May 182014

Doranna & DuncanThis is Doranna Durgin’s WordPlay Blog. I’m glad you’re here–whether it’s to learn more about my books, or chat about dogs, horses, and reading.

On Fridays, The Write Horse usually stops by for life with horse training, written by Patty Wilber.

If you’d like to reach my Webstead, you can clicky on that link you just passed. Right there. Behind you! The one that said Webstead.

PS although I use a plug-in that allows commenters to sign in, it’s easy to post as a guest and guest commenters are welcome!

May 182014

by Doranna

Dun Lady's JessSo I’ve been published since ’94…and have over 40 titles’ worth of author copies sitting on garage storage shelves, snug and safe…and taking up a LOT of room. I’m going to run a bunch of giveaways, but I’m also offering these books first come, first serve, for the cost of postage. If you prefer hardcopy and now can’t get it, this is your chance! Not sure how long I’ll run this…depends on how well it works out on my end, basically…

I made a completely nifty form–it’s behind the cut–integrated with PayPal and including credit card payments through PayPal (so there’s no need to have a PP account). Get there first, grab what you want, and spread the word! (There’s a little social sharing dingie down at the bottom of the post.) Continue reading »

Oct 242014

By Patty Wilber

This was probably our last Back Country Horsemen project of the season–paint a bridge.  We were big on painting bridges this year.  This one was right down from our staging site, so we didn’t even get to ride to get there!

We rode later.


Before painting!


After! Keith, Mary Ann, Erin and Siri.

We were very tidy painters. Or not.

Continue reading »

Oct 172014

By Patty Wilber

The sun was just suffusing the sky with light when two cow elk stepped out of the golden-leaved aspen grove into the meadow above the East Tank.  They were 300 yards away and didn’t hear us.  The little herd of cattle did.  They skittered and plowed across the landscape with no grace and lots of noise.  For some reason the elk glanced up and then ignored the cows.

Those two elk moseyed across the meadow: graze, pause, look, walk, out of our range.

As we watched, two more appeared from the forest, but instead of heading across, they stopped to snack.  We crept one step at time, from tree to tree, until Richard, who had the only cow elk tag, moved ahead. Jim and I breathed slowly and held still.  The aspens we were in were sparse enough that we still had a good view.

The first two elk melted away into the trees on the far side of the meadow and the newest two, wary now, heads up and looking away from our position, circled in a high trot.  We thought they were going to leave, but they settled and went back to breakfast.  Richard sighted in.

Only one elk disappeared into the trees.

Continue reading »

Oct 102014

By Patty Wilber

Jim’s elk hunt was last week and we went to Camp Kingsbury in the Cruces Basin in Northern New Mexico.

Cruces Basin trail head and camping area. Twenty-three miles on dirt road, three on 4-wheel drive road. Bring your own water.

Penny reading the Cruces Basin trail head and camping area sign. To get here we drove twenty-three miles on dirt road and three on a 4-wheel drive road. Bring your own water.

The camp itself was three miles in on a trail and all the gear (and water) was carried in (and out) by equine. There was a lot of gear!

Two wall tents, with wood stoves, people food, animal feed, and a guided hunt were all provided.

The Camp. Two wall tents, with wood stoves, people food, animal feed, and a guided hunt: all provided!

We took Penny, Lacey and Cometa and they joined nine other  four-leggeds that had come in a few days earlier.

Lacey: "i am really good at this."

Lacey: “check me out! i am really good at this!” Cometa:”yeah yeah. just wait til u r my age u young whipper snapper!”

Elk hunting at Camp Kingsbury means up at O dark thirty, a quick hot breakfast of oatmeal and coffee in the yellow beams of the propane lanterns, and then heading off in the white light of the LED head lamps (until you can see just enough to avoid major catastrophe–then the lights go off) to where you hope the elk are going to be.

On day one, we loaded Molly mule with a wheel chair and Dave (Richard’s brother to whom said chair belongs) rode Milford (also a mule). Richard claimed I would not need a chain to lead Molly, but as soon as we got her untied, she rolled her eyes at my head lamp and bolted.  Very few items fell out of her panniers–at least not any of the important wheel chair parts...not that we could really see much as it was dark anyway.

Molly came back.  “ok. over that.  i’m good.”

We headed out.

Being able to hunt with people that know that land means being able to hike in the dark without getting lost, getting oriented more quickly and finding elk more easily.

We went directly to Dave’s spot and set him up as the sun appeared on the horizon.

Ok, this was about noon, but you would not be able to see the set up when we first did it.

Ok, this was about noon, but you would not be able to see much when we first did it at dawn.

View at Dave’s place at dawn.

We moved the mules off  a ways,  gave them black feed bags full of alfalfa pellets and wrapped their dark leads ropes around the white bark of  two aspens.  I craftily let Richard do the tying.   Two hours later, the mules were spotted, feed bags and all, hightailing it straight back to camp. (Plausible deniability for me!)

Meanwhile, while the mules were plotting their escape, we stalked up on a bull in the yellow leaved aspen (we hit the  fall colors  just perfectly).  We were as still as the trees for a while and then, we moved a little too fast and spooked the bull and the two cows.

Regroup and a snack.





While were were camo’d in a shady glen eating string cheese, Hershey’s chocolate and sweet and salty granola bars, a herd bolted into the grove just a few yards away and hesitated.  We leapt up (a calculating stealthy bunch aren’t we?) and went for the guns. This convinced the herd to…

re-bolt! At once.

I was beat, from the altitude I guess, so I didn’t go with the hunting party  in the afternoon.  Instead I helped Amber get some supplies back at the trail head (I rode Lacey), and when we returned to camp, we cut dead branches to fuel the wood stoves. Having a heated bedroom (even if you are sleeping on the floor) was great. Even better if one of your mates does all of the stoking through the night!

Heated living quarters.  Wow!

Heated living quarters. Wow!

We still had to feed and water the stock.

We had everyone (equidly speaking) high-lined –not to be confused with zip-lined–and feed bagged. (Thanks Mom and Dad for the high line kit!)

High lined and feedbagged!

High-lined and feed bagged!

Then they needed drinks.  (No beer for them, but we people did go for a little whiskey.)  To get the the whole cavalcade to the water, we kept the two lead mares (Penny and Belle) and two geldings on line and let the other eight free.  As soon as we started to the tank (about a 1/4 mile away), Cometa and Lacey broke and ran, NOT toward the water, but off into the gathering gloom.  Gathering gloom pretty much described my reaction to those shenanigans.  Fingers crossed the on-line lead mares will call them home.

The by the time we had our seven-strong homebody-herd at the tank, the five mavericks were happily finishing and Cometa and Lacey high-stepped to the tank’s berm.  Cometa was the ring leader. Messing with my head.

It was dark now and hard to see much in the moon light except shadows, but as we got close to the camp, Penny started calling and within moments I heard galloping hooves on the edge of the herd and Cometa and Lacey unmelted from the dark into their solid selves!

It is amazing that they know she is the lead mare even though at home they are never penned together or even nose to nose across a fence line.  Four hours in the trailer can be a bonding experience!.

Once we got back, and they were all hooked to the high-lines, we brushed our teeth and hit the nice warm sack to dream…yeah ok I dreamed but I also tossed and turned a lot.  I am sorry, but a thermarest is NOT as comfortable as my bed at home.


Tune in next week for the riveting conclusion to Camp Kingsbury.  Do we actually get any elk? What have bears got to do with it? Can Lacey pack meat? (if we got any elk that is) and What got into Ben?

Oct 062014

by Doranna

speech-bubble-mdThe broken brain.  It is Teh Stoopit.  It looks at things it’s known how to do forEVER and it says, “I got nuthin’.”

When it comes to the dogs, I can often see it coming…if not always.  “Nope, can’t teach this new skill right now, because it will break something that I need in the immediate future.”

When I was teaching agility and rally, I saw broken dog brains all the time.  Dogs learning how to back up would forget how to sit.  Dogs learning to stand from sit would forget how to finish to heel.  Dogs learning to stand from down would forget something else altogether. Continue reading »

Sep 192014

By Patty Wilber

I spent three days at the New Mexico State Fair last week and never left the horse barn.

The Orange Cone Area is for loading and unloading only.  ( nailed a few cones when I drove in.  I didn't see them! I swear!

The Orange Cone Area is for loading and unloading only. (Nailed a few cones when I drove the trailer in. I didn’t see them! I swear!)

In my defense, by the time the horse stuff was done I was tired and the midway and main street and crowds just didn’t appeal!

Continue reading »

Sep 122014

By Patty Wilber

Last weekend we flew to Seattle and drove to Eastern Washington for my brother’s wedding. A side bennie was that Jim’s sister lives in Eastern Washington, too, so we also got to visit with Joanie and Tim!

We spent our time time gabbing and eating and apparently little time on pictures, so we will just have to go with words. Gasp. Or…

Yes!  That’s it!  Internet pictures!

chelan butte

Joanie and Tim live in Chelan, across the Columbia River Gorge from the Butte. Click this to go to the geocaching link.

Continue reading »

Sep 052014

By Patty Wilber

Over Labor Day weekend 2013, the Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico, Pecos Chapter did repair and refurbishing of a bridge near Beatty’s Cabin in the Pecos Wilderness.  For Labor Day 2014, almost the exact same crew (- Cathy, + Laurie) completed two more!

We, being back country HORSEmen  rode in and packed our gear and supplies.  I did not get a picture of Belle packing 2 x 12 boards! That was the most challenging load for sure.

Lacey carried two 50 pound sacks of feed, four cans of paint and a propane canister.  One hundred and sixty four pounds.  No problem.

Penny was my lead horse.  She did a lot of back country work as a three-year-old, but most recently, she has spent two seasons as a Show Girl with Sydney.  Penny did not miss a beat heading back to the back woods!

Penny (in the back, June 2010, age three)

Penny, (in the back), June 2010, age three. Risa in the front.

Continue reading »

Sep 032014

by Doranna
A Dog Agility Blog Event


Hard to decipher all the signage, but this was two rally novice titles with first and second place. Just starting the journey…

The Blue Hound Beagles are, primarily, agility dogs.
  But they looove tracking.  They clamor for obedience work.  Boy, do they want to hunt those ratties and chase that plastic bag lure! I’ve always done crosstraining with them to some degree, for both body and mind (but not for my wallet…).

Connery: CH MACH3 Cedar Ridge DoubleOSeven VCD1 RE MXC MJG MXP MJP XF EAC EJC CGC

(That is, Beauty Contest AGILITY AGILITY AGILITY Versatility with Tracking, Obedience, and Agility, More Obedience Stuff Rally Stuff AGILITY AGILITY AGILITY More Agility!)

Dart: Albedo’s Charter Member VCD1 BN GN RE MX MJB CA CGC

(Versatility with Tracking, Obedience, & Agility, More Obedience stuff Rally stuff AGILITY AGILITY Coursing! Continue reading »