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!”

I rescheduled the mechanic for Monday, got to the Kingsbury’s place, offered the horses a drink and more food, switched trucks and was on the road again by 11.  

I got quite a long ways and the brake light in the borrowed truck came on. Oh boy. Called Richard.  We decided I would add brake fluid when I stopped for fuel.

I have never added brake fluid so I got some help at the truck stop tire shop.  They put in an entire quart and then said, “This is not normal!”

They were really kind and also got interested in figuring out the issue.  Good thing, too, because it turns out that while you add brake fluid under the hood, you check for leaks around the tires…I looked under the front of the truck and did not see a leak, they looked around the tires and I had one.  A big one, on the back right. The tire guys could not fix it.

Called Richard again, and he and the shop guys figured out a way to stop the leak (they pinched off the hose with a locking vice grip). But this left me lame on the right hind, and going over Raton Pass without a tip-top braking system, two horses, and a heavy trailer did not seem like the thing to do.

Brakes broke. Not making the border. Headed back south again.

After I settled the horses at the Kingbury’s because my own truck was broken and I couldn’t haul them home, Jim came over and we all had pizza dinner.

And extra bonus: Richard knows people, such as his nephew Jeremy who is a car mechanic.  He was able to fix those brakes and I was able to get on the road the next day!

Breaking for the border on Saturday and we made it to Colorado!!

The horses took a break (not broken) and I set up my sleeping arrangements with the “new” trailer.  I plugged it in and ran a fan and my phone chargers!!  I set up my table and chair and stove. So exciting.

H and Lucy in their matching outfits and weekend accommodations! H is near and Lucy far. H will live in the barn as a trainee.

Then, I rode Lucy and Cody rode H–in and out of lots of gates, in with the cattle, through some head high weeds out side the arena, and up a steep incline. H done good.

The next day we worked cows.  Lucy cowed up really well, but when I add a lot of speed, she gets a little stiff on the stops, which can make her turns a little stiff as well.  I got some great ideas on how to improve that which will  help her on cows and will also translate into better rollbacks, spins, sliding stops and downward transitions. 

Boy, do I miss having a coach. I think I might be too far along in my college teaching career (as in I could retire already) to quit that job and go to work as a cow horse intern, but the thought did cross my mind! So much fun stuff to learn and do!

H did a good job for Cody!  Since H has a good set of dry work basics according to Cody (yay, me!) and is a cowy son of a gun, Junior Working Cow Horse at Appaloosa World’s is on the table for H with Cody. 

H and Cody.

And, according to Cody, it should also be on the table for me and Lucy!  With the tips I got and a trial balloon in the form of an actual show in Oklahoma next weekend…maybe…

We rode again on Monday, and then I packed up and headed out.  It was a hard thing to leave H knowing he may well find a new home instead of returning here…

(I could buy his other half…)

Thank goodness Lucy is not for sale! 




  6 Responses to “Breaking for the Border”

  1. Every horse person has a mental set of checks, down-checks, and super-checks. So they’re worth what that particular horse-person’s judgment is worth, but they’re probably not going to change much over time if the person has any experience. This is leading up to a very, um, dangerous chance I’m taking, which is expressing a preference for one of your horses over another. On the basis of watching that test thing you did with the four horses, and considering the age and stage of training…it’s NOT my choice and should NOT influence you, and it’s only my opinion…but I like H a whole lot better than Lucy. To me he seems to have more potential, moves a little better (esp. given the difference in age) in all three gaits, is just put together a little more like my preferences. Lucy’s nice, but she’s never impressed me beyond “nice.” Of course I don’t know the horses, what their personalities are like, how fast they learn, how friendly they are, etc. And that’s the fifth leg.

    But just sittin’ on the internet fence watching….I really like H. Which surprised me because in general I’m not an Appy fan. (The Appys I’ve ridden, with one exception–16 hand App/TB cross–didn’t have the movement I liked most. Small sample, but what we’ve ridden is what we know about a breed or mix.) Of course what I like so much about H might be what you see as flaws and vice versa. Your horses; you know them best.

    • H is amazing, no doubt, and I feel his upside is higher than Lucy’s. But Lucy is all mine, I have a nice bond with her, she is very good minded, and can do everything I am interested in doing. Plus, to buy out H’s other half would not be cheap, and I really really do not need another horse of my own.

      No more prospects!

      Plug for Appy’s–hard working, smarter than most, and come in cool colors (IMHO).

  2. So many adventures in one!

  3. Wow Patty, what an adventure in the truck(s). Being out in the west and having car trouble is always a little unnerving. You sure handled it well. I have no opinion on these two horses (or any horses really) but so glad you all got home and then out and then home again…safely!

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