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!

Mar 162018

By Patty Wilber

Last Friday, I posted the blog and that was about the last thing I did for the next three days because I was felled by an upper respiratory virus.  I will spare you the details about the bloody phlegm (odd word, phlegm) and the. .oh yes, sparing you!

Horses, as I am sure no one is surprised to read, also can be infected by viruses, and many of the vaccines we routinely give are to protect against viral infection.

West Nile Virus, Eastern and Western Viral Encephalitis, Flu Virus, Equine Herpes Virus (=”Rhinovirus”), Rabies Virus and Tetanus (which is not caused by a virus, but by a toxin produced by a bacterium, Clostridium tetani. That vaccine allows the horse’s immune system to attack the toxin itself).

What are viruses, anyway?

They are little bitty things that get inside cells, take over, and make the cell into a virus factory.  Then, they usually kill the host cell!

The West Nile Virus was first identified in Uganda in 1937.  Equine disease was first noted in 1959 in Egypt soon followed by France in 1962 The first major human outbreak was in 1994, and it arrived in the U.S. in 1999. By 2009 it was everywhere in the U.S.!


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Mar 092018

By Patty Wilber

I was talking to my friend Dr. Stacie about treats as training aids. I am not a big treat giver, although I did train horses to the clippers with treats.  It got to the point that when the horses heard the clippers they would come and offer to have their ears clipped in return for a horse cookie.

I am not into indiscriminate treat giving because then I have to tell the horses “STOP TOUCHING ME!” as they nose around my pockets for treats.

Treats as a training aid, though, well, it worked for the clippers.

So, I am proposing to recruit you all to try an experiment, and then you can send me your results and I will write a blog titled “How to treat your horse”.  Stacie made up the title, and it is just too good to pass up!

Here is the admittedly weak study design:  From the ground, train your horse to touch its nose to the ground. (Apparently, this could aid in shot giving because if you can get the horse to do this, its neck will not be so stiff and the shots won’t hurt as much.) It needs to be a horse that doesn’t know how to do this.  Either do it with treats or with out (but not both).  Tell me how old your horse is, whether you feel this a a smart, easy to train horse or not,  how long it took and anything else you want to throw in.  Feel free to send pictures and commentary.

I am going to try to teach Indy and Atti.  They are both young (4 and 3), they are both girls, but after that they are about as different as could be. I think I will use treats with Indy.  I already have to remind Atti to keep her lips to herself several times a day!

My hypothesis is that things will go faster with treats.


Now on to the real topic:  Remodelling!  Over the years, we have redone fences and shelters in all our pens except one, and we finally got to it! You can see the old fence, the old shed and if you look closely, junk (fenced off from the horses, but junk none-the-less).  This was some time ago, as there is green stuff.  We are currently back in a drought and there is not much green going on.

That fence looks a little suspect.

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Mar 022018

By Patty Wilber

First off, thanks to Dr. Stacie Boswell for her help on last week’s blog!


So, I get to coach a drill team out at 4 Winds Equestrian!

We have only had one introductory meeting so our first real practice is coming up!

I have been checking out videos and this one

was pretty amazing.  What an intricate pattern!

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Feb 232018

By Patty Wilber

Over the last month I had begun to notice a slight decrease in stride length and impulsion in Indy’s trot, but I kept trying to tell myself I was imagining it because she was going square (evenly on all four legs, no classical lameness), and we were just getting back into training after her bone chip surgery last July.

Photo of Indy by Janet

But last Wednesday, when I went to work cows, Indy declined to pick up her right lead readily and when she did, she kind of popped her head up to get into it instead of rounding up and driving from behind.   Ed Krause also noticed that she was short striding with her left hind when I did get the lope. I could not feel that from on her, but I could see it in the round pen and when she would stop and roll back, we both commented that she didn’t want to drive off her left hind.

Talk about depressing. First because she was not right, and second because I ignored two clues–the shortened trot and the reluctance to lope off on the one lead.

So, I called Dr. Lane Dixon and he came out on Friday.  He thought she looked fine at the walk and trot, too, but also saw the short stride at the lope.  When he performed the flexion test, it took her two steps to go sound on the right hind but five steps on the left.

He X-rayed her hock and found that it looked really clean.  Whew!

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Feb 162018

By Patty Wilber

I was listening to a Stuff You Should Know podcast called “The Wind Cries Typhoid Mary” and it mentioned the unsanitary conditions in New York City in the 1800’s.  They estimated the number of horses, determined the amount of poop/horse/day to be about 25 pounds, and concluded that more than SIX MILLION pounds of manure were deposited on the city streets EVERY DAY!

I found an extension site that estimated horses create 37 lbs of feces and 2.4 gallons of urine per day!

That made me think about input vs. output. If a horse that is not gaining or losing weight eats 20 pounds of hay and drinks 5-10 gallons of water (at 8.35 lbs/gallon), the horse is taking in between 60 and 100 lbs of material and excreting 25-37 lbs of poo and 20 lbs of pee for a total of 45 -67 lbs. The maximum input doesn’t quite match the maximum output, but that could be balanced by loss of water mass through breathing, sweating and normal evaporation on the skin.

Right now we have six horses x about 20 lbs  of food per day or 43,800 lbs per year.  At 25 lbs of  fecal output per horse per day x 365 days, we generate 54,750 lbs of manure  each year. Or if we go with 37 lbs of manure per horse per day, 81,o30 lbs!  Who needs a gym membership if you have horses!

So, what to do with all that waste?

First off, it has to to be picked up.  We have dirt pens and use plastic manure forks.  We do not have bedding to deal with.

Forks come with a handle and a head.  The heads break.  It is possible to buy replacement heads.

I recently bought two of this type of head from State Line Tack (6 bucks) and each one lasted approximately two days before snapping.

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Feb 092018

By Patty Wilber

Judith and John Huchton’s Ms. Atti and Indy had some fun last weekend.

On Friday, we hauled down to Peralta to work cows with Ed Krause.  Both horses perk their ears when the cows come into the arena.  Indy wants to be more aggressive, which can be fun.  Atti is more level headed and doesn’t tuck her butt up under her if the cow behaves unexpectedly.  Both are making progress.

I am going to start using the flag here at home a lot more often to see if we can increase our rate of progress.  I would really like one of those programmable flags so I could just follow it and not have to mess with the controller in my hand while trying to manage the reins.  Perhaps an upgrade is in my future!

The flag is on a string and the horses will track it back and forth. A remote controller in the hand moves the flag–unless you have a programmable machine that will run the flag on a pattern for you…I want that right now.

On Saturday, those two horses, plus Cometa, me and Jim, joined the Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen for a ride in the Galisteo Basin Preserve. We had 19 equine and 16 riders.

Photo by Elisa Bohannon. Indy is the last horse in this picture. Three of us are not in the shot.

I often like to be at the end of the line if I am on a young horse to try to keep out of trouble.  This was Atti’s second trail ride with horses she didn’t know and I wanted to keep her comfortable.  Turns out I need not have worried.  When the horse ahead of her gave a wild spook and later a big buck, Atti barely even raised her head. And as we walked, she poked along back there, not seeming to care that her slow old walk didn’t keep her caught up.  We worked on increasing her walking pace, but I often had to suggest that she go ahead and jog to keep up.  That is a a much nicer problem than a herd bound horse that coils up in panic if the animals ahead of it get two horse lengths away. Continue reading »

Feb 022018

By Patty Wilber

I am happy to report that the backing therapy (getting off and backing her up if she sulls up and threatens to rear) has made a big change in Ms. Attitude’s, well, attitude.  She might still try to pull a thing or two, but I swear she has learned the phrase, “Don’t make me get off!”, because if I get off, she will be backing up, with alacrity.

The backing seems to really make her think and it doesn’t scare her.  I do not think this would have worked on LT or would work on Indy.  I think they would both take it very personally and fall apart.

Indy is dong well, too. She is getting sharper and smoother on her transitions and she is stopping.  Boy, we have a long way to go, though, since we lost  a lot of last year.

I took them both to Ed Krause’s work with cows last Saturday.

This was doubly fun because Leah and Janet were both there.   Janet took some pictures of me and I took some of her, too. We were there from 10 to 2.  Things haven’t changed, as Janet mentioned, from when we were kids (and didn’t know each other).  We still don’t want to get off our horses!

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Jan 262018

By Patty Wilber

I have the privilege of of judging the Trail Classes at the Walkin N Circles Fuzzy Show Fundraiser February 17th!   Last year, the show raised over $2,000. Click the link for more information, or just show up to show! (There is a $20 break if you pre-enter–55 bucks for the whole day!)

Walkin N Circles is a horse rescue that in 2017 adopted out over 45 horses!

I just spend 20 minutes checking out their adoptable horses page. When I was a kid (in the dark ages before the Internet) I used to read the horse want-ads.  This is a BIG upgrade from want ads. The website has beautiful photographs and descriptions of the horses.

Of course, I found several horses that I fantasized for a minute about bringing over, because I have so much extra time.  NOT.  LT is currently the barefoot boss mare (boss of Indy and Atti, only) on vacation for a few more weeks until the days get longer and I have more riding hours!  Too bad for her: she is not barefoot on vacation at the beach!

Ok, back to the show!  It will be low pressure and lots of fun.  It will be at the Edgewood Arena, in Edgewood, NM, Feb. 17th and will start at 9 am.  Hopefully the weather will be great!

The Edgewood Arena is a public arena that also has a nice obstacle course that is perfect to use for the walk-trot trail pattern.   There will be 9 and under, 10-18, 19 and over, and in hand classes.

Trail courses in a typical show include things like negotiating logs, backing through things, walking over a bridge, turning around in a small area, opening a gate, side passing.  We will have this sort of thing, as well as the cowboy curtain made of pool noodles!

The show is not all trail classes!  There will be arena classes as well.

Did I mention that it will be low key and lots of fun?  And ALL the income goes directly to Walkin N Circles for the horses, so if you don’t want to show, sign up (click the first link above) and donate instead!



Jan 192018

By Patty Wilber

The good news was that Penny behaved very well and she and Lori took the Novice High Point award!

Also, all the horses got along just fine at the trailer.

Atti (light) and Indy (dark). Happy at the trailer.

The bad news was neither Atti nor Indy demonstrated their true skills and I was so disappointed I shed a few tears. I got a big ol hug from my friend Janet. (Thanks Janet!)

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Jan 122018

By Patty Wilber

In December, Jim and I went hiking in the Ojito Wilderness.  We accessed it via Cabezon Road and hiked the Hoodoo Trail (red dot and line)  over by Bernalillito Mesa.

The hoodoos are surreal, like being in a different dimension, but as far as horseback riding, it is a short trail.

So, Tuesday, us ladies in our big trucks (cuz we might be AARP age, but we are formidable, especially in a group) went on US 550 3.5 miles past San Ysidro to the gray road on the map. We went in the green gate and parked right there.  Then, we followed that gray road on horseback into the Ojito and saw a different side of it.

Marianne, Siri, Linda, and Lily.

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