Jan 292016

By Patty Wilber

When we left for Chile, Slim had been here about two weeks.  He was coming to us for meals, but that was it.

Our wonderful neighbors, Sherry and Wayne, continued having him approach for hay while we were gone and I hoped that this would  result in a break through for Slim.

When we got back, he was a bit less wary, but no big change.

Time to get to work!

We got back the 14th of January and by the 18th, he let me touch him!


Getting close and then trying to wrestle my phone out of my vest pocket, unlock it, put it on camera and get the shot before Slim decides it is all a bad idea is tricky!

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Jan 152016

First published Oct. 18, 2013.  

I did not end up selling LT, because the more I rode her, the better I liked her.  In 2015, she earned an Appaloosa national championship and a reserve world championship in Jr. Working cow.  I think I made the right choice.  I really like that horse.

By Patty Wilber

…I didn’t say banana?

Jim and I did not draw elk tags this year, so we and MaryAnn went to the Pecos to ride in the midst of rifle season for elk.

We wore a lot of ORANGE!


Orange vest, orange hat under my helpmet, orange streamers on the horses. We were not going to be mistaken for elk.

Orange vest, orange hat under my helmet, orange streamers on the horses. Red lead rope. (borrowed from Mojo, the Fjord). We were not going to be mistaken for prey.

We were our own little Orange parade!

We were our own little orange parade! Braided tail decorations and everything.

MaryAnn and Tulip who says: u cannot have too much orange!

It started out pretty cold–see the frost?  But it was a beautiful clear day.

Due to the “hard work” of our illustrious and functional Congress, the gate to Jack’s Creek was locked.  Fortunately, MaryAnn knew a back trail to Iron Gate–it was much shorter than riding three miles up the paved road to Jacks, and we sure enough did NOT want to drive up to Iron Gate.

As one hunter told us, “Last time I drove up there I busted a joint on my trailer.  Never driving up there again!”

I took LT.  Been riding her regularly and she will be listed For Sale on Horse Clicks in 30 days or so.  I wanted to give her the experience AND get some sale video of her in the back country (in orange, of course).

We rode from Cowles to Iron Gate to Hamilton Mesa, over our bridge project below Beatty’s Cabin, back to Jacks Creek then down to Cowles.  About 20 miles, and LT, who is three and a half, was mentally tired by the end, but physically still eager.

No luck on finding a map that you can see.

As mentioned, the road to Iron Gate is awful.  The trail is no fun either.  It is long.  It is dark due to both the aspect and the trees.  The trail itself has narrow and sloughy spots.  The Pecos Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen has worked on some of the worst reaches but there are still iffy sections.

 LT fell off only once. That was not really the trail’s fault.  She just wasn’t watching where she was going.

I am not brave.  I wanted to micro manage EXACTLY where  she put her feet on those slender trails.  It is better, however, to let the horse figure it out and help only in case of a major horsey mis-judgement.  LT does follow a trail so all I really needed to do was redirect her when she started looking for deer (all the elk were hiding I guess)  and keep her from ramming my knees into trees.

After Iron Gate, the trail becomes scenic.  There are aspen.  Graceful, bright with a more open understory.

Out of Iron Gate in the aspens--they have not turned everywhere that bright gold everywhere yet.

Jim and Cometa.  We are just out of Iron Gate in the aspens–they have not turned that vibrant fall aspen gold  here yet.

There are vistas! At the junction to Mora Flats/ Hamilton Mesa we went left to Hamilton Mesa.  That trail follows a ridge and then opens out onto grass and views.  Incredible views.

This picture does not capture the majesty or the snow on the peaks in the back ground!

This picture does not capture the majesty,  but you can just see the snow on the peaks in the back ground! Tulip likes the grass!

We watered the horses a spring-fed metal tank–mud all around, lined with a black tarp.  I thought LT would balk at the mud or the tarp or both.  Nope.  She practically shoved poor Tulip out of the way to suck down lots of water.  A good trail horse should drink readily.  Check.

Here are LT and Tulip (and Cometa’s ears) in Beatty’s Creek with a smattering of snow.

Beatty's Creek

Beatty’s Creek

There were a fair number of down trees on the trail, too–probably due to a strong wind storm last week.  LT did not jump any.  She picked her way over.  Nice.

LT says: logs, shmogs. we luv orange! Me; What does the orange have to do with anything? LT: nothing. why?

LT says: logs, shmogs. we luv orange!
Me: What does the “orange” have to do with anything?
LT: nothing. why?

MaryAnn and Tulip in more gasp-en (because it is so beautiful you must gasp!) between Beatty’s and Jack’s Creek–closer to Beatty’s.

As we came past Round Mountain and out onto the meadows above Jacks Creek there were some nice stretches for trotting and loping.  LT got a little hot about that faster work (she figured she could out run Tulip since she already pushed her off that water). A bit of walking was all she needed to re settle.

Our one near disaster came right at the end of the day.  We thought we’d try to go along the river bottom to get back to the trailers instead the short stretch of road.  We had to cross the water and Tulip forded easily at a fairly (three feet) deep spot.  LT followed without a fuss but she was nervous.  The footing was strewn with big rocks and she stumbled, dumping her right shoulder and me up to my right hip in the water.  I was soaked on that side almost instantaneously. She regained her feet and lunged onto the bank.  She said,  “i saw that going differently in my mind!”  Yeah.  Me, too!


Despite the fuzziness of the photo, you can see the splash marks on her butt, the dark (= wet) of my leg (compare the color of my jeans to the picture above in Beatty’s creek) and that 1/2 my saddle bag was also wet! We were only five minutes from the trailers (and we had emergency gear, too.) You can’t really see that her entire neck is wet!

Hypothermic distress was averted because we were out of the wind and we were close to the trailers, so it wasn’t too long before LT had a five-sizes-too-big sheet draped over her wetness and I was in the truck with the heater on.

Another adventure on horseback with fantastic people and horses you can be proud of!

It sucks to need to sell them but LT was purchased as a prospect…

PS: She had a 10 foot sliding stop in the arena Thursday and hit all her lead changes.

Remind me:  NO MORE PROSPECTS!  Selling horses: Dislike Immensely!








Jan 082016

This was first published July 2, 2010. I am on vacation riding in the southern Andes right now.  I may have a new post for next week, but have a rerun scheduled just in case!

By Patty Wilber

Ideally, the mud bog would be no big deal.  The  lead horse would negotiate it with aplomb and the pack horse would ho hum along behind.  But I was riding a 3-year-old (Penny) and ponying (leading ) a 3-year-old (Risa) with panniers (the bags that hang off the pack saddle) loaded with food and rolled up tables.

Three is young.  Three means not a lot of experience.  Three means suprises will occur, especially with Risa, aka Fussbudget.

Am beginning to wonder about my decision-making skills at this juncture.

I have put a lot of training miles on Penny and she is pretty level headed.  She was in the mountains just a few weeks ago and after 3 days, her water and mud bog skills were greatly improved. (For a description of her early attempts- –not so pretty–( click here and then scroll down)

Risa was there too, and she also improved, but she was following Cometa The Steady, and really learned to trust him.  In fact, even in camp, she followed him around and didn’t want to be without him (“u r my hero!”)

Risa being ponied by Jim on Cometa on her first “real work” trip May 2010. She is carrying tools for trail clearing.

Did she trust Penny?  I had my doubts.  Fussbudgets are not known for being overly trusting, plus at home in the filly heirarchy, Risa is in charge, not Penny.

At the edge of the bog, since neither is at the “been there done that” point, I  felt I needed to choose:  Ride Penny (I mean actively ride, not  just be a passenger) and let Risa come as she may; or let Penny get herself over and really guide Risa.

Decided to ride Penny.  I was on top of her and wanted to stay that way.  If Risa wrecked, then I could always drop the lead rope.

Penny hesitated at the edge, but the horse ahead of her went in. Taking advantage of the “if you go, I’ll go” herd mentality, I kept her pointed in the direction I wanted her to head with her reins.  I used my legs to steady her and keep her moving forward.

She stepped in, moved forward, sank in some, got a little uneven underneath me, but kept moving.

Risa felt light on the line in my right hand at first, and I was thinking “This is gonna work fine!” The  water crossings earlier today had all gone well.

But then the lead rope tightened in my hand.

I let it slide a lttle (always wear gloves if ponying–prevents rope burn) but as the line fed out, rather than dropping the rope, I increased the pressure, thus pulling on the halter Risa was wearing (halters fit on the horse’s head and the lead line clips to a ring or a loop under the chin).

Penny, meanwhile, had just about made it over,  when the pressure on the lead  went slack…

An airborne gray streak flew by at EYE-LEVEL!

That Risa decided her cute little feet would touch no mud, and she went UP and OVER.  Cleared the whole thing (10 feet maybe), didn’t crash her load  into my leg or Penny’s butt, and I didn’t drop the rope.

Did need to take a breath.  That move pretty much took it all away!


Seven riders with 5 “packstock” from the Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico (NMBCH) Pecos Chapter climbed up out of Jack’s Creek Camp Ground to just past BaldyLake (about 9 miles in), hauling tools and base camp supplies for a group that was to spend a week in the Pecos Wilderness clearing some of the more remote trails.

“Wilderness” is an official designation.  No motorized contraptions of any sort are permitted and all material must be hauled in by pack animal or pack person; all trail work must be accomplished with hand tools.

Peter Harris on Alameda, ponying Cinco, approaching Baldy lake. I am riding behind.

I have been a member of the NMBCH since 1999, but this is the first year I have had packstock. In another post I might talk more about different pack saddles and packing techniques, but for now, I will just say that I am using a modified Decker pack saddle that Peter has lent me for the season.  Deckers are more common in the Northwest than the southwest. Another popular pack saddle type is the sawbuck. Cinco has a sawbuck on in the photo.

Flower notes:  Wild rose, scarlet penstemmon, violets, a pincushiony phlox and many more.  The winner of of the weekend, for me:  a purple Indian paint brush.

Castileja (Genus name for Indian paint brush). They are hemiparasitic; probably on a grass in this case. The entirely purple foliage may be an adaptation against excessive sun. We were at over 9000 ft.

Addendum: One week later, 6/26 Risa did water, bogs, rain and a load of coolers full of garbage. Improving each time out!

Jan 012016

This was first published Dec. 20, 2011.  I thought I would re-post it for 2016 as I am gone to South America.

By Patty Wilber

Two thousand eleven has almost gone now.

I think I will call it The Year of the Cow.

Twas March when I went out and got my first bunch.

About the time and the work, I hadn’t a hunch.


I checked ‘em each week by horseback or car.

I bought ‘em some feed, which didn’t go far.

They sure didn’t drop when they were supposed to,

But four out of five popped calves that did moo.


I had ‘em at Pozzi’s and then on to The Farm,

And when I went out there, it never was warm.

The wind was a howlin’ like some ol’ torture test,

But my ponies, they handled it, cuz they are the best.


There wasn’t much rain, so North we did go.

Twas June, but we scouted through mud and deep snow.

The drifts were chest high and the bogs were hock deep.

Three horses lost shoes on their left front feet.


We were first up country, twas like the old west.

We saw elk, deer and pronghorn, and I do not jest.

They were there in the hundreds, just like on TV.

But it weren’t no film, it was re-al-i-tee!


The cabin was cozy and the wood did burn warm,

Which was kinda nice, since there was sorta a storm.

We checked out the fence lines and put up some wire.

We looked out around us, and it did inspire.


We branded and castrated and gave ‘em their shots.

Some people, they like this, and some, they do not.

But to me it’s just grand, always wanted to do it.

I got my chance and there’s sure somethin’ to it.


We trucked beeves to Llaves and some to the Pens,

And we moved ‘em by horseback, like they did back then.

We ‘most lost an ol’ boy when his mare came unglued,

And from his groin to his knee, it was midnight blued.


We rode up the mountain with the wind in our face.

We moved the whole herd, but it was a slow pace.

We went through a river and escaped the peat bogs.

It mighta gone faster if we’d had some good dogs.


We had steady horses, ‘cept T was a butt,

He loves Alameda– makes him think he’s in rut.

But other than that, it went really slick.

If I never came back, it would be too quick.


Summer went fast and the cows did grow fat

We lost several calves to sickness or cats.

Our trips sometimes were in 24 hours

Cuz at the home place some things were quite dour.


At the end of September we moved ‘em back south.

The aspens were turning.  I was down in the mouth.

The land was so dry and scarce was the hay.

So we brewed us some coffee and pondered all day.


There just was no forage, down in the low.

There was only one choice, and it was a blow.

We called up the trucker and loaded them all.

They went East to Roswell; the auctioneer called.


So that is my tale as a cattle baroness.

Twas the best  ever, as I think you have guessed.

I loved every minute and I’m glad I was there

If I could do it again, you betcha, I’m goin’ for bear!

Dec 252015

By Max (with Patty Wilber)

i  think some of u know me.  i am Maximilian.  most people call me Max, but Patty sometimes calls me Trouble.

this hat is interesting!

i am not sure why she calls me that, but i think it might have something to do with the fact that i took a gate off its hinges by messing with it, i like to untie myself and i knock the manure wheelbarrow over to watch how it tips.  that is really fascinating.  oh and if no one pays attention to me, i bang the fence.

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Dec 182015

By Patty Wilber

We (Jim mostly–I love that man!) got the Mustang Pen almost up to full snuff.  There is only one “this will do for now” part.  The final gates were fun. Or not.

Removing the last of the horse wire. Great weather for that. Not.

(I did do some of the work.) Me, removing the last of the horse wire. Max is helping, as usual!

New gate in! Heavy duty and well hung! (We put in two others big ones that ended up askew.)

New gate in! Heavy duty and well hung! (We put in two other big ones that ended up askew. Will fix, later.)

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Dec 112015

By Patty Wilber

We were slated to get a Forest Service mustang from the Jicarilla herd to gentle via the Jicarilla Mustang Heritage Alliance next week, but looks like we might have to wait a while longer.

To accommodate a mustang that is just off the range, one must meet some fencing requirements.  In a nutshell: No T-posts, wire, or electric fencing.  Our fencing had all of these in various locales.

Jim moving a rail road tie past T-posts, wire and electric fence

So, we decided to upgrade.  The estimate for pipe fencing for one pen was $2700.  Probably a fair price, but more than I wanted to spend for a gentling job that pays $575.

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Dec 042015

By Patty Wilber

Max has been here two weeks now, and we have been doing our ground work most days (took a little break to go to California for Thanksgiving).  Lo and behold, according to scientific study, and a blog posted on FaceBook by Erlene of Roy-El Morgans, regular ground work training can help create a more relaxed riding horse!

I am not sure if our ground work counts…

“seriously? “says Max.

Thank-you Roger and Mary Ann for all the pictures that include me (cuz I didn’t take ’em!) and some other pics as well!

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