediately. Because of my error, she fought the rope harder and ended up rearing.

Still, even though I made mistakes, she learned to give to the pressure. I worked her mainly on her good side--knowing that I have a huge hole in the training with the other side. I thought it was more important to get the halter on then to worry about the other side just yet. My goal is to keep her as quiet as possible--less movement on those hooves.

So, at about 4:30, I was out there again, and I worked mainly around her face from the front of her head. I wanted her to look at me, smell my hand, and let me rub her face. She wasn't good at that, but we made progress. Eventually, I ended up on her side where we were yesterday--hands on both sides--rope halter rubbing all over her cheeks, under her jaw, etc.

At some point during that she completely gave me her head. It went somewhat limp and relaxed. Her eyes closed a little bit. I rubbed her head and cradled it under my arm, easily slipped the rope halter on, and continued to rub her face. And, it was over.

There is no drag rope this time. Since I can approach her, there is no need for one. She's learning the principles of pressure during our training. And, I'm not going to use the lead rope anymore since it's so short. Instead, I'm going to use my lunge line. But that will be tomorrow.

For tonight, she has just been eating and getting petted. And, I'm aiming for Friday as a trim day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

About Club Feet & Beautiful Meets Her Mentor



Cat Loesch, a wonderful Mustang Mentor from Spokane WA, came to see us yesterday and today to help us get Beautiful haltered and ready for the trimmer. She also brought me the video "From Wild to Willing", which I'll be watching tonight.

Cat has a heart for Mustangs--and a vast knowledge of the gentling process.

She brought a long, cotton rope with leather tassels at each end to work around Beautiful much the way you do the bamboo pole. Beautiful Girl, however, made it difficult work to get and keep the rope in place. Her defensive mechanism is to put her head in the corner and her butt out, and turn the other direction, effectively flipping the rope off her back. Also, something about the incline of her withers kept slipping the rope back off onto the thicker part of the neck which is tougher to control.

There was a lot of work done on facing up and turning toward Cat rather than away.

I think we spent three hours with Beautiful that session--Cat working the rope around Beautiful Girls neck, legs, and torso, approaching her with the halter and rubbing her as far as up as she could get with the goal of slipping the halter over her face.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time since I had family coming to town, and had to quit for the day. But we had accomplished desensitizing her to much more of her body, with Cat getting her hands on the opposite sides of her body and up near her head--new territory.

Today I went out in the morning and did more of the same. I was able to get up near her ears. Cat arrived later in the afternoon and took over until I had to leave to take the kids to the dentist. I know she was rubbing both sides of her face, under her jaw, and all over her body. She stayed longer, so I'll hear more later.

All in all, it's slow going. Maybe because of Beautiful's age, she's more insecure. Cat says it has been easier to work with two year olds who are more forward. Beautiful is taking things slow. I still haven't scheduled the farrier since I don't know when she'll be ready. In fact, at this point, we're considering our options for making a chute.

There is a great site on club feet:

I can paste a bit of their conversation here--the part about grading degrees of club foot and what treatment is recommended:

Grading Club Feet

Grade 1:
• foot just perceptively at greater angle than the normal 45 degrees;
• very slightly broken forward HPA (hoof pastern axis);
• gait slightly stilted and heels not fully coming to the ground

Some heel trimming every 2 weeks
Reduced exercise
Consider stable confinement

Grade 2:
• dorsal wall very upright, may be concave
• broken forward HPA and fullness at coronary band

Immediate box restriction
Reduce heels gradually
Consider toe extension
Unless rapid improvement, consult vet

Grade 3:
• dorsal wall very upright
• may be concave with broken forward HPA
• may be excessive wear and tear at the toe
• fullness at coronary band
• sole in front of frog is flat or convex due to internal pressure from pedal bone
• heels are not on the ground

Immediate box restriction
Reduce heels gradually
Consider a toe extension
Vet advice regarding check ligament desmotomy

Grade 4:
• dorsal wall vertical or knuckled forward
• leg camped out in front
• remodelling of bone and ligaments is chronic
• unlikely can be salvaged

Ballerina Syndrome:
• walks on tips of toes
• may have appeared overnight
• initially the foot shape is good

Immediate complete box restriction
Toe extensions
Facilities for the Farrier

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Meet The Neighbors

Today I did the same with Beautiful Girl, trying to use both hands and cover more area of her body. She is getting to where she seeks out being touched. If I leave her, she follows me or Shiloh.

Then, my neighbor, Grace, a thirteen year old, horse-crazy girl who comes to my house to ride horses and hang out, went out to see her, and Beautiful Girl let her pet her through the bars. My husband went out, and Beautiful did the same thing for him.

I felt confident enough to introduce Beautiful to Grace face to face--no bars. Now, Grace has only been hanging out around here since last July when her grandparents bought the dairy next door--and she isn't completely horse savvy, just horse CRAZY--but I still felt Beautiful was gentle enough--and Grace smart enough--to pull it off.

I was in there with them at first, and I showed her the basics of reading the horse and when to approach or retreat and how to stay out of kicking range. Grace figured it out with good intuition, and they bonded!!

I was so proud of Grace and Beautiful. My husband drove by on the tractor and was grinning from ear to ear, too. What progress!!

Things were going well enough that I joined Grace, and Beautiful let us pet and scratch her back, neck, hind, and back legs--at the same time. That's good since there will be two of us in there when the farrier is doing his work.

Later, right before feeding, Grace entered the 12x12 stall with Beautiful and petted her in there, too--a first for my little mustang filly who seemed to think the 24x24 turnout was her petting parlor, but the 12x12 stall was dangerous.

Funny girl.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Anticipation of the Touch

Hello, Beautiful. Shiloh wants to touch you, too.

Uh, no thanks, one scratcher is enough.

But you have to let me touch you. Sorry.

Even if I have to walk around to the other side.

Hum de dum, let's dance.


Just look at the hand.


Here we go, getting closer, just a little closer--stretch, stretch...


Hmmmm...not so bad--guess you can never really have enough feeders and scratchers.


A little higher please. Yeah, right there.


Other side.


Where's my Reward?


There you go, good feeder. Just put it in the bucket like a good girl.


But mama scratches the best.


"It's not the touch, it's the anticipation of the touch that they most fear."

Day 3 Intensive Training--4 days Until the Trim

I spoke with a Mustang Mentor today, and they're going to loan me "From Wild to Willing". I'm hoping for some help on trimming day, too--from friends or mentors or both. I want the experience to be a positive one.

More bad news, though--some of the mentors noticed the bad feet on a hand full of these mustangs and were shocked. They felt it was bad enough to lead to some permanent lameness issues.

This situation is heart-breaking, but I felt inspired to adopt this mustang--good or bad. I did not go to Ride the West to come home with a mustang--I didn't even know they were there. And, I already had my quota of horses and people were offering me more horses for free. I turned them down.

But here came this particular horse--and my heart opened up to her. So, I'm in this for the long haul--whether she's rideable or not. I just ask that she have the ability to walk and run and be pain-free like normal horses.

This mustang journey is like life--unpredictable, sometimes sad, with a tinge of painful beauty.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Intensive Training Day 2

Update: 4:00 pm. 2nd day intensive training:

I scratched Beautiful's back!! She loved it.

The techniques worked. I shortened the turnout, did the bamboo pole and pvc at the same time, worked over her legs and under her belly, then tied a rope to one of the poles and worked it around her body, and then the hand wasn't so bad.

She tried to avoid me by moving slowly away, but when I got my hand on her, I kept it there and moved slowly with her. She stopped. Then I praised her and started to pet her back lightly--she got that look like babies do when you get their itchy spot, but her whole back was an itchy spot. So I scratched her, and left abruptly on a good note and fed her.

Earlier today:

Thanks for everyone's suggestions--I've gone to the websites, watched video and put much of it into practice. I've certainly sped up the training.

Today I've been out there twice with the pole. I'm working it all over her body. Earlier, I got her to accept it on her back legs and near her face--also on her front hip. She's really scared to let it touch her chest and front legs--so that's where I'm going in about an hour.

My schedule is about every two hours--and since she isn't working very hard--it's more about desensitizing--I think she can handle it.

There's already progress in her willingness or her belief that I'm not going away.

Yesterday, she had a mad look on her face at every session--like YOU are my FEEDER!!! Today it's an entirely different look, like WHAT do you want--please tell me. She's looking at me, licking her lips more, and thinking. I'm also giving her smaller amounts of food at feeding and feeding her a little after each lesson.

When I get through with the front of her body, I'm adding the rope. Also, I'm shortening up my pen to 24x24 from 36x36. I need a much smaller space. I'll do that when my husband comes home for lunch.

More later. Thanks for all your help and wonderful ideas and support.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bad News

front feet below

front from the side below

back feet

I had a farrier look at Beautiful's feet today--she isn't my main farrier--she was out here doing another horse's feet for a friend of mine who boards at our place. But while she was standing there she did comment about Beautiful's feet and she thinks we are in an EMERGENCY situation. BG is WAY too long in the heel and she stands on her toes. Her question is was she trimmed that way, or did she grow that way--and how long has she been standing like this.

Her worry is that the tendons have contracted into that tiptoe position and either will have to come down slowly by slowly removing the heel--or may never come down naturally--which would mean she'd always stand on her toe unless we surgically cut the tendons. She said we really don't have time to spare--she thinks we need to start them next week. But her training can't be aggressive because she shouldn't move very much on those feet either.

I'm very scared and disappointed, but staying optimistic. Everyone I've spoken to says they were trimmed at the BLM--so maybe this is a man-made cause and can be remedied. Also, I just have to believe it's going to be okay.

I'm going to step up the requests from Beautiful--and I'm open to any ideas to get her gentle enough to trim next week. There is a possibility we can sedate her and I can have my farrier come out and do it--but I'd rather do it without sedation--which might take longer.

Update: You know, when the farrier was here this morning, BG was eating and her food is in a depression, so she was pointing down. To balance herself she probably stood more on her toe, because the pictures in her run taken a few minutes ago show her sitting back more on the heel. What do you all think?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Good News

Okay, brace yourselves--big news--Beautiful Girl touched my hand with her nose today!!! (It's a small step, I know.) She kind of hit my fingernail and moved back, but it didn't scare her too bad.

I was doing that thing with the food--trying to touch her, then pulling back the food if she moved away--and it was like she took the initiative to get it over with. LOL.

That's it for today. I have some friends coming over to see her, so I'll try to take some pictures.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Friggin' Cold

Today, June 10, I wore a parka and winter pants and boots to the barn. Andrea has a picture on her blog of the SNOW!!! What is going on???

My farrier came today and had to work in it. He'd come last week, but we hadn't caught Jasmine, so he had to come back today. Oh, was she scared. He's good with her--talks nice, hugs on her, but she was shaking. She stood still, but it was all she could do to hold herself together. And, reassuring talk doesn't do anything for her. I was proud of her that she let him do his work--she needed it.

There's a difference between Jasmine and the Mustang--Jasmine seems genuinely terrified and the Mustang seems more unsure.

One thing I've started doing with the Mustang is that I walk up confidantly and loudly to her each day--kind of pushing the envelope. I just don't want to tiptoe around her.

Good news about Cowboy and the jigging. I went on a ride with him yesterday and on the way back a horse ran past him and he started to jig--I corrected him and he stopped and walked fast the whole way home. He remembered his lessons and thought about it like the old days before his P3 fracture!! Man, was I happy--I didn't know if his mind was ever going to kick in.

The latest project around here is the front fence. When we bought this house last year it didn't have any fence--fourteen acres of nothing--so we keep chipping away at the projects.

The fence we're building is wood rail--one on top and then 2 lines of brown poly tape. I just discovere the brown poly tape and like it much better than the white since it is more natural and blends with the landscape and wood fence. I'll put a picture on the blog when it's finished--probably early next week.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Mustang Mentors

Andrea & Tonka at Mustang Days (Love the aussie saddle!)

Steve Bohn & two of their mustangs from

Lea handing out prizes

Wow. Mustang Days. The Yodas of the Mustang World all gathered together.

Unfortunately, I only got an hour with them, if you can believe it. Saturday was raining like crazy and we put it off to Sunday. Then, Sunday I had to fit it in between a trip to Home Depot and another meeting for Moms, Daughters & Horses.

I'm just glad I went! I met Andrea in person for the first time and got to meet Tonka, too. I've been following her blog since before adopting a mustang was even a distant, distant thought. (Was it ever a thought??) And, Andrea has been there to offer encouragement and advice since we brought Beautiful Girl home. (Hopefully, you stop by this week!!)

I met Bob and Lea, too. Lea was the only one chosen from Washington state to do the Mustang Makeover, so I'm hoping to get to her place to watch and soak up wisdom. Bob, too, had advice for us now that our mustang is without a halter.

Lori and Steven Bohn ( had some words for us--get those feet trimmed because Beautiful Girl and some of the other yearlings looked cow hocked at the sale, worm her, and take the time to earn her trust.

Steve Bohn sat in his mustang's stall with food and waited for her to come up to eat--then would reach out and touch her--and she'd get food as a reward. They say that when the light finally goes on that touch is not bad and you're not going to hurt them, things move fast.

I tried this today and it didn't work--yet.

I'm going to do it over and over again until it does. Today I gave up and just let her eat. It's funny though, when you introduce a new element into your training, like reaching out to touch her before I surrendered the food, it got her thinking. I had turned around to look at my other project horse, Jasmine (see picture below), and when I turned back toward her, she had moved real close and was smelling my head. I think she knows she's going to have to accept this touch thing--so now she's trying to decide just who and what I am. When it comes to her food--she's pretty brave.

Now, all of these techniques are coming in handy with my horse, Jasmine--a "wild" pony. When I adopted her last July from a friend, she didn't know much if any of the history of Jasmine having just adopted her herself about a year ealier.

Jasmine was supposed to be eleven, extremely people shy and was on to all of our tricks. I decided NEVER to trick her. Now, from July until today my progress has been that she will stand and let me halter her, go on walks and groom her--oh, and pet her. She used to flinch every time my hand touched her--and would flinch 100 times or more and never stop. If I entered her pen back then, she'd run from me so that I couldn't ever catch her to get her halter off. I left it on, but eventually could take the lead rope off and on. Today I can walk right up (in a stall) and throw the lead rope over her and halter her and groom her. So, I'm happy with her progress.

But I want her to come up to me in the pasture. This is my goal. I'm starting to use the same techniques I do with the Mustang and they seem to have the same effect. The Mustang is helping me to help Jasmine. Since I don't know Jasmine's history, I don't have any idea where she's from or what happened to her. The end result is the same though, she doesn't like or trust humans. At least Beautiful Girl seems to like humans, and I hope Jasmine will learn to like more humans, too.