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.

Continue reading »

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!

Continue reading »

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.

Continue reading »

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! 

Continue reading »

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.”

Continue reading »

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!

Continue reading »

Aug 212020

By Patty Wilber

So, as you may know, Judith and I have this three-year old named H, and he is a pretty cool dude.  So cool, in fact, that I think he could make money as an Open Reined Cow Horse, as well as excelling at all the Ranch Horse Events, and then going on to be an outstanding Non-Pro horse.

Me and H last October, H was barely started (26 rides) but went to a show anyway, and placed.

Because of my high opinion of H’s cow horse talents, and the fact that he is a co-owned prospect (as in we plan to sell him), we made the decision to send him to Cody Crow’s No Where But Up Performance Horses in Colorado.

Let’s face it, I can get H on cows once a week, at best, in a smallish arena, and yes, he is making progress, but Cody can have him on cows every day if he chooses, in a full size indoor, super size outdoor, a round pen or in a cutting pen. 

Plus, I like Cody’s philosophy and approach, and he is successful at the bigger venues where I believe H will shine.

After getting that choice made (and not lightly), the next step was to drive 500 miles with H and Lucy (who went so I could get some coaching on cows with her– I REALLY MISS having a nearby coach!!).

Got all my stuff together and pulled out Friday morning.  I noticed that the heat gauge on my truck was acting a little wonky right off the bat, but then it seemed to go back to behaving….so I kept driving, but when I got to the big hills on I25 just before Pecos, it was clear things were not working right. 

I stopped and assessed.  The radiator seemed ok– no leaking, normal fluid levels.  No mechanic shops were open, yet, but the Napa Auto Parts woman gave me some tips and a gas station guy did, also.  Finally, I called my mechanic at American Diesel, thinking maybe I had a faulty temperature sensor, and he said to bring it in and he would see if he could get me fixed up and on the road. I headed home.

Broken truck.  Making it to the border looking dim.

On the way back south, I called my friend Richard who was laying low due to an eye issue, so I figured I’d regale him with my tale of woe.  He listened and then out of the blue offered me their truck, so I said, “OK!”

Continue reading »

Jul 172020

By Patty Wilber

I got my brand renewal form, so I thought I better go buy some calves!

Got two!

I went with my friend Peter and we picked up four: two for me and two for him. 

Then, as we  hauled them over to the Tucker’s (as me and Tuckers are actually co-owners of “my” two), the fun started. 

I called Derek.  “We are on our way!  I  got one heifer and one bull.”

“You got a bull?”

“Um, yes…”


“Well, ok.  We will just cut him when you get here!”

Hang up.

Peter says, “He’s a steer.  He’s banded.”

Well, I feel stupid.  I didn’t see the rubber bands up there on the testicles (even though if you look they were pretty obvious).  The seller kept calling him a bull, so I just went with it.

Called back.  “He’s a steer.”

“Oh, good!”

So we arrive and Peter backs up to the pen to unload.  Out they come, and Derek calls for the heifer to be pushed into the squeeze chute so we can brand and vaccinate her.  In she goes….and right out the other side… then right out of the pen! Squeeze chute was not shut and the pen gate wasn’t, either! Oops!

We all just kind of watch in amazement for a minute!

Continue reading »

Jul 102020

By Patty Wilber

I rode with with my usual Friday group, and we now, after lo, these many years, have an official name: No, were are not “The Covid 5”.  We are “The Flat Stirrup Crew”. 

Yes, the stirrup was literally flattened! Siri says it gives a whole a new perspective on collapsible gear! Photos by Patty S.

We are not exactly sure how this occurred.  Either Siri’s horse laid down while no one was looking or he squashed it against the rather small tree to which he was tied at Pecos Baldy Lake.

Surely, I thought, we could fix it.  

The metal was unfortunately sturdy, even in the flattened state, so we resorted to the only tools we could find.  Rocks.

We hammered, and stuck rocks inside, and used rocks for leverage, and by golly…

We fixed it!

Continue reading »

Jul 022020

By Patty Wilber

So, the NM Quarter Horse show was just cancelled and Covid cases are spiking over a good part of the country.  I am expecting my next show (Paint Appy) will also be cancelled as it was to be the next weekend after the QH show, at the same venue.

Here in NM we are actually in pretty good shape Covid-wise (map) compared to some of our neighboring states. But the way things are going, I guess we should not be resting on our laurels or our hay bales. 

Green is good, Red is bad. Arizona is awfully red. My county is yellow, so that is something.

And another thing.  We need rain.  

We are falling into drought again. Bernalillo county is “only”, yes, yellow, abnormally dry. We have been red in other drought years (which lately seems like every other year).

As long as I am being a debbie downer, my sister, mom and nieces have been here every 4th of July, for like 10 years, and this year they are trapped in Covid Calif.   I am missing them!

But, at least I have an intern!

Jordyn is here for the summer, earning college credit working for me.  She was interested in colt starting, so perfect timing.  I am doing colt starts all over the place (which for me means I have had a colt start or two going this entire year: Coco, Fancy, Sombra, Birdie, Daytona, Simba, and now Black Jack).  Plus, I have the younger show horses (that never get to show due to Covid cancellations; Lucy and H) and the seasoned girls (Penny and LT).

I have never had anyone work with me before, and this is pure luxury!  

I get to lecture (ya know I like to lecture since I teach at a college!!) on what I like to do with each horse and why, and I get to order her around: “Now you can saddle so and so then rinse so and so and then clean out the horse trailer and then ride so and so.” I also had her give some lessons, film and ride in some of the virtual shows and have dragged her around to work cows, trail ride (on the scary stuff, just to give her good experience!) and judge (she volunteered for that one, and thank goodness–it was super helpful.)

It is great!

It is so much easier to get all the horses worked in a timely fashion and to get feedback and input on how the youngsters are responding to her!

Jordyn and her horse Slick in a virtual show, filmed here.

Unfortunately, she will have to go back to Colorado at the end of July for school at Colorado State.

If I win the lottery, I am planning to hire her full time when she graduates and expand the barn!

I could put up an indoor arena on the 30 acres, buy some cows, build a nice horsey playground etc. etc.!

In the meantime, I am taking Penny to the Pecos for a ride to Baldy Lake at the crack of dawn.

So, Happy Thursday night.