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!

Jul 122016

By Patty Wilber

The Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen hauled supplies from Iron Gate into the Mora Flats area for Kevin Balciar’s trail crew last weekend and Indy got to join the old pros Penny and Cometa on her first stint packing.

Penny and Cometa have been doing this stuff since they were two and three. Cometa turned 19 July 9th and Penny is nine. They are both very level headed. LT, on the other hand, didn’t get to go until she was five because she was too kinetic to be any fun for anyone. Indy has the same dad as LT, but she is a lot more laid back, so she gets an early work permit!

Penny (right) age two on a BCH project


Penny worked 137 hours in the back country as my lead horse when she was three.

My first clue that Indy was going to be more than fine was when we tied her to the trailer with Penny and Cometa on the other side.  She ate some tall grass and waited to see what we were doing next.

Next, we were packing.

Indy carried a stove, a toilet (clean), a tarp, some wash tubs and a bunch of helmets. Not bad for her first load!


Indy says, “holy box hitch, Batman. what is he doing back there ?!”



“it looks like something undignified! ” says Tulip


“whew”, says Indy. “that turned out better than i thought it would! i do have a box hitch!

Then, we set off!



Cometa says, “did you hear the one about the tomato family? the little one was lagging behind and the dad stomped him and and said, “ketch up!” get it, Indy? Indy says, “ok. ok. i’m coming.” And then under her breath, “bully! i will bump your butt 100 times on this ride and drive you crazy! hmpff!”


Penny says, “hey indy! you could be carrying that wide load!” (Cinco had coolers and she did run them into every other tree she passed at first!)


Almost there!

We unpacked the load for the trail crew and Indy stood still. Very nice.  I think she has a good trail future!

We humans had lunch and the horses got some apple cores.


i have to pony her back?


what? i only bumped cometa 97 times.

The ride back went well.  Indy didn’t pester Penny as much as she had Cometa.  She might have been tired, or maybe, since she lives with Penny, she knows Penny is the boss mare. Do not mess with the boss mare!

One thing a good trail horse should do, besides stand still, is drink on the trail and back at the trailer.



Indy: “this is the best water i have ever tasted!”


Indy: “this is the best water i have ever tasted! does this fly mask make my head look weird?”


Great Crew! Richard, Mary Ann, Peter, Amber, Sandy, Bob. and Me. Jim took the picture!

The pack out is next weekend, but we will be hiking the Kalalua Trail in on Kauai, Hawaii!



Jul 082016

By Patty Wilber

My Mom, sister and two nieces came to visit this past week and we went a bunch of places (never early as it took us a while to get going in the mornings and of course I had a few horses to ride!)

We went to Meow Wolf, Bandelier National Monument, Finding Dory, the Albuquerque Botanical Gardens (the bugarium and the leaf cutter ants—pretty cool), Old Town where we started an Urban Adventure Quest but ran out of time to finish (get your groupon here), the Jemez Box, Madrid and ate at the Mine Shaft Tavern, ate at Los Cuates on N. 14 twice, and Origami in the Garden.  For some reason the Origami in the Garden really struck me.

Origami in the Garden is on Hwy 14, 4 miles north of Madrid and 15 miles south of Santa Fe and features metal sculptures created from origami.  It is set among tan ribbons of rock called the Garden of the Gods.


A lovely setting.


A metal depiction of a piece of paper that was folded into a crane and then unfolded. Even the unfolded works were fascinating!


This is the process of folding paper into an airplane, and then the airplane takes off!

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Jul 012016

By Patty Wilber

“Glamping, also known as luxury camping or glamorous camping, is that escape you’ve been meaning to take. It’s that little break from the hustle and bustle. It’s a moment by yourself in a secluded treehouse.”

What’s Glamping | Glamping Hub

According to the Glamping website, I guess, technically, we (Siri, Keith, Jim and I) didn’t glamp because we stayed in a cabin at Taos Horse Getaways, (and it wasn’t in a tree).  It did lack an indoor toilet and shower though, so we were maybe semi-glamping?
The outhouse is definitely in the glamping realm!
And so is the outdoor shower, but I didn’t take a picture of that!

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Jun 242016

By Patty Wilber

We are droughty dry again this year in NM and the Dog Head Fire that started June 14th and burned nearly 18,000 acres in our vicinity last week scorched that onto the minds of the East Mountain area populace emphatically.  It went from 600 acres to 16,000 acres in two days, incinerating pinon, juniper and ponderosa pine in 100 foot flames.

Because the wind blew the fire east, we were not threatened, and the amazing work of the fire crews, along with some help from the weather, kept the fire from spreading as much after the third day. Click to see a map of the fire progression. Continue reading »

Jun 172016

By Patty Wilber

Indy was solid when she was born.

Solid in color!

Solid in color! Less than 24 hours old.  April, 2014. Thanks Cheryl Pozzi for the picture.

Indy still appeared to be a dark bay at 9 months old.

Indy, December, 2014

The LP gene that colored Appaloosas carry causes progressive depigmentation. (This gene is also required to allow the PATN1 and PATN2 genes to cause Appaloosa spots.)

At first I did not know Indy had the LP gene, but when she shed her baby coat, she started to develop mottling on her face and her summer coat was roany!

June 2015.

And her forehead!

August, 2015.  You can just make out a little depigmenting (mottling) above her nostril and her forehead is roaning!

Indy’s 2015/2016 winter coat was dark and it covered up all her summer 2015 roaning.


October 4, 2015. All the gray was gone! (Except in her tail head.) The mottling on her nose remained but didn’t seem to progress at all.

Then, as she began to shed out in spring of 2016, the depigmentation seemed to pick up speed again. Suddenly, (it seemed) she was going gray again and her nose had more spots!


March, 2016. Spots on her nose!

Only about 10 days later, there is even more white! 4-7-16.

13 April 2016; Roaning and dirt.


Indy April 13, 2016. Roaning coming though!


April, 20, 2016 (15 hands, 960 pounds). She looked dapple because of the shedding pattern, I thought. The dark hair was comin’ out!


April 20, 2016


May 2, 2016. Still not all the way shed out– but you can see how light her flank was here compared to April 20!!


June 2, 2016. She is pretty well shed out and she still has the dapples! I thought they would all go away.  Maybe they still will! She is 15.1 and about 1029 lbs. She can stop getting taller now!



Just wanted to show the progression of silver in her tail.


This makes her butt looker bigger than it really is, but it’s a cute butt, and you can see that silver in her tail!

I think her coat pattern will continue to develop and it will be interesting to see what she looks like this winter not to mention next year!

She is coming around under saddle, too!


Jun 032016

By Patty Wilber

I thought Jim and I were going to pack salt to Beatty’s Cabin for Big Horn Sheep last weekend, but there were enough haulers, so after a Friday fun ride and a Saturday cross cut saw clinic, we ended up doing trail work on Cave Creek trail instead, and that was very satisfying! (Then we went kayaking on Monday but that is another story.)


Our work crew: LT, Indy and Penny

Trails, it turns out, do not magically remain free of debris and overgrowth.  They have to be maintained. One mission of the Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen is work on trails in both the Pecos and the Manzano Wilderness (which I continually type as Wilberness, for probably obvious reasons!)

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May 272016

By Patty Wilber

It wasn’t even astronomical twilight. It was 0 Dark Thirty.

Illustration image

The first hot and bitter swallow of coffee almost drove the sleep grit from my eyes, and I packed the cooler while Jim (because he is the best) loaded my three horses.  Penny came for the cattle drive and LT and Mitch for cow horse arena work.

It was 4:30 am when the diesel chugged to life and I pulled out of our gravel driveway heading north to Watrous.

Driving into the day is way better than driving the day away.  The sun comes up.


I got there in time (whew!) and we penned up LT and Mitch. I saddled Penny, reloaded her and followed Barret, Jason and Wyatt to meet the rest of the crew.

We warmed up the horses and headed out across the ranch at a long trot in the still slanty morning light.  It was no-sweatshirt-warm!

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When we got to the pasture with the moms and calves (pairs), we split into two groups and went hunting for cow. We kept our forward pace and Penny found a nice rhythm.  She watches where she is going, and the area was not super rocky or full of holes, so it was easy terrain to ride!

We slowed when we spied our quarry!


Found some!

 Most of our herd fragment was down by this windmill.


As we approached, I could smell their grassy poop smell.  There is a grand description, eh?  When they saw the horses, they began to moove and moo, too. Penny fell right in behind and we let the herd meander down the two track to our meeting place.


We consolidated the bunches at a tank that was mostly dry.


After a break where all the guys could hop off and pee using their horses as a screen (or pee on their horse’s leg, is what it kind of looks like–and, no I didn’t stare or take pictures of this) and I had to go find a tree, we pushed the group toward the gate.

This seemed pretty straight forward. We went slow and pushed them from behind with holders on the sides.  Then the calves started to group up at the back. Then one or two started to peel off and race away toward the almost dry tank, apparently, forgetting their mom’s were just up ahead!


Calves at the back.

One beat me and I gave chase, but Penny got a little humpy and the calf got a good lead.  We got our act together and went for it, but we were cleanly beat, so Kenny galloped in and roped the little bugger. He kept it roped and herded it back to the group. Kinda fun to do and see!

We made it out of that pasture and got a ways, when a couple of calves developed a new strategy and decided to depart together.  Several riders left to corral them, leaving us with too few to hold the remainder.  There was an avalanche of bolters!  It kind of reminded me of the herding cats Super Bowl commercial.

They returned to the fence and stacked up there.  Some were small enough or pushy enough to squeeze through and go galloping on. Only a few moms joined the deserters, which was too bad because more moms would have helped them relax and the moms had no issues going where we asked!  The rest of the mamas were grazing way back where the little runners had run off.

We let them settle, reassembled and got them going again.  We were getting close to the main bunch of moms and one rider went to look for a rope that had snagged in some trees and was lost.  As soon as he left, the calves thought he should be followed.  Two went.  Four. Ten.  Crap. They stopped following him and literally high-tailed, went all the way back to the fence! There were somewhat fewer this time, but a couple snuck through the fence again!

Regroup, settle, get going, be vigilant.

We got all the way to the most of the moms!

(The video was taken from my moving horse…. explains the quality…)

We got them bunched  and kept easing them along. We could see the next gate!  We could see the trucks and the windmill and the water tank. We could see the group of bovids that had made it that far! We were feeling pretty confident and some of the guys were tossing their ropes and chatting.  The calves however, still clueless about the location of their mothers and bawling for them, were a little hot after all that cavorting.  As we passed a stand of juniper they started sneaking in there for shade, and then they realized they were FREE!

At first, it was just a few….

Penny will bushwhack with the best of them, so we headed into the thick of the trees, but calves can go where a horse can’t and those few drew a mob! Suddenly, they were not tired and they were off again!

As we broke into the open, Penny was covering ground like a seasoned pro!  I know it is better for the cows and calves if everything stays sedate, but YEE HAW, chasing calves at speed in the wide open on a good footed horse with the wind in my face made me feel like I sorta knew what I was doing (and that I was not 54 but maybe 35 instead!) We all were looping by the calves, driving to their necks, trying to turn them, and because the calves had used up at least some energy (they were panting and had flecks of foam speckling their lips) they did turn.  We stopped their progress in a little swale.  They milled around and were bawling. That drew a couple mamas to them, and several calves laid down to rest.  Thank goodness!

Kenny decided enough was enough, and he took a couple folks to bring back a bunch more moms while the rest of us kept the little delinquents from gaining any more ground!  There were only a few that kept pressing it and all it took was a step to them from a horse to push them back.

As we waited, a few more moms drifted to us.  They would either moo and their calf would recognize its mom’s voice and come and nurse, or the moms would go calf to calf and sniff until finding theirs.  One mama only sniffed brown calves. Mom yellow 247 (I might have mis-remembered her ear-tag number) could not find her calf.  She kept mooing and then she would re-smell but hers was not with us.  I started to feel kind of sorry for her!

When the mom bunch got to us, we watched for a while to make sure things looked calm, and finally headed for the trucks, leaving the clueless calves with the moms.


Two suddenly rejuvenated calves came careening along with us (there were more moms and calves at the water).  Good grief!

The horses were happy for a drink as our “morning” gather had gone well into the afternoon!

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After we got back to the ranch, Mitch and LT  and me along with Jason and Barret and their horses got to do cow horse arena work.  That was a great time, too! Thanks Barret!

Surprisingly, I was not a zombie on the 138 mile drive home (I left around 7 pm).

Super fun!

Salt hauling for bighorn sheep this weekend with Back Country Horsemen, two cow clinics the next two weekends and a cow horse show in Texas is the schedule for this month.

Then I might be a zombie!



May 202016

By Patty Wilber

We went to Longmont, Colorado last weekend for an Appaloosa show. Drove out on Friday.  20160513_084911

Drove back on Saturday.  That was a lot of driving! Over 900 miles, round trip.

We had to do it because so far as I can tell, there are only two Appaloosa Working Cow Horses in the entire state of New Mexico and both live at my house.

LT, of course, and the international addition, Mitch, who just arrived from Canada last month and belongs to Ardith Allcorn


Mitch (You CD Signs)

The horses travelled well.  I did not tie them so I could feed them on the floor of the trailer.  The hay on the floor is also so no one (read LT) gets tangled in a hay net.

We have a stock trailer with good air flow–which means the feed blows around and could get in their eyes, so they got to wear fly masks to protect them from flying hay.

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