Jul 012018

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  If you missed any of the past Chapters, the links are all here. Thanks for reading!

CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12


Callie approached the chestnut mare, walking in what she hoped appeared to be a confident manner while speaking in a low, even voice. The mare walked away and tossed her head, but Callie kept coming, steady and persistent.  In a few minutes the coppery horse faced her and stood still. Callie half expected Flower to leap away as she approached to slip the halter on, but the mare stood quietly.  Callie patted her neck and told Flower, “At least I will not put this halter on you upside down!”

Callie tugged on the lead rope, encouraging the horse and herself in the same quiet voice. The mare followed Callie, willingly, but her amber colored eyes were ringed with the white of mischief.  Callie stopped at the gate to scratch Cloud’s neck and explain that she would certainly brush him later, and probably ride him, too. Cloud nudged Callie’s arm with his whiskery nose and blinked his big eyes. Callie knew he understood, and patted him again.

The girl reached for the gate and was about to unlatch it when a sharp jerk nearly tore the lead line from her grasp. Callie half turned and saw the mare with her ears flat against her head. Her lips were pulled back to expose her hard white teeth. She lunged at Cloud, and he tried to swing his rump out of her reach, but her teeth touched his back,  just above the tail. They left a damp rumpled mark. Cloud squealed and humped his back, ready to kick the mare, but he’d been too well trained to strike out when a person was near. Instead, he whipped his wiry tail into Flower’s face, and trotted across the corral.

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Jun 292018

By Patty Wilber

Chapter 12 of Callie’s Star is posted.


Last week, I left the horses behind and went on a trip that included a tour of the San Juan-Chama Diversion Project.

First, we went to the Brazos Box Ranch.  I had my cattle there in 2011.  Me and Penny (the horse) had a very fine time being cow girls with all five of our mama cows (in a herd that belonged to my friends Peter and David). It was a blast. I have not had any bovines since, but it would be fun to try again. In the meantime, if any one needs some cattle help, you can try calling me (and Penny)!

My cows once grazed there!!

There is a lot of wildlife at the ranch and even though it is a very dry year and some of the streams that are usually running are dry, it is still a heck of a lot greener and cooler at 10,000 feet elevation than at 6800 feet at my house.


We saw elk, deer and pronghorn antelope.  Seeing them triggers what feels like an instinctive primitive response, making me think I should ditch modern life and go back to a more subsistence existence… as long as I can still have my Internet connection…wine…and a hot shower every few days. Ok, maybe I will just settle for stalking grouse while Jim hunts elk this fall.

Deer! Not a bad shot for an “aim in the general direction cuz I can’t see a thing” using my phone.

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Jun 272018

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  If you missed any of the past Chapters, the links are all here. Thanks for reading!

CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11


Callie didn’t know how long she lay there with visions of herself lying low over Cloud’s neck as they pounded after the shiny black shadow that danced ahead of them. The two of them were about to capture the elusive stallion for the first time in history. Callie could see Jeff and Luis standing near the corral trap with their mouths drooping in the dust, and she could hear the amazed comments of the other ranchers. “A girl,” they were saying, “That learned to ride just this summer, and she caught him all alone!”

Callie hugged her pillow tightly until she could feel the goose down feather shafts poking her cheek. “If only I could GO!” she said to the pillow, punching it once. She mashed her eyelids together, wishing she would fall asleep, so everything would fade away. Then when she awoke, perhaps she would find that it had all been a bad dream.

“Or not,” she muttered.

There was a tap on the door, and Callie tried to ignore it, but it came again, louder. “It’s me, Jeff,” said a low voice. “Can I come in?”

Callie rolled over and sat up, rubbing her eyes. “Yeah,” she said, with out much enthusiasm.

The door eased open and Jeff stepped in. His blue eyes were sparkling, and a grin hovered around the edges of his mouth, but his voice was solemn. “Dad wants you downstairs.”

“What for?”

Jeff shrugged and looked at the floor. The shadow of a grin threatened to break into reality.

Callie didn’t notice. Her thoughts were whirling like a dust devil, throwing ideas against the inside of her skull. “Do I get to go??? Don’t be stupid… But what does he want???”

Her thoughts tumbled over each other all the way to the kitchen door. She paused there and ordered her brain to be quiet. When she walked in, she wanted to at least appear calm.

Aunt Martha, sounding quite pleased with herself, said, “Have a seat.”

Nervousness made her legs feel like overcooked noodles and they could barely hold her up. Callie got to the nearest chair and sank onto its hard surface. Jeff stood in the doorway.

Nobody said a word for a full minute, and Callie nearly died right there, waiting. Finally, Uncle Bob spoke, and Callie heard his voice as if from a distance. “I know you really want to go on the round-up, Callie.” Callie swallowed and blinked hard, determined not to cry. “So I’ve talked it over with Jeff and Martha, and changed my mind. You can go.”

Callie looked back at Jeff. His smile was so wide that he looked like the Cheshire Cat. Then Callie looked at Aunt Martha, still unable to believe her ears. When Aunt Martha nodded ever so slightly, Callie sprang from the straight-backed chair, and hugged her uncle with the grip of a grizzly bear. “Thank-you! Thank-you! Thank-you!” she cried.

“Whoa, young lady,” said Uncle Bob, peeling her arms from around him. “There’s still a catch.”

Callie barely heard his words. She was floating on happiness.

“I meant what I said about lack of experience, Callie,” Uncle Bob continued, and the serious note in his voice made Callie come down to earth and listen. “You have to be ground crew, which means feeding and watering the horses, and maybe even helping the cook a little. You’ll ride there and back, but that is all.”

“That’s it?” said Callie, beginning to float again. So she didn’t get to actually round-up. She’d be there, part of the dust, the sweat, and the excitement. “Fine. Great. SUPERB!” she said, engulfing Uncle Bob in another tremendous squeeze.

Then she turned to her aunt and said, “Thank-you.” Their eyes met for a moment, and Aunt Martha reached across the table to touch Callie’s arm. Aunt Martha squeezed gently.

Inside Callie an ember of warmth she’d left untended ever since her last day in Chicago, rekindled itself.

Callie jumped up and looked for Jeff and his grin. He was leaning against the doorway smiling at the tips of his boots, and Callie started toward him.

“One more thing, Callie.” Uncle Bob’s voice halted her, and she turned to face him. “You won’t be able to take Cloud.”

Callie looked back at him, frozen in place. “He did make it to the ridge and back,” she said.

“We may need a spare horse, and Cloud just doesn’t have the speed of younger animal.”

Callie had to agree with Uncle Bob, remembering how quickly Jeff and Punkin had caught Cloud the day they raced from the pond, so, she gathered her disappointment into a knot, and held it in her clenched fist. She willed her voice to be even, and asked, “Which horse will I ride, then?” There were only two to choose from.

Aunt Martha said, “I am going to stay home this year and write. In peace and quiet, for once.”

Callie looked open-mouthed at her aunt who said, “Well, I would have been here if you’d stayed, anyway. So, you can ride Flower.”

“I thought she was spooky!” Callie blurted and her voice held a trembling note.  She kicked herself mentally. “But, I think I can manage,” she said quickly.

“Well, O.K., then!” said Uncle Bob. ”Now why don’t you two go down and check on your tired horses.”

“And drop off the lettuce scraps with the rabbits, O.K.?”, added Aunt Martha.

Chapter 13

Jun 212018

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  If you missed any of the past Chapters, the links are all here. Thanks for reading!

CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10


They were climbing up an east facing slope.  The sun had burned away any tiny droplets of dew that had condensed overnight.  The rays, bouncing back and forth among the red cliffs and boulders created a still heat that was oven-like. The dust kicked up by the horses hung in the air and climbed thickly into Callie’s nose. The plants gave off dry aromatic scents, as if offering their last precious oils in return for the sun’s mercy.

Callie was thankful she had grabbed a baseball cap off the hat rack before they’d left. She had taken the liner out of her helmet and put in the cap. The wide brim, pulled low onto her forehead, kept the sharpest rays out of her eyes, and shaded her nose. She touched the jug that hung on the saddle and wondered how long it would be until the water it contained boiled over like the radiator of an overheated car.

Ahead of her, Callie saw Jeff half hidden in the hot dust rising from the ground. He turned in his saddle. “The creek should be just around the comer,” he said. “We ought to stop there and let the horses rest and drink.”

Jake’s tongue lolled at the comer of his mouth and when he heard the word drink, he wagged his tail and ran it ran once around his silvery muzzle. He was a young dog and the heat didn’t seem to bother him much.

“I need a drink, too,” said Callie. Her sweat was evaporating as soon as it hit the air and the skin on her face felt like thin paper stretched across her cheekbones. “And look at Cloud.” She pointed to the sweat darkened patches on his hide. “It is like a desert out here.”

“It IS a desert out here,” Jeff pointed out. “High desert, but still.”

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Jun 202018

By Patty Wilber

Chapter 10 of Callie’s Star is posted.  Chapter 11 will post 6/21

Early Post as I am going out of the range of cell phone and electricity.  Who hoo!

Over Memorial Day weekend, Penny ripped her nose on something overnight while we were on a Back Country Horsemen project.


She was in a pen with smooth wire on one side and electric on the other three.  She was with Indy and Cometa, who she lives with at home, but I swear Penny causes or gets in trouble when we travel, so from now on, she will be highlined in her own private section (because she has become grumpy with her neighbors and caused highline drama in the past). I guess she caught it on a splice on the smooth wire fence.

Anyway, instead of heading out with the crew, we loaded her up and went to Pecos. Fortunately the vet was open and $350 later, she was fixed up. Good thing we had a big halter we could fit above the gash!

“i think this will be better than just letting the flap fall off,” says Penny. “even if it is only a flesh wound.”

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Jun 182018

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  If you missed any of the past Chapters, the links are all here. Thanks for reading!

CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9


Callie shivered with excitement. Today was the ride to the ridge, and only one week until her birthday, AND then the round-up.  The round-up had come up, but her going had not, and she hadn’t summoned enough courage to ask. Maybe tonight, but first, the Ride to The Ridge, capitalized, in her mind.

She felt like an explorer at the start of an important expedition. Perhaps they would discover the Outlaw in a secret valley!

Callie pulled a blue plaid shirt out of the closet and went to the old oak dresser to get a pair of jeans. She paused to study the picture of the mare and colt on the dresser and then the one on the wall. Hers was a little more worn. She used to run her finger over the horses, as if she were grooming them. Her mother saw her one evening and Callie had said, “I wish they were mine!”

Her mother had said, “There is no place to keep them, and horse pictures are much safer.”

“One day,“ Callie had declared, “I will have my own!”

“Just be careful.”  Her mother had replied.

“I will,” said Callie, out loud, back to the present. “I have been.” She reached out and touched picture then snapped the white pearled buttons on her blue plaid shirt and stepped into her jeans.

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Jun 152018

By Patty Wilber

Two shows in one week!  One in Oklahoma!

Jordyn and Slick getting ready for AQHA Youth Ranch Versatility Trail in green (and really humid and awfully hot) Oklahoma.

We had an New Mexico Appaloosa Club Appaloosa and All Breed show over the weekend, and Judith Huchtons’s Atti (She Has Attitude) took a long while to adjust to the new venue.  I have boot scabs from where my boot rubbed my left calf during the extensive settling in period to prove it, and I think I was more worn out that she was.  But, she got there and we had a really nice go in Junior Trail, earning 1.5 national points.

On Sunday, I had hoped she would be more relaxed, but she was refreshed and while she did complete all her pattern classes correctly and without refusing (improvement from Colorado!), I did not have the softness of Saturday.  Also, she was the only junior Appaloosa entered, so we did not get any points, but we had fun riding with the quarter horses: Natalie and her amazing gelding and Taylor and her two youngsters.

Next year, I will hopefully have two junior Appaloosa mares (Lucy-my new 2-yr old–coming SOON from Canada, and Atti) so they can compete against each other in most of the ranch classes!


Lucy (Qwhizenart)

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Jun 082018

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site! Chapter 8 was published earlier this week.  If you missed any of the Chapters, the links are all here. Thanks for reading!

CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8


They’d been at the pond for over two hours, and Callie was lying on her back, looking up at the ridge that formed the backdrop of Ridge Pasture and the Rocking W Ranch. “I’d like to ride up there,” she said.

“It’s a great ride,” said Luis, looking at Jeff. “We went up there once last summer.”

Jeff nodded in agreement and his eyes lit up. “Let’s see if we can go a week from tomorrow,” he said. “It’d take all day, but it’d be fun.”

“Yeah,” said Callie, looking first at Luis, and then at Jose. They both nodded. “We’d have to start at daybreak,” said Jeff, “And bring lunches.”

“And agua,” added Luis. “There is only one stream that crosses the trail.”

“Sometimes when it’s hot like it’s been this summer, that creek dries up,” Jose said. “Almost like a desert, it’s so dry….and hot.” He dragged his hand across his forehead, smearing off imaginary sweat. He fell to his knees. “Aqua,” he said. “Necesito aqua.” He was on his stomach now, stretching for the fictitious liquid that was just out of reach.

“Oh cut it out, Jose,” said Luis, prodding his dark-haired little brother with his bare toe.

“Oww!” said Jose. “O.K., O.K., already.” He got to his feet and brushed the dust off his chest, and jumped into the pond. Callie and Jeff sailed in after him.

“You know,” said Luis from the bank, “After the ridge ride, if we get to go, there’s only a few weeks until we have to bring in a few mustangs! The Forest Service called Dad last night.  The herd is getting too big again, and we need to bring some in for adoption.”

“That was a blast last year! I can’t wait to see the new foals,” said Jeff, climbing up onto Cloud’s ready-made, diving platform rump. He cannonballed in, making a water crater and sending water spraying like rain. He came up shaking his sun-streaked hair, so that it flipped off his forehead and out of his eyes. “This’ll be my second round-up!” he said proudly.

“Mine too,” said Luis from the bank.

“My zero,” said twelve-year-old Jose, with such a forlorn air that they all began to laugh. Even Cloud turned his head toward them and flicked his ears back and forth. Jake barked, ran along the bank, and then jumped in the water. He swam straight for Jose, licked him once in the face and headed for shore.

“Federal Mustang Service rules.  You have to be thirteen,” said Luis, trying to stop laughing at Jake long enough to use his best big brotherly voice, “Then you’ll get to go.”

“Thirteen,” thought Callie. “I’ll be thirteen in two weeks! That means…” She could hardly let herself think the words. I’ll be able to GO!”

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Jun 052018

CALLIE’S STAR By Patty Wilber

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7


Callie awoke while the sky was still streaked with pale pink and yellow streamers. She hoped to enjoy the quiet solitude of the dawn alone. Mornings were her favorite time, and she wanted to ride to the overlook where she had first spotted the Outlaw. Callie always felt strangely happy when she was up there, looking into the little valley. One morning she caught a glimpse of the stallion, black and shining silk in the soft early light. Her breath had knotted in her throat, and his beauty and freedom filled her mind until there was room for nothing else.


She turned toward the voice.  It was Uncle Bob.

“I was just coming to wake you, but you’re already dressed!”He reached out to touch Callie’s horse picture that matched the picture on the wall.

“This picture was a favorite of your mother’s,” he said.

“Was that hers on the wall?” Callie asked.

Uncle Bob looked up at that one with surprise, and back to the one on the dresser and said, “Yes. Is this one yours?’

Callie nodded.  “I found it in…in a… store we used to go to.” She didn’t want to say, “the Goodwill we used to go to.”  Aunt Martha and Uncle Bob donated to Goodwill.  They didn’t shop there. “Mom didn’t tell me she used to have one just like it.”

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Jun 012018

By Patty Wilber

Callie’s Star, Chapter 7 is posted!

So, for the last 10 years I have been wanting to buy a horse related to this horse: All Round Sundown, Ali. Ali was bred by Connie Hunter at Sunset Stock Horses in Alberta Canada, and owned at the time I trained her by Cheryl Pozzi at Whispering Spirit Ranch. Her sire was All ‘Round Texas. Yes, he’s Canadian.

Perhaps my memory is faulty after all this time, but in my mind, she was one of the easiest horses I have ever trained.  She won a shaggy show trail class, walk, trot, lope, after 50 rides.  That’s about 2.5 months of training. She figured out lead changes, in ONE DAY, and basically never missed a lead change again.  We won an Appaloosa National Championship in Jr. Western Riding.  That was my first really big show, so I was living a dream!  At the World show, she was top ten in Jr. trail, top 5 in Jr. reining and top 5 in Jr. Western Riding.

Plus, she was easy to get along with at the barn and good in the backcountry.

So, a couple years ago, I told Connie that I was going to be wanting a Texas baby, cowy, please, and could she keep that in mind for 2018 or 2019? I meant it, but was not sure that could really come to fruition.

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