Feb 082019

By Patty Wilber

I might have a few parts that are a bit on the worn side.

The soccerized knees. The shoulders that have been yanked by horses on the lunge line or that  have broken a fall or two.  The stiffening back.

Geez!  The creak of age!

As one gets older, muscles tend to change from the larger, bulker white fast-twitch muscle type II to red slow twitch fibers type I that are more suited to endurance.

In one study of pectoral muscle in women, after age 40, the the fast (type II) muscles decreased in size, but not number.  After 60, there were significantly fewer type II fibers. Those fibers are associated with bursts of strength.

Total volume of type I muscle fibers did not change with age.  However, those red fibers were fewer in number, but larger.

As one gets older, sometimes people stop moving various parts and those parts get stiffer and stiffer.

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Feb 012019

By Patty Wilber

Atti is going to show in all the ranch horse events* again this year, including Ranch Conformation, as well as Junior Working Cow Horse where she might just surprise some people. Or not.  That remains to be seen.

Perhaps weirdly, the class I have the hardest time preparing for is Ranch Conformation, where the horse just needs to lead around at a walk and trot and then stand “square” and stand still.

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Jan 252019

By Patty Wilber

I drove home from the college on Tuesday hoping that the “less than 0.1 inches of snow” was the correct forecast for our place and found we had about 3 or 4 inches and it was still snowing.

So much for my grand plan to ride four horses in my previously perfect arena.

It wasn’t that cold though, and it wasn’t windy, so as soon as the snow quit (around 4 pm), I headed out.

The sun was trying to come through and the lighting was so pretty, I took a few pictures before going to the arena with Atti in the hopes of exposing some sand!

Durango, Ellie and Indy.

View to the south.

She was so full of herself I decided to lunge her, which I never do!  She let off some steam and as a side benefit, churned up some sand, which will help the arena melt off.

This really started out to be a picture of the barn roof, but it was too far away. I included it because you can see the tracks in the arena that tomorrow, with sun, will help the arena melt off!

I tried working on Atti’s flying lead changes (because her snow rims kept her feet clear!), but my snow boots are too bulky for spurs, so we did transitions instead and then went out on the trail.

The snow on the barn roof was just so interesting!

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Jan 182019

By Patty Wilber

I am not a Lady Long Rider, and after 2.5 minutes of consideration, I don’t want to be one, either.

But, I sure enjoyed Bernice Ende’s Lady Long Rider book tour talk, and had the added luck of lunch with her and her sister (my dear friend Mary Ann) last week. Click the above link go to her website!

Last year, I bought one of Bernice’s old Tucker saddles with 10,000+ Bernice miles on it, so I have a little piece of Lady Long Rider History right in my tack room. I have a greater appreciation for the stories the saddle experienced after spending some time with Bernice!

The saddle fits Penny and Indy pretty well, and I like it for them for Back Country Horsemen projects.

This year, I bought Bernice’s book (less costly than a saddle), and I think it is a book that anyone who has ridden a trail would enjoy.  Click here to order and sign up for blog alerts.

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Jan 112019

By Patty Wilber

Last week I mentioned that we put snow rims on Durango.

This week I am here to tell you that I like them.

I only put the rims on the front feet as the hind feet seem way less prone to ball up.  This may have something to do with the weight distribution as the horse moves and is probably the same reason why some horses can do well with only front shoes on.

The snow rims have worked all week to keep Durango’s feet clear of snow while I have had to chip snow balls out of the hooves of some of the others after riding.

Durango’s feet after riding in the snow! It is kind of hard to see the structure of the snow rim.  The the inner black tube is it. It flexes when the horse walks and pops the snow out.

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Dec 072018

By Patty Wilber

We have had a week of wintery weather, with more on the way. This is good news for our drought stricken state of affairs, which, surprising to me, is actually quite a bit worse right now, as compared to a year ago

All this cold and snow, however, is not so great for outdoor horse training, especially since it had been in the 40’s and 50’s up to now.

I am quite happy to be outside for hours if it is 25 F and sunny, but 15 F? at 9 am?  I just need another cup of coffee.

Monday 12/3/18. There is a ridge to the east of us, so the sun hasn’t quite made it to us yet. It was  15F. Looking west.

Later on Monday. Getting better, but by the time it reached 25 F, it was after 11 am, so not really enough time to get anything done before I had to head to town to teach one of my last microbio labs of the term.

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Nov 302018

By Patty Wilber

Based on advice in a Jack Brainard book (If I Were to Train a Horse, I think), I often use a running martingale when starting colts. It can give a little more leverage in order to prevent a wreck while a youngster is still learning how to respond to a bit, but doesn’t interfere with natural head carriage when all is going well.

The loop goes around the horse’s neck, the clip attaches to the cinch, and the reins go through the rings.

However, I have experienced a few glitches and came up with two very innovative (cough) ways to increase safety when using this tool.


Ellie, a three-year old filly owned by Judith Huchton modelling rein stoppers and the neck piece of the martingale tied to the saddle. She has eight rides, has been out on the trail and is just beginning to lope–both leads. She is a very sweet mare, (so far).

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Nov 162018

By Patty Wilber

It is getting late in the trail work season, but the forecast for last weekend was looking good, so we put together one last Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen trail project for the Manzanos.

We were scheduled to have seven riders but lameness (in a horse) and a dead battery took out four, leaving just Jim, Mary Ann and me.

It was a good thing we picked last weekend, because Monday, a storm came in and now there is snow!

View from my house, at 6800 feet. The trails we clear in the Manzano Mountains, 50 miles south, go up to 9,000+ feet, so the snow is probably going to stay on the ground there rather than melting. There were already some small patches last weekend.

We cleared a big log a few weeks ago, and the trails were clear, but then we got reports that there were a lot of down branches on the Albuquerque Trail-Mosca-Crest-Cerro Blanco-4th of July loop. (This is a pretty cool map and it even shows the horse bypass on Cerro Blanco that BCH put in around 10 years ago. Or more.  Time flies.)

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Nov 092018

By Patty Wilber

I have trained five horses that I showed at the World level and every one of them placed (hunter hack, yearling lunge line, trail, reining, working cow horse, western riding). Three of them (Ali, LT, Buckshot) won national or world titles.  None of them, including the stallion, lived in a stall, none of them lived alone, and they were slightly hairier than typical World competitors, despite my concession to slick-haired convention (I blanketed them, because they didn’t live in a heated barn or under lights).

Indy, Penny, Cometa. Happier together.

Maybe I should change my business name to Bunny Hugger Stables, but I think that, despite the inherent risks of housing horses outside, in large pens, in groups, the mental health benefits are huge.

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Nov 022018

By Patty Wilber

I went to Golden Open Space last Friday with four friends.  There was water in the arroyo that is normally dry and we had some gold cottonwoods–which were not the source of the name!

The water.  We got nearly two inches of rain last week, which seems like a huge amount here considering that our annual precipitation is around 16 inches at my place and only 8 inches in Albuquerque. The amount that we had actually caused live water to be running down the arroyos at the open space.  If you live in a wet area, this excitement may seem ludicrous, but to use desert rats, any running water is a thing.  A big thing!

Siri on Tabooli riding along WATER!

I know our 2 inches was a mere dribble compared to the hurricane drenched states where 30 to 50 inches fell in a matter of days.  If that happened here, all the houses might literally wash away.  Our soil just could not handle it.

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