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 to keep his on.

The other four geldings, on the other hand, really feel the need to party.  Two of the younger boys (a 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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Jul 102020

By Patty Wilber

I rode with with my usual Friday group, and we now, after lo, these many years, have an official name: No, were are not “The Covid 5”.  We are “The Flat Stirrup Crew”. 

Yes, the stirrup was literally flattened! Siri says it gives a whole a new perspective on collapsible gear! Photos by Patty S.

We are not exactly sure how this occurred.  Either Siri’s horse laid down while no one was looking or he squashed it against the rather small tree to which he was tied at Pecos Baldy Lake.

Surely, I thought, we could fix it.  

The metal was unfortunately sturdy, even in the flattened state, so we resorted to the only tools we could find.  Rocks.

We hammered, and stuck rocks inside, and used rocks for leverage, and by golly…

We fixed it!

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Jul 022020

By Patty Wilber

So, the NM Quarter Horse show was just cancelled and Covid cases are spiking over a good part of the country.  I am expecting my next show (Paint Appy) will also be cancelled as it was to be the next weekend after the QH show, at the same venue.

Here in NM we are actually in pretty good shape Covid-wise (map) compared to some of our neighboring states. But the way things are going, I guess we should not be resting on our laurels or our hay bales. 

Green is good, Red is bad. Arizona is awfully red. My county is yellow, so that is something.

And another thing.  We need rain.  

We are falling into drought again. Bernalillo county is “only”, yes, yellow, abnormally dry. We have been red in other drought years (which lately seems like every other year).

As long as I am being a debbie downer, my sister, mom and nieces have been here every 4th of July, for like 10 years, and this year they are trapped in Covid Calif.   I am missing them!

But, at least I have an intern!

Jordyn is here for the summer, earning college credit working for me.  She was interested in colt starting, so perfect timing.  I am doing colt starts all over the place (which for me means I have had a colt start or two going this entire year: Coco, Fancy, Sombra, Birdie, Daytona, Simba, and now Black Jack).  Plus, I have the younger show horses (that never get to show due to Covid cancellations; Lucy and H) and the seasoned girls (Penny and LT).

I have never had anyone work with me before, and this is pure luxury!  

I get to lecture (ya know I like to lecture since I teach at a college!!) on what I like to do with each horse and why, and I get to order her around: “Now you can saddle so and so then rinse so and so and then clean out the horse trailer and then ride so and so.” I also had her give some lessons, film and ride in some of the virtual shows and have dragged her around to work cows, trail ride (on the scary stuff, just to give her good experience!) and judge (she volunteered for that one, and thank goodness–it was super helpful.)

It is great!

It is so much easier to get all the horses worked in a timely fashion and to get feedback and input on how the youngsters are responding to her!

Jordyn and her horse Slick in a virtual show, filmed here.

Unfortunately, she will have to go back to Colorado at the end of July for school at Colorado State.

If I win the lottery, I am planning to hire her full time when she graduates and expand the barn!

I could put up an indoor arena on the 30 acres, buy some cows, build a nice horsey playground etc. etc.!

In the meantime, I am taking Penny to the Pecos for a ride to Baldy Lake at the crack of dawn.

So, Happy Thursday night.

Jun 262020

By Patty Wilber

For Father’s Day we joined old friends and new friends for a camping trip at the trailhead in the Cruces Basin Wilderness Area that we use as a starting point for our packed-in elk hunting trips (the craziest being Camp Wilberry).  Road 572, not maintained for passenger cars.  So we hauled in our horse trailers, because, you know, why not? (And we have been there before, a few times.)

At the trailhead where we camped. Mary Ann, Bill, Patty, me (also Patty!) and Lani dog.

The new trailer went and the truck brakes and the trailer brakes speak different languages, as far as I can tell, so while we just had our truck brakes redone, we put a little wear on them on this trip and later in the week hauling down from the Santa Fe Ski Basin after a Back Country Horseman project.   I am hiring a translator to help them out.  Just saying.

The Cruces Basin is one of my favorite places as it is so beautiful and over the six or so years we have been going there, it also is a place of wonderful memories and friendship. This trip was no exception.

Jim and I won both our horseshoes games. This is only funny if you were there, but I actually played decently, and contributed to our wins.

We rode up Diablo Creek, Cruces Creek, down Beaver Creek (and Jim hiked up) and rode up on Toltec Mesa.

Me and Penny, up Cruces Creek to near the end. Photo by Patty S.

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Jun 192020

By Patty Wilber

We compost our horse manure and then spread it around the easily accessible acres–which is about two out of 34, so, we have gotten kind of OM’d (Over Manured).  So we decided to rent a big dump trailer from our friend, and use our tractor to fill it.

That concept worked well, but there is LOT more manure in those bin that meets the eye, and to make matters more interesting, just as I was finishing emptying the first bin, the tractor went “thump” and the bucket malfunctioned!  Tt would go up, but not down, unless I turned off the tractor, and sort of pumped the control levers, which allowed the bucket to creep down down as the pressure declined…

But, the one load was done, so off to the transfer station.

It turns out we are not the only ones that take manure to the transfer station.  It cost $20 for this load. And since this was a dump trailer, up it went, and out slid the manure, pretty much. Wow! That was kind of fun!

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Jun 122020

By Patty Wilber

Last week, I went glamping with three of my friends at Rancho de Fe.   It is about 12 miles out of Las Vegas, NM. We were the first horse guests at this lovely site, and it was pretty sweet!

The ranch is 90 acres with riding access on an additional 200 private acres as well being within riding access to the Santa Fe National Forest. There are very nice view of Hermit’s Peak, to the west!

There are two houses and a cabin that can be rented, two full RV hook-ups and dry camping as well.  We chose one dry camp, one full hook up, and the cabin. I split the cost of dry camping with Patty S., and we paid $15 per night, including the horses. 

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Jun 052020

By Patty Wilber

Here we are with good weather and no in-person horse shows, so virtual shows have taken off.

Sounds great--get the info, pay some money, video your go in the comfort of your own (or a nearby) arena. No long drives, no all day commitment.


I did my first video class (Ranch Pleasure, a pattern class) with the NM Paint Club show.  

It was in the comfort of my own arena, but did NOT turn out to be one and done.

Oh no! There were bobbles! We can’t have bobbles! They had to be refilmed. And since I entered four horses, that took a while.

So, when I got to my second virtual show, The Virtual Red Hot Ranch Horse Challenge, I was semi-prepared.

The first class I tackled was Open Ranch Trail, and I cut the number of horses I was showing from four to two.  I learned that two were going to be plenty.

I authored the open Ranch Trail pattern for this show, but, for whatever reason, did not make it with my personal (smallish) arena in mind. I did manage to get it to fit.

The first day of filming was less than ideal. My biggest challenge was the lope over logs.

I put the logs outside the arena, in a “chute” I have, but because one log was also needed for a sidepass, and I have a railroad tie perimeter, I had to put that first log pretty close to the start of the loping area where the railroad tie was not very high…

So, that left only a few lope strides before the first log.

I also put the two logs down at random. I did not measure the distance between them. By golly, a ranch horse should not need to have a walked off distance between logs, especially two logs over 30 feet apart!  They should adjust their stride. I mean, really!

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May 292020

By Patty Wilber

We have had two BCH projects in the past two weeks.  One out of Red Canyon Campground in the Manzanos and one out of Panchuela in the Pecos.

In both cases, we got access behind locked gates, which was nice for us, and the trails!

In the Manzanos, we had 15 people, so we broke into three teams of five and did Box and some of Ox, Red Canyon, Spruce and the connecting part of the Crest Trail between Red and Spruce.

The Manzanos did not have gobs of down trees, so good deal, one fell swoop…or maybe that’s three fell swoops, but we got a lot done while in the appropriate group size, and yes we wore masks. 

Masked crew in the Manzanos: L Marianne, front Bruce, center back Victoria, R Jim. I took the picture!

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