Common Ground

When I was a young guy eager to learn the ranching business and the cowboy trade, I had the opportunity to work around some older hands who taught me a ton. I grew up in town and had just enough of a taste of ranch life through an uncle and some summer situations that I wanted more. I looked for chances to spend time around livestock people. I’d go to the Arizona National Livestock show held in Phoenix each year, I’d spend time at the local feed store and the stables in our area and I’d talk to anyone who didn’t mind visiting with a green kid about horses, cattle, and ranching. Even though I didn’t know much, my wanting to learn and their willingness to teach gave us something in common.

Yesterday and the day before I spent time with the Double Diamond Halter Co. crew setting up a booth at the Western English Sales Association Show held at the Denver Merchandise Mart. The owner, Pete, his wife, Sharon, and a friend, Nancy got the booth set-up, put product out, and looked at ways to promote Double Diamond’s product line. They make the best halters, leads, reins, dog leashes, and tons of other things useful to horse owners like us. We’ve used these products for more than 20 years and found them to work well and last a very long time.

Pete cowboyed, rode colts, and shoed some horses as a young guy. Sharon and Nancy help run businesses or departments and have spent a good amount of time around horses and livestock. Even though their lives are different than mine we have common interests of cattle, horses, and business. We have some common ground that we’ve built a friendship around. I enjoy spending time around Pete, Sharon, and Nancy because we have things in common and we work to reach a worthwhile goal for a couple of days each year.

Wouldn’t it be great to find some common ground with our horses through a worthwhile goal? Getting our ideas to become their ideas and then allowing them to do our thing their way? When we are working with the horses mind, we create a goal and attempt to reach that goal as a team, as partners. Learning and practicing the tools that allow us to communicate clearly with our horse and then offering them a chance to help us reach our goal would put us on some real solid common ground.

Attention, Attention, can you hear me now?

We were at a meeting tonight. As part of the proceedings, an entertainer was hired to well….entertain. He was very good. He had songs that related to the groups interests and had humorous stories that we all could put ourselves in. In spite of this fellows talent and topics, there were several in the crowd that were more interested in listening to themselves talk than to listen to the entertainer entertain. For those of us who seldom have the opportunity to hear this kind of thing it was very, very annoying.

I was helping a lady today whose horse was a little like those folks at the meeting we went to tonight, he just would not focus on the entertainer. He is a nice horse. He’s gentle, sweet, kind and totally uninterested in what the human has to say. I get that! There are plenty of folks we run into on a daily basis that use a lot of words to say very little. Our goal with this gelding was to let him know that what we are saying is important to us, therefore, important to him. We needed him to make plans to help us. And, without listening to us, hearing what we had to say, he had no way of knowing what was happening with us right now or in the near future so, he wasn’t getting prepared to help.

We needed to make ourselves more interesting. We couldn’t do what we had been doing and expect him to get more interested. Changing how we presented our ideas and working at keeping things fresh seemed to help him help us. To me, that’s a big part of what horsemanship is all about.

Rojo Cowgirl – SOLD

SOLD! Rojo Cowgirl is a 2004 (AQHA #4503133) 15 hand bay roan mare that has been raising quality foals for us. We bought Cowgirl from the Bartlett Ranch as a weanling. We started her under saddle and rode her for 5 years before adding her to our brood mare band. She is quiet and gentle, easy to catch, trim feet, de-worm, vaccinate, etc (up to date on all).

Cowgirl has a foundation pedigree by Bubba Roan Cowboy (his sire, Bee Lowa Cowboy has halter and roping points) and Red Desert Rap by Son of a Rap (has halter points). She would be an asset to any breeding program that wants strong, solid built horses that excel in ranch work, roping, performance and pretty enough to show in halter.

She sells open for 2017.  Asking $2000.00

Peptos Lady Doctor – SOLD

SOLD! Peptos Lady Doctor is a 2003 (AQHA #4353095) 15 hand sorrel mare that has been raising quality foals for us. She was in training for a  tie down horse before we bought her.  We rode her for a year before adding her to our brood mare band. She is super cowy as would be expected with her pedigree. A quiet, gentle mare, she is easy to catch, trim feet, de-worm, vaccinate, etc (up to date on all).

Lady has a royal pedigree with greats like Peptoboonsmal (25 Plus Million Dollar sire), Docs Prescription (NCHA money earner). She would be an asset to any breeding program that wants strong, solid built horses that excel in ranch work, roping, cutting, cow horse, performance and pretty enough to show in halter.

She sells in foal to our Stallion, Dynamites Last Blast AQHA#3980935 & FQHA#19477, who is by Dynamite Badger by Peppy San Badger and out of Lenas Dynamit by Doc O’Lena.  His dam is HBD Cow Watcher who is an own daughter of Handle Bar Doc (world champion son of Doc Bar) and out of Special Little Peppy (an NCHA Champion and own daughter of Peppy San Badger).  With this royal million dollar pedigree,  strong, athletic, good minded colts she has raised, this is a package deal you won’t want to pass up.  Asking $4000.00

Kay Line King – SOLD

SOLD! Kay Line King is a 2002 (AQHA #4360935) 15 hand buckskin mare that has been raising quality foals for us. Kay was a riding horse before we added her to our brood mare band. She is quiet and gentle, easy to catch, trim feet, de-worm, vaccinate, etc (up to date on all).

Cowgirl has a foundation pedigree going back to the great lines from the King Ranch. Bred to our stallion, she has raised a palomino colt and a bay roan filly.  Not only colorful foals but dispositions worth their weight in gold! She would be an asset to any breeding program that wants strong, solid built horses that excel in ranch work, roping, performance and pretty enough to show in halter.

She sells open for 2017.  Asking $2500.00

BBit Berry Special

BBit Berry Special is a 2016 (AQHA #5753529) grey filly that we raised out of our Peptos Lady Doctor mare and by our stallion, Dynamites Last Blast (see their info below).  This filly is smart, good looking and will give some lucky person an amazing partnership in the show pen or on the ranch. Asking $2500.00

Peptos Lady Doctor was in training for a tie down horse before we bought her.  We rode her for a year before adding her to our brood mare band. She is super cowy as would be expected with her pedigree. A quiet, gentle mare, she is easy to catch, trim feet, de-worm, vaccinate, etc (up to date on all).   Lady has a royal pedigree with greats like Peptoboonsmal (25 Plus Million Dollar sire), Docs Prescription (NCHA money earner). She would be an asset to any breeding program that wants strong, solid built horses that excel in ranch work, roping, cutting, cow horse, performance and pretty enough to show in halter.

Our stallion, Dynamites Last Blast AQHA#3980935 & FQHA#19477, is by Dynamite Badger by Peppy San Badger and out of Lenas Dynamites by Doc O’Lena.  His dam is HBD Cow Watcher who is an own daughter of Handle Bar Doc (world champion son of Doc Bar) and out of Special Little Peppy (an NCHA Champion and own daughter of Peppy San Badger).  He has a royal million dollar pedigree to go along with his good lucks and amazing personality!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBit Peppy Penny

BBit Peppy Penny is a 2016 (AQHA #5753530) sorrel filly that we raised out of our Fanny Grimes mare and by our stallion, Dynamites Last Blast (see their info below).  This filly is smart, good looking, sweet and will give some lucky person an amazing partnership in the show pen or on the ranch. Asking $2500.00

Fanny Grimes was in the cutting pen before we bought her and has been so much fun to ride.  She has raised her first foal for us, BBit Peppy Penny, this filly is just as sweet as her dam. Fanny is super cowy, yet quiet and gentle. She is easy to catch, trim feet, de-worm, vaccinate, etc (up to date on all).   Fanny’s sire is Peppy Grimes and she is out of Fanny Banks by Cool Breeze Doc (lots of Doc Bar in her pedigree).

Our stallion, Dynamites Last Blast AQHA#3980935 & FQHA#19477, is by Dynamite Badger by Peppy San Badger and out of Lenas Dynamites by Doc O’Lena.  His dam is HBD Cow Watcher who is an own daughter of Handle Bar Doc (world champion son of Doc Bar) and out of Special Little Peppy (an NCHA Champion and own daughter of Peppy San Badger).  He has a royal million dollar pedigree to go along with his good lucks and amazing personality!

 

Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you hard working, dedicated mothers.  Raising young ones is one of the toughest, most frustrating, most rewarding things to undertake on the planet.  Our daughter, Liz, is a new Mom and celebrated her first Mother’s Day today.  Liz has a great example in Amy of what a mother can be.  She’s her own person and a great Mom in her own right; doing a fantastic job of raising Ella. I don’t know what the ideal mother is but, I imagine she has to be tough as nails in one moment and soft as silk in another.  She must struggle to find the balance between being the supporter of trying new things and attempting new challenges but, the keeper of common sense and the compass that keeps her youngster from straying too far from acceptable boundaries.  I don’t pretend to have a good grasp of all that entails, I just know that our kids are adults that I really enjoy spending time with and that’s a result of what Amy did and does as their Mother.

We’ve been blessed with three little fillies this Spring.  They are all healthy and seem to be doing really well.  We are firm believers in allowing the mare to raise their young.  We insert ourselves into a foal’s life just enough for them to know that we mean them no harm and that we can be relied upon to be comfortable to be around.  Whether for good or for bad, we want the mare to raise her foal to be a horse.  We don’t want our foals to be confused by too much human interaction at an early age.  I know I’m prejudice but, I think that the horses we allow our mares to raise and then we halter start are well balanced, well-adjusted horses that know where they stand in a herd of horses and where they stand with a human.

Over the years and recently we have had horses come in for training that don’t have a good feel for the human.  They don’t have the respect for a human we expect a horse to have and as a result they are not good on the end of a halter rope and are tougher to get started under saddle.  We feel bad for those horses because in order for us to be safe around them and to get them safe for their owner, we have to rock their world.  Many of the habits they’ve developed have to be changed or eliminated.  They have to stop ignoring the human and begin to focus on what they are offering.  It sounds simple and easy but, for the horse it’s very difficult.  They’ve learned what they’ve lived and they have settled into getting their own way.  They have little regard for what the human needs or wants.  Learning to respect the leadership of the human is a whole new concept to them.  Creating enough pressure for the horse to look for a different answer is sometimes very challenging for the human.

As we all celebrate the wonderful mothers that gave us life and direction we would encourage you to think about allowing the mothers of your foals to raise their young to be good horses.  Give those foals the chance to know what you are without influencing too much what they are.  The time will come soon enough for those weanlings to get a glimpse of what the human’s world has in store for them.  But, by then they will come into our world knowing well the world they come from.  Happy Mother’s Day!

The Certainty of Change

I’ve heard that the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes.  I’d like to propose that a third certainty is change.  In our lives, we’ve seen a lot of changes and I’d bet that most of you have too.  We’ve changed some big things like having children, where we live, and what jobs we’ve had.  We’ve survived or enjoyed changes in the weather and changes of season.  We change little things like where we shop, what we eat, what we wear, and what we drive.  The net result is that very few things stay the same.

Change, even good change, is stressful.  If it’s planned and the timing is good it’s much less so but, if the change is sudden and the timing of it is poor, stress levels can soar.  Stressing livestock is one of the things that we try very hard to minimize.  Weather stress, the stress of weaning, or any other stress brought on by sudden changes can lead to sickness in young livestock.  We can use good management practices to lessen the stress caused by those changes but, the stress still exists and needs to be recognized and dealt with as it shows up in each individual.

Our horses feel the stress of change.  Changing what they eat, where they live, or how they are worked with can add to their stress levels.  We work to make changes with our horses as gradual and accommodating as possible.  Preparing a horse mentally and physically for change makes the change easier.  Feed changes made over several days or a week, short trailer rides in preparation for a longer trip, stalling a pasture horse for several hours a day a few days before they are to be confined for longer times, and working into a training routine a little at a time are all things we do to help a horse transition.  As we change riding habits or change riding gear, we might make shorter rides with more frequent breaks to allow our horses to soak in the changes.  Giving ourselves and our horses time to make a change reduces both of our stress levels and provides an opportunity for a better outcome.

This week, we saw some significant changes coming to our operation.  The owner of the barn we are using for our training, lesson, and clinic business has decided to go back to being a boarding barn with guest clinicians and trainers coming in at her invitation.  It’s a relatively big change for us because of the timing of it all.  We get pretty busy this time of year so, Amy has had to scramble to rearrange horses, lessons, and clinics that had all been scheduled based on using that facility.  Fortunately for us, we had seen signs that changes were coming and we had done some preparation to position ourselves for a transition.  We will be bringing some horses to our place and will be using various facilities in the area to conduct lessons and clinics.  We feel blessed to have the ability to travel to so many really nice facilities in this area and to work with so many great people.

Between changing schedules and getting projects related to the change completed, our stress levels rose just a bit this week.  Knowing that we have a plan and the tools to accomplish that plan, reduces that stress some.  Doesn’t that sound a little like what we try to do with our horse?

Did You Feel That?

Tom Dorrance was the man credited with first talking about feel, timing, and balance being the three key elements in horsemanship.  He passed it on to Ray Hunt who took it to the world with his demonstrations and clinics.  In some of Tom’s writings he talked about wishing he could cut the top off of his students’ heads and pour in what he felt.  Feel was the thing that he wanted people to have but, couldn’t teach.

In preparation for this latest Spring storm we had moved a group of younger mares into a pasture with more shelter than their home pasture.  This new pasture is closer to the house so we could catch glimpses of the horses from the kitchen windows.  The storm didn’t materialize on the timeline that was predicted and the mares had grown restless searching the shortgrass pasture for little nibbles of green poking-up along the fence lines after they had consumed the hay we fed.  Four or five of the mares had drifted to the northwest corner of the pasture.  As if on cue, their heads came up, tails flagged, and the whole group raced toward shelter bucking and kicking-up their heels the whole way.  There was no visible sign of rain or snow and we didn’t see or feel the wind increase.  The horses felt and reacted to something that we didn’t; probably a pressure change.

Amy’s Dad used to use the horses as a barometer.  They could predict the Chugwater, WY weather better than any man-made instrument he had.  His horses’ knowledge of their environment and their sensitivity to changes in that environment were valuable to him.  He could tell by their behavior when the storm was likely to arrive and just how bad it might be.  The horses could feel the changes long before we did.

We used to have to check cattle along the creek during the summer months.  The bugs were terrible.  Mosquitos and Deer Flies were prolific.  When the wind was blowing, we couldn’t feel those little devils land on us until they were taking a bite but, our horses could.  Their hair and hide were sensitive enough to feel those bugs land.  Tails would swish them away or heads would swing around and chase them off before they could bite.

Even the horse that has learned to become dull to the human is sensitive.  Some are more sensitive than others but, our experience has been that all of them are more sensitive than we are.  They are more in tune to their environment and read body language better than any human I’ve been around.  They feel us much better than we feel them.  We tend to do too much.  Our brains must tell us that we need to dominate and control the horse.  We do need control but, we can gain that control better by working with the horse and its sensitivity rather than by attempting to desensitize it.

We are constantly working on ourselves to improve our awareness of the horses’ sensitivity.  When we feel of our horse and work with his abilities, our movements flow better.  His legs become our legs, his feet our feet.  As we become more aware of our horses sensitivities, we can allow our horse to teach us better feel.  As our feel improves our timing gets better. As our timing gets better our horse becomes more responsive and refined.  I think that’s something we could all strive to feel!