Black Boogers

Patty Wilber      

Ever had black boogers because you breathed in too much trail dust?      

Well, mine only got black on the last day of the three day horse pack trip into the Pecos Wilderness because the first day it was raining—but not on us!      

Jim and I left 2 hours late from home, and pulled into Jack’s Creek Campground at about 3:30 pm. We were expecting to pick up and pack up a mule, pack Risa, saddle Penny and Cometa, and ride in about 8 miles to Beatty’s Cabin, a Forest Service Administrative site in the Pecos Wilderness. The previous Saturday some other  Back Country Horse folks had ridden in and we thought we’d meet them there.      

It turned out that a small crew had come down to bring in a sore-footed mule, some garbage, and two guys who were heading home. They had been sitting in a stock trailer while it poured for 2 hours.      

When we arrived, so did the sun. There were still plenty of clouds, so we thought for sure we would get wet on the ride in.  Our rain gear was handy, rolled up behind the saddle. The alfalfa-grass mix pelleted horse feed on Risa was tarped in blue and secured with a box hitch.  We had to bring in feed for the horses because there is not enough grazing.    

In the meadow after the climb out of Jack's Creek.

   A word about rain gear. I tried a slicker—hey that’s the traditional cowboy rain gear. BUT they don’t have HOODS (most of them anyway). I wear a helmet, usually. My helmet looks distressingly geeky in all my photos……. I do like that my brain is more likely to continue to function in case of an unintentional dismounting……    But in regards to rain, helmets LEAK.  A felt cowboy hat could work to keep rain off my head and not running down my neck (straw hats also leak).  Both squish if you fall off on your head.      

Another problem—the slicker is really long if I am on the ground, so I trip over it all the time.  Once on the horse, it shrinks up and then when it rains, the wet runs off, onto my legs, soaking my pants. How did the cowboys really do it, back in the day? I think they were wet and miserable a lot.      

Forget the slicker.      

I went for rain pants and a poncho. Ponchos have a hood, my reins and hands can be under it, and the pants keep the legs dry. Perfect….      

Except…when horses go to pitching (bucking) the poncho flaps around and kinda gets in the way. Not that Penny is big into bucking, except when Risa wraps the leadline up under her tail…..      

And then there is the ponying problem. When Risa is behind Penny, my arm sticks out, holding the lead line. My arm  gets all wet. Slickers have sleeves….      

Solution: Wear the poncho over the slicker! Yeah, that’s the ticket! Of course then I look like (to paraphrase my charming friends) a pregnant nun or a Tibetan Monk……with a helmet. Nice.      

Slicker (yellow), poncho (red), rain pants (black--but covered) and helmet. This photo is from the weekend before when we packed in supplies for the current trip and packed out some folks (note coolers of garbage on Risa) that were doing some inventories in the back country.

  Maybe a slicker with a hood + rain pants…..      

We had a beautiful evening ride. The ground was damp, the air was cool, the smells were fresh, and there were so many bird voices it felt tropical! Got to Beatty’s cabin around 7 pm and hobbled the horses in a light drizzle. I used 3 different types of hobbles on the three horses: Risa: my figure 8’s; Cometa: twist hobbles (all leather—more old timey); Penny: grazing hobbles.      

All worked well, but the grazing hobbles were the easiest to get on and off because each leg has its own buckle. The horses grazed for an hour.  They have been on grass a little at home to prepare their innards—nothing like a major feed change to cause  the guts to seize up.  Colic, colicking. Colic can be life threatening.      

Finally, they got to practice using feed bags.  I gave them 4 pounds of  pellets each and strapped the feed bags on. I had been prepping them at home with pellets, too.      

Risa and Cometa employed the nose to the ground technique, but Penny was more into flipping the bag….      


 Our three were in a pen with a little stream, but some others were high-lined over night. Horses must practice this because one panicker can tangle the whole line.      

Four animals on a high line. Sun's coming up--gotta stretch!

  We worked the next day—all the way up to 12,000 feet! We cleared 20 logs off the trail!      

Jim Wilberand Richard Kingsbury using a two man saw.

    Came out on the third day…and still no rain, but by now it was drying out and the black damp had turned to black dust to black….in my nose.

About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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12 Responses to Black Boogers

  1. sixpence says:

    You might consider a fishermans rain slicker. When I used them Helly Hansens were the top of the line. Hoods are de rigeur.

    • Doranna says:

      If anyone knows how to stay dry… 8) It’s a fisherman! (Grew up with one of those!)

  2. Judy Cox says:

    Goodness, that sounds like fun but alot of work. We use to trail ride with wagons and horses. I am not sure I could handle what you do:)

  3. Patty says:

    Hi! Sixpence–a fishermans rain slicker + rain pants might be just the ticket. Funny–there was a Helly Hansen jacket in Beatty’s Cabin that some one apparently forgot!

    Judy–it is a lot of fun! Can be a lot of work, too!

    I am in CO right now at a Fjord show–that is also a lot of fun!!! Back Sunday night!

  4. Lisa says:

    Wow…I love your version of your three days. Ours was eventful but not as much as yours. Now as for your outfit….NICE! I love the combination, you made the slicker pncho thingy look good…hahahaha….our club is too cool that is for sure!

  5. Linda says:

    I have a plastic cover for my helmet and use the slicker/pancho combo – would REALLY rather ride in the sunshine!

  6. Patty says:

    Linda–cover for the helmet–ha good idea!

    LIsa–Too bad we missed each other on that trip!

  7. Patricia K says:

    Don’t know how you did it SI

  8. Barb McGuire says:

    What a great way to spend the weekend. Plus you were doing a wonderful service for the backcountry users.

  9. Patty says:

    Thanks Barb–I do love that group. What could be better? Great riding while doing my public service duty, with horses, mules, packing and cool old timey tools! The old two man saws are really very interesting. New saws are not nearly as good as the vintage ones, and every one in a while some one finds a stash of these vintage saws still in brand new unused condition!

  10. Maria BB says:

    That sounds beautiful except for the boogs and the wet and the worry–colic-lines etc. But I did take a deep breath just thinking about your exploration and the beauty of the mountain. Thanks for describing it so well and for keeping me posted ! Maria

  11. Patty says:

    Maria–glad you liked it! I will be in LA next week for a brief moment helping Maegan move. I will send you an email note and see if we can meet for coffee or lunch or SOMETHING!

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