Little Lunga

Friday, April 30, 2010

forecast:high of 39 with snow showers and flying horses

Yesterday was a good day if I had to sum it up genarically. We woke yesterday morning to 6 inches of snow on the ground and a chill in the air. I know it is still April and we do live in a small corner of Wyoming where it can snow in July, but it is still hard to handle. Add 16 horses coming out of the wild less than 2 months ago, and we have a lot of things than can break the ice in more ways than one. Every day I start with planning our approach to catching horses and working horses for the day. I always think of what can go right and really worry(in a good way)about what can go wrong. Sometimes the things that go wrong turn out to be a forecast of things that will go right.
I have to give a big credit to Little Lunga for her part in Helping us yesterday. The horses are beginning to listen and trust her bell and it really played a part in getting the last of the horses into the paddocks. Most of the horses followed us into the big pen where we needed them but 3 of the older mares stayed out and I actually wanted them that way for a change. I needed one mare in particular to head down the alley way and into the round pen first thing. This mare is a nice mare but I have seen her jump 2 fences with the greatest of ease and with precise calculation. She has talent, but we just have to focus it and manage it, if you know what I mean. We had layed out hay in front of the alley way so Lunga would stand and eat an hopefully the 3 mares would find her and find their way in. Cecilia and I stood out in the trap and let them run a little until they began to pay attention. Before we knew it, Lunga started down the alley, her bell echoing off of the boards and the 3 mares followed her right on down the alley and into the roundpen. We decided to let them settle and then build a plan to sort Lunga, the little chestnut mare(Peluca) and the nine year old black mare(Hatari) out of the round pen and leave the chestnut mare(Javelina)in the pen. This is hard to do!

We decided to let them be and to catch our saddle horses and have them ready for the days work. We tied them up after their morning grain and then saddled them and let them stand in the loafing shed to keep them from the cold and the snow. I was using Pochito again, Tommy was using Butch and Cecilia was to use The Dude. I am really beginning to rely on Chito and trust him very much. He is coming along very nicely and he seems to add a bit of security to each horse roped by me and him. I will explain more on that later.

Moving on. It was time to try and sort the wild bunch in the round pen and the only way we could think to do it was to have someone stand in the center of the round pen and let them mil around and sort themselves out. I would sand at the east gate of the round pen to let our whichever horses came my way. The ground was nice and deep in the pen due to the moisture of the snow and of the milling of the 4 horses so we figured it would not take long for the horses to tire and begin to sort things out. I might have spoken to early. The horses did begin to sort themselves out and I encouraged Cecilia to begin stepping to them and in between them, this might have been a little hasty on my part. Before we knew it, Peluca had jumped and broke the 3 top rails of the round pen and jumped out, Javelina followed with the greatest of ease(4 foot solid wall cleared) and as we opened the gate to have Lunga and Hatari leave the roundpen, Hatari turned and followed. So now all 3 of the mares were out in the open areas of the barn with everywhere to go! The Red Desert was calling but they were not listening. Cecilia, Tommy and I stayed cool and we went out to let them find their way back in. I went through the traps and opened 2 gates so they would be able to come back. These 3 horses had every chance to leave and run away, but a couple things came into play. Horses are herd animals and creatures of habit; so home for them is amongst the other horses and they know where their feed is coming from, so they were not about to fly the coop. We simply gave them their space and with no chasing or running they found their way back into the trap. I have to say, that when we remove theses horses from the wild, we do remove some of the wildness from them right away. They DO begin to rely on us and in a small way they begin to trust us. After that we fixed the round pen and I walked out to the trap and they walked into a paddock with no jumping or panic of any kind. They and us had learned something from the episode. We need to have a little more patience and they remember who we are now.

After all of that, we still had horses to catch and it was only getting colder. I thought if we catch one today, we can focus on the others already caught. We had one who figured out how to rub her halter and had it crooked on her head and we needed to doctor the big bay filly. Well, everything else went according to plan. We had a halter and lead put on the 6 year old strawberry roan (Red Lips) in a little over an hour. We caught the chestnut mare(La Quinta) and fixed her halter in about 10 minutes(she will need it fixed again today)and we were able to doctor our bay filly (Poppy) out in her paddock. She is very kind and easy to work with. And, we managed to sort one bunch of 6 horses without any running or panic. And we were able to sort them the exact way we wanted them. All of the horses, haltered or not are beginning to trust us and pay attention to us and it shows we are training all of them on some level everyday.

Now if we could only train the weather to behave. We are begging for hot weather at this point!

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