Slowly Healing

So I added pics of my pinky so that you would understand that this is not a simple tiny broken bone!

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What you are seeing is a pin going down the middle of the bone because it broke horizontally. The other pin (this is not a complete piece of metal like it appears) goes through the bone because it also split vertically. The metal “button” that is stitched through the fingernail is holding my tendon back in place as it was disconnected. In 3 weeks i get this cast off and then will find out the course of action for the button. If that doesn’t churn your stomach a little, you must be a doctor, a nurse, or a horse trainer. 😉 When I came out of surgery I was in a cast so I was a little shocked at how gnarly my finger actually was. Just like EVERY thing, God can use it for good, and He did! I realized I was in trouble of lagging behind with my horses and being in the right place at the right time with this cast. A friend of mine since high school kept telling me how great her boyfriend was at training horses. Blah blah blah, everybody is a horse trainer. Anyway, over time I have had a chance to get to know Jeff and before I knew he was partnered with me, in getting these mustangs ready for competition! I will post again later with pics of Jeff and I working. We had a friend come out and take pictures, and I am waiting to get those back! And let me just say, Jeff is a serious GOD SEND. He is one of the top two trainers I have ever worked with, and maybe the best…we will see.

In the meantime, I gotta wear this…

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A New Mustang

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After all the issues that have come up with the black mustang mare that I call “Jive” for now, I am uncertain of her future. All I mean by that is that we are given five months to take these horses from wild to competition. They have to be able to handle a certain level of stress, both physical and mental. At this point Jive cannot handle the physical and therefore we really cannot know of her mental ability. We discovered she was 7, not 4. It’s a much different experience when training an animal that has a few years experience wild compared to all of its youth. SO, without my husbands permission-I’m sorry honey. This is an “ask for forgiveness later” situation.

Because I made this decision to check out the LAST adoption of horses that qualify for the Mustang Million, I did not make the preview.

This is such an amazing gathering of horsemen, that once again, a cowboy helped me out with horses that really stood out to him. So, surprisingly, I picked up a 3 yr-old buckskin gelding for $200. I had several people tell me that had they not already bought another horse-this guy was way toward the end of the sale-that they were going to pick him. One guy said he rubbed all over him yesterday! I’m excited to get him home. Right now I’m waiting to load him up.

Mustang Update!

Sorry, I have been a little behind on keeping you informed with the progress of the mustangs. Because I had surgery on that shattered pinky tip last Monday, there were some things I just couldn’t do. (Besides the difficulty of typing a lot on my phone, dishes, laundry, etc. THEN, my husband had deviated septum surgery two days later and we have two little boys, 4 dogs and seven horses to tend to!!) So, I brought in a trainer friend of mine to help me get the girls started right for the next two weeks. He started yesterday with me.

Two days ago there was a freak accident that I couldn’t get to happen again if I tried 10,000 times, but one mare ended up with a punctured leg muscle and stitches. This is a nice mare and once we got our hands on her discovered that at some point in her life she stuck something straight through her neck when she was younger!! I’ll show you if you come watch us one day. The black mare. Anyway, she is sore, but calm and healing nicely. When dealing with these wild horses, these things happen. I think we were lucky. God is protecting us. We are doing desensitizing work with her at a standstill, no round pen work.

The red mare is a smart, smart mare. Very curious and very confident. Man she’s nice. We have done round pen work with her as well as some desensitizing. We expect to be riding her by the weekend, but that’s all up to her. I opened a horse trailer up into one of our pens and without anyone around she jumped in and out of it FOUR times just checking it out. It was so cool.

My friend, Kim, came and took pics today. As soon as I get those ill post more.

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This is DAY 1! This is my son Ely, age 4, allowing one mare to meet him. This is how awesome these mares are. This is all we did on Day1. Next picture is of me and the other mare.20130507-214202.jpg20130507-214223.jpg
Then I had surgery and it was fine because I wanted the girls to get used to their environment with the dogs, pcows, dear, cars, four wheelers, etc.

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This is the mare facing up to me on first day of training. The one below is the feel accident where she ended up with a clip from her halter to her leg. She never freaked out, she allowed me to rescue her after only three days of handling her, having only been able to walk up and touch her for the first time an hour before this.

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I almost didn’t tell you about this, but people need to know that this is serious stuff and you do not need to get into this unless you have worked with A LOT of untrained horses, but especially mustangs. Plus, I’m keeping it real.

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This is her “knocked out” while she gets stitched up. The next day she was sore, but let me rub all over her. We have definitely bonded over this. Poor baby, but I am taking special care of her.

I am happy to answer any questions as I know I have left a lot out.

Oops! Worse than I thought

So the injury was worse than I thought! While I am supposed to be merrily on my way to preview the mustangs-I have a non-negotiable appointment with an orthopedic at 1 pm today. Thankfully they forced me in, and thankfully the preview goes until 8pm tonight. Here’s a couple pics of the X-Ray. It has not been confirmed, but the primary doc and NP believes that the pinky bone split down the middle, and that piece is trying to exit the body! Ouch!!

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At least I didn’t break an arm

Oops. As I sit in the doctors office Thursday morning, awaiting X-rays, I decided to give my last entry for a while on Little Joe.

Today is the day I go and preview the mustangs that I hope to be adopting one or two of, for the Mustang Million. So, yesterday was my last day to work with Little Joe. Yes, he was an untouched horse, age 4, stallion. I knew he wasn’t ready to take his first step with me on his back. However, I wasn’t sure if he wasn’t ready, or if I wasn’t. Unfortunately, neither of us were. He did great as mounted, got my outside foot in the stirrup-which I had never done before. He was quiet the whole time. I asked him to step forward and he did quietly. Then it all went south. He gradually begin to bolt, and instead of me riding him out, I turned him toward the fence and then attempted to grab it for a dismount. At about the same time he bucked and went left, I went right, and gravity took over from there.

I hit the ground and he continued to buck around the pen. I felt terrible. I should have never had him scared enough that he felt like defending himself. See, horses only buck in self defense. Sure they do little hops in the pasture, but you won’t see a horse running through a pasture bucking hard unless he is being attacked. So, I felt bad. I knew better. In the process he was fine and I broke my pinky. Well, I assume its broken. I’m waiting in X-ray now. My husband was upset because it was going to cost $1000 for an ER visit, but I told him I could wait until today. I forget that such a tiny injury can cause so much pain. Oh well, it’s just a part of it, especially when I make mistakes.

So, I did what I’m supposed to-I got back on. I didn’t ask him to step off, though. He was calm and quiet and happy to be by me, so I unbridled him, placed his halter on and lead him to the tack shed. I unsaddled him, returned him to his pen and gave him his evening feed. I hate to halt his training there, but I think he needs a break anyway.

So, I’ll keep you posted. The picture is a freeze frame from the video my husband shot on my phone.

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A Rescue Horse Named Luke

I have a friend that has REALLY been wanting a horse for a long time. They finally live on a nice little place with good grass and good fences. She always tries to get her dogs from rescue organizations, and this is where she began looking for her horse. She would text me questions like “how big is 15 hands” and “what does green broke mean”. And I happily answered them all because it made me sound really smart. Horses I know. After many days of this she finally finds a rescue about 30 miles away in Egan, TX that has several for us to go and check out. (We went first and just met Angela that runs the place, and she told us about each of the horses.) We like what we saw, so we decided to come back and ride another day.

Because I’m the “expert” as my friend calls (I really got my bluff in on her), I am going to check out and ride each horse to determine if it is safe for my her and her family. I load up my saddle and a few bridles, pull on my riding boots, and off we go. We usually have our two youngest boys with us at least-ages 3&4, and today was no exception.

The first horse I wanted to ride was a 10 yr-old, very thin, long haired sorrel named Troy. He had good strong bones, was a great age, and though he wasn’t the prettiest, he had a great temperament. Angela said his only problem, and it’s a big one, is that he’s barn sour.

She wasn’t kidding. He wasn’t too hard to catch in the pasture, and he was very quiet to saddle and bridle. I pulled his left rein around and he wasn’t the softest horse, but he knew what to do. I tightened my cinch just tight enough to be safe, but not too tight so he could be comfortable. We went for a ride and all was well-until about a hundred yards from the barn and he just wouldn’t go any further. I’m sure with spurs and some hard kicks he may have went, but that’s not how I roll. Instead, I turned him around which he happily did, and we continued-backwards. Once we passed the point where he stopped, we turned around and continued on our way. Every time he stopped and turned around I would allow him, and them we would continue the way I wanted to go, backwards. Ol Troy was pretty quick to learn that there was an easy way and a hard way to do this. Neither way was causing him and harm or stress. But he finally gave in and walked the trail forward. There wasn’t a trail for real, just the one I had pictured in my moms so that I knew exactly where I wanted to go. There was a huge puddle of water he crossed just fine. I decided he was going to be a lot of work for my friend, but he wasn’t written off, yet. I had noticed his gums were bigger than his teeth, so we left Troy for Angela to have the vet check him.

I pulled up another horse named Rowdy. His story was that he was a trained barrel horse. He was in much better health than some of the others, had a good coat, feet, and teeth. I was excited to try him out. Well, as anyone in the horse world knows, anyone can call their horse anything. He saddled okay, took a bit okay, but it was obvious he hadn’t done much more than that. When I pulled his head to the left he would not give to it at all. Same on the right. Well, a stop is a left and right turn at the same time. If he doesn’t have that, he isn’t going to stop. I opted not to ride this horse. We decided to travel down the road to check out a little Arab named Luke.

Luke was perfect! He was willing to go anywhere! He had so much training on him that I could not believe that he was a rescue. The only pictures we had seen before we met him was of him as a skinny little thing. Not the case anymore-he was fat and sassy. I just loved Luke and new he was going to work out. We were told he didn’t load, so we returned another day with no tile frame so that I could take as long as necessary to load him.

It took me about an hour and a half. In the beginning he wouldn’t even walk up to the trailer, but he was okay if we circled around to it. Whatever. If this was his comfort zone, we would start there. After some time there became a difference between him being uncomfortable with the trailer, and him acting up a little bit and getting a little aggressive toward me. I assume that in the past this kept him from having to load. Well, on this day he met patient, persistent, consistent, and self-controlled Mandy. That’s me. I even lifted his foot up for him to show him how high it was. I had my friend help Le keep him in line with the trailer by making sort of big motion when he true to back to the side or away. We had a little whip, but only to tap the ground with, and only for her to use as an extension of her hand. We didnt know this horse and wanted my inexperienced friend a little distance away just in case. Anyway, suddenly Luke decided all was okay and loaded his front end. I backed him out. He really liked jogging so I would jog him around. Kind of funny, but it was on opus he enjoyed that, so that becme his reward. Shortly after I had him loading and unloading with no problem.

Our test came after he had been in the trailer for 3 hours and then had to get a shot at the vet as well as an inspection. After all that he loaded right back in the trailer with no hesitation!! I’m the greater horse trainer in the world!!! Lol, just kidding, that’s just something I have always yelled after I taught a horse to do something and it worked. I’m humble like that. 🙂

I wish I could say that Luke has found his forever home, but that is not how this story ends. The vet asked if Je was a cribber. We said we didn’t think so. And he said we would know soon enough. Sure enough, once Luke got settled, he was a cribber. You can learn more here. We will never know for sure, but his poor health when he arrived at the rescue could be from cribbing, or cribbing could be result of his poor health. Whatever the cause, he was healthy now, but his future was too unknown, and he was the worst cribber I have ever witnessed first hand. Wood fence while I saddled him, metal posts as soon as you turned him loose. So sad. Even though my friend thought she could get past this addiction, the truth was that he was just too athletic for her and always wanted to go faster. Her saddle also didnt fit him well and she considered getting a new one for him, but the truth is there are sonny horses out there that she is going to try another. Also, Luke is VERY spoiled at his foster home and they cried to see him go and were so happy to hear of his return! He’s just a big pet there on a large acreage ranch with Jenny’s and Henny’s and donkeys and mules and goats and dogs. It’s like something out of a James Herriott novel!

Tomorrow we return Luke and she has decided she is going to foster Troy for a while. He’s more her speed and the saddle should fit. She can at least give him the extra care and riding and nutrition he needs. I will keep you posted.

The pictures are from me training Luke how to load.

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Mark Rashid Horse Clinic

I’m a believer in God’s perfect timing. If God doesn’t set up the divine appointment, I believe that he can use an appointment for His purpose. Either way, I know that when something is good, it’s of God-and that’s how I felt about attending the Mark Rashid clinic.

In the summer of 1995, I met Mark and had no idea that he would be one of the top 5 influential people in my life. I had left Texas and my family behind. I had a new Ford pickup, a two horse trailer-both black-and my first horse, Mitzi, in tow. We pulled into the most beautiful place I had ever lived-Wind River Ranch in Estes Park, CO. I was young and cocky and for the first time in my life-FREE. My first dream was coming true-I was going to be a wrangler on a guest ranch in the Rocky Mountains. It’s funny to me now that that was my biggest dream. I learned to dream bigger, especially after your first dream is realized. It was here that I learned who I was, and was introduced to the mustang horse. I had the privilege of learning how to train horses, and I learned first on a little mustang named Pecos. Together, with Mark’s lead, the three of us would end up featured in The Western Horse magazine for training the wild mustang for many issues.

So here I was, 17 years later, entered into the largest Mustang competition in history, the Mustang Million being held 40 miles from my current home in Glen Rose, TX. It had been 12 years since I had worked with Mark and I was excited to see my old friend. I made the 3 1/2 hour drive to Bryan, TX.

I cannot express how wonderful it was to reconnect with Mark, so I’ll talk about what I learned. Well, I’ll be talking more about what I learned and how I practiced, and applied it to my life and training horses throughout this blog.

Something that stood out was a man on a very well trained reining horse. The horse was going through the motions, and responding pretty well, but he really didn’t seem to be enjoying what he was doing. He pounded the ground when he loped, he trotted too fast, he bobbed his head when he stopped ans on and on. Mark worked with the man for a few days and the change was amazing! Mark told the guy that there is a difference between a horse that knows the mechanics and gets the job done, and a horse that is responding to a rider who is helping him. Example: this horse knew how to walk, trot, and lope. He knew how to catch a lead though one side was a little sticky. But the rider was using big cues and making the horse do what he wanted. When he wanted to go faster, there was lots of leg and kisses. When he wanted to slow down, the man would sit back an pull on the reins. Sounds right to me! So here was a difference-after working on his intention with the horse, by thinking about what he wanted the horse to do BEFORE he did it, his body and energy was already cuing the horse before the mechanics were needed-the legs, kisses and pulling of the reins.

The transformation I witnessed over the next few days was so exciting for me! This horse began to become softer in the poll. When he loped, he stopped pounding the ground and started to lightly canter atop it. When the rider started riding with intention, he would start thinking about stopping and the horse would surprise the rider and come to a stop! The rider would laugh and say how he was caught off guard and was actually thinking about stopping but wasn’t sure where he was gonna ask in the pen (but his body and mind had already communicated to the horse before his brain could make up its mind.)

What this means for me: imagine the difference in taking a wild horse who has yet had any reason to mistrust a human, and in a silent language teach him how to work with me. Instead of me forcing him into submission. What an amazing relationship I will have by entering a corral, leading my horse, riding him, and going over obstacles-with intention. With a purpose. There was so much more I learned at this clinic, but this was my biggest take home. I am to know what I want from the horse before I ever ask-and then figure out a way to help him understand and do it correctly. When you watch a horse in the pasture, they already know how to catch different leads, do flying lead changes, go over and around obstacles, move sideways, forwards and backwards. It’s up to US to figure out how to get them to do that in sync with us.

I just sold a horse this weekend and told the girl “He knows how to do all the leads and flying lead changes-you just have to figure out how to get out of his way and let him do it. Figure out a cue that makes sense to him, think about what you want before you get there and he’ll do it.” While I was saying that, I was in a 60′ round pen on the left lead in that tight circle and he did a flying lead change in that arch and back to the correct lead again! It was so cool!!

I told Mark that he should advertise as “People clinics” instead of “Horse clinics” because we are the ones that come in and screw it all up!

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