(If you missed the post above this, Saving Benjy, By Doranna, I encourage you to get a tissue and have a read.)
We have had a decent snow pack and a wet spring, so far!
The runoff on the Rio Grande (do not say Rio Grande River–it’s redundant) and its major tributaries (the Chama and the Pecos rivers) is over 100% of the 30 year running average and is the highest since 2005!
In startling contrast, runoff on the Pecos last year was a whopping ZERO% of average.
The Drought Monitor shows a much damper picture this year as well.
Last Monday, we returned from our hunting trip in the Carson National Forest in the Cruces Basin Wilderness. Indy and Cometa went on that. It was Indy’s first hunting trip and because she had Cometa, our old and very level-headed Spanish Barb as her companion, she really did well. I have considered selling her, since she is currently relegated to a walk-trot horse due to her bone chip, but, well, not yet.
The habitat consists of meadows, some big like in the picture below. and some small. The trees are mostly aspen and spruce. The aspen was turning and the gold leaves are so stunning!
Last Friday, Mary Ann Ende and I went to the Santa Fe National Forest in the Pecos Wilderness to get trash, already bagged by other trail volunteers, from an abandoned camp near Stewart Lake.
Jim had an elk tag and I have a license that I can use for grouse, so we took Indy and Cometa and went to the Cruces Basin to try our luck. This year it was Camp Wilberry and not Camp Kingsbury and we did miss the camaraderie and amenities of the amazing Camp Kingsbury!
On Friday, we loaded up, left our place, and after four hours of travel, arrived at the last turnoff to the trailhead. There we discovered that the door to the camper had popped open, probably somewhere on the 25 miles of dirt road we had just driven, and virtually all our food, wine that we had put in metal water bottles, our brand new Jet Boil stove, our water purified and my very best milk crate from my days as a wildlife major at Humboldt State University had ejected out the back.
We were so hosed.
Well, when life gives you lemons you can give up or you can regroup. We turned around, drove an hour back out and went first to Tres Piedras (no food store) and then the other way into Antonito in Colorado to restock. We even found a small stove, but the store did not have the proper fuel canisters for the model they stocked…
We finally made the trailhead by 5:30 pm. Indy and Cometa had a fine bonding experience, but they were ready to get out of the trailer! They stayed overnight tied to the trailer that was hooked to the truck and they did not wiggle or mess with each other.
We were ready to drink the new bottle of wine we bought.
On Sunday, we did drill team at 4 Winds Equestrian Center. We are getting better! And it is fun.
Atti was supposed to participate, but we got there and she said, “omg! there are horses everywhere! i do not know any of them. i don’t think they like me!”
She really couldn’t settle down in a short time frame, so, she got tied up until after drill team and then I rode her around and let her check everything out. She is getting really good in places she is familiar with, but needs more experience handling new places! I think we will have enough time to get her comfortable at the venue of our show this weekend in Colorado!
My new colt start, Kodak, came along for the ride. She stayed in a pen and it was a big day for her!
Kodak saddled for the first time at my place. She is a little flighty, but based on her trailer loading–first time in gale force winds, worked on it two days later, and has done two more trips, getting right in like an old pro each time, I think she is pretty trainable. Plus, she loves to be petted, and drops her head and relaxes right into it so I expect her to settle down really well.
Monday, I went to the Manzanos with my friend Mary Ann, and my horse, Penny.
Penny is my easiest trail horse. No fuss, no muss, mostly.
We want to get a few rides in before the imminent forest closures due to the dry dry conditions we are once again experiencing in New Mexico.
The Manzanos are in Severe Drought, but the main springs are still running and we found a new wet spot in a little canyon that heads west just at the start of the Cerro Blanco trail.
Then we rode on up Cerro Blanco and went south on the newly cleared section of the Crest Trail. Wow. How nice to have a trail de-brushed so well, and Back Country Horsemen did not do it. The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps did! The Crest Trail is at about 9,000 feet and the views are really expansive!
Tuesday, I worked cows with Atti and LT. I thought last week was a little better, but it sure is fun. Kodak got to stand and watch. She started off a bit upset but really settled in well and was very patient
I also looked at roan palomino yearling Quarter Horse filly. I am looking for a versatility ranch horse prospect, since Indy is out of the running. This girl is cute and based on my little video clip is looking like she will STOP!
Wednesday, I looked at a Smart Lena Boon yearling. He was super friendly, but not quite what I am looking for.
I am not exactly sure what I am looking for, but I think I will know when I see it. I am looking forward to a seeing some video of two 2 yr olds from Sunset Stock Horses in Canada. I had a horse from that program (Ali–All Round Sundown) that I trained for Whispering Spirit Ranch. She placed at the world level in jr reining, jr trail (not ranch trail–regular trail) and we won a national championship in jr. western riding. She was one of the easiest horses I have ever trained and I had 2018 or 2019 on my radar to look for a prospect from there, regardless of Indy’s status.
Thursday, I gave a lesson, rode Atti, thinking about our show adventure, (going to go well!), GOT ON KODAK, got my hair done, ponied LT off Indy on a nice trail ride and then worked with LT in the round pen. Since she is back on the show docket, she is getting developmental exercises again. She looks so effortless when she moves! I rode in a halter so I would concentrate on leg cues rather than rein cues. Have some work to do there…
Back to Kodak. She has been with me for eight days and gets more settled each day. Day 2 she spooked really hard, tore across her pen and jumped out. That pretty much sums up her emotional state then. Today, I sat (lightly) on her and mounted from both sides. She is really taking to the program!
Then I drove Atti to Belen, and we are leaving for Colorado in the morning!! Who hoo!
It was a fun week and it should be a fine weekend as well! But we could sure use rain!
We had to take the screens off the BAT so Atti would not eat them on the trip. I borrowed a fly mask and we managed to tear that instead, so a new one is on order for Siri–cheaper than a new screen for the trailer!
From last week: an astute epidemiologist and a disease ecologist that read the blog noted that since horses are dead end hosts for West Nile Virus, they cannot reinfect mosquitoes. Only birds can do that. Thus, vaccinating horses doesn’t create herd immunity for this disease; vaccination protects your animal but does not decrease transmission to other horses. The herd immunity concept does apply for many other diseases. For West Nile, I guess we need flock immunity!
Because it has been so warm and dry, The Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen were able to complete our first project of the year, a month earlier than usual.
We had a LOT of participation and we able to tackle Box Trail with one group while another group worked on Spruce Trail up to the snow and then Red Canyon as well. All the trails had trees. Lots of trees.
The Box Crew started at Red Canyon. Box Trail is the one mile link from the campground to Ox Canyon Trail.
This year we have started a mentorship program for new members and we billed Box as a fine introduction to BCH. Not steep, not rocky and no water crossings this year since it has been so dry. We also figured it would have a lot of down trees since it goes through an old (2006? 2008? I forget) burn area (all burned trees must fall on the trail) and because we did not get to it last year.
The project matched our billing very well, except the down trees were all before the burn area. We kept busy clearing big trees and small trees at what seemed like 200 yards intervals. It was great practice for mounting, dismounting and having horses tied to trees for long stretches.
I took Penny, and she seemed to really enjoy sleeping during the numerous stops because when I would go get her to move on to the next down tree, she could barely wake up enough to unplant her feet! This was partly why I took her instead of any of the others–she is very relaxed on the trail!
I was listening to a Stuff You Should Know podcast called “The Wind Cries Typhoid Mary” and it mentioned the unsanitary conditions in New York City in the 1800’s. They estimated the number of horses, determined the amount of poop/horse/day to be about 25 pounds, and concluded that more than SIX MILLION pounds of manure were deposited on the city streets EVERY DAY!
I found an extension site that estimated horses create 37 lbs of feces and 2.4 gallons of urine per day!
That made me think about input vs. output. If a horse that is not gaining or losing weight eats 20 pounds of hay and drinks 5-10 gallons of water (at 8.35 lbs/gallon), the horse is taking in between 60 and 100 lbs of material and excreting 25-37 lbs of poo and 20 lbs of pee for a total of 45 -67 lbs. The maximum input doesn’t quite match the maximum output, but that could be balanced by loss of water mass through breathing, sweating and normal evaporation on the skin.
Right now we have six horses x about 20 lbs of food per day or 43,800 lbs per year. At 25 lbs of fecal output per horse per day x 365 days, we generate 54,750 lbs of manure each year. Or if we go with 37 lbs of manure per horse per day, 81,o30 lbs! Who needs a gym membership if you have horses!
So, what to do with all that waste?
First off, it has to to be picked up. We have dirt pens and use plastic manure forks. We do not have bedding to deal with.
Forks come with a handle and a head. The heads break. It is possible to buy replacement heads.
I recently bought two of this type of head from State Line Tack (6 bucks) and each one lasted approximately two days before snapping.
In December, Jim and I went hiking in the Ojito Wilderness. We accessed it via Cabezon Road and hiked the Hoodoo Trail (red dot and line) over by Bernalillito Mesa.
The hoodoos are surreal, like being in a different dimension, but as far as horseback riding, it is a short trail.
So, Tuesday, us ladies in our big trucks (cuz we might be AARP age, but we are formidable, especially in a group) went on US 550 3.5 miles past San Ysidro to the gray road on the map. We went in the green gate and parked right there. Then, we followed that gray road on horseback into the Ojito and saw a different side of it.
Well! I am finally a “real” hunter! I brought home two spruce grouse and I did it with two shots of Jim’s 20 ga shot gun. I am a fan of the 20 ga shot gun. It is light (under 5 pounds), thus easy to tote around the wilderness. Since I was shooting shot, which has a spray, I hit every time. I have not a clue about the “choke” on the gun and it is late already, so I am not going to try to figure it out, but the pictures below give an idea of the pattern the pellets make.
I got one from about 15 yards (on the ground) and on from about 25 yards (in a tree) and did not have a “shot” at an on-the-wing bird, for the trifecta. We had green chile grouse enchiladas Thursday pm and they were delicious. (Thanks Kay Coen for that cooking idea!)