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!

May 182019
 

The Couch Princess Rocks On!
by Doranna

Three years!

Alice has been here three years this month, which makes her eight years old.

All things being equal, we like to get our dogs as pups and start training right away.  But some times all things aren’t equal, and one ends up with a hole in the pack, and and one is really, REALLY lucky when the perfect dog comes along to fill it.

Modest Alice

The Princess is too modest for paparazzi.

We lost our pack princess, and five-year-old Alice happened to be looking for her own pack.  She was everything we hoped for–a well-socialized champion of lovely temperament from an expert breeder, the perfect age for our pack, and the boys luuuurved her at first sight.

Alice is a soft, sweet, giggly girl who wasn’t reliably housetrained because she’d talked herself into believing she had no other option.  (Demonstrably not true, but this is the way of it sometimes.)  Because of that, she’d gotten into the habit of bedwetting from a deep sleep…even if sitting on the couch right beside you.  (Ask me how I know.)

We knew this ahead of time, of course; my hope was to resolve this issue in time but without rushing her, and we had plenty of options to manage it in the meanwhile.

We also hoped she would like to play in rally obedience, but again, without rushing.  Because of her soft nature, I gave her nearly half a year of settling in and structure before we started training games, plenty of chance to connect and feel safe.  (I’m sure this time frame could have been sped up considerably, but I had no reason to push it and I didn’t.)

Dart sitting on Alice

Dart (sitting) doesn’t like Alice at all. Not one little bit. He never cuddles with her. At all.

It was another year before she tested for her CGC, and then a few more months before her first rally trial. She earned her novice title in three straight classes with high placements.  That makes her an Achiever Dog, too!  (CH Luvbug Copper Rose More Than Feeling RN CGC)

And, she would like you to know, we worked on housetraining along the way and she’s been accident-free for well over a year.  She also giggles a lot, asks for training sometimes, and has learned to ring a bell on command just for kicks.

All of that’s just a bonus, because the moment she walked into our yard, she owned it.  She became the stabilizing center of our pack, and in that she has never wavered.  We are unendingly proud of the way she broke through her own preconceptions about learning and, er, peeing, and we adore her.

Every year for Gotcha Month, Alice likes to donate to adoption organizations.  She usually chooses Animal Humane and All Ears Basset Sanctuary, both of which with we’ve had personal experience and admire greatly.

She thinks all sweet, giggly lady dogs should have their Gotcha Months, too.

 

May 172019
 

By Patty Wilber

There are many opinions as to when one should begin under saddle training in horses.  Some futurity and race horses are started at 18 months. On the other end, there are advocates for waiting until four or five years old.  

I generally saddle my own in the fall of their two year old year, at about two and a half. 

I have started a few “older” horses, the oldest being a nine-year old Fjord, Mojo.  He ended up belonging to Roger and Mary Ann and staying at my house.  Loved that boy. 

Right now, I have Ms. Stella, who belongs to Kimberly Clark.  She is seven and might have had 30 days of training when she was three, or maybe not. We are not quite sure.

Continue reading »

May 102019
 

By Patty Wilber

(If you missed the post above this, Saving Benjy, By Doranna, I encourage you to get a tissue and have a read.)

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We have had a decent snow pack and a wet spring, so far!

The runoff on the Rio Grande (do not say Rio Grande River–it’s redundant) and its major tributaries (the Chama and the Pecos rivers)  is over 100% of the 30 year running average and is the highest since 2005!

In startling contrast, runoff on the Pecos last year was a whopping ZERO% of average.

The Drought Monitor shows a much damper picture this year as well.

This year.

Continue reading »

May 082019
 

This blog is harder than you think it’s gonna be
by Doranna

There’s a thing about animals, and it is this: An animal in an unbearable situation shuts itself down to cope.

So you get horses like Takota, who–still recovering from long term undernourishment and circumstances in which he didn’t thrive–was expertly assessed as super thoughtful, super eager to please.  (Well, he IS eager to please.)  And I totally get that, I don’t judge that–it’s exactly how he presented.  Only when he grew healthier, had his new routines, his new safety, his new mental freedom, did his true anxiety come out.  [He’s doing very well now, a year later and on a magnesium calmer.  Still very much himself, and starting to blossom into the horse everyone thought he could be.]

And you also get a dog like Benjy.

Very much loved in Home2

In six months of his known history, Benjy went from pack dog to loose dog to Shelter1 to Shelter2 to Home1 back to Shelter2 (not housebroken, DUH) to Home2 for only a month before his separation anxiety made clear it wasn’t a good match, no matter how he was loved.  (And he was.  Very much.) We connected through a caring breeder, captivated by his description as a gentle, quiet dog who would fit perfectly into our pack for his golden years. Continue reading »

May 032019
 

By Patty Wilber

Last weekend was our first official Back Country Horsemen, Pecos Chapter, work project of the year: Box Trail to Ox Canyon Trail in the Manzano Mountains.

Amber was the project lead and she packed the tools, so Jim and I brought only two horses: Lucy and Cometa.

Lucy. (She makes me smile!)

This is an easy trail, so I figured it would be a good first large group ride for Lucy.

I forgot one little detail.  The stream.  For the last few years, our snowpack has been so sparse that the creek in Red Canyon has been dry. 

Continue reading »

Apr 262019
 

By Patty Wilber

I got Lucy’s results from the Paint Pinto Palomino Buckskin All Breed show. I guess I was overly critical.  In the all breed open stock horse pattern class where I said she was accurate but not as smooth as I would like…she got 2nd under both judges!  She managed 3rd in Ranch Rail in spite of her breaks of gait.  The future is bright for this one!

On to Easter with the grandbaby!

Maegan and Leilani flew into Phoenix from Hawaii for a wedding and Jim and I got to hang out with them!

I think we are in good shape with this grand girl as she is not afraid of animals and she loves water. She can be a surfing polo player!

Here are highlights.

We arrived and went to visit Meggie and Matt, adorable Harrison (2.5 years old) and beautiful baby Maxine, Karen and Mark, and Jenny and Paul. I did not get any good pictures of Leilani and Harrison, but they had  a lot of fun playing together.

Great time visiting old friends at the Smith’s!

Continue reading »

Apr 192019
 

By Patty Wilber

High AF is, as of 4/1/19, a gelding.  Judith Huchton and I, who are partners on him, are excited to meet him in person, but for now, as a two year old, he is still enjoying the wide open spaces with Heather McLevin at Thunderstruck Ranch in Alberta, Canada.  Thunderstuck Ranch was the high point breeder of the 2018 World Appaloosa Show.  We have high (hahaha) hopes for him. I plan to go get him from Montana in mid-July.

In the video:  This was his first day out after being gelded.  He is the one with the big white Appaloosa blanket!

Atti, who belongs to Judith, sprained her front leg almost two weeks ago, and is slated for a few more weeks of rest.  It was a relatively minor injury that she got while out playing in the big lot.  It is putting a crimp in our show plans, however, and we will miss the May show in Colorado.  Also, she had started working cattle like a bit of a cow horse, she can pony the new horses, is great on the trail, and I was even going to let her give a lesson (and she is only four) so, quadruple bummer. We expect a full recovery and hope to to be back in the show ring in June!

Atti says: i went down to my birth home for stall rest. i can’t wait to get back to my second home so i can keep everyone on their toes. Me: we miss your pesty self! Lots!

Continue reading »

Apr 142019
 

In Which the Red Horse Would Liked to be Touched. No, nevermind.  Yes, touch. No, changed my mind…
Including the Twisty Lips Power Song

by Doranna

Sensitive red muzzle with ALL the whiskers!

Takota is a horse of phases.

Not surprising–he’s in a new situation, being asked to think in ways he hasn’t done before, and being asked to respect manners and boundaries that he shows no signs of previously encountering and no signs of accepting gracefully.

(As these are safety manners between horse and human, they’re not negotiable.) Continue reading »

Apr 122019
 

By Patty Wilber

Shameless self-promotion:

I am excited to announce that I will be giving a clinic called Practical Trail June 22 and 23 at the Trout Stalker Ranch in Chama, NM!  We will work on horsemanship skills, play in the horse playground, and apply that to actual trails!   Here is the link if you want to register.  Only $300 for the all inclusive weekend!

Slots are limited.  We have a cap of 12 riders and it is filling up fast!

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Introductory Water Crossing

Penny was the mentor horse.  She was a polite and confidence boosting mentor, and did not bring out her Boss Mare persona!

I got to be the leader for our 18 rider, 20 equine and one hiker Back Country Horsemen training ride starting at the Golden Open Space and continuing to a stretch of live water in the San Pedro Creek Canyon on BLM land.

Running water in NM is a bit of a scarce commodity, so even though this is a small bit, it is still exciting. We had four horses  that wanted some practice (well their riders wanted them to have practice), so we sent most of the group on to see a small pond and kept the four, along with me on Penny and Jim on Cometa, at the practice spot.

This water was shallow, there was no step down into it, and it was not especially muddy, so it was an ideal spot for Water Crossing 101. 

  • First. The riders asked their horses to cross by following Penny and Cometa.  Two of the four in our “needs practice” group, hesitated then went across at their rider’s request.  They came back and then I had them walk up and down the creek bed until they were comfortable.  Bruce’s beautiful Arabian picked his feet up extra high for a good 50 yards before he got used to the feel of the water on his legs and Ginny’s Fresian seemed to take it all in stride right away!

          Two of our four declined to cross. “not right now,” they said.  “our hooves might get muddy.”  

Continue reading »