It’s been a few years now. I think it’s time for me to share the story of where Rusty came from again.

I did NOT need another horse. I had two very small children. A small bunch of horses that was perfect for us, older and experienced. I was bored sick. I wanted a horse for me. A young one that I could train on. I was complaining to my mom about it. After I went on for awhile she said there was one that she hadn’t been going to mention to me but maybe I should take a look.
He was on the Forever Morgans Facebook page, he needed pulled NOW. Today. On Halloween. He came with warnings about his behavior and lack of manners, to go to an experienced home only! There were lots of offers to take him, offers to foster and to adopt. How could there not be? He was in that young ugly duckling stage and a plain boring sorrel but his bloodlines were great and even as an  ugly baby he showed promise.

“URGENT!!!!!!! …Foster home needed immediately!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We can’t pull him unless he has a place to go with people who understand he needs training. This horse has ONLY TODAY. If we are going to pull him we need a place NOW. “Rusty” 3 year old reg. Morgan gelding… He is in Washington State. $375.00
Rusty needs someone experienced in handling a young horse who has limited manners. He has a habit of running over people, and showing no understanding of personal human space. That said, he is young, and young horses can be pushy if not taught to understand these things. We are recommending him only for someone who feels comfortable with a horse that needs this sort of training. We are looking for a foster who is willing and ready to help Rusty with his manners which is an important step in his finding a forever home. PLEASE consider helping him – and, again, he has only today. This is a dire situation.

I talked to my husband, figured it would never happen  so there was nothing to worry about and said I’d foster if I was approved. I didn’t even start on the paper work until the next day. The approval took forever, they are fully volunteer staffed and do a thorough check to make sure horses don’t end up back in a bad place after being saved once, I’m not complaining, just saying. All the other offers disappeared somehow. They finally called to say he’d be coming here!

Now what?

I hadn’t really thought I’d end up with him. It was still exciting. We waited for hi to get here. He was on the west coast. It was winter time. Finding a hauler willing to cross all the mountains in the middle of winter was nearly impossible. Finding a break in the weather once one was willing was just as hard.

He finally got here in January. The people hauling him came through ice and snow, sending me pictures of all the vehicles  in the ditches, but they made it safely.

Once he finally got here Rusty was everything they had said and more. He didn’t move away from pressure, he didn’t respond to escalating pressure. He stood there and ignored you no matter how hard you applied….   pressure.
He ran me over a couple of times. Smashed right into me if he spooked or wanted by. Round penning didn’t work. He wasn’t afraid, saw no reason to move just because I asked. I didn’t want to beat him, the only thing that he might consider as incentive to move. We started with the simplest of training, taking long walks down  the driveway. He bounced off the end of the lead, drug me along behind him, wore my hands raw. I was so glad I was only fostering and wasn’t stuck with this horse.

I had started young horses for years. I hadn’t thought teaching this one some manners and respect would be a problem. He was wearing me out.

Then I read a blog post about a lady teaching her horse to fetch. I thought Rusty could do that. He bites everything anyway. I talked to the lady who wrote the blog. I googled trick training. I found a group that did that stuff. They also did clicker training.

I wasn’t against that. I had a book I bought years ago and started my way through before that horse got struck by lightening 🙁

We started with fetch. Ooops. Later I went back and worked on manners and things like that but we were goners. No looking back.

Suddenly instead of yanking on  the lead to try to get Rusty to acknowledge me, I was simply clicking when he was in the proper position and he worked hard to stay there. He still has some issues. Behaviors that are so deeply ingrained from birth don’t simply go away. Now though, his complete lack of fear works in our favor. His headstrong confidence and determination allows us to do anything instead of making him impossible to deal with. By working with him instead of trying to force him to conform I have found a brilliant, willing horse who will try to do anything I ask.

He is by far the best trick and treat that I’ve ever gotten  on Halloween.

Teeter Totter

We finally did it! I started last year working on getting Rusty to stand on the teeter totter. We haven’t worked on it continuously but often throughout the last year. Having my playground out has helped a lot. It’s always there to play on.
Rusty has no problem getting his front feet on it but following with the hind is always a challenge.
After a bit of the usual struggle he managed though!!


I finally remembered to take treats with me to the pasture for Poppy! only the first time this summer
I wasn’t sure she would remember what we had been working on. Turns out I was the one who couldn’t think of anything to do. In the end we worked on manners and targeting my hand.
Poppy was great. Then the whole herd came to see what was going on. She was starting to get protective of her resources and I was starting to get worried about the bull too close.
Watching this now I see (hear) that my click is way late! I’m going to have to work on that.


I joined NAWD a couple of years ago. (that’s the North American Western Dressage association) I had grand plans.
Nothing ever happened. One of the greatest benefits of it is that you can compete from home with video. Apparently that’s one of the biggest draw backs too.
Without having to get out and go to a show I tend to forget and never get around to doing anything.
I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it yet but so far I am kind of remembering this one. There’s a show coming up soon. I need to go look and see when, that whole just not doing it thing 🙄
I have gotten an arena set up, that I have to put away after every use so people can drive in the driveway. And we have done some practicing.
Here’s our practice run. First go at it. I couldn’t remember the pattern. That’s the long pause in the middle that I fast forwarded through
There’s nothing like a test to find holes in your training and I’ve definitely found places that need work. Mostly stopping. Rusty is NOT interested.
Other than that it was nice to have video.I really thought we had found dead center. Looking back it appears we did not.
Now to get to work! And find out when the show actually happen

Baby Calves

Not sure which ‘calf’ this video is actually about.
I brought Ghost out to play for her first time yesterday. Not her first time in a long time, although it was that too, but her first time out of the corral. Her first time on my playground. Her first time out and about at liberty.
She did great. All the extra help was a bit much for her. If we keep getting this much ‘help’ she wont be bothered by anything before long!
I wanted to work on getting her onto the bridge but it some became apparent that that was not an option with all the commotion. We stuck to simple things, leading, standing, and manners, with a bit of mat training although I doubt she noticed that part.
Eventually she said she’d had enough and couldn’t handle the exuberance anymore. She spooked then wandered off to graze.
I let her go because she gets to say no when she can’t handle something. The child and I went and played in the mud for awhile then I came back and played with her a little more before forcing her to go back.
Like my horses she is going to need to learn about halters for that going back out to pasture with her friends part.

Sidepassing The L

In my playground I laid out two poles in an L, always a fun toy.
I finally got to play with Harvey over it. This was his first go. Not bad for being so out of practice.
We took it slow and easy, only asking for a couple of steps at a time. Eventually we will build up to doing the entire L fluidly and with only one click and treat at the end.


This is Harvey’s second time sidepassing the L in the playground. First in this direction though. All horses have a preferred side, this is Harvey’s.
We will continue to build on it and eventually be able to perform the whole movement smoothly and with only one click and treat at the end of the L.


We had a visitor over the weekend.

Pattie came clear from Michigan to see us. Well not us exactly. She had a whole list of friends, people who begged to be included as she planned her trip that she is stopping along the way to visit.

Pattie is a fascinating woman. She has traveled the country, and the world even, on her bicycle. On top of that she is a trainer and raises future leader dogs, that’s puppies that are going to grow up to be service dogs. Although she has some horse training experience she is not a horse person. It may be her one failure 😉

Not being a horse trainer didn’t stop us from having lots of training things to talk  about. There are very few differences between training dogs and horses and any species for that matter.

Traditional horse trainers are gasping and snorting and coming out of their seats in rebellion at that comment right about now.

With positive reinforcement though it’s true.

We look for the behaviors we want and reward them. Lions are trained the same way as butterflies. Horses the same way as dogs.

And yes, people have trained butterflies. We talked about that in awe while she was here. Also that plants have been and can be trained. If we can train a plant to respond to a stimuli, not sun or water but a cue, then are they really that different from any other living being? Can we really justify eating them but not their animal brethren? What a joy to be able to talk about all these things I ponder regularly with someone else who thinks about the same sort of thing.

I brought out Harvey and turned him over to her. Without a clue as to what we have been working on she went right to it with him. They did great together. I tried to resist filming the whole thing. It did seem rude to make her work with my horse and film it all when she didn’t know the horse and was playing without a particular goal.

She hopped on a fourwheeler, her first time with those, and drove it along to check cows with us.

Then we saddled up and went for a ride. I knew she had worked with a couple of friends horses and assumed there had been riding time involved there too. As I presented her with Smoke I asked how much riding she had done. She said none. That didn’t stop her from hopping right on and figuring it out, just like she had Harvey on the ground and driving the fourwheeler. It was easy to see how she had managed all the other much more impressive challenges that she has conquered in her life. Smart and capable, she just did it. Sadly I didn’t get any pictures.

We had a wonderful ride. I enjoyed it at least. Hope she did too. She did a much better job at riding than many people I know who think they know how to ride.

She spent the night in her tent in our yard. I’m afraid I’m not a very good host. We don’t have room in the house and aren’t used to company.

The next morning she stayed with us for breakfast before heading off to see more people, do more things. We were happy to have her as long as we did. She has more of the world to conquer and we have chores.



I have a playground!
It’s nothing that wasn’t already here laying scattered about, now it’s contained in one place. Hopefully it is out of the way enough that I wont have to move things anytime soon.
Having all my toys together in one place makes it easier and more likely that I will work on things. That I will remember what things I should work on even
I have a little teeter totter, a bridge, the roping dummy, the basket ball hoop, posts that I can arrange in any way to play with, right now they are in an L shape, a mounting block, and a place to put the camera!
The tubs also work as storage so I can keep our rubber chicken for playing fetch, the tarp, a target, a ball for basket ball, all sorts of things out there and they wont blow away.
I sped this video up a little so I could leave it all in. Otherwise the video got a bit long.
This was Rusty’s first go at it I let him wander a bit and choose what he wanted to look at.