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!

Feb 142020

By Patty Wilber

Well, here is a bit of a run down on things:

  • H is still with Clay Hight, at Hight Performance Horses, getting some cow experience.  He even did ranch work and dragged some calves to the fire for a branding last week.  It took him a bit to get used to the smoke, but apparently he did well.  Thanks, Clay!

I am going down there next weekend and The Hight’s will haul him to a Quarter horse show at the end of the month just for experience.  (I am sure after meeting H, the AQHA folks will all be wanting an App!  🙂 )

I am looking forward to bringing H home near the end of March. I have some cow access lined up, including a back-up plan.  Now, I just need the weather to cooperate (see below).

  • Coco is loping (she has 24 times under saddle; first lope step on ride 21.) I get to keep her until the end of the month and if the weather will, um, cooperate (see below), she ought to be going reasonably well by then, for a greenie.

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Feb 072020

By Patty Wilber

Well, it is still January, and unsurprisingly, it is still cold (whine), but this obviously has had no bearing on the manure producing ability of our equines.

Man, it is a lot of poo.  So, I have been contemplating new and novel (to us) ways to use all that s**t up.

Right now we compost it.  It has been difficult to find good tarps to cover the bins to keep moisture in so that composting actually occurs, versus horse apple mummification. It is pretty dry here in New Mexico, a lot of the time.

We had a roll of some sort of plastic-ish stuff (I know, plastic) that we used for years.  It was relatively long-lasting, but it did do what plastics do, and broke up into small pieces, some of which are still hanging around the place, not degrading.

Ok, we ran out of that, and tried big heavy duty tarps.  Fail.  They are also some sort of environmentally unfriendly plastic, but even worse, they fell apart within six months of use in the NM sun.  Now we have blue bits of those hanging around with tan bits of the other and they may make a nice archeological find for someone, one day.  “Hmm,” they will say, “These people sure liked to use plastic. No wonder their whole civilization collapsed.  But at least they were composting.”

So, we went to a more cloth-based heavy duty tarp, from Tractor Supply, at 100+ bucks each, and they seem to last through one composting cycle, and maybe will even make two, so still not very long-lived, but at least they don’t seem to fragment–just tear.

Composting manure and the tarp, too, to some extent, apparently.

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Jan 312020

By Patty Wilber

We have a new resident here at the place!

She is an nine-year-old bay mare with scoliosis and belongs to Mary Ann S.  The S might stand for “Soft Hearted”.

Here is what scoliosis might look like in a person.

The picture came off a pop up info panel when I googled “scoliosis”, so not sure how to cite it…


Here is what Breeze’s back looks like. You can see the curvature.

Breeze is kind of dirty (I brushed her prior to this “photo shoot”, I swear!) because she really, really likes to roll and she can roll all the way over, both directions!  Not all able bodied horses can do that.

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Jan 242020

By Patty Wilber

I have two young mares (both are four) that I am currently starting (Sombra, the nominal Spanish Boy, is waiting in the wings).  One is pretty laid back and has been handled regularly (Coco), and the other is LT’s half sister–same dad (Birdie).

As one might surmise by her relatives, Birdie is a bit of wild child.  She came in afraid of oh, practically everything, plus she is super “watchy” and notices when a blade of grass twitches.  And doesn’t like to stand still….  Oh boy!

On the plus side, she is very curious, likes people and catches on.

Weirdly, perhaps, she was easy to saddle right off the bat and is not particularly interested in full speed running or bucking.  That is very promising!

Bridling the first time…

I had her in the round pen and thought I’d just put a little snaffle bit on her so she could carry that around and get used to it.  Ha.  

Day 1. 

Me: I have a bit and bridle.  Here, let’s put it on!  Easy. 


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Jan 172020

By Patty Wilber

It might be apparent from the blogs that I kind of like horse training and horses.  Each horse is different and despite the fact that I have started a good number of colts (100? 150? I have not kept track) I like that it is not uncommon that I say to myself, “Well, I haven’t seen THAT before!” So much to learn!  So little time!

I also have really enjoyed having my own trainer/coach so that I can continue to get new ideas and techniques, because part of the fun for me is finding which keys to use to unlock the potential of each horse, as best I can.  I find getting in-person coaching with a particular horse under me really helpful and more fun than videos or reading.

BUT, right now, the cow guy I am working with is in Clovis (200 miles away) and so I can only go once a month at best, and thus I have “resorted” to books and video.  On dressage.  Not even western dressage. Gasp.

But, why dressage you may ask?  

1.Two of my friends have horses that have been diagnosed with mild cases of kissing spine.  One found an article about exercises that can help alleviate the problem and those exercises are dressage based. 

Kissing spine.

Radiograph of the mid thoracic spine showing evidence of kissing spines. (picture source linked above.)

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Jan 102020

By Patty Wilber

My WW three horse bumper pull stock horse trailer is 15 this year.

2018, at the Cruces Basin Trail Head.

Labor Day, 2018, in the Manzanos. Indy and LT by the trailer.

It has been a great trailer and while it is no longer pretty (if it ever actually was), it is still good to haul down the highway or on a 4-wheel drive road to the wilderness.

But, I thought it might be ok to step up and get something a little bit fancier.

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Jan 032020

By Patty Wilber

I hope you don’t cringe,
As the rhyming beings,
But here
is the year,
From the start to the fringe!

January was cold and there was lots of snow,
Training in snow makes progress quite slow.
The barn was still full of horses to ride.
Unfortunately, perhaps, the rides were outside!

February was quiet, for the most part,
Lucy worked cows with Ed for a start.
Atti tried to quit them and fall apart,
But soon she perked up and showed me some heart!

Yes, I am talking about you again, Ms. Atti!

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Dec 272019

By Patty Wilber

We got lucky and got to spend the Christmas Holidays with the grand girls in Hawaii!

On Day 1 we dragged them to a polo lesson while Mom and Dad went to work!

If I lived on Oahu, I think I polo might be a horse sport to try.  Cows are not especially numerous and most cow stuff appears to be on the Big Island (at least based on my brief Internet research). It also seems a bit tricky to trail ride on some of the steep, slick jungle trails!

We have a been to a few polo matches here and I thought a polo lesson would be fun.

Of course, it was!  

I went to Hawaii Polo Lessons. I rode a nice solid gelding that went when asked, picked up both leads and was easy to steer.  Perfect, because I did not have to think about riding and could concentrate on trying to hit the ball!

My instructor, Khai, on an Appaloosa! And me on Pep. Khai is a United States Polo Association certified polo instructor!


For introductory purposes I used a softer and slightly larger rubber ball than the standard game ball.  I tried to find a photo of one like it, for the blog, but struck out. Continue reading »

Dec 202019

By Patty Wilber

I was going to pass on the Annual Christmas Hats Blog, but I had a request, so what could I do?  Also, we are now in Hawaii so I figured I could get this blog written before we left!

We have four Appaloosas, two Spanish types and just sent Koh-Doh home.  He is a tobiano that was rescued from a kill pen in South Dakota and I think he has some Spanish characteristics, so he can be in the Spanish category!

Appy Navidad!!

Penny: “i just want to note that i have been subjected to this silliness for something like 10 years now! but in the big scheme of things, i suppose it could be worse!  appy christmas!

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Dec 132019

By Patty Wilber

I am still really missing Ed (my cattle coach and friend who passed away earlier this year).  I think he would be telling me that it is time to get moving forward on the cattle training, though.

I have some local contacts in the works; some that could coach and some who might let me MOOch use of their cattle (and I will chip in towards feed).  But that might not be until January,

So, I set up a time to drive to Clovis to work with Clay Hight of Hight Performance Horses. I have been working my flag at home, but was excited to get H on real cattle and get some feedback on Lucy.

Not the greatest picture I have ever taken, but this is Clay at Hight Performance Horses, Clovis, NM

I was planning to leave between 8am and 9am to make the 200 mile drive, but when I went out to feed, 22 year old Cometa was not hungry.

Cometa is the consummate consumer.  He has never met hay he does not like.

Then he laid down.  Flat out. In the mud. That is not a good look for him.

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