Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ranch Happenings...

Its been a while since I wrote, but that doesn't mean nothing has been happening around here. When you have horses--there's NEVER a dull moment.

Hmmm..let's see. We had an escape artist--my horse, Cowboy, pushing his way through our weak charged fence. Ground's dry, something's taking off the charge--equals horses at the alfalfa pile. Not good. Had to cut our evening out Friday night short because of a call from Shiloh saying the horses had escaped--(Just Cowboy, though).

I've been having Mike go out with me and pick up Beautiful's feet. Our farrier's coming out next Tuesday, so that will be the TEST. He said I have to be able to pick up all four and tap them with a hammer before he'll get under her again. I can pick up all four--so I'll take out a hammer today and see. :):):) Won't he be surprised? Wink. Wink.

My parents came up to visit and my mom went out with Beautiful and petted on her. I think people find her to be very gentle--and my mom remarked on her kind eye.

Also, I've been working with Jasmine, the pony (picture above). My latest is to let her go in the roundpen and then have her stand so I can rehalter her and take her out. I want to be able to catch her in the pasture. So far, so good. She used to never come to me, now she does within a few minutes. We're getting there.

Another topic: I had a horse die last year from a bad colic--he's the first horse I'd ever had that died. I always thought it would be our 28 year old going on 4 year old horse, Red, but no--it was my baby I'd raised and trained. Broke my heart.

Well, my husband had gone out and cut off his tail for me so I could have it made into something someday, and after reading Nikki's blog yesterday about cremation, I looked up the lady I'd found a year ago that does custom horse hair braiding and FINALLY gave her a call. (I just can't send that precious hair out until I hear a real, live person on the other line.) She's real alright---and a little curious why I thought she wasn't. However, her prices have gone up from $50 to $75 for the bracelet. That's okay, I'm still going to get it done.

Here's a link to her site if any of you are looking for something similar.

Custom Horse Hair Braiding

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Equestrian Artist: Brenna Tyler

"I enjoy creating pieces that are
unusual, with organic qualities,
textures, and unpredictable

A few years ago my husband and I took a drive to Joseph, Oregon for the day. What a great little town with cute shops and restaurants--right near the Wallowa Forest with the enchanted deer who eat out of your hands. (Maybe it's something in the water).

While we were browsing the art galleries, I came across a series of paintings and sculptures that really spoke to my heart about horses--and they were produced by the same artist, Brenna Tyler.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the money for that kind of purchase right then, but I filed it away so that some day, when I did, I could come back and buy something she'd made.

Well, that day hasn't come, so far. The costs of keeping up a small ranch--feeding the horses--and raising a family are just too much to allow room for "fine art", too. But I did find her website last night and got to read her biography and see what shes been producing up until now. (This is the great thing about the internet--a few years ago when I saw her art--I couldn't find a website for it--so this is a real thrill!)

Come to find out--she's a horse-lover. It makes sense, after experiencing her pieces up close and personal--they spoke to me because she too has relationships with horses. I mean look at that painting with the two horses intertwined--who of us who has multiple horses hasn't seen the love between them when they mutual groom in the early evenings?

So, my question is--do you think she'd take payments??

Here is the link to her site and samples of her art:


Here is a quote from her site:

Brenna and her family continue to live on a working
cattle ranch in eastern Oregon. The connection
Brenna has with horses is innate. The experience
she has with horses comes from her lifestyle. It
extends from professionally schooling, boarding,
breeding, selling, and participating in polo, rodeo,
hunt seat, western, and dressage. She also worked
as a riding instructor and vet assistant for annual
para mutual horse racing. Horses have always
played an important role within her family. They are
often involved when her family and friends spend
time together. The ranch horses are crucial for
transportation and success in working cattle as well
as pleasure riding and show time. Some of the
horses Brenna knows are not just assets; they
are part of her family.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Language She Understands

Its been busy around the ranch. The weather got HOT, HOT, HOT which stressed our AC, our water and, oddly, our septic. All three went out, and now, over $3,000 later, we're back in business. They restored our AC before the triple digit heat set in, thank the Lord for that!!

The flies in the barn are bad. We try to keep the stalls clean, and we hang the fly strips which are completely full within a day. We also spray the stalls with fly repellant. A friend has recommended fly predators, so we may look into that, also.

Beautiful is one of the family now. She has a strong whinny--not babyish at all--it sounds like a big horse. When she sees me coming, or even hears me from a distance, she calls out. She likes companionship and food.

We have a new thing we do through the bars--when I'm standing out there chatting--she comes up face first and I signal with my hand to come further--which she now knows means to turn sideways and come up against the railing where I can reach her withers.

She's so smart--I think she'll catch on to sign language easily. I'm going to combine a signal with everything I ask and try to teach her so she always knows what's coming. It seems to give her more confidence to see where I'm going and what I want before it happens.

Nowadays, when I'm in the stall with her and petting on her, I just reach down and pick up the front feet and rub the back as part of the normal routine. She doesn't move away anymore.

My pony is my new big project. We have her stalled again so I can get to her easily. That wasn't actually planned, but she got out one day and by the time I caught her, I decided I'd NEVER let her out into the big pasture again! I will, of course, but not until she comes to me in a big area.

So, I'm thinking good training for her will be to release her in the roundpen each day and try to catch her. I had to do that the day she got out. In fact, I had to withhold food until she came to me. It took her about 8 hours to get the picture she wasn't being fed until she stood still, but she's smart, and she definitely did figure it out.

Every day during the feeding routine, I put my hand out for her to come to me, and if she does, I feed her, if she doesn't, she waits. She's getting better at that. She's really good at letting me catch her in a stall and take her halter off and on.

My grand-daughter really loves this pony, so she has a permanent home here. I've got to figure out how to get past the barriers and bring Jasmine into a horse/human relationship where she's a "willing partner". I know she's capable--I just need to find the language that she understands.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

70 Year Old Mustang Gentler Heads to Reno

I want to draw attention tonight to a very special Mustang Gentler from my area here in Spokane who is in Reno this week competing in the Wild Horse Expo. You'll love Lea's blog--which I only found out about recently, though her reputation proceeded her in Mustang circles.

By the way, she is 70 years old.

Here's an excerpt from Lea's training:

I reached up to put the halter on her and a big gust of wind came and she thought she was Pegasus I guess and whirled and bucked and caught me with her hind foot in my ribs. Knocked me head over tea kettle. Scared me more than hurt me and then she came up and put her nose on me while I was on the ground like "why are you down there". Pulled on my shoe laces and stood there. My camera had gone flying and I did not know where it was.

Here is a little blip about the Wild Horse Expo--she'll be competing this Friday:

To help educate people about wild horses, the National Wild Horse Center will conduct the largest wild horse and burro show in the country, as the future of mustangs faces new threats.

Bart Lawrence, the agency's vice president, said he hoped that people would begin to see the mustangs as an "American symbol."

"They deserve as much," Lawrence said.

The Western States Wild Horse and Burro Expo, Aug. 15-17 at the Reno Livestock Events Center, will feature clinics and contests for mustang and burro owners.

The clinics allow owners or potential adopters to ask questions about keeping wild horses, demonstrating the training process of the former wild animals.

The expo includes shopping and a show from Tommie Turvey, a world-renowned horse trainer, and his mustang, Blade, a silent auction of mustang yearlings and an open auction of saddle-trained horses.

Proceeds will go toward adoption, rescue, education and training services for wild horses and burros.

The expo promotes wild horse and burro adoption, raises public appreciation for wild horses and promotes public acceptance and appreciation for the animals, officials said.

While the expo has been around for 17 years, this year's event comes during a debate spurred by their large numbers in the wild and in captivity. With more than 33,000 wild horses in holding facilities in the Midwest, the Bureau of Land Management is considering euthanizing some to offset the high costs of keeping them, which will approach $30 million this year.

An additional 30,000 reside in 10 Western states, and BLM officials said the agency intends to continue gathering the horses to keep their numbers in the ranges low.

Part of the effort to prevent the mustangs' deaths are encouragements from the BLM and outside organizations for more people to adopt the horses.

By exposing people to the horses in this setting, it shows people that the mustangs are not "wild" in a dangerous sense, Lawrence said. People will have the chance to see the horses and interact with them, whether by grooming and feeding them or watching them in the barrel contests.

Lawrence acknowledged the mustang issue had become political since the euthanasia debate began last month.

"We want people to see the viability of these horses," he said. "It makes a difference, if one person who was considering getting a horse decides to go with a mustang. Maybe if we show people what amazing animals they are, they can put pressure on the BLM to go with other options."

Lea William's blog: Here is a link to her blog.

Please donate anything you can to help defer her costs--as little as 10 dollars would probably help with gas being so high.

Go LEA!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In Pursuit of the Back Hooves

Is there anything as scary as being to the back side of your mustang and lifting up those back "weapons"? I remember when this whole thing started late last Spring and I wondered if there would ever be a day I'd feel comfortable picking those up with my hands. Would there be a day I could trust her enough to stand in that vulnerable position behind her and prop those feet in between my legs, as we expect our farriers to do?

Today was the first day I could answer that, "Yes." It wasn't today--today I only picked them up with my hands from the side and placed them back down, but soon--maybe 1 or 2 days. She made it very clear today that she's ready to give them to me.

Shiloh took pictures as I worked. The first picture is her front right hoof today--about a week since the trimming. The second and third pictures are her front left hoof--the more contracted of the two. The last picture is me picking up her back left hoof. At the end of the session I rubbed up and down her back legs and hooves and then praised her.

My work with her is so easy now. The mustang mentors used to tell me that when they finally trust you, they give it all--and it happens fast. This really has been the case with Beautiful and I. I hope this encourages any future Mustang gentler--keep it up--it will pay off--you'll get there if you dedicate yourself to it.

There were many times I wondered if my mustang was the exception to the rule. She seemed so small, but so determined and scared. Sometimes I thought she was just being mean--maybe she had a mean streak and I'd missed it!!

But it wasn't the case at all. Now that I reflect back, I think that when the training really got intense, she was being pushed faster than she felt comfortable and the barriers and defenses she put up against me as I went to each new thing seemed, sometimes, like aggression.

Whatever it was, it's all gone now. She is my partner and wants to do what's right by me. She knows I want to do what's right by her--and we're relaxing into this new relationship and friendship. I learn to trust her--stand behind her back hooves and pet them--she learns to trust me--allowing me to touch them and pick them up.

I would only write about this on a mustang blog--****so caution to those who don't like reading about bodily function--do not read further****--I've pointed out along the way, as has Arlene with her mustang from the same herd as Beautiful--that these mustangs were MESSY!! It was the first thing I noticed from her--and I KNOW it's because she had to have been in messy, cramped conditions at the pens.

Since she has been in her own stall with me hauling out her manure and bringing in fresh woodchips almost every day---she has TOTALLY got the picture about how it should be. Nowadays she backs right up to the exact same spot to do her business and it piles up in a nice high stack for me to scoop and remove. She actually backs right into this position and aims for the target. She is now, officially, the cleanest horse I've ever owned. (I won't take a picture of this unless you all request it. LOL.)

Here's to our mustangs--and our life with horses--the good, the bad, the ugly and the BEAUTIFUL!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shiloh's Home!

Shiloh got home yesterday from her summer vacation with her dad in Bozeman, MT. She had a blast working at a stable nine hours a day--making money for her pink computer and doing her favorite thing--spending time with horses. She cleaned stalls, bucked bales, painted and repaired fence and helped out with the training.

She had to leave her own horse here, Cowgirl. So, today we got right up and went on a ride--there's nothing like your own horse!

Shiloh went out to the barn first thing when she got home last night around 9:00 pm. and her immediate observation of the mustang was the fly mask. Shiloh said--she's just like a domestic horse now--as Beautiful pushed her whole body up against the rail for petting.

I warned that she's not domestic yet--maybe never will be--and I told her about the story of her kicking my friend a couple weeks ago. But boy does she LOOK tame nowadays.

Since my "partner's" home, we should get those back feet up in no time.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Barn Family

Life in the barn is its own little microcosm. There is the goat family: Scotty, English, & Irish--and all of their crazy antics. Next door to them is the Beautiful Mustang, and next to her are the new little barn cats. (Of course, there's also, flies, spiders, birds, mice, voles and groundhogs--to name a few).

There's the hay--10 tons so far--piled in the back two stalls. And, on the opposite side of the aisleway are Zippy, Cowgirl and Jasmine. It's a GIRL barn--except Scotty the goat. (Poor guy).

A sure sign of domesticity in a horse is wearing the fly-mask. Nothing says I've been humanized like having your face covered in mesh with your ears popping out of a fuzzy little hole.

Beautiful balked at first, but she stood still and let me put it on and off before I left it on permanently. Then, she stood there like she couldn't walk, even though I had taken the rope off.

Well, that was until she saw me leave to get food. Then she figured out real quick how to walk and wear a fly-mask.

The barn kitties were spayed yesterday before I picked them up--so the poor things are recovering. They are so cute together--sisters. My husband and I had our coffee and ran right out to see them this morning. And, he's allergic to cats--or at least sometimes is--so that's saying a lot that he is so attached already.

Getting them from the shelter was sad--there were so many from this group--85 in all. They were all cute and had great personalities. I'm glad I chose mine online.

The two I picked are not named yet--I'm waiting until my kids get home from their Montana vacation and they'll each get to name one.

We're just one big Barn Family out there--it's a pretty nice place to be.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cat Rescue

I know we talk a lot about horse rescue--but how about CAT rescue?

When I've been in my barn I've seen lots of MICE lately--so I realized I have a need for "BARN CATS."

I looked on Craigslist--didn't find any--and then I got on the website for Spokanimal. As I flipped through their list they were all tagged "animal cruelty--animal cruelty--animal cruelty" and they had the same capture date of August 1, 2008. I thought--hmmmm...were these the cats I saw briefly on the news?? (I got into the story late and only caught the "tail" end).

As I looked down I found #1 & #42--sisters sleeping together-and I got right on the phone to see if they were still there. Sure enough, they were and they wanted them to stay together.

I adopted them over the phone and I'm going to pick them up tonight after 5:00.

They have many more cats in need of homes that were seized from a cat "hoarder"-- apparently some were in bad condition, but doing much better now. Because of this, they gave me the two sisters for $52.00 which included spaying, rabies, vaccinations, micro-chip, and license. They are usually $75.00 per cat. So, this was an awesome deal and I am just THRILLED to go pick up my new babies.

I'm going to keep them in a special tall cat-cage I have until they acclimate and then release them in the barn. Here is the information on the case from the Spokesman-Review:

Animal-hoarding case investigated

An animal-hoarding investigation involving dozens of cats seized from a Spokane home last week is expected to be sent to the prosecutor's office today, according to SpokAnimal.

The target of the investigation is a longtime cat advocate. Penny McIntosh works with several cat rescue shelters and obtained most of the 85 cats seized Friday at her home at 2812 W. Sharp Ave. through the rescues, said Gail Mackie, SpokAnimal executive director. All but one of the felines had health problems that seemed to clear up when removed from the home, Mackie said.

Officials sent four seized dogs to foster homes, four of the cats to the original rescue organization and one back to its owner, who Mackie said was having McIntosh care for it. An unknown number of cat carcasses have yet to be removed from the home, where conditions were "deplorable," Mackie said.

The other 80 cats are being housed at SpokAnimal. Mackie asks anyone wishing to donate things such as cat litter to call (509) 534-8133, ext 207.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Beautiful Gets a Second Trim

Today another farrier, Tully Kasparek, came out to trim a horse at my barn. The trim went so quick that she had time left over to look at Beautiful and take off a little heel--IF (and this was a BIG if) Beautiful was to stand good and let her get it done so she could make it to her other appointment.

When she first walked in it didn't look good. Beautiful knew immediately that she belonged to that category to be feared--STRANGERS! Even though she was a nice lady with a smile on her face and a rasp behind her back--Beautiful pulled away with her head high.

Tully took a few moments to pet on her and reassure her. When she went for her feet, Beautiful backed off and wouldn't let her get them. I kept a somewhat tight hold on her lead rope. Then, I thought, hmmmm....it probably appears to her that I'm penning her in. I let the lead go slack and stood way back--and she stopped and let Tully pick up her feet.

There was one point early on where she pulled back and took her foot--the digging out of the soul made a funny sound that she wasn't used to, but we got her back and she let Tully do all her work on the front feet: cleaning, nipping off edges, rasping, and a little lesson about how to maintain her hooves myself until the next farrier appointment.

Beautiful went to sleep a bit during most of it.

I was so PROUD, PROUD, PROUD of her!!! I've had her less than three months and she was so insecure, but she let a stranger trim her feet!!! Talk about being proud of your kids--I couldn't have been happier. Tully was impressed, too.

We didn't get her back feet yet--she said they're long, but not critical. We have some time with those and a little rasping will help until a farrier can get to them. So, I'm off to buy a rasp.

Beautiful has turned into our little baby. We love her so much. My husband and I are just amazed at how much she desires human contact now. After I get those back feet there really isn't another vital element to her training. From then on it will be improving on what we already have.

I feel so much stress off me to be at this point.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pictures of Hooves

Beautiful has been doing such a great job of letting me pick up and clean her front feet, I asked my husband to come out and get a picture of them while I had them up this evening.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring my pick with me, so the hooves had gotten a little dirty since earlier in the day, and we were in a hurry--so no time to find my pick--which I regret now.

It may be difficult to discern from the picture, but the sole is as hard as a rock--literally. The grooves around the frog go in pretty deep, though the pictures don't really demonstrate it.

Tomorrow I'll get pictures of the outside of the hooves. She's really needing another trim and there is a farrier coming out for another horse--so I'm hoping I can talk her into doing it now that Beautiful is so good about her front feet.

That's my husband petting Beautiful--it's part of her "man" training. I don't want her to develop preferences for women since so many of the helpers who come into her life are of the opposite sex. So, what you see there is "training"--though Beautiful is enjoying herself a little too much! She kept giving him love bites whenever he'd stop and she began to go to him rather than me. So, I'd say it was a success. :)

Here is a link to a website that discusses club foot & another the parts of the hoof:



Colt Starting

Here are some pictures of Cia's training. The trainer is Billy--I believe this was her 4th ride with him. He comes out once a week--every Sunday and works about 30 minutes with her on things we need.

This was the first week Cia packed my heavy western saddle. She did great with it.

She's still learning direction--forward, backup, stop and turn--the basics.

Billy is a wonderful trainer to come out to the house and do this. I like the idea of keeping them home and working them where they're comfortable. He supports what I'm already doing. And, his philosophy is very horse-oriented--if they don't do it right they probably don't understand or they're testing you--but be persistent and consistent and never, never get mad.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Whose Idea Was It?

I think it was Cat Loesch (the mustang mentor) who told me there will always be one thing your mustang doesn't want to do--though that one thing will change daily.

Maybe this rule of thought is the same for all green horses. It's like I'll give you this, but I won't give you that.

Part of being a good leader is somehow convincing the horse it was their idea to give you the thing they didn't want to. (So much like humans!!) But with a horse, it's tricky business--especially the ever-vigilant and wary horse--a mustang.

So, each day I ask myself what it is I want--and it's always something she doesn't want to give because it's always the next thing in the training progression.

Yesterday I went out and she wasn't too happy with me since I'd popped her with the rake the night before and kept her away from her food. She turned her butt to me in the end of her run like uh, we're not friends anymore, just in case you didn't get the memo.

I always find this hilarious and I actually did laugh which seemed to insult her a bit as she took a glance back at me. (To look at me full-on means she accepts me, and she wouldn't want to give me that impression.)

So, I stepped in front of her and got her attention front and center, haltered her, led her (she balked, I pulled her to the side like I didn't even notice--soon she led and I praised her and made over her like it was something big). Then, I roped her feet and her body--especially around the cinch area--picked up her fronts with the rope--picked up the backs with the rope--she was an unwilling participant in all of this, but didn't threaten.

Finally, I discarded the rope and came alongside her like the farrier would to get those front feet. She backed and backed and backed--I believe three times around the run with me in the same position at her side keeping right with her. Finally, she stopped and gave them to me--both sides. I tapped and petted those weapons, lifted them up and down, rubbed her belly where the tools might hit, and she did great.

Today I want the same with the back feet. Wish me luck.

Friday, August 1, 2008


There are many things different about Mustangs and Domestic Horses. Usually the quality of hooves is the first thing everyone will agree upon (except in Beautiful's case).

There is another quality I only discovered this week upon returning home--and that is, deep bonding.

After hearing about my friend getting kicked--something I never for a moment held against Beatufiul--she was startled and she is, afterall, wild--but I started to wonder how it affected her. Generally, she does not want to kick anyone--it's something she threatens, but doesn't want to follow through with.

That first night when I got back, she was the one who called out for me the loudest. I could hear her whinnying from the barn as soon as I got out of the car and called for them.

When I went into her pen she moved away from me and was hesitant to give me the front of her head. But when, after a few seconds, she did, she just gave into me with what seemed to be relief.

Much of what I think about horses comes from what I FEEL through them. And, I understand that it could be subject to projection--or self-fulfilling prophecies--but I try to clear my head of those preconceived notions and really feel and see what my horse is feeling and showing--kind of read their face and body language for cues.

Wrinkles around the eye show worry or fear or pain--shying away can show insecurity--and a sudden drop of the head and relaxed eye and body can show pure relief.

After reading Linda Tellington-Jones' book--I believe so strongly that a horse's body language is as clear as speech is to us.

So, what I perceived from Beautiful was relief--much different than what I perceived from my domestic herd who I also love dearly. Cowboy--my main man(horse)--looked thrilled--he picked up his walk and was the first one out of the dark pasture--I could see his white and sorrell paint markings emerge from the blackness. He's my guy. Cia, who was stalled the whole time because of her leg injury (did I write about that--well, it's all better) she acted like GOOD, YOU'RE HERE--NOW FEED ME!

But Beautiful's response was different, reminding me again what a privelege it is to earn their trust, but what an awesome obligation it places on us, too, to protect them and be worthy of it.