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.

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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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Jun 232017
 

By Patty Wilber

It still snows in May, it starts to rain in July, leaving baking-dry-most-hours-of-daylight June as the hottest month of the year in my neck of the southwest.  Surely everyone knows this, I have have been known to pronounce, perhaps incredulously.

Except, it turns out, July is actually the hottest month.  Now I feel kinda stupid.

Date Average
Low
Average
High
Record
Low
Record
High
Average
Precipitation
Average
Snow
January 18° 42° -19° (1949) 66° (1950) 1.2″ NA
February 22° 47° -20° (1951) 69° (1986) 1.3″ NA
March 27° 53° -14° (1948) 75° (1989) 1.4″ NA
April 34° 62° 5° (1983) 83° (1981) 1″ NA
May 42° 72° 20° (1967) 92° (2000) 1.1″ NA
June 50° 82° 31° (1953) 99° (1981) 1″ NA
July 54° 85° 38° (1990) 100° (1980) 3″ NA
August 53° 81° 38° (1968) 95° (1972) 2.9″ NA
September 47° 74° 21° (1999) 92° (1958) 2″ NA
October 37° 65° 6° (1996) 85° (1957) 1.6″ NA
November 27° 52° -11° (1976) 74° (1980) 1.2″ NA
December 20° 44° -21° (1990) 65° (1980) 1.3″ NA

Never-the-less, it does rain a lot more in July, (There is data! See above!) and the thundercloud build-up in the afternoon can block the sun.  Rain can cool things off.  So, maybe the average LATE AFTERNOON temperature is higher in June.  According to this bit of  NOAA data (see below), THAT is true. The average (1981-2010) hourly temperatures on June 15th vs. July 15th  at the Albuquerque International Airport (the nearest station with hourly data) shows it IS hotter in June from 6 to 8 pm.  So.

Hour 15-Jun 15-Jul
18 85.2 84.8
19 82.6 81.9
20 79.2 79

This last week has been hitting high 90’s at my house (99 Tuesday. Huh–that might be a record…)  and over 100 in Albuquerque, which is actually pretty rare.

At least we are not as hot as Arizona!

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Jun 162017
 

By Patty Wilber

Back Country Horsemen is planning to pack supplies up the Bosque Trail in the Manzano Mountains for a trail crew on June 26th, but we haven’t travelled that path in many years. So, we needed to check it out.

Also, unfortunately, Bosque Trail, while less than one mile from the Cerro Blanco Trailhead is past the point where road gets steep, narrow and quite rutted. Our own personal BCH Road Scout (Cheryl) advised me to park near Cerro Blanco and ride to the Bosque Trail for the exploratory trip.

I was girding up for a solo adventure.  I have four-wheel drive now!  I am good with a map!  I have a big-ass knife! I was excited to play the brave, lone explorer. (Don’t tell anyone, but part of me was secretly a little nervous.)

But then my co-leader, Peter, was able to come along. Having an accomplice turned out to be really nice.

The road was ok up to the recommended parking area.  It got down to one lane and had some bad spots. I smacked the trailer hitch hard on one hole I misjudged (I have a bumper-pull three horse trailer). No obvious problems, and if there’d been some, I had help in the passenger seat!

We parked, saddled and rode up the road to the Bosque Trail trailhead.  The road was fairly deeply rutted in one section, but we concluded that we can drive up for the project, so long as it is dry.  If there is rain, the dirt ruts will turn to slick and sucking mud pits.  That could be bad, even with help!

Bosque Trail takes off from the campground, not from the trailhead parking area, (at least we did not see the trail at the trailhead parking area). Once we found the real starting spot, the way is obvious, but could use some lopping.  It heads up steeply for a at least a mile and is technical and rocky.  We had to stop to give the horses a breather at least twice and Squirt’s (the horse) butt muscles were twitching from the climb.  Even LT was happy to stop.

Squirt says: don’t look at my twitching butt!

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Jun 022017
 

By Patty Wilber

The wind howled down the mountain slopes, the ground was snow-wet and the trees fell down all around, all around this winter in the Pecos Wilderness!

Luckily, Back Country Horsemen, Pecos Chapter, to the rescue (and a bunch of other people, too, but this post is all about US, not them)!

Yes, we cleared this!

Done! Keith, Siri, Chris, Melissa, Mary Ann, Linda, Kevin, Peter, Me, Jim. This was a fun “wreck” to clear and took about two hours with most of us busy! Photo by Siri!

 

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May 262017
 

By Patty Wilber

Jim and I went for a whirlwind trip to the Santa Barbara area this past weekend to visit Progeny #2 (Mark) and his better half (Erika).  We got in Friday morning around 10am, and pretty much went non-stop (except for the part on Saturday where I took a “less drowsy” dramamine at 3pm, had a glass of wine at 7pm and about passed out at 8pm…Alcohol and dramamine apparently don’t go well together.  It probably says that on the packaging somewhere…) until Sunday evening when we flew out at 7:30pm.

Friday, we went hiking, checked out a mission, hit a brew pub and played board games.

The hike went up a canyon with water and this gopher snake. Mark is a herp guy (as in herpetology) so of course he had to catch the snake!

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