May 182014

Doranna & DuncanThis is Doranna Durgin’s WordPlay Blog. I’m glad you’re here–whether it’s to learn more about my books, or chat about dogs, horses, and reading.

On Fridays, The Write Horse usually stops by for life with horse training, written by Patty Wilber.

If you’d like to reach my Webstead, you can clicky on that link you just passed. Right there. Behind you! The one that said Webstead.

PS although I use a plug-in that allows commenters to sign in, it’s easy to post as a guest and guest commenters are welcome!

Apr 282017

By Patty Wilber

My friends Justin and Miriam have a flock of Navajo Churro sheep, and a couple times of a year they have “Sheep Days” where people come and help with shearing, vaccinating, foot trimming, castrating, etc.  I have never been able to go, so in January, they picked this date, and I put it, in capital letters, on the calendar in my phone. (Of course, there ended up being a horse show that conflicted, but so sorry, I was flocked in for the whole day!)

All sorts of friends and relatives and lots of kids were there.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided. As one participant said, it felt like a barn-raising (not that any of us had ever been to a barn-raising), where people came together as a like-minded group to help out.  In today’s world of electronic self-sufficiency, he pointed out, sometimes this sense of community purpose and  group connection to the rhythm of the Earth gets lost. It was nice to think of the day in this way, and of course it was a lot of fun!

Seventeen or 18 sheep needed shearing.  Justin did all the shearing.  He got better and faster (and more tired!) as the day went on.  Churros have a coarse, carpet grade, wool (great for Navajo rugs) that has a lot of lanolin.  This gums up and dulls the blades of the shears, so they have to be cleaned and changed frequently.

Here comes a ewe!

Assume the position!

That seems like a lot of wool! Where are ewe?

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Apr 212017

By Patty Wilber

BCH 101 was at the Edgewood Arena. Sandy and Peggy are enhancing the sign. Thanks Elisa for the picture!

Last Saturday (April 15th), the NM Back Country Horsemen, Pecos Chapter held a BCH 101 clinic to go over some basics of BCHing.

Welcome and check in. Each participant chose a group and got a packet of information. Then the participants went and participated!

We had four stations.

1. Horse containment.
When we do an overnight project, equines need to be contained.  Typically, we use existing pens, highline, or set up portable electric-wire pens.  Animals can be hobbled to allow grazing time, as well.

Cheryl and Kit covered highlining, portable electric fencing and hobbling (since everyone already knows how to use existing pens)!

Because our containment instructors were stationed in the parking lot of the Edgewood Arena, they set up the highline between two trailers!

Kit, being supervised by her horse while supervising Cheryl, who was explaining how to put the metal doohickies on the rope to which you can tie the equine. This keeps the highline from having lots of knots. Hence, the doohickies are really called Knot Eliminators. Picture from Elisa.

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Apr 142017

By Patty Wilber

Recently, in the horse show world, there has been an explosion of Ranch Horse classes.  They are a lot of fun.  Here are some reasons.

1. You can wear chinks instead of chaps.  I love my chinks!  I had some custom made by Judith McCollum, and they are attractive, but even better is that you can walk around without having to fold up the bottom or trip over the fringe!

Chinks. Cheapest price for this pair was at Valley vet. $304.

Western pleasure type show chaps. See how long they are? They look nice when one is on the horse, but good luck walking around. These are from Walmart. 68 bucks. I had no idea Walmart had chaps.











2.You can enter all the ranch classes and never have to change your clothes.  That may seem silly, but I once was at a show where I had to have FIVE different outfits. I really don’t like to change my clothes, especially when we are talking midsummer in the windowless sweatbox tackroom of my stock trailer.

3. Lots of different types of horses, moving in a variety of ways, can be successful at the Ranch Horse classes.

The classes are Ranch Trail, Ranch Riding (a pattern class), Ranch Rail (ride around the arena at the different gaits, but not too slow), and Ranch Conformation (horse is judged on its build).  I have not yet tried Ranch Conformation, but for Appaloosas, it has to be after the riding classes, (and the horse has to have been in at least one of the riding classes), and I guess you just pull the saddle and get judged, sweat marks and all…

I have a video (thanks Siri K., my friend, not a phone app!) of Indy doing  a good job in a Walk-Trot Ranch Trail class at the New Mexico Buckskin’s show last Saturday.  I didn’t get video of the walk trot lope pattern, and we didn’t do a such good job on that one, so not sure I’d be showing it in public anyway!

Ranch Trail has different obstacles (e.g. throw a rope, drag a log, dismount, remount, ground tie) than “regular” trail classes and the patterns are not usually as tight.  The poles are sometimes natural logs instead of painted poles.

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Apr 072017

By Patty Wilber

Andy was here as a yearling and Shelley (his breeder and owner at the time) and I took him to the World Show 2015 in lunge line and hunter in hand.  He handled all the commotion and excitement like a seasoned veteran.  We had to up his grain to INCREASE his energy level for the show.  That’s how mellow he was!

He was sold to Zoe and now he is back here as a three-year old to begin his big boy training!

He came last Saturday, and I did a little ground work with him Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Mar 312017

By Patty Wilber

This winter has been warmer (Accuweather) and slightly wetter (at least until February)  compared to the historic averages as reported by Intellicast.

We didn’t get a lot of snow.

Here is a summary:  Precipitation from Intellicast, and my rain gauge, temperatures from Accuweather. Links above.

Historic Averages                            My house ppt      Accuweather this year temps.
November:  1.2″   45F                      1.46″                    48F
December:   1.3″    36F                    1.58″                    39F
January:       1.2″    37F                    1.54″                    39F
February:     1.3″    41F                    0.21″                    46F
March:          1.4″    48F                   0.60″                    55F (as of 3/29/17)

In February, we only had one precipitation event, (Feb. 13th, 0.21″) and it was dry again until March 23rd (0.24) and March 28th (0.36).

Mar. 28th. The rain gauge is on the railing!

A late afternoon break in the damp.

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Mar 242017

By Patty Wilber

I had bot flies for the first time last year.  Ok, I didn’t have them.  The horses had them.  And I don’t know that I ever saw an actual bot fly.  I saw the eggs.

Bot flies lay eggs (called nits) on the hairs of the horses and then the horses ingest the eggs when they scratch themselves with their teeth.  The nits are yellow and stand out on dark coated horses.  We picked off all that we saw in the summer (which may be ineffective, according to one source), but my sharp-eyed vet spotted two on Indy last week.  Bad horse-owner card.

The nits. (Internet picture).

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Mar 172017

By Patty Wilber

Last Friday, my camping “group” spent 14 hours scouting for horse-friendly campsites in the Magdalena Ranger District, NM.

We found a two and a half.

I tried to search by normal means–the Internet–and while the Forest Service website gives information such as number of camp spots and potable water for developed campsites, it does not say if there are horse pens and livestock water…which seems like basic info…

So, I called the ranger district and spoke to a super helpful Range Technician.  She was a fount of information on good non-campground spots with possible water, so, I picked a few and off we went, without the horses, to reconnoiter! Good thing we did not take a trailer. We would have still been out there, stuck.

We tried a spot called Monica’s Cabin, first.  There is a stream (which may be dry in May when we go), a metal water tank full of water and a nice area suitable for camping, in the oaks.  The horses could be high-lined or we could set up electric fence pens.   The road to get there is in very good shape. There are not a lot of trails but there are a number of forest roads that would make for good riding and it is right next to the Withington Wilderness Area.

That is Monica’s Cabin!

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Mar 102017

By Patty Wilber

Lone glove on a post, lost by someone at Galisteo Basin!








I wear gloves when I ride.

In the winter it is because my hands are always cold.

In the summer it is to prevent sun damage

On Back Country Horsemen rides it is because we might use our saws to cut and remove fallen trees off the trail.

One disadvantage is that gloves hinder effective manipulation of the photo feature of the phone!  None of my gloves have the touch friendly fingers! So, when riding and photographing (that is NOT the same as texting and driving, I swear!), I stuff the gloves in my vest pockets, the gullet of my saddle or in my pommel pack. Or drop them accidentally!

Kind of like saddle pads, I seem to have a LOT of gloves.







These are all winter-sh gloves.  The left-most pair was getting a little worn (note the duct tape–plugs the holes and extends the glove-life!). The next pair was a replacement for the first pair, but I seemed to have a lot of horses this winter for which I wanted more mobility of my digits in case of emergency.  Also, I wanted warmer.  The middle black pair didn’t seem very sturdy, but they are soft and warm and have made it through the season.  The last pair is not as warm but good to about 40 and not bulky.

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Mar 032017

By Patty Wilber

The second training ride of the Back Country Horsemen, Pecos Chapter’s year was Sunday Feb. 26th, at the Galisteo Basin Preserve.

It was spitting snow at our house.

Forty degrees F and wind, was the forecast.

Galisteo Basin is boring.

But, Jim hadn’t ridden in a few weeks, the weather didn’t call for precipitation there, and my president (of BCH) said I should not be a whuss and should show up. (I do ride in all sorts of weather, but sometimes, just sometimes, I might like to stay inside with a book and a cup of tea.  Just sayin’.)

President Mary Ann and Tulip.

The deciding factor was Jim, so we loaded up Cometa and LT and off we went.

It was a little on the chilly side, but it turns out it wasn’t boring! I’d even go back!

There are new and much longer trails compared to last time I was there (2014), and the footing on the three hour (including lunch) ride we did was really nice! The trails were well marked and there is a clearly drawn map.

There are tri-use trails (equine, bike, and hikers) as well as bike-hike only trails. I tried to paste the map into the post instead of linking it, but alas, the link was the best I could do. So, I linked it twice!

Heading out from the Cowboy Shack parking area, going south.

The NM sky and Jim on Cometa.

There were a few bike riders (who were really nice to the equines), but had the weather been warm, I think there would have been many more cyclists.  The trail rules are horses get priority over bikes and hikers, and bikes get priority over hikers.  This all makes sense from a safety point of view, but those pesky quiet bikes can sneak up on an unsuspecting equine with variable and sometimes dramatic results.  No drama this day, though!

There were also loose dogs, only one of which was NOT under control and would have come with us had we not stopped to let his family retrieve him.

Back Country Horsemen is always fun to ride with. (We are looking for more members and have an informational meeting April 8.  See the flyer at the end of this post.)

I rode behind Linda most of the way and that is always a lot of conversational fun!





Plus, I got this picture of her and Star.

And this one of the Kingsbury clan!

The Pecos Chapter of the BCH works like dogs in the Manzanos and Pecos Wildernesses doing trail maintenance and pack support.  What better way to volunteer for a worthy cause–on a horse in the back country? Ok, we do get off and on a lot to do the work! But it is very satisfying!









In other news:  Indy got her stitches out on Wednesday and is out of solitary and back in the big pen with LT.  I will start riding her next week.  I might consent to a medium trace clip to hide (in plain site) the bald spot on her flank.  That might make a blog. Read about different clips here.


Feb 242017

By Patty Wilber

One morning this week.

One of the advantages of training horses is being outside a lot.  One of the advantages of living in New Mexico is the beautiful skies we have.  Just ask Georgia O’Keefe.  Of course, you will have to get in touch with her via someone who can talk to the dead.

Middle of the day.

Mid-day last Friday with Mary Ann and Siri. New Mexico has very dry air, which often means very clear vistas. I guess that is what makes the sky often seem so intensely blue here.


South from round pen.

South west from the back patio.






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