May 222020

By Patty Wilber

Last Friday, I went to Oak Flats with Linda and her ex-racehorse, Star.

Linda and I had a fine time galloping around.  LT is the best for that–ready to go but super easy to slow down, as well.  She is 10 now and is aging well!! Star, being an ex-racehorse, also enjoys getting a move on!

The trails there are well marked and Linda has a nice map.  I have a really old map, which I did not bring, but next time I will to compare the old map to the new one.  I also might buy one of the new ones The Trails of Cedro Peak & Otero Canyon ($7 maybe) at the Sandia Ranger Station, in Tijeras.

Oak Flats is being thinned with a masticator to reduce fire danger and allow increased habitat diversity.  We saw the very large and noisy masticator.  We could not get close enough, safely, to see the actual operation, but we saw the aftermath! The horses were unfazed, which was nice. 


LT inspecting the work of the masticator. I took a video of the sound–I took a video to capture the sound–but decided the commercial video was way more exciting! 

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May 152020

By Patty Wilber

Dr. Dixon came by on Thursday to give Spring shots, check and “float” (=file down) the horse’s teeth, and check the geldings….uh…undercarriage.

Is anything in there?

And I just realized I failed to get blood drawn for Coggins tests for Lucy and H that just might get to go out of state to a show or two later this summer….drat.

(In the meantime, don’t forget the Virtual Red Hot Ranch Horse Show.  I have not signed up yet–going to finish up my Ranch Pleasure classes for the virtual all breed NM Paint Club sponsored show and then move on to the Red Hot!)

Yep, I can give my own spring shots, but turns out if the Doc is coming anyway, his shot prices actually beat the cost of what I would spend at the feed store, soooo, go for it. Side note: Sombra, who was barely handable and was quite freaked out for his shots last year, was like an old pro this go round!

Now, back to our scheduled topic after all that wandering about.

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May 082020

By Patty Wilber

The two items in the title do not necessarily go together, but maybe….!

First: The Virtual Show. Ok, since we cannot have the real Red Hot Ranch Horse Challenge, we thought we would have a Virtual Red Hot Ranch Horse Show.

Yes, like this show, only by video and also no cattle, so exactly like this, only different!!

Actually, Christy is the one that thought we should have the show and she has done 98% of the work.  I have helped her by saying things like, “Great!” or  “Sounds good!” and every so often I give a suggestion, and oh, I did make one pattern.

All the details can be found on a new Facebook page Christy has built called Virtual Red Hot Ranch Horse Show!  Check it out!  We have two very good judges (Cindy Chilton Moore and Delena Doyle) and there will be payback money!  Get your videographers lined up and prepare to “come” join us!! 

If some trial runs of the W/T trail class goes well with Sombra, he might just get to enter!!


Sombra, the Placitas Mustang, who belongs to Mary Ann Shinnick, came here last July as an unhandled two-year-old.  We did a lot of work to help him become used to being a domestic horse instead of a wild one, and I had him about ready to saddle start at the end of last year.  But between the bad weather and some other colt starts, he got bumped back.  The extra time allowed him to mature a little bit as well.


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May 012020

By Patty Wilber

Before we get into the woodrats, here are the results from last week’s “You be the Judge” in which Lucy, H, LT and Penny all did the same “ranch riding” type pattern.  Fifteen people, some horse folks and some not, judged via Survey Monkey.

Lucy got six first place votes but also four last place votes, giving her a total of 43 points.

H got four first place votes but only one last place vote and thus he edged out Lucy with 45.5 points!

H, who is not a minature horse, next to the new trailer, which, by the way, had a brake problem and is in the shop (under warranty).

LT, despite her lead change error, got three first places and also three last places, for third.

Penny also got two first place votes but, alas, was placed last six times (sorry Penny!) for fourth.

Thanks for playing!

Here is H’s winning go!


Woodrats are common in New Mexico and we have plenty on the 30 acres across the street. We also have had woodrats in our hay barn but we have never, until recently, have had woodrats in the truck!

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Apr 242020

By Patty Wilber

Well, since we cannot go to actual horse shows, various associations are running virtual shows.  This made me think of that column that was in…Western Horseman…? Called “You be the Judge”?…I don’t really know if that was the right magazine or the right title, but it was a column on conformation.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun to have a “You be the Judge” event right here for Ranch Riding.  Unfortunately, since we are social distancing and I just thought of this, I am the only entrant.  But I do have four Appaloosas that can compete–or at least three.  On Monday, I worked with one of them, and it did not result in anything I would want anyone to actually see. I won’t reveal the identity of said horse to avoid biasing you all, the judges.  

So, here is the scoop.  

  1. I made the pattern. (short–about 1.5 minutes per run so you can whiz through.)
  2. The older horses (Penny and LT) were ridden one handed and the junior horses (H and Lucy) were ridden two handed, as per normal show standards.  
  3. The dogs are just there for decoration.
  4. If you don’t know rules for ranch riding, that’s ok, you can still play.  Just rank the horses from first place to last place as you see fit.
  5. There is no actual judge here, so the “winner” will be the crowd favorite.  You should be able to see the cumulative current results after you enter your scores.
  6. Your responses are anonymous.
  7. This my first try at Survey Monkey, and it did not feel very intuitive to me, so this whole survey thing might just be a fail and all you will get to do is see four videos.

Here is the pattern. It turns out that I didn’t like the walk in followed by the half circle part–it was hard to make that feel smooth. 

Here are the goes in the order they were taken.  They were filmed by Jim. He used his knowledge of cinematography gleaned from the Making of Game of Thrones to get these very uniform runs!

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Apr 172020

By Patty Wilber

We had one heck of a snowstorm on Monday, and by Thursday, you could hardly tell!

Monday: We woke up (left) to SNOW and by the afternoon…still snowing (right).

Tuesday:  In the morning it was still very snowy!  By the afternoon, it had warmed up and the snow was greatly reduced.  It was astonishing!


Tuesday had some other interesting sights.

The arena melted right off Tuesday, but the meadow did not clear until Wednesday!

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Apr 102020

By Patty Wilber

I ordered my new Trails West Santa Fe trailer from J and B trailer in January and expected it to be here at the end of April.  Then  the SARS-COV-2 virus started running amok around the country, and I figured I would have to wait until fall, but the trailer got here last week!  It got bumped up in the production line, which was super lucky because right after this run, the factory shut down!

It has a side tack and “sleeping space”.

The “sleeping space” has a nice big window on the side and a screen door that rolls in. All the windows in the sleeping space open and it has a camper vent on top, as well.

We had to have a new hitch put in the truck and it was a little odd (but welcome) when Jim was greeted at the locked J&B Trailer gate by a guy in a mask and gloves (and regular clothes, too–he was not a streaker!) to take the truck.

We got the trailer home! I am afraid to drive it!  It is too pretty and I also need to learn to back it up. I can back up my bumper pull, no problem, but now I will need to learn to use my mirrors! 

I understand that learning new things helps stave off Alzheimer’s.  So, between all new technology I am mastering to teach and work from home (Skype, Zoom, Collaborate Ultra, Web Ex) and backing up and hitching up a gooseneck, I should be Alzheimer’s free for decades. 

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Apr 032020

By Patty Wilber

This Placitas Mustang cutie looked pretty Spanish, and I own one actual Spanish Barb, so I convinced his owner, Mary Ann, to go for Spanish Barb registration.

Sombra, Placitas Mustang.

So, we measured him and took pictures and Mary Ann sent money. They thought he looked fairly Spanish!  They asked for more pictures and a DNA test. 

His DNA came back grouped with the Mountain Pleasure Horses.  Bummer, we thought.

But, no!  Those are Spanish!

Cool!  More pictures requested.  A long time passed, and after all that…

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Mar 272020

By Patty Wilber

Well!  I went to Clovis and had a nice time working cows with Clay (Hight Performance Horses) (from a safe social distance).  Lucy tore it up in our boxing on Day One (Clay was pretty excited for us!!) and then… we struggled with our driving on Day Two.  But, I have a plan using the flag and being more consistent with my leg cues: Inside leg to pass and stop the cow; outside leg to get in position and drive. Lucy is smart.  She will figure this out, quick.

Mariah’s young mare, Fancy, came with us.  She has about 18 rides with me and can open and shut a gate and go over the bridge.  She is walk-trot-loping in the round pen and on the trail, and starting to get that in the unfenced arena, which is somehow harder for her.   I am going to get video of her this weekend (because she might be for sale!). She is super cute, just saying!

Fuzzy because my camera does not do well in low light. Also this pic is at my house, not in Clovis, but it does show how cute Ms. Fancy is!

H had month of lighter work with Clay but he is still dialled in when a cow shows up.  His intensity on cows reminds me of LT, which is very exciting.  On the other hand, when he is done working, he comes back down and can stand still, which is like Lucy.  That is a relief. I am super duper duper super excited to have him home. He and I get along pretty darn well!

Just look at that face! The boy is home!

I brought my camper to Clovis to avoid staying in any of the cheap (= rather low end) hotels and it was cold out (43F Saturday afternoon) with a sort of freezing mist later, so I was seriously bummed when I thought I had run out of propane and would be spending the night under all the blankets and sleeping bags eating a cold dinner! And no morning coffee.  I mean, I was feeling low.

Fortunately, it was just a minor heater glitch and I had ended up having lovely heat and a functional stove. Luxury, I tell you, luxury.

I made it home, and while H and Lucy were best buds before he left, old H lost some social skills while he was away living in a pen by himself.  He was a little too aggressive with Lucy (he didn’t mess with LT).  To help him regain his manners, he is going to have to live with Penny for a bit.  “NO. u cannot stand there.  u must stand over in that corner.  changed my mind.  go stand on the other side.  DON’T look at me unless i give permission.  NO.  this is MY hay.” etc.  He was looking pretty chagrined when I let him in another pen to feed him some grain Thursday evening! So sad. Not.

Since being home home, I have spend most days from about 7am to about 3pm and 8 to bedtime (10? 11? 12?) glued to my computer continuing to convert my three in-person college classes to online classes due to the new COVID-19 Stay-at-Home policy we have in NM (went to Clovis just in time!), as well as keeping up with the other three classes that were already on line. Fun, but time consuming!!

I have had learned how to give an online lecture, using my little laptop, to a whole class, via a program called Collaborate Ultra.  I learned how to break said class into smaller work groups!  I have got my Microbio lab students started on their unknown microbe identification project in a virtual environment! 

The first set of “incubated” plates have come out of the computer!

They “inoculated” three of these four “plates”!


And after “incubation” stuff “grew”!! Now they get to “do” further tests to identify what grew!!

 It is very exciting!!

I have had some help, as well.

Rena says: “right here is where that bacteria is making the ATP! it is totally obvious. i do not know why they didn’t get that!”

And here is another fuzzy picture, of Thursday’s sunset.

I am thankful to live in this big state with a relatively small population, and to live out of town.  Be safe everyone, stock up on Tylenol or Motrin and wash your hands!

Mar 192020

By Patty Wilber

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I spend most of this week, morning, noon and late, late nights, parked in front of my computer working (remotely–the college shut down due to COVID-19) figuring out creative ways to keep our Microbiology Lab course running while maintaining the integrity of the course.  We created a very good online midterm exam and have figured out how to do our unknown project in a virtual way without sacrificing the logic and creative thinking the students need to employ.  Getting all the parts pulled together took, and still will take, a good many more hours, but the framework and teamwork are there!

My other two classes that need to be converted are not as tricky–I already have an online version for one, and the other is just a matter of reframing existing lecture material and borrowing prepared materials from my generous co-workers–still time consuming, but straight forward.

I got those horses ridden, too. It is pretty nice to be able to ride out and still be “safe at home”.

Thursday was a windy, snow spitting day, and not very inviting for outdoor activity.  Still, after eight hours in a chair in front of a screen, I was getting pretty desperate to breathe fresh air, so I bundled up, and as I went out the door, I kid you not, the wind quit. What a gift!

I took a long trail ride on Lucy and good trail ride on Birdie, too.

In the canyon behind the house with Lucy. This doesn’t suck.

We have 35 COVID cases in NM, so either today (Friday) or tomorrow, I am driving to Clovis  (where there are none) to pick up H, before travel is further restricted. He was slated to come home now, anyway, as well, because originally we had a show the first weekend in April.  Which is cancelled, of course.

It will be pretty easy to maintain social distancing–staying in my camper, not a hotel, bringing all my own food, and using the outdoor pumps for fuel. 

I am looking forward to showing, and trail work later this year when the viral infections wane.

Stay safe everyone, and wash those hands.