My New Mailbox

I wanted a mailbox. I had seen a great trick where a lady taught her horse to run to the mailbox, get the mail, then run back to her.

We could do that!

So my husband who always rushes to fulfill my slightest wish got me a mailbox. I was determined that I could make a stand for it. I knew I could teach my horse to get the mail.

Turns out I was right about one of those things.

This counts as getting the mail. Right?

My stand wasn’t as successful. It made it through a couple of practices then died one time when I wasn’t able to catch it fast enough.

Next I thnkwe’ll find a good solid fence post to attach it to. See what method they use to destroy it next time…


Balloons, For The Academy

We are doing a balloon popping challenge this month. I tried to convince the kids to get in on it with me and Rusty. It was nearly impossible.

I got the kids to come out and ‘help’ Rusty and me practice popping some balloons.
If adding more horses at least triples the difficulty with each one added, adding children multiplies it by a factor of ten! He took it well, I was starting to get a little flustered 🤣
Rusty did good. We never could get that last balloon. Instead we gave up and went for a ride. They did. I get to walk.


Balloons, for the Academy

This video is from last week, before it snowed. The horses were locked up front, not in their usual, much larger, pen. That had been given to a group of cattle because it was well sheltered. I would put the horses in the barn when the snow got bad so they were next to the barn.
I haven’t gotten to play with them since this short session. Hopefully we can get back to it soon! The weather is getting better and life is getting back to normal.
I was disappointed that the camera didn’t pick up the squeaky balloon noises we were making. Not that the horses cared about them 💜

Getting Ready

There’s a storm coming. We know it is coming so we have time to get ready. Of course we are calving. There’s nothing like baby calves to bring on  the snow.

We spent today rearranging and putting out straw bales even though there’s still a day of good weather to go. Better to start early and get everything settled in  good. That way they aren’t getting jostled about and separated from calves or calving while the weather is bad. Not that they wont calve but at least it wont be because we were bothering them. They have a better chance of choosing a good spot and not having trouble if left alone.

There is one pen with three calves and two calves. One cow calved and wanted nothing to do with the first calf. A cow who was working on calving claimed that calf as well as the one she eventually had fortunately. The cow who had the first calf had a twin and wanted that one. We’ve left the little group together and separate from the others. We can watch them more easily that way and the cow who took them booth has less room to keep track of two in.

Then there is the heifers, young cows who have never had a calf. They are notorious for having trouble, both in giving birth and in figuring out how to be a mom. They wont claim calves, wont let them nurse, claim every calf but their own, and generally get confused. They need to be kept where they can be easily watched and separate from the main herd. There are a couple of older cows in with them who were limping so we kept them up too to keep them from halving to walk very far.

Then there’s the horses of course. They can’t go in with cows. They are not nice. That’s three pens.

Then there’s the main herd. We decided to pair the cows with calves out of the main herd. They got to go in the pen that the three calves and two cows were in. There’s an old barn the calves can get inn for better shelter.

so we had to move the first cows that were there. They went where the heifers were, the heifers went where the horses were, the horses went up by the barn that I’ll lock them in if it gets really bad anyway. Getting ready for a storm gets complicated!

My father in law and I went out and pulled the pairs out of the bunch. It works better as a three person job. One to watch the gate and two to work the cattle. Fortunately there were only a few calves so far. We got it done fairly easy.

There are lots of gates to open and close. A nuisance when you have to open and close them all. A life saver when you need a gate to be closed and it is.

We closed one set of gates and I walked down around the cows and calves to bring them up though another gate and into the pen with good shelter for them. No big deal. I stayed next to the fence. If anyone was grouchy I could just hop up the fence to safety. The cows are usually pretty quiet. There had been one staring at me over the handlebars of the fourwheeler with large alien eyes while I tried to convince her to come up. She worried me a little.

I walked around the small group carefully looking ahead to let the cows know I wasn’t singling any of them out.

The cow with the big eyes didn’t even hesitate. She dropped her head and came at me.

I dove for the fence.

Hands on the top I jumped. My foot hit the rounded side of the guardrail. And slipped.

I could hear and feel her behind me. I wasn’t going to look back. I jumped again, got a foot hold this time and climbed up. finally looking back I saw her right behind me, mouth open, tongue out, apparently in threat and bluff luckily for me. It was only because she didn’t really want to eat me that she hadn’t.

My father in law came along about then on the fourwheeler and pushed them all up through the gate. I climbed down, completely unashamed of running for shelter.

We had finished the job  and everything is mostly ready for the storm. Now we wait to see how much we will  actually get. Hopefully the reports of thirty inches are exaggerated.

Cattle Whorls

For the whorl page

I’ve been walking through the heifers every morning. They need trained just like horses do. Young cattle need to get used to people to make them easier to handle as an adult. Cows need to know not to be afraid so we can handle them easier and safer as we move them through pastures,  work them, and help them as they calve.

Walking through the herd also gives me a chance to study whorls and how the heifers with those whorls react to my presence.

In the lead, always right behind me, brave curious, and bold, is 717. She has a center to low whorl with a line of feathering coming up from the whorl. That should mark her as left brain, confident, curious, unconcerned about new things. That fits her behavior, checking me out as the other calves snort and shy away.

524 has been bucking and bolting across the pen the whole time. She doesn’t have a whorl. That seems to make  right brain animal, energetic, sensitive, alert. She’s curious but the first to bolt of I move, or stop. She reacts strongly to any stimuli.

In the back is 713. Her mom and grandma are my favorite cows. Calm, quiet, and easy going, they don’t get upset and are easy to handle. No surprise to find a simple center whorl on her. Average, no extremes, the cattle should be the easiest to work with. If there are no extreme’s in head shape, physical issues, or other outlying causes for difficult behavior of course.

Each whorl has its own benefits and drawbacks. A cow who isn’t afraid of anything, will be more likely to take you (get on the fight, or attack for non cattle speaking people 😉 ) where a cow who is more sensitive might run instead of fight. A cow with a high whorl is less likely to lose calves to predators. There are no good or bad whorls here just like there aren’t with horses. each animal needs to be worked with for who they are. It is fun to compare who they are to the whorl they carry though.

When You’ve Tried ‘Everything’

He was stunning as he ran into the ring at the sale barn. A long lanky mustang. Legs for miles and as thick as tree trunks. A flashy sorrel and flaxen with bright white feathering. The freeze brand on his neck marked him as a mustang.

I bought him without thought or hesitation. Even though he was run through loose at a small horse sale of mostly un-ridable horses and some horse trader junk thrown in.

Once home I was determined to take every precaution getting him going. We spent lots of time in the round pen. Got him used to the saddle and every scary thing from the ground. I made sure he gave to pressure and to the bit. I took my time getting him going. Did every thing right.

I just could not get past that one thing.

It was easy to see why he had ended up run through loose at the sale barn. Every time anyone reached up towards their hat he would take off bucking. Man that horse could buck. I thought often of finding a rodeo company to try to sell him to. He’d look beautiful as a saddle bronc. Huge long leaps with his hind legs straight up in the air.

I could not fix him. I tried everything.

How often do we hear that? I’ve tried EVERYTHING this horse can’t be fixed.

In reality we’ve never tried everything. We’ve tried all the things that we currently know how to try.

I wish that I could go back ad have another try at that beautiful mustang knowing what I do now. It is so painfully obvious to me all the things I had no idea about. The end of the training road, as far as I could see at the time, was barely even the entrance to the on-ramp. On the broad highway my horses and I are traveling now the many options I could have used to help him are so may and varied. To think that I ever though I had ‘tried everything’ is sad.

Now when I hear someone say they’ve tried everything,  I think back to the mustang I failed. I will always feel regret for him. That wasn’t the end though. Looking forward I see the horses I have been able to help because I didn’t stop my learning journey there. The next horse lead me to more and the next one after that. By continuing to learn and push past having tried everything the horizons that opened up are endless. I know now that there is no ‘everything’. There is always more training out there to learn about.