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!

Sep 182020

By Patty Wilber

Last month I entered LT in Christy’s Virtual Trail Horse Competition in the Open division, but LT is up in Colorado with Jordyn, so this month, I entered Mary Ann Shinnick’s 3-yr-old Placitas Mustang, Sombra, in the Green Horse division and Mary Ann entered the Intermediate division on our 23-year-old Spanish Barb, Cometa.

There is a website (linked above) and a VCTR facebook page, but all the meat is on the website!

Unfortunately, my blog post is just a little late for people to make the September due date, but I would encourage anyone who likes trail riding and also likes a challenge to enter in the last two events! 

Why enter? Well, because it is fun!  And there are a lot of prizes. 

For the competition, you get to pick from a long list of obstacles, so as you are out on your regular trail rides, you can scout out places that fit in with the obstacle list.  Mary Ann Shinnick and I trail ride twice a week, so we took a couple days to figure out our locations from our choices right out of the house property.  Last time, I did all the videos while were on a camping trip at the Cruces Basin! 

You submit six different videos, so you can pick some really varied things to try out! 

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Sep 112020

By Patty Wilber

There was a tiny little Back Country Horseman project last weekend with a whopping five human participants and six equine. We rode about 30 miles and cleared about 30 trees (mostly small “draggers”, in that you can just drag them off the trail).

The small crew gave me an opening to take Shirley Wilson’s Black Jack, a four year old horse with 40 rides or so; 2 months under saddle, and put some training miles on him while still getting the BCH job done.

The first order of business was to get there Friday in order to work on water crossing. There are creeks and bogs and rivulets and wet spots all over the trails we would be working and I wanted Black Jack to be able to keep up and be comfortable. Because he is quite sensible, and both Penny and Cometa are usually solid mentor horses, I was confident BJ would be fine.

There is a good water crossing 50 feet from our normal camp spot, so after we got camp settled, off we went.

Black Jack was interested in letting his nose check out the water very quickly, but he was not so sure about giving the same privilege to his feet!

“interesting!” said BJ when he got to the edge, “but i am good right here.”

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Sep 042020

By Patty Wilber

I have these two youngsters in the barn and I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying them.

Sombra, the Placitas Mustang, is owned by Mary Ann Shinnick.  She picked him out last year and he arrived in July 2019 as an unhandled (uncatchable), but friendly two year old.  He is now, yes, three, and has been under saddle since April 2020. 

He was SUPPOSED to be a “rescue and sell” project, but we have all kind of fallen for him, and since he has turned out to be a super solid citizen, he gets to stay for the foreseeable future! 

Mary Ann and Sombra. Sombra has even more mane on the other side, by the way. He has enough mane and tail for three ordinary horses and fourteen more sparsely haired Appaloosas like Lucy!

I am probably, maybe, I think so, going to enter him in Christy Harding’s Virtual Trail Challenge in the Green Horse division. Mary Ann will probably, maybe, I think so, ride our old faithful Spanish Barb, Cometa, in the Intermediate division. Entries are due by the 16th or something!

That is not me on him. The rider shall remain nameless, and also claimed they needed to dress up more if I was going to be taking photos all over the place. I am pretty proud of the two of them!

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Aug 212020

By Patty Wilber

So, as you may know, Judith and I have this three-year old named H, and he is a pretty cool dude.  So cool, in fact, that I think he could make money as an Open Reined Cow Horse, as well as excelling at all the Ranch Horse Events, and then going on to be an outstanding Non-Pro horse.

Me and H last October, H was barely started (26 rides) but went to a show anyway, and placed.

Because of my high opinion of H’s cow horse talents, and the fact that he is a co-owned prospect (as in we plan to sell him), we made the decision to send him to Cody Crow’s No Where But Up Performance Horses in Colorado.

Let’s face it, I can get H on cows once a week, at best, in a smallish arena, and yes, he is making progress, but Cody can have him on cows every day if he chooses, in a full size indoor, super size outdoor, a round pen or in a cutting pen. 

Plus, I like Cody’s philosophy and approach, and he is successful at the bigger venues where I believe H will shine.

After getting that choice made (and not lightly), the next step was to drive 500 miles with H and Lucy (who went so I could get some coaching on cows with her– I REALLY MISS having a nearby coach!!).

Got all my stuff together and pulled out Friday morning.  I noticed that the heat gauge on my truck was acting a little wonky right off the bat, but then it seemed to go back to behaving….so I kept driving, but when I got to the big hills on I25 just before Pecos, it was clear things were not working right. 

I stopped and assessed.  The radiator seemed ok– no leaking, normal fluid levels.  No mechanic shops were open, yet, but the Napa Auto Parts woman gave me some tips and a gas station guy did, also.  Finally, I called my mechanic at American Diesel, thinking maybe I had a faulty temperature sensor, and he said to bring it in and he would see if he could get me fixed up and on the road. I headed home.

Broken truck.  Making it to the border looking dim.

On the way back south, I called my friend Richard who was laying low due to an eye issue, so I figured I’d regale him with my tale of woe.  He listened and then out of the blue offered me their truck, so I said, “OK!”

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Aug 132020

By Patty Wilber

Thursday, Lucy gave her first lesson her first ever time in a dressage saddle.

Of course, she was fine, except we did have to use a crop to get her to move forward a bit.

My friend Kathleen enjoyed riding her!

They walked and trotted.

They worked some cones. And they did some games with the bridge.

Lucy says, “i can’t believe she asked me to practically fall off the bridge like that.” “Um,” I say, “Pretty sure that one is on you, Luc!”

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Aug 072020

By Patty Wilber

I am not going to deny that I was a little choked up last Saturday. LT went to college!

She will be on the Ranch Horse Team at CSU with Jordyn. She even got a scholarship (because Jordyn is paying for her expenses!)

Jordyn and LT about to load up.

She almost got a room (stall/run) to herself, but I thought she would be happier in a pasture with pals. She went to rush week and got accepted to the Tri Beta Sorority (3…B…for buckskin). (It was the Di Beta before she showed up).

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Jul 312020

By Patty Wilber

So, we decided to drive to Illinois last week so Jim could go to a memorial service for his aunt who had passed away from old age in February.

That part went well and it was very nice to see family.

It is about a 20 hour drive one way, and we took two days for the trip there and two more for the trip back.  We spent one day in IL.

During the driving, we read an entire Clive Custler novel and we saw some of the country.  We took the southern route through TX, OK, MO and of course IL on the way there, and the middle route of IL, MO, KS, and TX on the way back.

It was interesting to note that no matter where we were or whatever nice scenery we saw, we kept saying, “Well, I am glad we don’t live here!”

On the way there, we stopped at Shaw Nature Reserve and we were able to purchase tickets to enter via my phone on the spur of the moment.

This beautiful bald cypress grove reminded us of some ponds in Delaware (where we lived 30 years ago–oh my–time flies) but the heat and humidity made us say, “Boy, glad we don’t live here!” because of course in NM, it’s a dry heat. Which is true, and it does really make a difference, but it is also cliche! We do live at over 6,500 feet which usually helps us be a little cooler, as well.

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Jul 242020

By Patty Wilber

A bunch of our horses are wearing fly masks. The four mares, mostly, keep theirs on.  Don’t mess with the mares! They have also trained H, a 3 year old gelding that lives with them, to keep his on.

The other four geldings, on the other hand, really feel the need to party.  Two of the younger boys (another three-year-old and a four-year-old) seem especially fond of removing and hiding them.  The older gents (19 and 23) apparently can’t stand to remain out of the fray and seem to like to be de-masked.

So, every morning, we humans get to finish the previous night’s game.  They hide the face masks, and we seek them

Found one! “Black Jack?  Did you do this?”

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Jul 172020

By Patty Wilber

I got my brand renewal form, so I thought I better go buy some calves!

Got two!

I went with my friend Peter and we picked up four: two for me and two for him. 

Then, as we  hauled them over to the Tucker’s (as me and Tuckers are actually co-owners of “my” two), the fun started. 

I called Derek.  “We are on our way!  I  got one heifer and one bull.”

“You got a bull?”

“Um, yes…”


“Well, ok.  We will just cut him when you get here!”

Hang up.

Peter says, “He’s a steer.  He’s banded.”

Well, I feel stupid.  I didn’t see the rubber bands up there on the testicles (even though if you look they were pretty obvious).  The seller kept calling him a bull, so I just went with it.

Called back.  “He’s a steer.”

“Oh, good!”

So we arrive and Peter backs up to the pen to unload.  Out they come, and Derek calls for the heifer to be pushed into the squeeze chute so we can brand and vaccinate her.  In she goes….and right out the other side… then right out of the pen! Squeeze chute was not shut and the pen gate wasn’t, either! Oops!

We all just kind of watch in amazement for a minute!

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