Once Bitten…

I’m going to put this here, not sure I want to share it to the fb page where people actually see it. People get on there and are so quick to judge, so sure they know everything.

We got home from town yesterday afternoon. I was tired. Shopping with kids is not fun. Rusty was standing at the gate whickering softly to me as we unloaded groceries. What could be more relaxing after a stressful day than seeing my favorite pony? With groceries hauled inside at least, if not yet put away, I grabbed a coat and went to visit.

I was a little disappointed to see that Heildorf/HellDwarf had come to visit. Not because I don’t like him but because it wouldn’t make our visit peaceful. Rusty has gotten so jealous since Coyote has been gone. His whole personality has changed. Coyote was always The Boss. Rusty was happy and easy going in the middle of the herd. With The Boss gone he has been thrust into the roll. He is uneasy and insecure in it.

The new Rusty frantically chases any horse I get near. He has always wanted to be with me, he’s been mouthy and pushy. Now he stands on top of me and has grabbed my coat sleeve with his teeth to remind me to pay attention to him. I’ve been making a conscious effort to pay attention to him. To give him time and understanding while he adjusts to loosing his friend. To reinforce good manners and only using his teeth on things besides me.

I thought we were having a good lesson, despite Hieldorf, because of and including him. I was rewarding Rusty for standing next to me, not killing HellDwarf. Loading the clicker more for Hieldorf. I stood between them as they stood nose to nose a couple of feet apart. I clicked and rewarded Rusty every time his ears weren’t back. There was lots of scratching and visiting in between.

I had worked with HellDwarf (I’m still undecided on the spelling, trying both ways out to see what I like) I had worked with him the day before while Rusty watched, indignant, over the fence. I was trying to make up for it. Things were going so nicely. I had two cookies left in my pocket. I wanted to do some more scratching and visiting before I left and save the cookies for just before I left.

The next thing I knew Rusty lunged past in front of me. My hand must of been up from the last scratch or going for the next. Unfortunately it was in front of his mouth as he lunged at HellDwarf. All I remember is the feel of it clamped between his teeth. Pinching and rather worrisome. There was no way I could get it out. It seemed like a long time my finger was in there probably no more than a second.

Then he let go. I was screaming at him, cursing him as he went past, probably still after Hieldorf. I remember Hieldorf being gone out the gate and leaving quickly as Rusty turned and stood in the gate looking at me confused, as I fumbled my way out the other gate.

Once I determined the finger wasn’t gong to fall off and had time to think about it I started trying to think of the causes. It was an accident. I do not believe Rusty was trying to bite me. He came with issues, biting was one of them. Not bad or often, but he didn’t see any reason not to. I still don’t think this was on purpose.

I think this was a case of trigger stacking. Having Hieldorf around has been stressing him. Me working with Hieldorf has been stressing him. Coyote being gone has been stressing him. All of this then I was standing between them feeding him AND Hieldorf. He snapped. He just meant to get rid of that obnoxious horse and my hand was in the way.

So if I’ve decided on a cause I’m fairly sure about the next step is figuring out what can be done about it.

Not trying to work with the two of them together seems like a safe place to start. Rusty needs a lifetime of manners training. Clicker training has worked wonders on him, I have to remind myself sometimes that I didn’t used to be able to walk down the driveway leading him, but the old him still shows sometimes. He is ridiculously mouthy and we’ve been doing lots of work on picking things up, fetching, using his mouth on things. The more we do that the more I need to be extra careful to emphasize not using his mouth on me. I think more time too, time for the herd to get settled again, time for him to get used to Hieldorf, time for him to feel settled and comfortable again.

It’s going to be a little bit before I do too much with Rusty. My hand is fairly well out of commission for awhile. When we do start back up maybe we will start with some protected contact until I get comfortable again. Regaining confidence is not just for riding. I will be doing my best to remember gloves. I always say that. Every time he takes treats with excessive enthusiasm and nips a finger. It is going to have to be my every time safety device. Then lots of treat manners.

Taking responsibility for all things that go wrong can seem daunting sometimes. But if we take it as a chance to improve ourselves and our horses it can be very empowering.

Tub And Hoop

I saw a wonderful video of Georgia Bruce’s where her horse fetched a Hula Hoop and set it over a target. It was pretty impressive. h
It looked like so much fun I wanted to try it. We were out playing today when I remembered it all. I grabbed the kids Hula Hoop and a lick tub.
First we worked on targeting the tub. Then I showed Rusty what I wanted him to fetch. Then we put them together. It’s no where near as good as Goergia and Rumba the wonder horse but for all of five minutes effort I thought Rusty did a pretty good job!

My always brilliant and with a handy different perspective husband said I needed to teach Rusty to target the ground next to the tub. I thought that was a weird idea and tried to figure out what he was talking about. Then I finally realized, Rusty always has the hoop sticking out in front of him. If he touched the ground in front of him, next to the tub, the hoop would go right over! It’s so nice to have someone looking in from the outside to offer perspective we would have missed otherwise!

Playing With The New Toy

I actually got to play with Red/Heildorf/HellDwarf today!

It’s the first time since he got here. We’ve been so busy with other stuff and letting him hang out and get used to his new home. I’ve been loading the clicker since he got here though. Being careful to take him some treats every time I go outside and clicking as I feed him. It’s making Rusty rather crazy. He can’t stand for anyone but hi to get treats, even if he gets them too.

Today I rode Rusty, so he wouldn’t feel so ignored, then brought Red out. I know he’s been started under saddle so I threw a saddle on him. He took it as well as expected. I clicked lots for putting the blanket on and the saddle and cinching. All the little things I like to do every time I saddle. He was starting to like this clicking stuff and looking for his treat every time I clicked by the time I was done saddling.

Then we did some manners training and began target training. Then we went for a walk. He was excited to get out and see new sights. I let him lead, with some guidance from me and we wandered around the yard. Down the drive out off the yard I let him look at the big wide world out there. Back towards the house, around the chicken coup, where he finally did spook at Daisy. To the hitching post where we unsaddled and let him go.

He was excited to be back out in his pen. Give him time. He’ll end up like the others, begging not to go back.

What Is In A Name?

When a baby is born so much thought and effort is put into choosing a name. Thought is put into parents names, bloodlines, nicknames. Of course I am talking about horse names.

Flair came with a beautiful name. Justapesty Solar Flair. It describes his color, breeding, and it’s pretty.

I’ve never been very good with pretty though.

We started out referring to the two horses as Red and Silver. A quick easy way to figure out who we were talking about as my mom and I discussed horses. We didn’t know, couldn’t remember names yet. It made life easier.

Red has kind of stuck though. It’s just what I think of him as. It’s not a pretty name. Quite boring and plain. I like that in a name.

But then I was discussing a man who writes excellent articles about historical Morgans. I asked my mom if she had read any of them. She didn’t think she had who was he? I couldn’t remember. Christian Hieldorf I thought?

We were talking on the phone for once and as it came out I thought that it couldn’t possibly be right. Nobody could be named Helldorf. As we laughed and tried to figure out what it could really be the name quickly transformed to HellDwarf. And I loved it. Someday something needed to be named HellDwarf!

Then it occurred to me that we had a small fiery red horse with the disposition of a Tolkienesque Dwarf. We took to calling him that jokingly. Lovingly.

Has it stuck? Maybe. My daughter says NO! She want’s to call him Red. I don’t see why we can’t go with both. No matter his name he is settling in nicely.

New Arrival

This is the second installment of my recent horse adventure.
I searched facebook trying to figure out this hauling stuff. One hauler was making a trip past us and up to Minnesota. That was the right direction but going the wrong way. I looked a little closer and they were from Colorado. That meant they should be coming back this direction. I contacted them and they were! It was almost perfect.
Now we had to figure out how to pay for the horse. I’ve never done things quit this long distance before. We settled on a wire transfer. I stopped in to my bank and got things taken care of. I thought.
My bank happily sent quite a bit more money than I asked them to. You hear so many stories about crazy horse people and sellers who do everything wrong. These people who I had never met, over a thousand miles away, quickly let me know about the problem and took steps to fix it. When my parents went to look at the horses they said that Melissa and Sharon seemed like really good people. I guess they were right. I can not recommend Justapesty Morgans highly enough.
The shipper picked Flair up bright and early Tuesday morning. Then he drove straight through, I don’t know how people do that. I can’t make the trip in one day. He got here much earlier than I would have guessed, by seven thirty Tuesday night. He sent pictures along the way and gave me updates. Flair had plenty of hay and looked as good as a horse can when he’s just been hauled for 13 hours. I was very happy with the job Mountain High did https://www.facebook.com/mountainhighequine/
Let me see, is there anyone else I need to thank? This all went so smoothly thanks to all the wonderful people who helped. I guess I should thank my parents for going to look at both horses for me. But, it is mom’s fault that I ended up with another horse so I’m not sure that she gets a thank you 😜 Thanks mom, and dad for putting up with all this horse stuff.
We unloaded in the dark and put him out in the pen he will be staying in. I would have like to look at him more and get pictures but I hated to bug him anymore than we already had. He quietly walked into the dark pen and went to looking around. He didn’t run the fence line screaming like Rusty did. He was calm and curious. A little concerned about the whole thing but he had the right to be. I haven’t heard him calling at all.
This morning I went out and pitched him some more hay. In the dark still. Rusty had spent the night at the gate keeping him company. Rusty hasn’t been the same without Coyote, hopefully these two can be friends.
I can’t wait to play with Flair more. We may not end up calling him Flair, we’ll se what he does end up being called. If we let the kids have a say it could get interesting. He’ll get to settle in and get used to things before I mess with him. He is just as gorgeous in person as he was in the pictures and video. I’m thrilled that we got him!
Wham It Silver is still available…
Although buying him will make my mom cry.


Red And Silver

After we lost Onna I consoled myself by looking at horses. I offered to foster Harvey and ended up with him and Amarillo too. After Coyote I just happened to stumble across some facebook comments that my mom had been trying to get me to look at for a few weeks. Funny how things like that will pop up in your news feed sometimes.
They were about a beautiful silver dapple Morgan gelding. I had not been looking for a horse at all. Now I was willing to look. It turned out he went back to my all time favorite Morgan stud, Unconventional. I have loved Unconventional since he was for sale as a baby and I could not afford him. Now here was his grand baby for sale, I contacted the owners.
My mom lives fairly close to them and is the one who’s fault it was that I was looking in the first place. She and my dad drove up to see him. In the mean time it had been mentioned that they also had this other one for sale. I didn’t know how I could ever pass up an Unconventional grandson but I told her to go ahead and send me info on the other one anyway.
And I fell even more in love. I looked at the picture version of his pedigree on all breed pedigree, my favorite way to check a horses bloodlines, he want back to every horse I have ever loved. I didn’t know a horse could fit that many horses in his bloodlines. https://www.allbreedpedigree.com/index.php…
I kept scrolling and more great horses kept showing up. Stromwashed, Caduceus Moses, and Shagwood Shining Hero were all up close on the papers. That third line in there is solid with horses I have known and loved forever. Farther back he has Agazizz, Juzan, Warhawk, Chingadaro, Red Corral, Winterset, the good western lines I had come to know so well through those much cherished old 2WF news letters. As I kept looking I kept drooling.
Apparently I could find something I liked more than a grandson of Unconventional. Not that I didn’t love that one he is gorgeous, I just loved this one more.
My parents went and looked. Mom was madly in love with the other one. We searched desperately for a way for her to be able to take the one she loved. I wanted to be able to take him for her, put some riding on him and keep him until she was able to have another one. I am already over my three horse limit though, or would be as soon as I got the one I loved. I’m not a good enough daughter to give up mine so she could have hers.
I said I would take him and began to look for a way to get him. Mom offered to take him to her barn until spring then haul him out. The sellers asked if we could please try to ship him straight out so he only had one big adjustment to make. I started looking for haulers.

The riding video is rather painful to watch. It was a good thing to see though. If he took this terrible training without doing anything he ought to be great with decent riding.

Tub Training?

We’ve all heard of 101 things a dog can do with a box. Or the clicker trainers here should have. A basic introduction, for trainer or trainee, to clicker training. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can find it here https://www.clickertraining.com/101-things-to-do-with-a-box
We had a go at it with a lick tub.
Harvey kept wanting to put a foot ON he tub. It can’t hold him. I turned it over and let him play. As he started pawing at it I wondered if it would be possible to get him to stand in it fully with one leg. That proved easy enough. What if he could get both legs in?
It took less than five minutes of clicking him in the right direction. This was his second try. I wanted to make sure the camera was getting it so we moved closer. And I missed center 🙄 Here is the full unedited second try at getting both feet in the tub. No difficulties soaking feet here. Difficulties getting out maybe. He would stand in there all day If I left him. Walking over the tub, rolling it around under his legs, not a problem.
Harvey is available for adoption from Forever Morgans.

The Rest Of The Story

Rustic V’s Raisin Cain (Coyote) 1997-2018

I told the bare facts about the end, but that’s not the way Coyote deserves to be remembered. There was so much more to him, a lifetime of memories that shouldn’t be forgotten, overshadowed by the ending.

Back in 1999 I think it was? My mom, and the rest of my family, were at a horse fair in Northern IL. They went to watch the horse sale, not because she was looking for another horse, just because it was there. A place to sit down. Watch the horses that went through.

In the middle of all the quarter horses came three two year old Morgan colts. The first sold to my former dressage instructor, a Morgan person, the third was a chocolate with flaxen mane and tail, he sold well. The second one through was the typical scrawny ugly two year old Morgan. His sorrel and flaxen coloring hadn’t been enough to make him bring good money. He went to a very bad man. We knew the man from team penning. Not personally but from they way people would say that “Charlie was there, better lock up your trailers. Keep your horses away from Charlie.”

Mom sent my brother to make him an offer of more than he had just paid for the ugly little colt. He went home with a profit on the horse he hadn’t even touched and mom had to find a way to get this unexpected new horse home.

When Coyote was old enough to start she sent him out to me. I was going to put a year or so on him then send him back to her. I never sent him back.

I was working on a ranch. A big place out in the middle of nowhere. All the work on the ten thousand acre place was done horse back. Coyote covered miles of country, over big hills and rocky ground with typical Morgan eagerness. He could go and go. Never having worn a pair of shoes he stayed sound, his hooves hard as a rock. Out growing that awkward teen age stage Coyote grew to be a big beautiful bot. He was fit, trotting for miles checking tanks and moving between pastures. Still he was so hugely built and thick that people thought he was obese. I spent lots of time repeating that no, he’s in really good shape right now, he’s just that wide.

He was a wise and fierce cow horse, as Morgans tend to be. The cows of that ranch were mean, as soon as they calved they would be more than happy to eat anyone who got close. Moving or doing anything at all with them was nearly impossible.

One time it was our job to hold a cow off as her calf got an ear tag. Coyote was getting into the ground working her, back and forth we went. Until the cow decided she was going to her calf. She came straight at us. Before she hit him Coyote went up on his hind legs striking and biting at the cow. She went underneath him. I remember sitting up there thinking, wow, there’s a cow under us. I wonder how this is going to end. He reached around and was biting her on one side as she went under then turned and started biting the other side as she came out. We all survived.

He taught me so many things. Once while trying to get a cow and calf to move, out of the calving lot to the big pasture, the calf laid down and Would. Not. Move. I tried everything I could think of from the saddle to get them going. I couldn’t get down, the mom was not friendly. Finally Coyote heaved a big annoyed sigh. Then he picked up hid front hoof, put it on the calves side, and shook. The calf leapt up and took off running. I spent lots of time scratching Coyotes neck and telling him what a very good boy he was. After that we were able to put it on cue and it became one of his most handy talents.

He would put his head down and push calves along with his head while moving them. Shoving them in the direction he knew they were supposed to be going. Biting them on the hindquarters and back. I often called him my big red heeler. When moving bulls I never did think it was quite as cute to reach up and take a bite.

The times he raced headlong across slick icy footing, rushing to turn the leaders as they started off the wrong direction in pastures that were comprised of many thousand acres, are too numerous to count. He was sure footed and never took a wrong step.

In blizzards the cattle tend to drift with the wind, moving out of sheltered areas, away from hay and safety. With both our heads bent against the wind, trying to keep the stabbing snow from our eyes. In the howling whiteout the cows and calves were barely visible. Hands numb with cold let the reins drop to hang loose on his neck. Suddenly he lurched to the side. A mama cow reluctant to keep moving charged him. He leapt nimbly out of her way. Then turned, head down, snaking out to chase her calf along who had stopped and tried to turn back. Blinded by the snow, I hadn’t even seen them.

As we both grew older we settled down to farm life. Coyote still got to work cattle. But he got a break from full time work, from night calving, and day long drives. Now he had far more precious work to do.

As both of my children were born he was the one trusted to give them their first ride on a horse. Bareback in a halter he would walk quietly down the driveway carrying us double, or occasionally triple. He would pony the children’s horses, with as much patience and forbearance as he used to pony colts in training. He was trusted completely to have children around underfoot learning to groom and petting his nose.

After we lost Princess Onna this spring he took over as head kids horse. My big fiery boy who used to gallop headlong over the fields, who was in his teens the last time I got off and walked so I wouldn’t die because of his antics, carried my daughter so calmly and steadily. Too much so sometimes as she complained that she wanted to go faster!

In the nearly twenty years that I’ve been lucky enough to have Coyote in my life lots of horses have come and gone. He was always the constant. The one I knew I could depend on. The one I preferred to ride. He could out walk almost anything, rope, cut, dressage, or reining. Anything I needed to do he could do it. We had hoped to keep him around well into his thirties but the good ones can never stay long enough. He will be sorely missed and can never be replaced.


Just the Facts

I need to get this out and it’s easier to do it once here and then never have to say it again than to tell people separately. I owe my mom a telling of it since Coyote was partially hers. I don’t know that I will be reading or answering any comments on this at the moment. Maybe someday. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate everyone’s support. Just can’t at the moment.

On Wednesday Morning, Dec. 26th, I went out to give Coyote his Bute. He turned his nose up at the apple with the Bute, then at any apple or treat. Instead he went back and stood in the middle of the corral. Something was definitely wrong.

In between getting the kids breakfast and while my husband finished feeding I watched him. I gave him his dose of Bute the old fashioned way, quickly and without him knowing what was happening. No fuss no muss. I thought it might be the pain from the eye. He was pooping and not kicking at his belly or rolling.

After breakfast I went to look again, thinking he’d be doing better now that the meds had kicked in. He was not.

It was drizzling freezing rain. Even the dirt was coated in ice and slippery to walk on. Getting out with a trailer would not be easy. We check road reports. Some people said roads were awful, others said just wet. My husband left with the kids to take them shopping for their Christmas presents. They could stick to the gravel roads until they were almost to town and take it easy the rest of the way. I had planned to go along too but there was no way I could leave Coyote.

As soon as they left I called the vet. Luckily our usual vet who had worked on Coyotes eye answered. She said usually they would have me bring him in but the roads had been awful over that way. If we had Banamine give it to him. I told her that if we didn’t I would drive over in the pickup on the back roads and pick some up.

I went up and asked my father in law if he had any on hand. He said he had had some and searched for it. The bottle was no longer there. He called a neighbor, they didn’t have any either. I thanked him and said I would just drive over and get a new bottle.

First I check on Coyote again. I had put him and Rusty in the barn so he could be warm and dry instead of standing out in the freezing rain. By now he was showing actual signs of colic. He was rolling violently, pawing, and rubbing his head on everything. He had to get to the vet. If the roads were still covered in ice we would try to make it on the gravel.

By then my husband was well on his was, in the opposite direction, he said the roads had melted and were really just wet. Luckily because the gravel roads were a slippery mess. We slid to a stop at the highway with wheels locked up and gaining speed before we hit pavement and stopped. I went back to check the trailer and make sure everything was in order like I always do before starting out onto the highway. Coyote had not laid down to resume rolling in the trailer like I had left him loose so he would be free to do. Instead he looked alright. I hoped the trailer ride was fixing things like it had a couple of months ago.

The road was just wet with ice off to the sides. We were able to make good time without any trouble. Pulling in at the vet I unloaded him and left Rusty, who came along to keep Coyote company of course! in the trailer to paw and have a fit. We led Coyote into the exam room and into the stocks.

He had his gut sounds thoroughly listened to and pooped again. His gut sounded good. Then she gloved up for a more in depth exam. After a minute she pulled out and went for a second vet. This vet gloved up and reached in. That was when I realized it was not going to be good. She had felt the band to and he flinch terribly when she touched it. He was twisted.

They asked about my budget. I asked for a quote, knowing surgery was out of the question. The quote she gave me assured me of it. Even if I was able to spend that kind of money on him, and the risk of complications was not so high, I would have to be able to haul him, colicing badly, three to four hours, either south into the coming snow storm or north into the hills. Ogallalla, Cheyenne, Rapid City, Denver? There was no way over icy roads with a predicted blizzard coming in. The cars I had met coming in had been covered in snow already.

I didn’t hold up well at that point. I love having female vets. Not only because I just like it better, they don’t get all condescending and know it all like men, but also because it was much easier to sob in front of them.

They said there was one last thing they could try. If they pumped him full of fluids, there was a slim chance it could push through his intestines and straighten things out. I was willing to try anything at that point so they hooked him up to an IV and hit him with the strongest pain killers they could. I brought Rusty in to keep him company.

We stood and waited. I questioned the vet on whether letting him roll could have made things worse? She reassured me, again, it’s something I know but it’s hard not to question at times like this, that rolling doesn’t hurt anything and making horses keep walking while colicing is mostly to give owners something to do. Rusty kept sniffing his nose and roaming the room to check things out. Coyote was mostly out of it from the drugs.

As they wore off he got fidgety and started shaking from the pain. I went for the vet and she gave him more meds. I tied Rusty up to try to paw a hole in the cement after he started giving Coyote little bites. Company is good. Company that keeps bugging you not so much. The vet said we were looking for less pain each time as he the drugs wore off, that would let us know it was working.

In less than an hour the last dose of drugs was already fading. Instead of lasting longer the drugs couldn’t keep the pain at bay. He started shaking and I couldn’t take it any longer. It was time.

I led him out to a patch of grass. The other vet brought Rusty. Coyote nibbled at the grass and then it was done. He already had the IV in his neck and it was a simple job to administer the drugs. He was gone almost immediately.

This was in no way related to the eye surgery. They did a wonderful job at that. As good as they did in helping him at the end. They have a place there in the tree row where they bury horses. It doesn’t matter where his body lies, he is not there.

His time with us was entirely too short. We should have had another ten, if not twenty years with him. Really though, any amount of time would have been too short.