Nov 172017
 

By Patty Wilber

There is a real danger of over kill (uh, well, maybe that is a bad choice of words for this topic) when it comes to safety recommendations for riding in the backcountry. It is impossible to be prepared for every possibility, so the trick is to be reasonably well outfitted without having to take the kitchen sink and the inflatable helicopter.

At the end of a 20 mile ride!

Here are some ideas.

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Nov 102017
 

By Patty Wilber

Riding high country trails is a goal of many riders.  I understand that goal because it sure is fun to be way out there on a good horse.  “Way out there” can mean far from help, also, so here are some things to think about (in the form of a checklist) when considering a back country ride. Understanding what you are up for can help you pick when and where to ride.

I can hike backcountry terrain at elevations over 9 thousand feet.

  • 1 mile
  • 2 miles
  • 5 miles
  • 10 miles
  • Over 10 miles

Hiking??? I thought we were horseback!  We hope to be, but in the case of emergency or a lost horse, can you get out?  If I lost my horse, most of my gear would be gone as well….but that is a different problem!

I love hiking on cliffsides. Not. And this was at sea level, but still.

I can lead my equine:

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Nov 032017
 

By Patty Wilber

While a good number of my Appaloosa cow horse friends were at the Appaloosa World Show (doing a great job! I hope Indy will be good enough to go in 2019), me and my own cow horse turned trail horse for this week, LT, Jim and my BCH buddies Peter and Mary Ann went to clean up a junky, litter-strewn hunting camp in the Pecos Wilderness, for the Forest Service.

Mary Ann and I made a first run at it Friday Oct 23, but only made Beatty’s Cabin (14 mile round trip) due to unforeseen minor, but delaying, complications.  Since the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting colder, we wanted to check this box before the snow froze the high country off for the season.  October 28 looked like it could work for the 22 mile round trip. A little cold, but no chance of precipitation

We saddled up in 23 degree F weather 

“who’s bright idea was this? we had to get up at, like, dark o’clock, and btw, it is cold,” says Squirt. Longshot agrees.

We left Jack’s Creek at 840 am (left home at 545 am).

Tulip (with Mary Ann up) says, “cold grass is still tasty!” Cometa is in the foreground pack- saddled and waiting.

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Oct 272017
 

By Patty Wilber

Despite the fact that I truly enjoy training horses for the intrinsic rewards, I do like to win stuff when I show.

This past weekend, at the New Mexico Buckskin Horse Association Ranch Horse Show, LT proceeded to get top marks in Boxing (won Open, tied for best score in show), Ranch Cutting, Working Cow and Reining (for the last three: won open and had best score in show).

We got big trophies!

The trophies were for the best of show scores. We also won a stall front bag for winning the over all Open high point. Cool!

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Oct 192017
 

By Patty Wilber

Mike Bertin asked me to ride Sandy, a Paso Fino cross, in a Larry Whitesell gaited horse clinic that was  held at Four Winds Equestrian Center this past weekend. He even footed the bill! Elisa Bohannon rode too, with Effie (who belongs to Elisa now) and Dancer (still Mike and Carolyn’s).

Dancer (the horse) framing MIke and Taffy. Photo by Elisa.

Mike and Cody.

I rode rescue Tennessee Walking Horses in high school for a lady in my home town (I got to ride about 50 different horses, and train my first horse from the ground up there, so that was amazing), but all the horses were flat shod and every one of them was naturally gaited.  That was a few (like 38) years ago, so I was really looking forward to this clinic to learn more about gaited horses (in the modern era).

Me (16) with my cousin Amy and Mardi Gras, a 4 yr old Tennessee Walker.

Unfortunately, Larry had a medical emergency and was not able to come. We are wishing him the best.

Cody Harrison, more of a dressage and hunter-jumper guy, was the replacement.  Cody did a really good job.  He was clear in his explanations and very easy to follow, but the focus was not on gaited horses.  Bummer.

I did not really like the format, we only left the walk for about one (I literally mean one) minute the whole three days, and we did a bunch of exercises I am familiar with…

Perhaps inexplicably, I, nevertheless, really enjoyed the clinic. I liked spending time with Mike and Elisa.

Sandy, me, Elisa and Dancer.

Elisa and Effie

 I enjoyed the other participants (my friend Siri was there, too!) and the Four Winds folks (I will be back to give my own lessons out there Oct. 29th).

Siri. Dancing!?

I even learned some things that I have been applying.  Sandy, who can be a bit tense, got markedly softer over the three days, and he caught the eye of a prospective buyer!

The format was this:

  • Day 1 am: Three hours of ground work with the whole crew of 14 participants.
  • Day 1 pm: One hour in a group lesson with five other people, including Mike and Elisa.  It was nice to be in the same group with them.
  • Day 2 and 3 am: One hour in a group lesson with our team of five.
  • Day 2 and 3 pm: Another one hour lesson with our team of five.

To me, that was not enough learning time for the money. However, it did give me an opportunity to ride my own horses (Penny and Atti) in the slack time and also to eat too much, socialize, and watch some of the other group lessons.

Here are some things I learned:

  1. For a horse that is stiff in the poll and won’t lower his head when doing ground work, sticking your fingers in his mouth can cause him to unclench his jaw, relax the muscles in his face, which can relax the poll, and down comes the head.
  2. Head to the fence!  We did a shoulder-fore exercise (check out his nice article) on the ground where the horse’s head is bent to the inside and the bend-side hind leg reaches up farther under the horse. In the clinic, we did the opposite of this by bending the horse’s head toward the fence. Then, we did a circle with nice bend, working on that hind leg reaching up under. Cody, the clinician, next told us, “Head to the fence”, so at least four out of five of the class took our horses perpendicular to the fence and stopped! What he really wanted us to do was the reverse shoulder-fore exercise with our horses heads bend toward the rail!  We had good laugh!

    Elisa and Dancer, bending.

  3. All that walking and soft bending really did help Sandy relax and lighten up.  I am not known to be a trainer in a rush, but adding more of these slow and easy bending activities, with more purpose and softness, to my warm-ups seems like a good fit for me. So, I have used them all week on the two 2yr olds I have right now.
  4. It is fun to go to clinics with people and horses I know!  (Well, I already knew that!) All five of the horses Mike trailered in have spent time here! Of course there are blogs.  Awesome EffieSunny, Choctaw PonyTaffy in the PecosDancing in the Caja.

Goofy faces!

Yes, we had fun!

 

 

Sep 152017
 

By Patty Wilber

No, really!  I am NOT kidding.  Dexter is a very fine trail horse and we cannot seem to get him sold.

Me and Dexter in the Manzanos last weekend. Picture by Terri Gore.

Ok, there was that one guy that texted two weeks ago.  He didn’t want to come see the horse.  He wanted to pick him up. Prospective Buyer (PB) didn’t ask me one single question about Dexter and when I inquired as to what he was planning to use the boy for, he did not answer.

He gave me the creeps, actually, and I told PB I’d contact the owner and get back to him and I told the Spouse that I would not meet this PB alone.

Then I thought some more, and decided PB unsettled my gut enough that I wouldn’t even tell him where we lived and we (me and the body guard Spouse) would only meet PB at a public arena.

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Sep 012017
 

By Patty Wilber

In 2013, the Jaroso Fire in the Pecos Wilderness was 100% contained on August 5th.  On Labor Day, 2013, the Back Country Horsemen rode through the burn area on the way to our annual trip to Beatty’s Cabin. This year’s post is from our Supply Run the weekend before Labor Day. So, first the fire scar blogs and photos and then the supply run .

2013: Burn n Bridge.  This is the funniest of the three, I think. It features Longshot and his non-compliant pack string ways.  Longshot (now 7) was my lead horse for 2016.

2014: Bridge Club.  This one features a bridge that we worked on.

2015: Beatty’s Cabin, 2015. Lots of linseed oil in this one!

2016: Jaroso Fire Scar 2013-2016 Labor Day.  The 2017 blog has a LOT of overlap with the 2016 blog.

Labor Day weekend, 2013.  The fire was contained in August due to work of the fire crews and help from mother nature in the form of a lot of rain. The amount of regrowth that occurred in a month was amazing! Bracken fern seems to be prevalent.

IMG_2962

The lone aspen.

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Aug 182017
 

By Patty Wilber

I went to a polo game while in Hawaii!  I had never been to a polo game.

It turns out all sorts of people, not just the horsey type, will come tailgate and hang out at a polo match!   At $12 per head.  Businesses also sponsor tables.  Too bad we couldn’t harness such interest for cow horse events.  Maybe if we have tents with tables, serve champagne and…add a tropical beach!

Polo has four players per team and each has a position, but if you are new to polo, it is not super obvious what the positions do.  The object of the game is to hit a ball through the goal.  If that occurs, the game restarts at the center and the teams switch which goal they are attacking.

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Jul 212017
 

By Patty Wilber

Last Sunday, the Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen (BCH) helped pack out a folding toilet, a propane tank and other materials that helped make Kevin Balciar’s volunteer trail crew happier on their 10 day stint working on Rito Los Esteros (#226) and Skyline (#251) trails in the Pecos Wilderness.

It was a tough job (really it was just fun), but someone had to do it.

Jim and I spent the night at Iron Gate campground.  In the past, BCH had avoided Iron Gate because the four miles of dirt road was a steep  trailer eater, full of deep ruts and hitch-cracking, axle-snapping holes.  It was repaired, and while still steep (we would not have got our camper and loaded three horse trailer out in the rain without 4WD), it only had two big holes and the surface was solid and not terribly slick, even with water streaming down it.

To begin the day, we had to get an early start to meet Richard, Amber and Peter who had ridden in Saturday and overnighted with Kevin’s group, so we rode out of Iron Gate at 7:10 am.

The route leaves Iron Gate and heads south on trail 249 then right on 250 to Mora Flats.

I do not know if we are on 249 or 250 in this picture. Trail 249 starts from Iron Gate camp ground and joins 250 which stays high for a while then drops down to the top of this valley that you can see to our right. The trail (240) then heads back south and is down there somewhere.

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Jul 072017
 

By Patty Wilber

Last week I used the term “neck collars” to describe what I bought from Perri’s Leather for the horses, but Perri’s calls them neck STRAPS, in case anyone was searching.

But as long as I am thinking about collars, how about breast collars?

I have a saddle that is lacking the typical “D” rings for “normal” breast collar attachment, so I finally got around  to looking for one of those breast collars that attach through the gullet of the saddle. Turns out they are called “pulling collars”.

And while I was searching around I also found there are breast collars called “tripping collars”, so here is a little run down on breast collars, because although I have more than one breast collar, apparently, I really knew very little about breast collar styles!

The Normal-to-Me breast collar:  These hook to the “D” rings on the saddle and go between the horse’s legs and hook to the cinch.  They can be decorative for showing and also work well for holding a saddle in place when riding in the mountains or doing working cow horse stuff.  They are also good for for roping.

This one is neoprene from SMX. Neoprene is easy to clean! This one would be good for holding a saddle in place, but would probably not hold up for roping.

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