Thursday, April 17, 2014

Uncle Ranger

It's getting closer ...
and closer ...
and I'm getting a little nervous.

One of the things that I was worried about was adopting a horse who had been with a herd its whole life and bringing it "home" to a place with no other animals.  Elli's amazing and letting me use her property is really the only reason I'm able to embark on this new adventure. 

But I was afraid that the new horse would be lonely and would holler and race around and generally make a nuisance of itself.  Or worse, break out of the pen in search of its herd (that's what Mom's horse, Jesse, would do.  She would just go find her herd by herself, thankyouverymuch.).

I was seriously considering adopting a burro, too, just as a companion animal.  But what would I do with a burro?  They're cute little critters and I love their long ears, but I don't pack, so it would just be an eating/pooping pet for the new horse.

Mom and Bill were obviously thinking along the same lines, so Bill offered up Ranger to babysit for the first week or so, until the new one gets settled in and realizes I'm not a horse-eating monster.

Once we know when delivery day is, we'll decide when to bring Ranger down.  No more than a couple of days in advance because we want him to settle in, but not "claim" the space as his.

Two weeks from tomorrow is when we go to Canon City to pick out a horse, but no cameras/cell phones are allowed, so Bill vowed to create some of his "famous art" so everyone can get a sneak peek at the my future favorite child.

Hopefully, in three weeks, I'll have my new bundle of joy "home" and we can get to work :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Yesterday, I talked Bill and my sister's family into helping me built a pen for the newest member of the family.

Bill was kind enough to bring down his truck so we could pick up some panels he found.  I've obviously spent too much time doing "city" business.  I figured we'd go, pick up the panels, pay and be on our way.  But it didn't work out that way and I'm glad.  I much prefer doing "country" business, but in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, it's easy to forget.

In the way of doing "country" business, we learned about his menagerie of animals, his daughter and her two sons and his back surgery.  Luckily, I had Bill with me who does the "country" business thing much more naturally than I do. Half an hour later, we had my new panels loaded up and were on our way to pick up the rest of the supplies.

For the cost of lunch at Red Robin, I got a ton of labor out of Nebalee's family.  I know I got the better end of the deal.

We started by cleaning up the existing shed.  One of the requirements for adoption is a shelter with at least two sides.  Initially, I had grandiose dreams of building two pens; one within the shelter and one for working, connected by a gate.  Once I added up the cost of the eighty-bajillion panels and extras I needed, I decided to go with a simple 20' x 20' square.  The majority of the pen is under the shelter, with about 6' x 20' is outside.

We started by bracing the panels to the existing supports with "holey tape".

Nebalee and Asset marked our 2"x4"s at 6' so we would know where the top of the rail had to be.

Little by little, the pen went up.  First the panels, then 2"x4" supports with a rail at 6' to meet the BLM's height requirements.

Kyzzer worked his butt off cleaning out the pen.  The last tenant left a lot of used hay behind that I wasn't excited about, so Kyzzer hauled it all off for me.

I bought a 4' gate, but had a 6' gap, so we had come up with a solution.  The solution? The water trough and additional 2"x4" rails to make up the difference.

While we were figuring out the missing two feet issue, Asset was going around the inside of the pen removing any nails or "pokey" things that a scared horse might get hurt on.

After two hours, we had a pen.  It's not pretty, but it's clean, secure, and safe.  We've got an idea of how to make a temporary chute for delivery day, but instead of rigging it up in advance, we'll wait until the livestock hauler gets there and let the driver tell us how they want it set up.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I hate self-promoting, but I will very shortly have another mouth to feed, so remember I wrote a book based on my experiences as a wrangler.  You can pick up Tales from the Trail (the book) from Amazon for $1.99 (Kindle) or $6.29 (paperback).  It's earned 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon, and not even all of my reviews are from family members! 

Buy here.

Or, if you've read Tales from the Trail, but not my novel, Hunted Lyon, you can also pick that up from Amazon for reasonable prices.  The Kindle version is $2.99, and the paperback is $9.61.  Hunted Lyon is rated 4.8 out of 5 stars, and, like Tales, not all of the reviews are from family members. :)

Buy here.

If you have read either of my books (or both) and enjoyed them, please consider posting a review on your blog, Amazon, or Goodreads and be sure to tell your friends about them.  Word of mouth is essential for Indie Authors like me.  Thanks in advance :)

May 2nd is The Day

I got a call from the BLM today - they approved my application!

As soon as the elation hit, fear was right on elation's heels.  Oh my God, what am I going to do with a mustang?  I'm pretty good at figuring out the logistics of how to get the horse, but what am I going to do with the horse?  I'm trying not to freak out a bit, because I just got myself into a twenty-plus year relationship.  You know, it's the same kind of fear when you find out you're pregnant: excited and terrified all at the same time.

It's very much like bringing a human into the world: I want a horse who is a good citizen, with good manners.  A little bit adventurous, but well-behaved.  Independent enough not to need me for every little thing and able to make good decisions.  One I can take anywhere and not be embarrassed by their outbursts. 

I know what I expect out of a horse, but what really scares the hell out of me (just like it did when I had my kids) is that it's up to me to instill those values in a horse.  And just like when I had my kids, there's no one-size-fits-all manual to tell me how to do it.  Sure, there are lots of experts out there and lots of resources, but so many to choose from!

I didn't know how to parent, either, and I managed to get through it with three distinctly different personalities.  Any time I get too panicked about adopting a horse, would someone please remind me of that?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Fresh Start (I Hope)

Know what this is?

It's my application to the BLM to adopt!  I still haven't decided whether or not to adopt a halter-trained horse or an unhandled one, but I've got some time.  Who knows how long it will take the BLM to process my application and get back to me?  Additionally, since I'll be adopting (you know, if approved) from the prison, I have to make an appointment to go to one of the auctions (that pesky security), so we're still several weeks out.

Ideally, I'd like a range-born horse who has been at the facility for a while, just long enough to get used to people.  I've looked at the horses they've got posted online and am trying not to fall in love with any of them.  There are only a few posted online, but almost 2,000 at the facility that are up for adoption.  My plan is to just spend some time walking the pens to see if one "speaks" to me.  It's easy to fall in love with a picture, but a picture doesn't tell much about their movement or attitude.

If all goes well and I'm approved, I'd like to have one home by the end of May.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Itch

Every year, about this time, I start getting "the itch".  You know, the one to be back on horseback.  Hell with horseback, I just need some horse time.  (Mom's feeling the itch, too.  Their horses are on property that Mom and Bill can't access without crossing private property.)

Since Audubon didn't take, my back-up plan is to adopt a mustang.  I was hoping that we'd have an early summer Extreme Mustang Makeover that I could adopt from, but there isn't one in Colorado this year.  I met an amazing mustang trainer while filming Horse Master last July and have been watching her progress.  She's only about forty miles from me (if that) and has been doing very well in the mustang competitions.  I love her calm, quiet nature around the horses; she communicates very clearly with them and gets good results.  My hope was to be able to adopt one of her mustangs from EMM.

With no competition here this year, and my reluctance to bid long-distance and have to pay to have a horse hauled back here from where ever the competition is held (the next one is in Norco, CA), I had to go back to the drawing board.

And then I realized: if Audubon had taken, I'd be starting a colt from the beginning.  Well, if I believe I can start a colt, then I should be able to start a 'stang.  Hey, I didn't say my logic was flawless, but Mom and Bill have successfully started and finished their mustangs.  And Pony Peak Stangmanship is not far from here.  So, hypothetically, I have some support if I need it.

Elli, the darling woman who gave Estes her apartment, has asked when we'd be getting a new horse and has offered up her place again, so I've got a "home" close by to work with a new horse.  I just have to check out a few things at her place, take measurements and such, before I submit an application.

After my application is approved, I'll start making trips down to Canyon City to check out their horses.  I might even take a trip up to Rock Springs, WY to look at theirs.  Currently, the Rock Springs holding facility is closed to the public as they allow the horses from their last round up to settle in.  They are anticipating opening in the spring, which is about the time I'm going to start looking.

It's a bit early to start getting excited, but I'm all sorts of excited to get started on this next adventure.

Friday, January 10, 2014

You just never know...

Did you know that one of the riders I wrote about in "Diamonds"  turned out to be Julie Goodnight's t.v. producer?

That trail ride changed my life.

Several months after that ride, I was at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo and heard a casting call for Julie's new t.v. show, Horse Master with Julie Goodnight. I applied and a few weeks later got the call from my former guest, Heidi, who remembered that I had been her guide. I didn't even own Estes yet - I was in the process of buying her - and she had been out to pasture for two years, but Heidi trusted (somewhat blindly) that Estes would be camera-ready and we were cast for an episode on walking off during mounting (remember I had to master the running mount?).

The rest, as they say, is history. I've been a member of the Colorado Crew ever since. Each year, when we film at Julie's ranch, I go work on the set. It's been an incredible journey and I've learned a lot.

You just never know who you're going to meet in the course of a work day.

Photo by: The Whole Picture, LLC