Definitely Right Sided

I want to get this written down before I forget.

Rusty learns and responds much better from his right side. He picked up bowing, giving to pressure and a simple bow, simply by transferring it from what I taught him on the left side, much quicker and easier on the right. He still has trouble picking up his left front hoof and it was the first thing we started working on.

He has trouble turning to the right when ridden but I believe it is because the cue comes from my left leg?

He has a swirl on his left jaw bone, half way between his cheek and his mouth. Any swirls that are not matched perfectly on both sides always mean there is an imbalance somewhere in the horse. I have thought that the swirl was perhaps an indicator of his extreme mouthiness, and it may be, but it is also his only swirl that doesn’t match.


Freedom To Choose

20161010_0840528 wanted to go for a ride. He makes his wishes known and I seldom have trouble deciphering his wants. Often they nearly give me a heart attack, but at least I know what he wants. And never to look away, even for one minute.

So we went for a ride. Rusty was already out so we let him follow, or not, as he wished. They had just been turned out on the fresh green grass for the morning so Rusty wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about following as he usually is. Not at first.

We made a lap around the yard, decided Rusty was probably going to stay back near Princess Onna and eat grass. So we went down the driveway, out between the fields, for a little longer ride. Rusty got worried as we passed the big house and the shop. He didn’t want to go that way, didn’t want us to either. He ran over and stood by Onna at the gate, calling. We looked back one last time as we passed the tree row where the fields opened p around us. He was still at the gate.

Over the slight hill and out of view we heard hoof beats thundering up behind. He had left grass and the company of another horse to come with us. I decided against proceeding any farther down the drive. 8 was trying to fall off peering back around me to see the neigh come. We went into the unplanted corner of the pivot instead.

Rusty galloped happily in circles around us. Making Coyote really mad, knowing the grouchy old boy could only do so much with riders on. I often wonder if Coyote waits until they are back in their pen and gets him really good. I wouldn’t blame him. Rusty cut close in front of him, then stopped to graze. He galloped up be hind and brushed against Coyotes rather large behind as he passed. But he didn’t even look at the corn.

I was sure to stay a healthy distance from the golden, rustling crop, but though he investigated in that direction a couple of times he never ventured far enough to take a bite. We made a couple of laps, until 8 started to squirm, then headed back.  Dismounting on our favorite flatbed trailer, we unhaltered and turned them loose to eat.

Hidden Picture

Rusty stopped and turned to look away from me as we were working the other day. I called him and tried to get his attention but couldn’t figure out what he was looking at.


Good Finished Horses?

20161014_092520We moved cattle this morning. A neighbor and good friend is layed up and the father-in-law has been feeding his cattle for him. He decided it would be easier to just bring them home and feed them here. It should have been an easy move, two miles down gravel road with fences on at least one side the whole way. The time was set for eight in the morning. The afternoon was already booked for hauling cattle home that had been out to pasture all summer. The early start time should have left plenty of time to get done and haul the others.

I did not ride Rusty. Even if he had a little more riding, moving cattle is stressful and requires being able to get the job done and done quickly. Not a good place for a very green horse if you have another option. So I grabbed Coyote, and Princess Onna for Tanna who was coming along to help. The wind was brisk as was the temperature. The horses were feeling good, hot and antsy. We loaded them in the trailer for the ride over, they are fat and out of shape, don’t want to make them work too hard. Little did we know we would have need of all their energy.

Some friends from the big city came along to watch. We unloaded, sorted kids at least six, and waited for orders. There were nearly more people than cattle and surely it would be a fun kind of move, where everyone hung out and talked. Then we realized that they had started without us. My cow hating husband and his sister walked into the pen to push the small herd towards the hay bale meant to lure them out. They were having none of it. After two failed attempts we squeezed the horses past the payloader in the gate and went to help.

The pen was horse hell. Dead fallen trees littered the ground, while still standing trees, dead and otherwise added a higher element to the difficulty. As we entered I told Tanna to take care of her horse, if it came down to loosing the cattle or risking her horse, let the cows go. The four of us chased them around for a few laps, they found a different gate and left in the wrong direction, then finally went to the open gate we were trying to get them out.

Coyote and Onna behave perfectly throughout. As long as your idea of a perfectly behaved horse doesn’t require that they stand still. In the chaos of running cattle, fourwheelers and downed trees a horse out of control could easily get its self and its rider seriously injured.  They did very well and we all survived.

Once out the cattle took off running and we were able to give the horses their heads. I thought it would be a quick jaunt to let Coyote blow some steam then maybe he would walk. It was just the beginning of a train wreck. A calf dropped to the ground as though dead while the others kept going. He got up and kept going with a little prodding but then dove through a fence. Usually it takes a few years to learn tricks like that, in a calf it’s impressive. And required Coyotes particular set of calf moving skills to keep him moving.


From there it only went down hill. Calves climbed through fences on both sides, cows took off running, cows plodded slowly until they were spread out over a mile. We ran the horses back and forth trying to keep them out of a corn field and on the road. The horses gave their all, happily using up all that excess energy. They were still prancing and hopping as we neared the end.

I have always said that Princess Onna is not a child’s horse but a horse ridden, with utmost care, by a child. Today she proved that. She was hot and crazed but still completely trustworthy. Coyote was lunging at the… halter. I had looked at his big cow eating bit when I tacked up this morning, and decided against it. They both were slightly out of control, but still light and responsive, happy to give what we asked of them. Well trained without loosing their spirit. It makes me happy to think that Rusty might be like this some day.

Fun to ride, dependable for a hard days work, definitely. Finished horses? Maybe not so much.




We Did It! Almost.

It is what started the whole thing. Almost. I only wanted a good little cow horse. Then there was a blog post about teaching a horse to fetch, it sounded pretty cool and I wanted to try. Along with that a good bow sounded like fun. I didn’t know how but I’ve never let that stop me. From there I wound up at Horse Tricks 101 and then clicker training. Now finally we’ve done it. Almost.

Not fetching, that was easy and done a long time ago. The bow was harder. I gave up for a while, worked on other things, really didn’t think we were going to try it anymore. But then we came back to it. It may have been the great lesson with Juan Carlos. Or it could have been the friend of my mom who was teaching it to her horse, nothing like a little competition for encouragement.

I tried to make him do what I wanted. I backed up a few steps and taught him a stronger foundation for what we were working on and tried again. He is always willing when food is involved. He’s been dropping lower and lower every time we worked. And technically we haven’t hit the ground yet. But we’re SO close. He grazed the ground with his knee, and didn’t jump up. He stayed there until I clicked and set his foot down.

I was thinking how it worked him unevenly. Everything we do on one side should be mirrored on the other, it was bothering me. So a couple of days ago I thought we should try the other side too. He caught up immediately. Now both knees are grazing the ground. Another time or two and I’m sure he’ll be all the way down.

After that just think where he can go with it! First from the ground, then mounted, then maybe laying down, kneeling on both knees even! First though an actual bow and get it on a cue. Boring little steps that probably shouldn’t be skipped over.

Oh, and it’s snowing.

Yes, But Does He Ride?

Every time I say “Hey, look! Rusty is so cool he can blah blah blah.” I stop and think to myself that that’s nice but can he ride? Playing fetch is all well and good but isn’t the end goal a rideable horse? For me it is, I want a good cow horse who can get down and cut a calf, who is capable of doing a pretty good reining pattern and going all day to cover lots of country. I want a ranch horse, who will let me carry small children safely and put up with a rope under his tail if I need to drag a calf. How am I going to get that if I spend what little working time I have teaching silly tricks?

After I get done being all insecure about not doing things the usual way I remember that we aren’t doing things the usual way. I’m not good at being normal. Normal would require not feeding my horse treats. Normal would require that working Rusty would mean riding Rusty. Normal would mean insisting Rusty behave, trying to teach him to stand tied and battling his strong will.

I don’t like to do that. He’s rotten, he’s pushy and he’s a thinker. I hate to take that away from him, I like this whole working with him instead of against him. Mostly I like that he thinks our time working together is great fun. He’s not scared of me on his back, he knows it means more cookies. That doesn’t mean he always wants to do what I ask just that he’s not worried about me being there. Our time spent on silly little tricks is building a bond and a partnership. He trusts me and wants to be with me. I think our time not riding will lead to an even better ranch horse, maybe even help us get there quicker than if I concentrated on riding.

Just to be sure though I saddled him up and went for a little ride the last time I worked him. He was green and didn’t know the answers to everything I asked but he went where I wanted and even when he didn’t want to he came around without a big fight. It was a nice little ride and I think I can safely say, yes. Yes he does ride thank you very much.

Mine At Last

It was almost a year ago that I was whining to my mother about how much I missed having a horse to train. She had been looking at a nice little reining type quarter horse with a friend, why didn’t I get him she asked. I don’t want a quarter horse I whined.  You have Princess Onna, my daughters mare, why don’t you train on her? My mom is so patient and apparently I whine a lot because she just wasn’t what I wanted either she’s old and broke good enough. IF I was going to get a horse I wanted a nice young, unstarted, western bred Morgan. Not that I’m picky or anything.

It just so happened that right then Forever Morgans was trying desperately to save a horse who exactly fit my list. He was in a kill pen in Oregon and shipping the next day. My mom had seen him but wasn’t going to mention it because I was not looking for a horse. She did mention it though, I looked at him and joined many others in offering to foster. He was half way across the country and I didn’t have my paper work in by his shipping deadline, there was no way he would end up with me. Somehow he did though, a few months later after quarantine and difficulty finding a hauler who would go through the mountains in the middle of winter.

It always amazes me how God gives you exactly what you need. I wasn’t looking for a horse when Rusty and I found each other and didn’t know how badly I needed him until he was here. He learned some manners, to take a saddle, then to play fetch and ball, and finally to ride. Now he is mine for real. No more fostering. I decided I couldn’t let him go and we would have to adopt him. Welcome home Rusty.

For The Dogs

My good friend and favorite play date was feeling down when she came over to play last time. She had along her recently taken in puppy. The puppy was driving her and the entire family insane. Her husband had always wanted a hound dog and so when they had the chance at this utterly adorable pup they jumped at it. Now they were regretting it.

The adorable hound pup is eating everything in sight, terrorizing the children and her endless energy is wearing my friend into exhaustion. People had been asking to have a chance at her ever since they got her and maybe it would be best for everybody if they let someone else have a try at the poor, adorable puppy. But she so did not want to.

I begged her to please try clicker training. To let me have a little go at it, see what happened. I have no clue how to train dogs. We are blessed to have Daisy who is perfect in every way, she’s never needed training. She let me try anyway.

That silly puppy went from running wild, chewing on children to sitting quietly at my feet waiting patiently for her next great reward of a piece of dog food. Clicker training is incredible. Of course as soon as we pulled out the phone everything went wrong. Daisy found us and was horribly upset to be left out, children needed attention and I was looking even scruffier than usual.


After working with the puppy awhile her loving owner had to give it a try and start learning the basics of clicker training. It’s harder than it looks.

She is not fixed by any means. I still know nothing about training dogs, her owner knows nothing about clicker training and is having to learn everything from scratch. I think they are going to try though. The amount of work necessary to bring the crazed puppy to a point of being able to live with her is overwhelming. But maybe, just maybe with clicker training there is a glimmer of hope.



Yay. Facebook

So, Rusty has a facebook page now. Rescuing Rusty same as the blog. I realize that not everyone has a really awesome husband like mine to set up a news read of their favorite blogs for them. And I know this is everyone’s favorite blog so I hoped facebook might make it easier to follow 😉

The page is mostly links to the blog with occasional videos that are too long to go here. One that is, so far. I’ve been really surprised at the reaction to it. I got a little video of Rusty and I playing our usual game of fetch, nothing fancy but getting video is so rare I wanted to do something with it. Now I wish I hadn’t looked quite so scruffy.

I’ll leave you with that and some pictures of Rusty trying to decide if he wants to eat my pumpkins.

Nothing At All Interesting

But it’s those boring rides that often make it all worth while.

I had a few minutes to sneak out and work with him. So how do they always know and go stand at the far end of the pasture?

Once we were, finally, back to the front we worked on mat training, grooming, fly spray and saddling while standing loose on his rug, with marginal success. In the end he was saddled and ready to go so I think we succeeded. Despite the evidence in the video he does usually pick up his feet on a vocal command. He wanted to play fetch a little and it’s a pretty good warm up so we did.

Once I finally got on we walked back and forth working on stopping at an exhale and whoa and roll backs. After three or so laps he was doing perfectly so I got off. There was no excitement what so ever. That’s probably the way it should be but boring to write about.

He has gotten big enough that he’s no longer using my thickest blanket on the smallest hole in my latigos. He’s in my regular blanket and I’ve let the cinch out a hole. He’s growing up!