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Preview: Must love mustangs!

Must love mustangs!

Working with mustangs has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Chico and Catlow were born in the wilds of Oregon in 2004, captured at the end of that year, then adopted to us in 2005. I continue to learn with them every year!

Updated: 2018-01-21T11:43:11.464-06:00


Hoof trims for Tess and Fifi's freedom


The bay roan filly's name is Tess.  She is doing great at my friends.  She has a completely different temperatment than Fifi though.  She is a bit flighty, less trusting of people, and more attached to my friend's other horses.  So much so that she actually ran into and bent a panel one day when the horses took off with exuberance for the pasture.  Even so, she is leading in the round pen, picking up all her feet, totally desensitized to the flag and ropes.  She's doing great.  Today I trimmed her feet and she also was led outside her round pen for the first time.She also just would rather be left alone and seems to just be tolerating us (as compared to Fifi who is really getting attached to me).  She didn't really enjoy me hugging her as you can see in her face! I worked with Fifi in the round pen today, just getting her freed up and trotting out.  She was wonderful in the round pen.  Moved right out and turned in to me when I stepped in front of her drive line and asked for whoa.  It didn't take long at all to feel satisfied with her round penning skills.  Then I led her around the fence line and let her out into the pasture! I turned her out with Shimmer, Charlie and Catlow.  The others get too aggressive with new horses and Denny is interested in her because she's showing heat to him.  I don't want her bred!Fifi had a great first afternoon in the pasture.  She didn't really care what the other horses were up to and followed me around.  She did test the fence and got a shock, so that was good.  I could walk up and halter her anytime without her thinking she wanted to leave me.  In fact, she'd approach me as I got close to her asking for me to rub her on the withers.  Apparently she's itchy.  She's now spending the night in the stall, but she'll go back out with the same horses tomorrow.  Then maybe after that I'll start adding horses back in so the whole herd can be together again.Someone asked what made us choose these two.  Well, the bay roan was first pick because of her conformation.  It's hard to get a feel for what kind of a connection you might have with a horse in the pens duiring an adoption event.  The horses are stressed, ignoring the people gawking at them, and just eating hay and trying to pretend they aren't getting stared at.  And honestly, the sorrel filly was just an afterthought because we could adopt a buddy horse for $25.  She was one of the few left, and I am not crazy about her conformation, however, her temperament and sweet sweet nature totally make up for her looks![...]



Fifi loves her grain.  She nickers eagerly to me when I come with it once a day.  She's already gaining weight and filling out in areas she was gaunt before.Last week I was able to halter her and give her dewormer.  She'd only been dewormed once previously in November shortly after she was gathered from Nevada.  A couple days later I found SEVERAL piles of poop as full of roundworms as this pile. I have had several hula hoops scattered throughout Fifi's pen.  She pays them no mind.  They do not bother her at all.  She steps on them, and they rattle as they flip up and touch her leg.  Great desensitizing tools!My daughter has been a great help in desensitizing her with her crazy antics.  My daughter is completely unafraid of Fifi having spent a lot of time around very nice horses.  It makes it hard for me trying to make sure she keeps herself safe around her, but it also is good for Fifi to have a crazy unpredictable soul around.It's amazing how fast she is filling out.  I feed her pretty much free choice hay, but then also 1 lb beet pulp, 1.5 lbs alfalfa pellets, 1 lb rice bran, 1 lb Purina Enrich Plus, and a sprinkle of free choice mineral daily.She is one of the least herd bound horses I have ever met.  She's interested in my horses, but is not worried about their coming and going.  They do not break her attentiveness to me.  Her main interests are food, and I think I might be second.  The other horses are definitely below me and food in her loves list.  I've never had one bond to me so fast and be this stead in nature.  She's so unspooky.She was in need of a hoof trim, so last Wednesday, I made it a priority to get her feet done.  She'd been letting me pick her feet up in a relaxed manner.  It took some patience, but I finally convinced her to stand still (untied, we aren't tying yet) and let me trim all 4 hooves.  I was even able to put her foot on the stand and rasp them. After the trimming session, she was very relaxed, so I led her out of her pen for the first time.  I'd been leading her around the pen for the last week and she was starting to give to halter pressure from the side but wasn't leading up real because it was in a small pen.  There was no incentive to lead up. Outside the pen, she led up really well.  And she followed me out through the gate into my yard.  My chickens were very interesting, but she was unafraid.  She got to graze for a while, then I convinced her to come into my barn and into a stall.So now Fifi is staying in my barn.  I've been leading her out around the yard to graze and have leading lessons.  And again she is just unconcerned about the other horses.Tonight was the 3rd time leading her out into the yard and tonight was the first time she really tested me.  She's been leading so well, but as we got out into the yard, she tried to bolt down to the area where the grazing is really good.  She wasn't able to pull away and led up really nice the rest of the time.  Then on the way back to the house, she decided she wasn't ready to leave the nice grassy area, so she tried to bolt and pull away from me several times.  The last time, she even let out a squeal as she tried to bolt away.  At that point I chased her backwards 15 ft.  After that she led up really well and didn't once try to bolt away again.  She wasn't bolting in fear at all.  She was testing her ability to make decisions and try to get her way.  She realized quickly that wasn't going to work and she'd best lead up with me.  Just another lesson!  Every day!She is turning into a real sweety.  She loves to be groomed, she nickers at me every time she sees me walk into the barn, and she really seems to trust me.  I think someday this filly is going to make an excellent kids horse.  I did the cannon bone measurement test and I think she'll get to 14 hh.[...]

Working with baby mustangs.


This was the night we brought them home.My mustang pen has not been used for quite a while!  Well, it has occasionally held friend's new horses as a quarantine pen.  It was getting late when we brought them home the first night, so left them alone after feeding them.  They needed to just settle in.Right from the start, the sorrel didn't seem as afraid as the bay roan.  The bay roan would hide behind the sorrel most of the time if we got too close, and was the first to move away, taking the sorrel with her.When I arrived to see them the next morning after adoption, first they hung back.Then the sorrel boldly approached me get a closer look.I could get pretty close to them at the waterer.And the sorrel actually touched my hand with her nose.And they got their first taste of grain.  The sorrel really liked it, while the bay roan took a few nibbles before moving away.We let them just hang out that day as well...And Sunday morning I sat by them as they ate hay.  Both of them sniffed my back.  They have sweet eyes. That evening, my friend stopped by to visit and we started their first official work session.  First I worked with the sorrel with the pole.  She didn't run at all and it didn't take long at all until I could touch her all over her whole body with the pole.  Her uncomfortable spot was her chest and front legs.  She attempted to rear and half-heartedly strike out.  But settled quickly.  I advanced quickly to touching her shoulder and rubbing her neck.  Her "good" side is her right side.  She prefers me on that side.  I was a bit pushy with her just because she let me touch her so quickly.  I attempted to rub her face, and she didn't like that very much, and attempted to pin her ears at me and threaten to strike.  So I just ended on a good note being able to rub her withers and back on both sides.Then my friend worked with the bay roan.  This is her first time working with mustangs.  The bay roan is a bit flightier and needs a bit more work to gain trust, but really she's not bad.  And once my friend gains that trust, she's going to love the bond they build!The bay roan's tendancy is to kick when the pole gets down by her tail and her sides...but after running at first, she settled quickly.  We didn't touch her today, but she is learning that she can be touched.That evening, my friend took the bay roan to her house so that the two could be separated and it would be easier to work with them.I was busy Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday I got a chance to work with the sorrel again.As you can see from the pictures, things progressed rapidly!She is the least spooky, calm mustang I've ever met!  She will be a fun one!  I anticipate having more trouble when we get to the making her move part.  Right now I'm encouraging her to stand and just let me touch her all over.  I can throw a rope over her back and she doesn't even move off!  She seems completely unconcerned.  I can swing it and bump her against her butt.  She makes me think maybe she's done this before?  But once I got to the halter part, she let me halter her, but if I put any pressure on the rope, she reacts like an unbroke horse...leans into the pressure.  We haven't done anything with leading yet, but I anticipate doing that this weekend.  I'm pretty positive that she's never done any of this before, but she is just so easy!  So laid back!  So calm!  She doesn't even seem upset that she's in her pen all by herself with no other horses around.  She's not going to be a very big horse and she's not the best put together horse I've ever seen, but with this temperament, she has a lot of potential.And I ended the session by taking her tag off!  I unwound it through the holes (rather than cutting it off)...that's how chill she is.Oh, and by the end of that session, after calling her Fifi the whole time (just as a cutesy pet name), Fifi[...]

Mustang mania


So, this just happened:

There was an adoption event in Marshfield, WI June 16-17, and my friend and I brought home 2 yearlings!!!!  So excited to be working with wild ones again!  I have more to update.  For now I'll just say my friend is working with the bay roan, and I am working with the sorrel.  So far, the sorrel is the easiest mustang I've ever worked with!  Kind of a nice change from the last 2 I had (Kachina and Griffin).

Catch up


My babies Charlie and Denny both turned 2 years old this month and they've really grown!!!!  My appy pony Shimmer is 4 and is doing really well with riding.  Earlier this year I did radiographs on Chico's hocks and discovered why he has been so on and off lame over the last several years.  H.e has severe arthritis of his distal hock joints and it even has calcified the collateral ligaments.  Same in both hocks so it's likely just him, no injury.  He's been a pasture pet for the last several years anyway.  Now I guess he's permanently retired.  Cody, Catlow and Stormy are all doing well.I just want to show some catchup pictures of this spring.  I can't believe how awesome my babies are turning out.  I'm so pleased with both of them. My human baby is growing a ton too!  She's six years old! Catlow and her baby Denny (Cody photo bombing)Charlie and her Momma CodyDennyCharlie and CodyMy new puppy Aladdin and ShimmerDenny and sissy CharlieCharlie and DennyShimmerShimmerShimmerStormy (my daughter leading her)Stormy and my daughterMy dad riding Catlow on a trail rideCody and her spring dapplesDennyDenny making baby face at Uncle ChicoDennyDenny and my daughterDenny and his momma CatlowCharlie and her first trip away from homeCharlie[...]

Horsey Play Date


My good friend who lives nearby bought a new horse last weekend.  He is a black 8 month old Welsh/Morgan cross, and he is going to be one fancy horse!  He has a beautiful extended trot, and should mature to around 14.2hh.  I was off on Wednesday, so I loaded up Denny who is a year older than her new colt and went to her house for a horsey playdate.  It was Denny's first time loading into a trailer by himself, and last time he loaded was over a year ago with his mom.  He did ok.  He was concerned, and he didn't hop right in.  It took some convincing, but he did finally step in.  Once in he was just fine.  I really haven't worked with Denny and Charlie much at all, other than basic skills.  They both lead, tie, pick up feet, stand still, can touch all over.  I've started to lunge both of them a bit, but not much at all lately since it is so cold here. So this impromptu play date was quite a new experience for Denny.  He met a percheron cross gelding (who was kinda bossy), the colt, a goat, a llama, and a calf.  I was surprised by how little attention he gave the goat and llama having never seen anything like them before.  He didn't care one bit about them...wasn't scared of them, and wasn't really that curious about them either.  He had his hooves full with the new horses.We got a lot of really great pictures of them![...]

Merry Christmas!



Catching up - Charlie in the Fall.


First time hobbling.  Took it very well.

Denny, yearling colt, almost a horse!



Charlie Ann, yearling filly, almost a horse!





Babies are growing.  A lot.  Will have to take more pictures soon.   Been working on Shimmer.  She is doing great!  I rode her in a "mini show" (basically just schooling show) last weekend.

I think weaning is over, finally!


I turned the mares back out with the whole herd today.  They'd been in an adjacent pasture.  The babies always seemed so interested in them and still are, but I think the mares are finally over the baby thing.  Neither mare let their babies nurse today and both kicked at them.  I thought Cody might still let Charlie, but she actually kicked her and made contact!  Catlow mostly just threatened.  The babies only tried that initial meeting and now they are all fine.  I haven't even seen them try again all day.  Everyone is happy.Shimmer is such a beautiful filly.  Inside and out.Charlie has finally officially caught up to Shimmer!  Yearling versus 3 year old.I put Chico's grazing muzzle back on for the "summer".  It's been warm enough that the pastures are coming in and Chico is really fat already.  He's the only fat one.  Denny doesn't understand what's on Chico's face!  Isn't this boy going to be a handsome horse?Flaxen mane!Making baby mouth!  Trying to understand what is up with Chico!  Chico just wants this thing off his face.Charlie is still shedding her coat.  Her winter hairs are dull and brown.  But she is shiny and black in the few places she has nicks or bite marks, giving a taste of what's to come![...]

Working with Shimmer


Weaning babies is still ongoing.  They still try to nurse every time they get with their mamas and the mamas for the most part would let them, so I'm being very careful.  I've got Charlie with Chico, Shimmer and Catlow.  Denny is in a separate pasture with Cody and Stormy.  Charlie tries to sneak in and nurse on Catlow, but she won't let her.  The mares are finally drying up.  Cody and Charlie still whinny for eachother though.  They are so dependent!  So close!

I've been working with Shimmer.  Today with did some ground driving for the first time and she was amazing.  It started out a little rough, but she really figured it out.  And I also sat on her for the first time!  I can't wait to work with her again.  She is a fast learner and is really going to be a great kids horse someday.  Nothing really bothers her and she is just a good girl!



The babies have been   in the mustang pen for the last week.  They are not happy about being separated from the herd, but they have eachother.  And the whole herd comes down a couple times a day to drink from the automatic waterer that is shared between the mustang pen and their pasture.  So they see their mothers regularily.  On Sunday, I decided to put the mares in the barn, then open the gate and let the babies out of the mustang pen (the barn and the mustang pen are separated by a hill, so they can't see eachother when the herd is in my new barn).  Of course, the babies were pacing in the back of the pen, toward where the rest of the herd went, then they ran out toward the front of the pen...Denny immediately saw that the gate was open and exited, whereas Charlie was so focused on where the others went that she did not see the wide open gate right in front of her face and instead ran to the side and paced at the panels.  Denny immediately took off over the hill for the herd, while Charlie ran back into the back of the pen FREAKING out!  Now she was alone!!!! She paced the back of the pen for at least 30 minutes.  She had just lost her mind!  She ran out front 4 times, and each time she missed the wide open gate in front of her face and instead ran to the side of the pen toward where the others went, completely missing it. I was so frustrated with how frantic she was that after watching her for half an hour, I shut the gate, thinking that maybe it wasn't a good lesson for her to get out and find relief by running back to the her after she'd been so crazed.  I went and got Catlow out of the barn and put her in with Charlie.  As soon as Catlow as there, Charlie was much calmer!  Now she had someone to follow, but she still paced the pen and whinnied for her mom.  I was so frustrated with Charlie...she exhibited the same behaviors as when I led her out of the barn away from the herd.  She just loses all rational thought and practically runs me over.  I'm not sure what to do to get her over this, other than leave her with a horse she can be comfortable with and just let her mature...her baby brain just can't handle this.  Unfortunately, she gets the pacing and ridiculousness from her mom.  Except that I've worked with Cody enough that if I am there, she respects me and will not run me over and will stand calm if I'm handling her.Denny continued to run around and enjoy his freedom after I let him out of the pen.  And suddenly Denny looks like a horse rather than a baby.  I swear it just happened overnight.[...]

Midst of weaning


The babies have not nursed from their mommas in a few days now.  When they are with the herd, they are quite relaxed, but still come to the barn door to whinny to their mommas on occasion.  When they are in the barn without their mommas, for the most part they are fairly calm, but Charlie paces and really wants to get back out.  When their mommas come in but they are in a stall and can't get near them, they just get frantic!  Especially when the mares then leave the barn.  I know it will take time and it is natural for them to be afraid of being without the herd, but they are so good in every other way that I forget that.  And it catches me off guard when they get so frantic that they are practically running me over!  Charlie is the worst of the two.  But I'm not surprised.  She's just like her mom.Both babies have lost just a little bit of weight in this whole process.  It seems to be mostly belly weight, cuz they are not too thin anywhere else.  Charlie is also just so refined compared to Denny...but if you saw them together, Charlie has such a wider body and it is difficult to call her more refined than Denny.  It's the legs!!!  Her legs make her seem dainty.Last weekend the weather was extremely nice - 65 degrees!!!!!  I went for a road ride with a few friends.  I rode Cody.  The snow was melting rapidly and the ground was too soft for trails.  It was a good time.[...]

Denny and Catlow


The babies enjoyed being out with the other horses (even without their mommas) much better than being locked in the barn.  Starting now, I'll have them in overnight, and out during the day.  I put Uncle Chico in with them tonight for a little extra comfort.  I'm still letting them nurse twice a day and at this point it seems more for comfort than for the milk.  Here are a few pictures of Denny and Catlow running around after I let the mares out of the barn while I was switching them.  Cody and Charlie did not run around...they were too busy eating hay together.



Weaning is going well.  I've been letting the mares into the barn twice a day for about an hour to let the babies nurse.  Today I can tell that Cody's udder is not quite as full, so she is slowing down milk production.  Same with Catlow.  And today was the first day that the babies came right to me when I walked into the barn in the morning instead of standing at the door whinnying for their mammas.  They were still waiting for them, but came to me first, and calmly walking into their stalls when I directed them so I could let the mares in.  They still went crazy as the mares came in, but I'm seeing an improvement in their attitudes!  Today, I'm home most of the day, so I'm going to let the babies out in the pasture with the other horses and leave the mares in the barn.  Babies need to stretch their legs.  Also, Denny has been pawing at the door and he's wearing the toe off his left foot.  I'd like him to quit doing that, but I can't control it when he's in the barn.  I guess I could lay a rubber mat by the door, but I suspect it won't stay there.

Spring naughties


Saturday I took the mares and Shimmer to a groundwork clinic in town.  It was more about how to do the groundwork tests for North American Western Dressage, than training.  And with where I left off last fall with Shimmer, I figured she'd be ready for this.  I was wrong!  She was so naughty!  Not listening, not stopping when I asked her to, blowing past me when I lunged her, looky-looing at everyone, shaking her head when I tried to use the halter to ask her to stop when one point I was just leading her in a straight line and without any warning or anything that set her off, she jumped straight up in the air...literallly at least 3 feet up!  I had to take her outside and do a bunch of lunging and lots of changing of direction before she settled down and could actually pay attention to me somewhat.  Even then, she was still restless, but at least not bumping into me. I didn't expect it out of her because immediately before the clinic, a friend and I took the mares for a ride on some new trails near the facility, and I ponied Shimmer all saddled up, and she was really good (with the exception of pinning her ears at Cody, which is something she would never have gotten away with in the pasture).  During the ride, the mares where a bit on edge too...walking really fast, just unsettled, but ok.  By the end of the ride they were much calmer.The mares were part of the groundwork clinic too, and other people were using them (my friend and one other person in the clinic).  Catlow was very well behaved, but Cody was almost as bad as Shimmer (looky-looing, restless...and I hear she got very naughty when I took Shimmer outside to tune her up).After the clinic, we went back out on the trails with a couple of boarders at the facility and the mares were even more on edge!  You would think they would be tired, or more relaxed after all the work they had, but no.  It was a long day for them.  Their udders where pretty full by the time we were done, so I'm sure they were plenty distracted.  They were all tied to the trailer at the end, happily eating hay from their haybags, while I chatted with a few people over by the barn, when suddenly I saw Cody walking out the gate and back down the trail!  She untied herself and decided she was heading home!  I ran after her and caught up to her and she stopped for me, but she was on a mission!  Heading home!  They all loaded back up and made the trip home fine.Everyone was pretty happy to be home.Today I took Charlie out, spontaneously, and took her on a walk down the driveway.  As soon as we walked out the door to the shed, she immediately was on edge, eyes big, nostrils flared.  I should have thought better but I just wanted to see how she'd be down the driveway.  Well, she completely lost her mind.  She was not paying any attention to me at all, and could have been dangerous even as she was walking into me and progressed to half rearing.  I stupidly thought I could work her through it, though I had never done any lunging or that type of work with her when she was actually calm.  It didn't really work, and she was still out of control.  She was more than happy to get back up to the house, and when she heard Cody whinny, she tried to bolt away from me, reared up, and tumbled over half backwards (she didn't get hurt, but it did scare her a bit (more than she was already)).So, I decided to wean the babies.  I need them to be okay without their mommas!  And I think it will [...]

Shimmer and the saddle


I love this little filly.  I saddled her for the first time tonight.  I've only done basic groundwork with her...lunging, sending, some obstacle stuff, taught her to stand for fly spray (she was terrified at first).  She has become a solid little horse.  She's not spooky and is going to be a great kids pony someday!  She took to saddling as though she'd been saddled every day her whole life.  The saddle was more interesting when it was on the fence than when it was on her back.  And the other babies thought it was pretty weird to have a saddle on Shimmer.  She is just a hair too small for my saddles.  She has also not lost any of her incisors yet suggesting that she is still only barely 2 years old, though I was told they thought she'd be 3 this year.

Denny's lovely movement


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Raising babies


Phew!  Tonight I just finished trimming the last (7th) horse in my herd in need of a hoof trim!  They were all due.  I've been working on them for the last couple weeks.  I can't do them all in one hand strength is not there!  Tonight I finished Charlie.Sunday it was Denny and Cody.Denny was a very good boy.  He didn't appreciate being separated from his mama though.  But he was very well behaved.  He is going to be such a cool horse.  I love his conformation.  He doesn't have the huge quarter horse hip, but it's a nice hip.  And he is much leaner built than Charlie...he is not as wide in the hip or chest, but he is just as long.  He seems stouter.  His legs are much bigger in comparison to his body than Charlie's are.  I can't wait to see how this boy shapes up!I love his ringlets in his tail.  He gets this from his mom. The babies are still with their mommas.  They will be weaned in the spring when the grass starts to grow in.  I subscribe to the thought that they need the extra protein from mom's milk over the winter when on dry hay with a little grain and mineral, rather than being weaned just after the grass dries up and while they are still growing at an incredible rate.  Being loaded up on grain to keep them growing isn't good for them.  There is research showing an association between high starch feeds and developmental orthopedic diseases in youngsters. I think my babies are in phenomenal condition.  I can say this since I've seen several other babies to compare them to.  Just this week, I was called out to pull blood for Coggin's tests on two babies just a month younger than my two.  When I first saw them, I thought for sure they were pony foals, and was absolutely shocked when I was told they were quarter horses.  The poor babies were very very thin and had long scraggly hair coats.  You could not see their ribs because their haircoats were so long, but they were very distinctively felt.  They were being fed a couple pounds of a 13% sweet feed, and hay that felt like sticks (it was grass hay just riddled with weeds, specifically long super tough goldenrod shafts).  No salt, no extra minerals.  The beef cows they were with looked fleshy and in good health, but that is no diet for baby horses.  I gave the owner lots of recommendations for them (deworm, shots, change grain, mineral, and try to get them on better hay).  I had to tell her I was worried that they were already stunted because of their poor diet.  She'd only had them a month, so they were like this before she every picked them up.  And perhaps she's never had babies before, so my goal was to politely educate and see if we couldn't get these babies in better condition before she calls me out to geld them.I was sent a picture a few weeks neighbor was going through their trail cam pictures from the summer and came across this:I just love this picture!I will breed my mares again in the next year or two, but not this year.  This fall I am planning a trip to Wyoming with my horses to ride in the mountains with my good friend.  I definitely have the baby horse bug though and I cannot WAIT to do it again!  I love the combination of my beloved mares and a really nice stallion, and I love being a part of shaping who my young horses become.  It is so refreshing to have horses that are just about broke just fro[...]

Denny and his mama


I did the cannon bone measuring test on Denny and Charlie tonight.  Denny should mature at 15hh and Charlie should mature at 15.1 or 15.2hh.  I doublechecked the measures on Catlow and Cody and their measurements do reflect their heights.  Cody is 15hh and Catlow is 14.3hh.

Thanksgiving ponies