Archive for the ‘Horses’ Category

Memorial Day: Remembering Codweed and Rascal

Monday, May 30th, 2016

I was cleaning out some old files when I came across a picture from 1985. It shows Jennifer riding Codweed, with me on Rascal, and Jerry in front. Codweed was the inspiration for two of my poems. He was quite a character. And Rascal was the best horse that ever lived, in my humble opinion.

(Click on the picture for a larger image.)


All That Training Paid Off

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

The farrier has come and gone, and Amigo now has all four hooves nicely trimmed. I had hoped he would be good with his feet for her, but I was a bit concerned about how spooky he gets around new things… like a short, loud German lady in heavy leather chaps with big iron tools approaching him.  Sure enough, when she first walked up to him, he panicked, and backed away from her about 10 feet with head raised, eyes big, and trembling.

So, we took about ten minutes to do some “approach and retreat” training. I had her walk up to him at normal speed (don’t slow down), let him back up, and when his feet stop moving, rub him all over. As soon as he shows a sign of relaxing, I had her turn and walk away from him. Repeat… and repeat… and repeat. In about 10 minutes, she could walk up to him with no reaction whatsoever.  When he finally cocked a back foot, I told her he was ready for her to do his feet.

And so she trimmed all four feet without any pulling or kicking. (Two weeks ago he tried to kick her into the next county.)

Good boy, Amigo!


Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

That is the latest command I’ve been teaching Amigo. He is very good with both front feet and his rear right foot. But the rear left leg has been injured sometime in the past, and it is taking a good deal of patience and persistence to get him to hold it still long enough to work on his hoof.

As far as the training goes, he is an excellent learner. I have been rubbing a leg, then saying “hoof” and he is beginning to pick it up with little or no effort from me.  He even picks up the “bad” foot initially, but soon pulls away as I work on it.  We’ll keep on plugging away. He is improving.



Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Last night, I worked quite a bit with Amigo. We started 2 new training exercises, slapping the ground with the stick and string, and the 4 methods of backing up. He reacted in opposite ways for the two exercises. When starting to slap the ground with the string from the front position, he was bonkers. But when I moved up close, and slapped the ground near his hind feet, it was as if he had done this all his life. Then, when I went back to the front, he was stoic and yet relaxed. Then we started the back up exercise. I don’t think this horse has ever hit reverse gear. There are increasing levels of pressure to get the horse to move his feet backwards: with the stick in front of him, tap the air; if he doesn’t move, tap the string; if he doesn’t move, whack the clip under his chin; if he doesn’t move, whack his nose.  Most horses starting out will move on step 2 or 3. Not this boy. I had to whack his nose 4 times to get a half step backwards. Not only that, I had to do it several times before he started moving with me whacking the clip. That went on for several minutes before he started moving with tapping the string. After a good 10-15 minutes, he finally started backing up very tentatively by tapping the air. When I was satisfied that he had the concept, we started the “wiggle, wave, walk, and whack” method.  Once again, he ignored the first 3 levels of pressure, and required the whack to get his feet to move. Only this time, he figured out that it was easier to move than to get whacked each time!  So he progressed quickly through the “wave” step, and started backing up on the wiggle.  Finally, the last method yields his hindquarters, then moves him backward on just a light touch of the lead rope under his chin. He said “I’ve got this, boss!” and did it like a champ.  That was a lot of work, but Amigo can now go in reverse!  I continue to work with his feet. Modest improvement each day. We just finished the 2nd day of “approach and retreat” trying to scare him while tied. I am at the arm-waving stage of approach. He’s doing better than I expected him to.  He seems to be more fearful from his left side while standing, and his right side while moving.

First week with Amigo

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Okay, we named the new guy “Amigo”. He is a very willing horse, though still pretty timid. He has been particularly stubborn to yield his hind feet for cleaning or trimming. Our farrier came out to look at him, and when she picked up his hind (left) foot, he kicked and bolted twice.  So, I had her quit trying so no one would get hurt, and scheduled her to come back in 2 weeks. Meanwhile, guess who is getting about 15 minutes of foot training every morning AND evening…  It is now Monday night, and we have graduated from the cotton lead rope stage. I use the soft rope to safely pick up his foot, and stretch it forward and backward without him being able to kick me. He is now letting me pick it up with my hands. Still too nervous for my liking, but a vast improvement over just a few days ago!  Either he has been previously trained, or he is a fast learner. He can yield his hindquarters with little cue on my part. We’ll see how he reacts to slapping the ground with the stick and string next. That usually is a fun one to train, chasing them around till they stop moving their feet!


Day Two

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Today was a good day with the new horse. We still haven’t named him yet, but we’re working on it.

I got up early this morning before sun-up, and took him out of the stall to get a few minutes on the grass. Then I tied him, and worked with his feet. I was surprised that he let me clean all 4 feet with the hoof pick!  This evening, we did our second round penning exercise, and it went much better than last night. He is starting to get more consistent turning in to me, rather than turning away from me, and he is beginning to walk slowly toward me when I release the driving pressure. I got him to follow me, at a distance of about 4 feet. He’s not comfortable getting all the way up to me on his own, but we’re real close.  Then we walked the perimeter of the field to introduce him to his new home. He couldn’t believe this whole field was just for him and Holly. Of course, it will be 2-3 weeks before we think about turning him out. Several things must happen first. (Quarantine, Negative Coggins, and spending more time each day eating grass). I need to make sure he doesn’t founder or colic by eating too much all at once. I’m not sure when the last time was when he got to eat green grass.

Then I got a bunch more hair off of him, particularly on his belly. I picked up all his feet, and found out he is really scared of a cotton lead rope. So he got rubbed a lot with it. When he relaxed, I quit rubbing and praised him. This went on for about 15 minutes. Soon, I could pick up his feet with the rope.

He now has his farrier and vet appointments. All in all, it was a good day.

The New Boy

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Yesterday, I drove down to the Meadow Haven Horse Rescue, and picked out a horse to rehabilitate. He is a 6 year old with lots of fear issues. Marla and Kay were amazing, caring for over 170 horses, and knowing every single one of them by name and history.

We have not named him yet. He had been broken to ride by a group of charros on the south side of San Antonio. Their horse-breaking methods are quite severe, and so this boy is scared of people, particularly men. After looking at dozens of potential horses needing ground work, I chose this one because he was the only one to look me right in the eye with a look that said, “take me”.  He proved he was ready to go when he loaded in the trailer without hesitation.

My goal is to have him able to do the ground work from Clinton Anderson’s method through the intermediate level with a saddle on, so that he will be ready to be gentle broke by the gals at Meadow Haven.


Update (4/5/16): Last night we did round-penning for an hour. He became fairly consistent turning in towards me, and would draw towards me with lots of gentle coaxing. He was not up to following me with just the first lesson. With the desensitizing to the lead rope, he would kick strongly with his back feet, but soon accepted the rope around his back legs. He was very responsive to pressure on the poll to lower his head for the halter.  Picking up his feet was unique. He had a different strategy for each foot: Left front, no problem. Left rear, kicked aggressively. Right front, he would stiffen his leg and not bend his knee. Once I had his knee bent, then no problem. Right rear, he would swing back and forth, but not kick. We worked about 15 minutes on holding his feet.  In the morning, I let him graze on grass for awhile, then tied him and picked up his feet again. This time, no kicking, but he was still tense in the rear.  His right front leg was still stiff at first, but he let me clean all 4 feet with the hoof pick – a real improvement over last night!

New face at the barn!

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

One week ago, we went to Briggs and picked up Stormy, a 9-year-old paint mare, 15 hands. She is very beautiful and has a willing but calm spirit. Frank fell in love with her and decided to buy her from Marci.

When Frank rode her, she did everything he asked. We brought her home and Cochise and Holly were very aggressive to her. Really, it was mostly Cochise. Click on the link below to see the video.


Stormy was scared to death of him!! Frank made the decision to take him back to his owner, Heather Davis, in Gatesville. Since Cochise is gone, Holly and Stormy have gotten along with no problems; they are calm together but Holly asserts herself as the lead mare. We’ve been riding the two girls and they are doing great. When Frank works Stormy in the groundwork training, she does her best to do what he wants; she is a quick learner. Sherry came out Saturday and trimmed her feet and said she will put shoes on her front feet in about 5 weeks.

I think Stormy will work out to be a great horse to ride around the pasture and on trail rides.


Bath Day

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

With a beautiful, sunny, warm and clear day, we decided to give the horses their first bath of the year.

Back to Lovin’ Horses

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted on here, so I thought I might bring some things up to date. We bought Holly, a 7 year old Quarterhorse mare, just over 14 hands tall, around the 4th of July weekend. About the same time, we took in Cochise, our neighbor’s horse as a pasture pal for Holly, and for me to work with to see if  I could break his habit of bucking.  Well, Cochise won the first round, bucking me off on July 17th (See the poem, “Be Ready For the Ride). I dislocated my elbow in the fall, but quickly recovered over the next two months. Meanwhile, we joined Clinton Anderson’s “No Worries Club” to get sizable discounts on his Downunder Horsemanship training materials and tools. I have been working both horses through the groundwork so far, and I must say it makes a world of difference in their attitude and respect toward humans.