February 16, 2014
Day one of our new adventure with five new additions to our ranch. This day, we transported five wild heart horses that were originally adopted from the Umatilla Reservation roundup. These horses have had four months in captivity. Only two of them have been haltered. In this family unit, we have a tri-colored stud colt at approximately 3 years old. He seems to be the ultimate protector and shows he is in charge of their safety. He hasn’t been told yet, but as soon as we get a halter on him and some ground work, he is being gelded. Vegas, the oldest mare, is another tri-colored horse at about the age of three. Initially we thought she was the lead mare but it turns out, she is low girl in the group. We believe she is the mother to the youngest in the group. Blue is the dark bay mare at age two. She is a big boned beauty who will grow to be burly and well built. She is currently named after my mom’s first horse. LuLu is the true bay and is probably about two years old as well. She is beautiful and should fill out nicely when her body puts on some more weight. Last but not least is Jasmine (Jazz), the baby. Jenna named her Jazz and wants to train her all by herself. We will see about that but I see a glimmer in Jenna’s eye that matches Jasmine’s.
Day one with the group surprised us a little bit. The family came out of the trailer into our paddock. We thought they would run around for a few hours and be upset of the new environment. We were pleasantly surprised that they immediately settled down to eat hay inside and outside the barn. They met our horses from across the fence. It was a cordial event with many more sniffs and snorts. Libby stood back to observe the whole thing until she was good and ready to assert her wild heart into the herd. When Libby approached the fence, our two geldings backed away and she told Geronimo that she was the boss. He backed down so they now have an understanding but he is constantly testing from across the fence line.
February 17, 2014
Day two with the wild hearts presented surprises. Jasmine seems to be the one who is in charge. She eats first, pushes Vegas outside completely. We need to make sure everyone gets enough food so feeding somewhat separately from the others. Today we introduced a daily wormer and grain combination. I’m not sure how much each horse got today but they all need it. LuLu seems to be the thinnest of them all. She gets to eat next to Jasmine at the moment. They tolerate me sitting in a chair in the corner of the stall where they may come and go as they please. Most of the time, they forget I am there until I recross my legs or talk to them. Jasmine and LuLu will eat hay out of my hand which is something they would do with the previous owners. I haven’t tried to catch them yet. I want to be as patient as possible and safe.
Horses are doing good today. Not much has changed, but they do know that I am their food source. Jasmine and LuLu are always first in line. I am amazed that they are the ones ahead in the pecking order. I am excited about the up coming spring and summer so we can get these wild hearts into our round pen and begin working with them. Being a novice, I am certain it will take me awhile to become more confident.
Last summer, Red, our 7 year old gelding bucked me off him and stomped on my calf and shin. It was something that was eventually going to happen and was a big learning experience for me. It has taken me some time to go near him and when I do, I am very cautious.
Danielle is the horse lady here and I will pay very close attention to her teachings. I hope to get back on a horse this summer…I hope!!!
March 25, 2014
We are now at about five weeks out from bringing these five beauties home. This week is our Spring Break and it has been beautiful so far with lots of time to spend with our animals. Yesterday was such a fun day with the Mustangs. Emily and I were feeding them from hand. I haven’t tried to touch them as much as I have tried to be see and be seen. I have been trying to walk among them in a non threatening way. They move away as a group but several of them will come to me looking for a handout. If they act poopy or aggressive, I send them away and try again. As soon as I get my round pen completed, it will be a lot easier to isolate them and encourage them to trust me.
Looking at the pictures, it is easy to see that the food and wormings are doing their job. Jeronimo, the colt, is already looking for better as is the dark bay and Jasmine, the youngest. Lulu is still looking boney but time will be the key. Emily renamed Vegas, Alanzi (I think that’s how you spell it). My hope is that in one years time, they all look as fat and sassy as the rest of my ponies.
I’m so happy that we have the resources and food stored to help this little mustang family get healthy.
Hope you like the photos. The horses really enjoyed hanging in the sunshine.
Our daughter Emily has been spending a lot more time at the barn and has touched several of them when feeding fresh grass by hand. It’s very sweet.
This afternoon, I was sitting in the sun with my dog and all the goaties and wondering when we could get some space for those Mustangs. Jenna and I moved some fence panels and then all the horses had to shift to a new area for awhile. Next step, herd one animal at a time into the corner of the paddock that is now a small round pen with corners. Not optimal but sufficient to move these little beauties around.
The first horse we got in was Lulu. She’s not the most ambitious of the five. She didn’t want me to catch her but she didn’t want to move away from me quickly either. I just went up to her and started petting her shoulder and top of her head. She only really wants me on her right side. With more time available I will get to do the same thing on the other side. This was really only the first time she has let me touch her at all. She will be a complete gorgeous beauty as soon as she sheds and gets that weight put on her. She is very bony all over, even in the shoulder area. I really like this mare and she will make some person a very calm riding horse. She let me put a lead rope around her neck but she didn’t like the resistance.
Getting ambitious should happen earlier in the afternoon. Lulu didn’t want to run around much so we moved her out and added Alonzi in the round pen. Of all the mares, she is the most skiddish. Right off the bat, she was ready to move away from me. From what I have learned from DVD’s family and friends, I am looking for certain things when I move them in a round pen. I want to move them in one direction consistently before switching directions. I want to see an ear turn to me listening and paying attention. At some point, when they are ready, I will see licking and chewing. Soon after, the horse may lower their head and decide that I am not all that scary after all.
After about 2o laps around, Alonzi was getting in a groove and had one ear locked on me the whole time. After changing directions to the inside of the ring, I noticed a lot of licking and chewing. Her circles were also getting closer to me. With darkness coming soon, I didn’t want to rush her so I let her rest. When at rest, I would try to approach but at the first sign of flight or a head turn, I would back away. Alonzi held her position when I did that. If she chose to move, I sent her away fast and hard. At some point, she was willing to face me and hold her gaze on me when I went to move closer to her. I felt like we made terrific progress today because she is truly the wildest of all the mares. We have not gotten closer than 20 feet away from her in the paddock before she flees. Today was a great day. I got within 6 feet before she was worried. This summer will be key for working with her every day. She isn’t that big so if we can get her gentled enough for an experienced person to start her, I would be very happy.
Last horse of the day gave me a wake-up call and lesson not to rush it with these horses. Creating the round pen today was something I have wanted to do for a long time but we found out today that five foot tall panels are just not tall enough even for a horse about 14 hands high. The first two mares felt like it was ok to go around in the pen but Geronimo didn’t buy it for a moment. He has been untouchable and is in cahoots with Alonzi. They are the dynamic duo staying away from humans and being bossy in the herd.
All was well, until Geronimo banged into a fence board where it snapped. We moved another panel in that area as well as another panel next to it. Thinking this would keep him contained and calm was a mistake. Again, I tried to be too ambitious in one night. Geronimo was amped to the gills and was very jumpy. He wouldn’t continue in circles as much as he wanted to stop in corners. He did not like being by himself in the pen with me. I never felt unsafe at any moment but I could tell he was getting more and more frantic. With in 8 revolutions, Geronimo decided to make his move and jump over a five foot tall panel. It wasn’t graceful but he made it to the other side of the fence. The only saving grace was that he jumped into the enclosed paddock where the other mustangs were. If he had jumped on the other side, I don’t know where he would have ended up. Needless to say, training ended at that moment and the round pen was put back in place to separate the paddock into two areas. Geronimo will have to wait for another day when we have taller panels for a round pen. We are not sure how we are going to construct it but it needs to be done now he knows he can jump what we have.
I’m kind of bummed about this set back but encouraged by the progress and experience of seeing the behaviors I’m looking for. Training will happen again soon. In the mean time, we will feed more and try more contact.