The Education of Longshot

By Patty Wilber

Longshot was born in  September 2010, and he had a contracted tendon (see last week’s post, The Longshot Update for more info.)

Splint #1

Splint #1, 3 days old, September, 2010

He recovered and went home.

Longshot at home with his mom, Dec. 2010

Then I got a yearling (Lacey), so Longshot came to live at my house to keep her company.

Lacey, June 2011. She had a joint infection, but recovered fully. See JJM Spurs Zan Lace



Longshot and Lacey. Buddies!

Then they turned two and I got another one (LT), and the three of them went to summer camp (See The Three Amigos).


Grass! 2012! (irrigated)

Grass! 2012! (irrigated)

Then Longshot went home for the winter (Lacey had LT for company–plus I got Toots, who is just one year older…do we sense an ominous (for the bank account) horse accumulation trend??–LT and Toots are prospects–for sale–really!  Just make me an offer (a really big offer!)


Toots! And her summer coat is so much darker.  I SWEAR I am going to take monthly pictures for a year–um unless I sell before the year is up–yeah right !

And now, enough of the back story; we will get back to the real story: Longshot is back, and I am getting on his back, and his back is not up against the wall.

I started and showed his full sister Squirt and his half brother Tabooli (same mom).  I did a tune up on his cousin Fancy and a tune up on his half sister Cinco (same dad), so I am familiar with the blood line.  Plus, I am familiar with Longshot himself since he has spent a lot of time living here.

Squirt (3) at and Actha ride (she won her division).

Squirt (3) at an ACTHA ride fall 2012 (she won her division).

Tabooli in a hunter under saddle class in 2012 (photo by Caitlin Dralle)

Tabooli in a hunter under saddle class summer  2012 (photo by Caitlin Dralle)

I figured Longshot’d be a drama-less start.


Since mid May, we have one day of ground work and he has been under saddle 19 times.

Longshot is not the super sensitive type and he has a bigger “not doing THAT” (i.e. stubborn streak) than any of his relatives.  But he rarely bucks, even when he plays.

If he is stressed, he simply quits moving. This can make him somewhat frustrating to train, but it means he is unlikely to come apart.

He will spook at things that appear strange, but he has a very short flight distance–he won’t go far.

He likes the company of the other horses (unlike Toots who is more of a loner), which does mean there can be buddying up/ herd bound issues especially when he is in unfamiliar territory.

So, that first day, I tossed a saddle on him and he flinched a little, but not much.

He worked in the round pen with a drag rope, some tarps, a butt rope etc.  The usual array of objects I like a horse to try out before I try them out from on top.

I do not want them careening around the place in a panic with all that stuff flapping, so I keep them on a line until I an reasonably sure they can manage.

Longshot really did not care.

I messed with the stirrups, stood in them and since he didn’t raise his head, swish his tail, or move his feet and then he closed his eyes (I swear he’s narcoleptic!) by day two I got on.

Moving?  Who needs to move?  But then he did kind of amble around.

Here are my notes from day three–Ride two :

“Ride 2-well he is not in a hurry about anything although he will go.  We already know he doesn’t startle at much–but that also means he doesn’t respond too much!  He walked and trotted with me on him.  His ground work was markedly better than the 10th.  He seems to need a soak-in period to process what I want.  I used reins today and he was of course clueless, but I did get walk, trot, back, whoa, some turning, move the butt and decent sideways.  Most of it was pretty kindergarten, but hey that is a lot for ride 2–and absolutely no drama in his body–well except he argued with his face because he did not know what I wanted…”

By ride four we were in the arena and he showed a little life by spooking at the arena drag, and he was moving his parts enough to open (but not shut) a rope gate.  And he could trot.  And steer–sort of.  And stop.  All of it a bit begrudgingly. Just think of the sound they do on TV when a person is on downer drugs and people’s voices are distorted, slow and deep.  I have no idea how to put letters together for that sound.  But trying to convince Longshot to move any part freely was an effort.

 Truthfully, I was a little depressed about this and I kept comparing him to Squirt who was super laid back but eager to try new things.  That comparison thing is bad!  It only gets in the way of seeing what is right for the horse under you.

But take the bridge for example. On day five, I figured we’d try the bridge.  I mean SQUIRT loped on ride  three, opened and shut a gate on ride four and went over the bridge like it was not even there.

(Hello?  To self! We already know that Longshot is not Squirt…)

But being the optimist (or just as stubborn as Longshot), we went for the bridge.  And, yep we went over the bridge.  Never sweetly, but at least he showed SOME try.

On ride 10, we had a turning point.  I put a cavesson on him (you can see it in the picture) to entice him to keep his mouth shut when pressure is applied to the bit and was using a training fork just to keep him from putting his nose in the sky.  We went to the round pen to see if loping was in his future.

Cavesson--over the halter--a little unconvential--but works on the trail.

Cavesson–over the halter–a little unconvential–but works on the trail.

We did some warm up. It was ok until I asked him to move his shoulder to the left. Nope, not doing it.

We got in a fight.  

I fought dirty.

I used my spurs.

I won.

And, huh.  His attitude became a whole lot more compliant.

So, we loped.  Very nice.

Then my erstwhile (is that the right word? erstwhile?) cow partner, otherwise known as Fancy’s Dad or Seasoned Hunting Friend #2, asked if I wanted to go to the Brazos Box Ranch.

How many horses can I bring??? (ok, so I get demerits for rudeness!)


Well then, it had to be Longshot.

Why on Earth would I take a horse with 12 rides ever in his whole life to the ranch to ride?

Because it would work. And Squirt’s dad took HER to the back country on 20 rides by me and only one ride by him. Not that I’m preparing to  compare.


Ride 13, at the ranch.  I went out alone towards dusk.


Well, no one else wanted to go and he’d been there over night and had done nothing all day while we set up fence.


He was a little squirrely leaving his pen mate, Squirt, but as soon as he got over the hill, he was fine.

Until we got to the stream.  He was alarmed by the whole idea of a stream.  Why would that water MOVE like that?

Ok, so first we walked along it (crabwise, as maybe it was going to rise up out of the bed and suck us in), but then the trail went across, so I got off, he snacked on some grass, he put his foot in and followed me over, just like that.

And then he rushed up the bank.  Whereupon my rein broke.

Seriously? Ugh.  I knew there was an issue with that rein and I had failed to fix it at home.  Oh well.  Tied it in a knot to the bit and got back on.

Rode down farther and traipsed across a few more streams. La de da.

Fixed my rein back at the cabin.  Baling twine is useful.



The next day, we headed out to check a fence job.

We crossed more water.


Ho hum.

He wore saddle bags for the first time.

Ho hum.

We saw an elk calf! So new that its instincts were to freeze in place.


We went cross country over a lot of dead fall (and he stepped over everything, Ho Hum), through a bog, and up a very steep rocky ridge.

Deadfall--I can do it!

Deadfall–I can do it!

Except for getting tired on the steep hill and complaining that his muscles hurt and he should not be required to move his legs any more, no obstacle was an issue.  He was extremely sure footed.

Nice view from the top!

Just another day at the horse training office! Squirt with her dad to the left, Fancy’s dad on Mister, ponying Fancy.

My only complaint is that Longshot is a VERY slow walker.  He has a slow jog, too–nice if he were destined for a western pleasure show future, but (hopefully, for us once and will be again cow punchers) his future may be ranch work.

We rode the next (and last) day at the walk, trot and lope on the trail, and since he did water the first ride at the ranch, saddle bags and varied and challenging terrain the second day, for his third day learning experience: Hobbles.

After the ride, I put them on, stepped back, and he began to eat.  Ho Hum.

Hobbled.  I kept the lead rope on so I could help him if he panicked.  Doesn't he look worried?

Hobbled. I kept the lead rope on so I could help him if he panicked. Doesn’t he look worried?

When he went to move, he carefully placed one foot and then the other. Ho Hum.

He took to that better than Squirt.  (Not that I am comparing!)

Thinking old Longshot is gonna make a horse.






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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16 Responses to The Education of Longshot

  1. Marilyn says:

    Ho Hum, Longshot! (grin) I admit, I wasn’t expecting to read about a narcoleptic horse! He sure sounds like he’s going to make someone a fine mount after getting off to a dicey start with that tendon. I’m sorry — N’Awlins suburbs are not the place to keep a horse, although Mr. Shadow Dachshund’s therapist just bought some acres and is doing so. It’s WAY different, riding in south Louisiana.

    • Patty says:

      Hi Marilyn–this Disqus thing does not let me in on the fact that I have replies very often! Longshot is just a hoot. He will likely go home next week and I am rather sad about it as I sort of consider myself his human mother. Plus he and Lacey and LT are hanging around in a glob all the time–the Three Amigos. Toots of course is the one left out.

      • Marilyn says:

        I should think it WOULD be hard to have an animal — be it horse or dog — with you for several years, training, and then send him or her off to someone else.

        • Patty says:

          It is sometimes very hard. Other times I am ready or as with JD, his mom was ready to do a lot of riding with him so it was easy!

          • Marilyn says:

            Heh. I’m having trouble sending Young Master Harper (b&t longhaired Dachshund) to shows with his co-owner. He’s my Boy, you know! And I know he’s coming back to me. I have to admire someone who can care for and train a critter to do things right, and then send them on. And, yeah, I usually check at least once a day when there’s a new post, ’cause Disqus doesn’t let me know for 24-48 hours.

          • Patty says:

            Nice to know Master Harper comes back! That makes it ieasier. I leased my Penny horse but I still get to ride her about once a week and be with her and her rider at horse shows, and she is coming back, so that is ok!

          • Marilyn says:

            Yes, my Boy is sleeping with his head on my left foot. (And 15 year old Mr. Shadow is sleeping with his head on my right foot, while Babette Beagle is curled up between the chair and the back of my ankles. If I try to move, it may be a problem.) I never planned on a show dog — I’m one of those who cherishes the so-called “pet quality” dogs. Or rescues. But Brian, who was Shadow’s breeder, wasn’t going to have a litter last year, and suggested I look at Harper’s litter. I did, and fell in love. Then the wretch suggested we go in on a show dog who could live with me and he would show. So we did. Of course, no critter can walk into a ring and show with 15 minutes practice, no matter HOW good the handler is! So, guess who’s training… and being trained!

          • Patty says:

            Well, all that learning–staves off Alzheimers’s! Does Master Harper enjoy the shows?

          • Marilyn says:

            Heh. I stay busy researching, trust me! Harper seems to enjoy the shows — the DCA Nationals were his second outing and he took a Second, which I thought was pretty good for an inexperienced laddy. He loves going out and about… he’s never met a person he didn’t like, or another dog, either. His major flaw is that he wants to lick the judge’s face! (He can now hold his “stack,” though.)

          • Patty says:

            The stack must be a show dog pose?
            Licking the judge! I hope they have a sense of humor!

          • Marilyn says:

            Yes, “stack” is show dog pose. We practice daily — five or ten minutes every afternoon. Harper is one of the friendliest Dachshunds I’ve ever met — he is convinced that everyone wants to be his friend! In his world, there are no Bad People, and I hope I can keep it that way! At DCA, he didn’t try to lick the judges, thank goodness, but on his first outing, he did. Luckily, that judge just allowed as how what was permissible in a 6-9 month puppy should probably be discouraged in an adult dog. was taken almost a year ago, of his litter. Harper is Purple/Orange boy.

          • Patty says:

            Oh my–very adorable!

          • Marilyn says:

            And a proof of the Boy at DCA…. (photo by Andra O’Connell). He’s grown a trifle.

          • Patty says:

            He looks very important and focussed!

  2. Doranna says:

    Too strange that you’re not getting response notices? Bah, Disqus!

    Hooray, Longshot! And hooray for that moment when you got through to him. The sull-up animals can be really difficult to deal with, if they don’t get that message soon enough…

    • Patty says:

      Disqus will periodically update me, but not in any semblance of real-time–Marilyn’s post didn’t come thru–and I found yours just now by looking here. Longshot did so well over that dead fall, but yesterday had trouble leading over big loose rock–he following willingly, if hurriedly, enough…Yeah sull up is not my favorite. Of course crazy sensitive has its own drawbacks!!

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