Oct 302020

By Patty Wilber

Mary Ann E., with unerring insight, wanted, before it got too late, to gallop around Hamilton Mesa in the Pecos Wilderness (like we did last year).

We went last Friday, and not a moment too soon, because the temperatures crashed and we got a lot of snow early this week!

The wild rose bushes were shutting down (the leaves are red, indicating degradation of the normal photosynthetic pigments), but I don’t think they were quite prepared!

LT loves to gallop, but she is busy freezing her heinie off in CO, so I took Lucy. Lucy was maybe not as keen on full out galloping and maybe really not as keen on leading while galloping, but I will give her B+/ A- for the day! 

We left from Walmart around 7am.  I left my truck trailer there and loaded Lucy in with Rosebud. My rig did not go unnoticed–two friends texted me pics when they went to Walmart!! Don’t mess with my stuff–I got people!

It was a lovely clear morning until we neared the town of Pecos where it looked like this! 

Fortunately, it was just some odd ball fog and we drove on up, up and out of it!

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Oct 222020

By Patty Wilber

These colors can be a bit confusing and for some reason have been on my mind, so this is what came out of my keyboard this week!

Gray vs. Roan.  Here are some quick tips to tell them apart.

  • Grays have lighter faces and white comes in early in the tail and mane. Over time, grays turn white or “flea bitten” gray.
  • Roans have dark faces and their manes and tails do not gain white. Roans do not get progressively whiter with age.
  • Varnish Roans are a color that is common in Appaloosas and they get lighter over time like grays, but tend to have darker face especially on the cheek bones and noses. As they lighten, the do retain more color on their faces, legs, ears, flanks, shoulders and hip points, whereas a standard gray gets lighter all over and a roan does not fade over time. Also varnish roans often have mottled skin and white sclera (white around the eyes) characteristic of Appaloosa color.

All three colors are due to different modifying genes.

Test yourself!

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Oct 162020

By Patty Wilber

It wouldn’t be fall without Elk Season in the Cruces Basin with the ever amazing Kingsbury hospitality.

This year, they hosted 11 humans and 13 equines at the unparalleled Hotel Kingsbury.

The site!

The hotel!

Amber and two mules, and me on Penny, Lucy packing. We are doing our share of moving material to and from camp!

Last year, Jim had a late season rifle tag and it was just Jim, Richard and me.  It was so cold while hunting that my water froze in my camel back hose!  This time, the weather was outstanding on every day but  Windy Sunday! And even Windy Sunday was not very cold. I mean, I was never tempted to put on my heavy gloves!

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Oct 072020

By Patty Wilber

The sun was just suffusing the sky with light when two cow elk stepped out of the golden-leaved aspen grove into the meadow above the East Tank.  They were 300 yards away and didn’t hear us.  The little herd of cattle did.  They skittered and plowed across the landscape with no grace and lots of noise.  For some reason the elk glanced up and then ignored the cows.

Those two elk moseyed across the meadow: graze, pause, look, walk, out of our range.

As we watched, two more appeared from the forest, but instead of heading across, they stopped to snack.  We crept one step at time, from tree to tree, until Richard, who had the only cow elk tag, moved ahead. Jim and I breathed slowly and held still.  The aspens we were in were sparse enough that we still had a good view.

The first two elk melted away into the trees on the far side of the meadow and the newest two, wary now, heads up and looking away from our position, circled in a high trot.  We thought they were going to leave, but they settled and went back to breakfast.  Richard sighted in.

Only one elk disappeared into the trees.

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Oct 022020

By Patty Wilber

On Wednesday, we went back to retrieve empty water containers and some gear for the trail crew that was working on Pine Shadow Trail at the southern end of the Manzano Mountain.

We drove in on 131 from Manzano, and if you check the map, you can see the road has a big switchback.  That area  is one lane+ and has some wash boarding  on which I was happier in 4WD, but it was not necessary.

The trail head has ample parking for horse trailers and four large horse pens–two are missing gates and the gated two have large chollas in them, but other than that they are servicable.

There is a good size stock tank that is dry, so bring water. There are shaded picnic tables and an outhouse.

The trail crew re-established the trail up to the Crest Trail, they said.  We only rode it to their camp, which was within the Wilderness boundary but not too far in, so I cannot tell you the trail conditions after that point.  I can tell you that it was essentially impassable to stock prior to their work.

Penny and Cometa, “here we go again!”

On the way in. Me on Penny, Cometa packing. Photo by Terri Gore!

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Sep 252020

By Patty Wilber

Spruce Spring is up on Spruce trail out of the Red Canyon Trail Head in the Manzano Mountains. The Spring periodically gets a little help from the Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen.

In June 2017, (from my blog June is the Hottest Month) “The most interesting log we did was at Spruce Spring.  A dead aspen had fallen on the spring box and was stretched, in barkless recumbency, along the trail to the little water tank.  The tank was dry, but water was still pouring, clear and cold, out of the overflow of the spring box.

We were afraid the drain line to the storage tank had been broken by the tree, but when we cut the log and rolled it away, the hose at the little metal stock tank starting gushing water and the tank was full within minutes!  The tree had only pinched the line shut and as soon as the pressure was relieved, problem solved!”

In 2018, there was water in the spring box, but the inflow was so minimal that there was no outflow, and the stock tank was dryMary Ann and I tried to revive the flow into the spring box and had fun messing with it  (Spruce Spring in a Drought).

No luck.  We just had to wait for more moisture.

The spring ran fine in 2019.

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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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