Apr 202018

Callie’s Star, Chapter 1. ARRIVING

By Patty Wilber

So, I wrote a book a long time ago.  Of course, it is a horse book. I thought to update and serialize it and post one or two chapters a month.  So, here is chapter one…

It took a lot longer to get Chapter one in order than I thought it would, so this may be a bad idea…

Chapter One.  ARRIVING

Callie was afraid she was going to barf.

She held the motion sickness bag near her mouth, but the white smell of the bag took her back to the hospital.  The flight attendant with the rattling drink cart was a hurried nurse with squeaky white shoes. The gray of her mother’s face against a wrinkled hospital pillow case floated in front of her.  Sometimes the afternoon sunlight had lighted her mother’s hair, reviving its past gold, and she had almost looked well.

She squeezed her eyelids tight and drew in gulps of cool air streaming from the airplane vent overhead.  She crushed the bag in her fist and pressed her head against the seat in front of her until she could feel the fabric making ridges on her forehead. She dozed off.

Callie felt a soft nudge on her shoulder.  “Please put your seat in the upright position.  We are getting ready to land. Wait in your seat after we have stopped and I will walk you out.”

Callie fingered the ID around her neck.  She was a minor travelling alone.

The plane felt as though it were sinking beneath her.  Callie held down the sudden rising of her stomach as the plane’s tires bumped the runway and its engines roared suddenly loader as the thrust-reversers slowed them down.

Continue reading »

Apr 132018

By Patty Wilber

Our 6th annual spring trip was a blast. Last year we camped.  This year we glamped!

Riding in the evening at the Gillespie Ranch!

Mary Ann, Siri and I travelled in Siri’s Big Ass Trailer (the BAT–with fabulous living quarters) to the Gillespie Ranch near Mayhill, NM.

I took Atti.

We had to take the screens off the BAT so Atti would not eat them on the trip.  I borrowed a fly mask and we managed to tear that instead, so a new one is on order for Siri–cheaper than a new screen for the trailer!

Continue reading »

Apr 062018

By Patty Wilber

I was at cutting horse trainer Ed Krause’s with my my dog Coulson, and he suggested I have Coulson tested for herding dog potential.

I thought that sounded really interesting, and so we did it.

Coulson took to Kyle, the dog trainer, right away.

Kyle meeting Coulson.

That is, until Kyle asked Coulson to go into the arena with him, and without me.

I have spend a bit of time telling Coulson to stay out of arenas and he was pretty certain that this going with Kyle into the Forbidden Zone was a trap. A trap I tell you!

So, he put his ears back, his tail down and he skedaddled!

I called, which stopped him.  He came almost all the way to me, walking slowly and very low to the ground. But he didn’t object when I put a leash on.

He did mind following Kyle into the arena, so Kyle suggested I come, too.

“it is a trap i tell u!”, says Coulson.

Continue reading »

Mar 302018

By Patty Wilber

My farrier, who I had used for something like nine years, retired a few months ago.

It has been awful finding a new one! A farrier works for the horse owner, so technically I am looking to hire a new shoer,  but in truth, the best situation is a partnership.  So, rather than a want ad, I think I need an online farrier match-making site.  In my profile I could put:

  • Horse trainer in search of farrier.
  • Longing for a long-term relationship with a like-minded individual.  Gender not an issue.
  • Must like young horses as well as oldsters.
  • Must be fair and patient with them.
  • I have diverse training interests, so I am looking for someone with similar shoeing interests and skills. (Pleasure, mountains, trail, ranch horse and cattle work)
  • I am looking for someone who is willing to work on solutions to (shoeing) difficulties and to be a true partner (working toward the best for the horses).
  • Must not blow me off for another (client).
  • Must have time for me (in case a horse loses a shoe, mainly).

Don’t want much, do I?

Continue reading »

Mar 232018

By Patty Wilber

From last week: an astute epidemiologist and a disease ecologist that read the blog noted that since horses are dead end hosts for West Nile Virus, they cannot reinfect mosquitoes. Only birds can do that. Thus, vaccinating horses doesn’t create herd immunity for this disease; vaccination protects your animal but does not decrease transmission to other horses. The herd immunity concept does apply for many other diseases.  For West Nile, I guess we need flock immunity!


Because it has been so warm and dry, The Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen were able to complete our first project of the year, a month earlier than usual.

We had a LOT of participation and we able to tackle Box Trail with one group while another group worked on Spruce Trail up to the snow and then Red Canyon as well.  All the trails had trees. Lots of trees.

The Box Crew started at Red Canyon.  Box Trail is the one mile link from the campground to Ox Canyon Trail.

This year we have started a mentorship program for new members and we billed Box as a fine introduction to BCH.  Not steep, not rocky and no water crossings this year since it has been so dry.  We also figured it would have a lot of down trees since it goes through an old (2006?  2008? I forget) burn area (all burned trees must fall on the trail) and because we did not get to it last year.

The project matched our billing very well, except the down trees were all before the burn area. We kept busy clearing big trees and small trees at what seemed like 200 yards intervals.  It was great practice for mounting, dismounting and having horses tied to trees for long stretches.

I took Penny, and she seemed to really enjoy sleeping during the numerous stops because when I would go get her to move on to the next down tree, she could barely wake up enough to unplant her feet!  This was partly why I took her instead of any of the others–she is very relaxed on the trail!

Continue reading »

Mar 162018

By Patty Wilber

Last Friday, I posted the blog and that was about the last thing I did for the next three days because I was felled by an upper respiratory virus.  I will spare you the details about the bloody phlegm (odd word, phlegm) and the. .oh yes, sparing you!

Horses, as I am sure no one is surprised to read, also can be infected by viruses, and many of the vaccines we routinely give are to protect against viral infection.

West Nile Virus, Eastern and Western Viral Encephalitis, Flu Virus, Equine Herpes Virus (=”Rhinovirus”), Rabies Virus and Tetanus (which is not caused by a virus, but by a toxin produced by a bacterium, Clostridium tetani. That vaccine allows the horse’s immune system to attack the toxin itself).

What are viruses, anyway?

They are little bitty things that get inside cells, take over, and make the cell into a virus factory.  Then, they usually kill the host cell!

The West Nile Virus was first identified in Uganda in 1937.  Equine disease was first noted in 1959 in Egypt soon followed by France in 1962 The first major human outbreak was in 1994, and it arrived in the U.S. in 1999. By 2009 it was everywhere in the U.S.!


Continue reading »

Mar 092018

By Patty Wilber

I was talking to my friend Dr. Stacie about treats as training aids. I am not a big treat giver, although I did train horses to the clippers with treats.  It got to the point that when the horses heard the clippers they would come and offer to have their ears clipped in return for a horse cookie.

I am not into indiscriminate treat giving because then I have to tell the horses “STOP TOUCHING ME!” as they nose around my pockets for treats.

Treats as a training aid, though, well, it worked for the clippers.

So, I am proposing to recruit you all to try an experiment, and then you can send me your results and I will write a blog titled “How to treat your horse”.  Stacie made up the title, and it is just too good to pass up!

Here is the admittedly weak study design:  From the ground, train your horse to touch its nose to the ground. (Apparently, this could aid in shot giving because if you can get the horse to do this, its neck will not be so stiff and the shots won’t hurt as much.) It needs to be a horse that doesn’t know how to do this.  Either do it with treats or with out (but not both).  Tell me how old your horse is, whether you feel this a a smart, easy to train horse or not,  how long it took and anything else you want to throw in.  Feel free to send pictures and commentary. pwilbercnm@gmail.com

I am going to try to teach Indy and Atti.  They are both young (4 and 3), they are both girls, but after that they are about as different as could be. I think I will use treats with Indy.  I already have to remind Atti to keep her lips to herself several times a day!

My hypothesis is that things will go faster with treats.


Now on to the real topic:  Remodelling!  Over the years, we have redone fences and shelters in all our pens except one, and we finally got to it! You can see the old fence, the old shed and if you look closely, junk (fenced off from the horses, but junk none-the-less).  This was some time ago, as there is green stuff.  We are currently back in a drought and there is not much green going on.

That fence looks a little suspect.

Continue reading »

Mar 022018

By Patty Wilber

First off, thanks to Dr. Stacie Boswell for her help on last week’s blog!


So, I get to coach a drill team out at 4 Winds Equestrian!

We have only had one introductory meeting so our first real practice is coming up!

I have been checking out videos and this one

was pretty amazing.  What an intricate pattern!

Continue reading »

Feb 232018

By Patty Wilber

Over the last month I had begun to notice a slight decrease in stride length and impulsion in Indy’s trot, but I kept trying to tell myself I was imagining it because she was going square (evenly on all four legs, no classical lameness), and we were just getting back into training after her bone chip surgery last July.

Photo of Indy by Janet

But last Wednesday, when I went to work cows, Indy declined to pick up her right lead readily and when she did, she kind of popped her head up to get into it instead of rounding up and driving from behind.   Ed Krause also noticed that she was short striding with her left hind when I did get the lope. I could not feel that from on her, but I could see it in the round pen and when she would stop and roll back, we both commented that she didn’t want to drive off her left hind.

Talk about depressing. First because she was not right, and second because I ignored two clues–the shortened trot and the reluctance to lope off on the one lead.

So, I called Dr. Lane Dixon and he came out on Friday.  He thought she looked fine at the walk and trot, too, but also saw the short stride at the lope.  When he performed the flexion test, it took her two steps to go sound on the right hind but five steps on the left.

He X-rayed her hock and found that it looked really clean.  Whew!

Continue reading »

Feb 162018

By Patty Wilber

I was listening to a Stuff You Should Know podcast called “The Wind Cries Typhoid Mary” and it mentioned the unsanitary conditions in New York City in the 1800’s.  They estimated the number of horses, determined the amount of poop/horse/day to be about 25 pounds, and concluded that more than SIX MILLION pounds of manure were deposited on the city streets EVERY DAY!

I found an extension site that estimated horses create 37 lbs of feces and 2.4 gallons of urine per day!

That made me think about input vs. output. If a horse that is not gaining or losing weight eats 20 pounds of hay and drinks 5-10 gallons of water (at 8.35 lbs/gallon), the horse is taking in between 60 and 100 lbs of material and excreting 25-37 lbs of poo and 20 lbs of pee for a total of 45 -67 lbs. The maximum input doesn’t quite match the maximum output, but that could be balanced by loss of water mass through breathing, sweating and normal evaporation on the skin.

Right now we have six horses x about 20 lbs  of food per day or 43,800 lbs per year.  At 25 lbs of  fecal output per horse per day x 365 days, we generate 54,750 lbs of manure  each year. Or if we go with 37 lbs of manure per horse per day, 81,o30 lbs!  Who needs a gym membership if you have horses!

So, what to do with all that waste?

First off, it has to to be picked up.  We have dirt pens and use plastic manure forks.  We do not have bedding to deal with.

Forks come with a handle and a head.  The heads break.  It is possible to buy replacement heads.

I recently bought two of this type of head from State Line Tack (6 bucks) and each one lasted approximately two days before snapping.

Continue reading »