Ch 17 of Callie’s Star is languishing, but not forgotten.
We are still very dry in New Mexico, but we have gotten some
monsoonal rains, humidity is no longer in the single digits, the forests reopened, and so Back Country Horsemen got go to work!
We packed a trail crew into Horse Thief meadow.
I was planning to take Atti and let her be a big girl pony horse, but she pulled a shoe, so I took Penny.
Good thing, because we had a loose mule come barreling at us on a steep and narrow section of the trail, and while Penny didn’t love it, she didn’t come unglued, either. Atti might have been ok, but that would have been a lot to ask of a three-year old.
“this wasn’t my fault,” says Leo. “i was tired. i needed a rest. and then everyone wanted me to go, and i just went the wrong way. a little fast.”
The sweet, warm smell of strawberry waffles wafted into Callie’s room and seeped into her sleep. She dreamt she heard her mother’s cheerful voice calling her to breakfast.
Every birthday since she could remember Callie had awakened to this delicious smell. Callie followed the sweetness down a very long hallway, with lots of doors. The hallway wasn’t straight and Callie wondered if she would ever reach the kitchen.
Suddenly, she was there.
The bright blue candle, surrounded by the red of the strawberries, was burning brightly from the center of the stacked waffles and a cloud of whipped cream graced the edges. Her mother stood at the end of the table, near a flat package wrapped in gold paper and tied with a deep green ribbon. Callie sat down at the table, but before she could eat, her mother moved her plate and made her open the package. Callie carefully untied the ribbon and put it on her head. Her mother laughed. Callie untaped the gold paper and before her lay a beautiful wooden picture frame, but inside, instead of a painting or photograph, there was a wide sheet of clean white paper.
Callie stared at it for a minute and then her mother said, “I hope you like it. I have to go now.” She walked to the doorway and she began to fade at the edges like a watercolor painting. She paused on the threshold and said, “I love you, Callie,” and then she simply vanished.
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.
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.”
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.
This blog is largely a rerun of last year’s May post on Indy’s color, until the last two pictures.
“The expression of Leopard Complex (LP gene) includes several components: mottled skin around the muzzle, anus, genitalia, and eyes, and progressive roaning of pigmented coat areas with age. (My underlining.) White spotting may also be present, with pigmented leopard spots tending to occur on the white spotting background of heterozygous horses. The mutation is an incomplete dominant and expression of Leopard Complex is variable ranging from absent to extreme white patterning.” (UC Davis genetic testing site.)
Indy has an Appaloosa with spots father and a quarter horse mother. When I bought her, I didn’t look too closely (because color wasn’t why I bought her), and I didn’t think she had inherited any Appaloosa color genes from her father. Her mom being a solid colored quarter horse, didn’t have any Appaloosa genes to donate!
Indy at about nine months old. Dark bay, Dec. 2014.
But then she shed her winter coat and became a roan! Thus, she did get one copy of the LP gene–from her dad!! One copy is fun–a horse of a different color every season and every year! I happy with only one LP gene copy though. Horses with two copies of the LP gene may have “Congenital Stationary Night Blindness (CSNB) which is the inability to see in low to no-light conditions.” (UC Davis genetic testing site.)
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!
The first thing Callie saw when her eyes struggled open was a picture on the wall. It was her picture. Her very favorite picture. A bright bay mare had her muzzle buried in deep green grass, and her mini-me bay foal lay sleeping nearby in a patch of bright yellow and pink flowers. Callie rubbed her eyes and blinked.
A dog barked, and the unfamiliar tang of dry air and juniper filled her nose from the open window. She remembered where she was. She untangled herself from the sheet, and went to her suitcase. Tucked between two sweatshirts was her picture. A perfect match to the one on the wall. She stood hers on the dresser and hugged her arms around herself. Her stomach responded and let out a tremendous rumble.