Sunday, August 1, 2010

Some Call Them Cliff Hangers. I Call Them Chapters.

Hey all. How you been?

Had a cool little ride on my colt today and some satisfying rescue stuff is going on.

Madonna has been trail riding.

I'm learning to rope.

Fun summer.

Thanks for the kind words from you all when I was gone.

As for the other comment all I've got to say is this.

1.I'm honored. I think I have my first troll.

2.This ain't Netflix baby. I don't write on demand.


I arranged to keep her in one of the small dusty pen in the indoor arena.

We had to build a chute from panels and herd her from the broodmare pen to the arena. Tally was so bug eyed and snorty I had no doubt she would try to blast through the wire if I approached her.

For several days I just let her be. I set my chair with its back against her stall and would take my breaks sitting there reading, or doing my books.

If I had a student I could coach from my chair I did so.

I never looked at her while I sat in my chair, I just went by the sound of her feet.

At first Tally would rush to her corner as soon as I came near. She would cower there, her head to her knees and sweat running in rivulets down her shaking legs.

I began to wonder what I had taken on. My experience had never covered a horse like this one.

"You should have let me put her in a hole," the boss said, "the poor thing is so crazy she's going to worry herself to death anyway."

He had a point. Nobody had abused Tally. There may have been mistakes made, but none a normal horse couldn't overcome.

"I'm going to give it some time," I said.

I stood up and turned to look at her. She tried to climb away from me and skittered half way up the wall at the back of her pen. It was like I had an antelope trapped in the 10 x 12 stall.

"I just need to find the key to her, that's all."

The boss shook his head and left, the worry on his face scared me more than anything the mare had actually done.

Days passed and I continued to keep my eyes away from her. When we cleaned her stall we just walked in and cleaned. It was hard to ignore her frantic scrambling against the walls, but we did the best we could.

One morning the sun was so bright and the air so clean I couldn't bear keeping the doors closed. The temperature was cool and the breeze was stiff but I didn't care.

I opened the arena doors and welcomed the smell of the frost on the creek. I sat in my chair with my coffee and my cross word.

I was lost in my puzzle when I felt just a whiff of air against my coat.

I tried not to stiffen or hold my breath. I felt it again.

Tally was sniffing my jacket through the panel rails.

I felt a tentative pull on my sleeve.

I couldn't help my smile but I caught my whoop before it escaped.

We were ready to begin.


  1. vailinaIt is so good to see a post from you. Your readers worry about you. And we are selfish in that we enjoy your posts so much that we would HATE it if you stopped blogging!

    Hope you are doing well. Can't wait to hear more of the Tally store.

    Take care.

  2. I agree with kbryan. I miss reading the blogs I follow--and it seems like a lot of them aren't posting right now. Bummer. Glad to see you today, though. And a Troll. You have arrived ;o)

  3. So happy to see you got a chance to post!
    Found myself holding my breath waiting for poor Tally to have another wreck...

  4. Was great to read another chapter. I know I spent your time away going through several informative posts yesterday (?) and got some questions answered. So thanks for that too.

  5. Glad you're back. And Tally too! Looking forward to more, but in your time and on your terms. (Just hurry.... :-D)

  6. During my self imposed exhile I kept thinking, "Oh, I'll blog that, or, I wonder how so and so's horse is doing."
    I like this safe, friendly world and I like nothing more than talking horse.

  7. I have wondered, in working with a very strange horse this spring, what is the best to do with these horses that aren't "normal" in their ability to cope with humans. They may be recoverable with much time, patience, and love, but never useful or safe other than in certain situations, or only handled by certain individuals.

    I am not a spectacular rider, but am a very thinking handler. I worked with this gelding for 3 months (not only unpaid, but forking out a couple thousand dollars, too!). The horse went home, the owner who understands how these horses are rode him for two weeks without issue, thrilled with the horse's newly trusting and loving personality. She found a friend (a good horse person with lots of riding experience with hot horses, but apparently not enough experience with one with raw instinct issues and trust requirements) to ride him some more and get some more training on him under saddle, and within three rides "ruined" the horse to the point the owner has given up on him altogether. Not worth getting hurt. The horse is still recovering from the nasty gash he gave himself.

    In my reasoning, he never reared and flipped, and with total patience and restarting from the beginning, could be salvaged, but I can't afford a second horse, and especially not one I could probably never do much with competitively...

    Can we justify the time and money we put into them, knowing they may badly injure us at some point?

    I swear, training some horses is like training killer whales... one can only use positive reinforcement, requiring the trainer to always think ahead and always consider the instincts and why the animal is doing what it's doing, and when things go south it IS the trainer's fault for not recognizing or being able to sublimate the instincts... yet so rewarding a challenge.

  8. "This ain't Netflix baby. I don't write on demand."


    Best comeback ever.

  9. Hi!
    So glad to see you again.

  10. Love the Tally story. Looking forward to hearing more (this is not a demand. A wish, sure. A bit of cajoling, no doubt. But. no. demands.)

    Hope life is treating you well.

  11. Very glad to hear from you...and totally enjoyed the Tally episode...the horse made a change for you...totally awesome!

  12. Good point BIF.
    I would not breed from a mare like Tally, I would worry her colt/filly would have the same temperament. It would be hard on the horse and his handlers.

    MUgs, how many days, did it take for her to come to you? Do you remember?

  13. So Mugs, How many of your own limbs have you roped so far?
    Are you roping off one of your own horses or will you borrow one?

    It's great to have you back!

  14. YAYYYY!!! Sounds like you are having a good summer! I can't wait to hear more about Tally! :-)

  15. O.M.G. You've made my week. So glad you're back. Hope all is well!

  16. She's back!

    Isn't it fun taking the diva's and making them trail horses? Starlette has come such a long way...some little things I can handle at this point.


  17. Missed your work and author's voice. Still rooting for Tally!! Hope all is well.

  18. So thrilled to see another chapter. I've read every one of your posts, and most of the comments, but never added mine.

    I hope that the IRL intrusion involves some work on a book...I'd really love to see a "Mugwump Anthology"

  19. Welcome home Mugs, we missed you and we are glad you returned!! Cheers for a good summer and hoping it continues. Don't they fly by fast these days??

    Thanks for taking the time again to share your world with ours.


  20. I am so excited to follow your progress with Tally! Thank goodness for her that you are willing to give her the time it takes.

  21. Nice to read/hear your voice again! I'm surprised they didn't put Tally in a hole either. Was the guy o.k.? Why'd they'd let you give it a whirl? They seemed so set on not letting you try! Glad they did tho'.

    I've been riding the big red gelding! Success! (so far) He's on the back burner while I go show in Cheyenne and Estes this week and Aug 21 weekend. Then I'll get right back to 'im.

    Brain's too little to think about too many things at once. grin.

    Welcome back!

  22. So glad to see you posting again! I thoroughly enjoy your stories, insights and training suggestions. :)

    I do look forward to hearing about whichever horse you choose to write about. They are all very interesting.

    A quick brag - I posted in the winter about my horse and his inability to focus until he had a good gallop around the indoor arena to burn off some steam. He was an absolutely pig last year and I spent a good deal of time riding alone because I didn't want to subject anyone to his bratty self.

    I took him on a 25km ride to raise money for a couple of charities this past weekend. He was an absolute star. There were over 100 horses on the trails that day and we passed and were passed by many of them. In fact a couple of groups would get in front of us and then take off (some people are so inconsiderate...not even a warning, just take off) and he handled it all extremely well. I was on cloud 9 by the end of the ride! It seems like me little baby-brained horse is maturing. YAY! :) He also moved to a new farm that evening (kill two birds with one stone...only have to pay to trailer once) and settled in nicely. I took him for a quick walk around the property the second night he was there and even when a few horses galloped up to the fence to say hello, he didn't react.

  23. Missed hearing from you, mugs! I'm always glad to read another chapter.

  24. It hit me today and I wanted to ask you mugwump, how is your friend Sharion doing? I hope she's healing.

  25. Yay! You're back! With another Tally update!

    AGGGH! You left us at another cliffhanger! A wonderful cliffhanger, but a cliffhanger nevertheless.

    Well, I guess I'm just glad you're back. Thanks for the update, I will wait patiently, longingly, for the next bit. ^_^

  26. Good to see a post from you and great to hear that your summer horsey life is keeping you busy!!

  27. MUGS!!! I've started roping lessons too! So glad you are back!

  28. Hey Mugs - I stumbled across this story and thought you would appreciate it:

  29. Mugs! Need more!

    I'll tell you about my first project horse that I just took in...not as extreme, but enough for me to start with (not that Starlette is not a project on her own, but she's mine) if you give us another story!



  30. Mugs--- I have a question about getting a horse to focus.

    Last weekend I was riding an exceptionally well-trained VERY alpha mare. This horse is, by far, my favorite horse to ride, because it actually feels like I can rely on her to help me think things through. It's great.

    Here's what I encountered--- she was in season, so she was more than a little herdbound. I separated her to the other end of the property (basically just out of meanness, she was behaving just fine working near them. I wanted to see if I could get her to pay attention when her herd was out of sight.) I worked her for about 40 minutes--- she did everything I asked absolutely perfectly. If you were deaf, you couldn't imagine a better trained horse.

    The problem was the entire time she was SCREAMING for her herd. I tried workign her harder, but she just kept screaming and nickering, performing rollbacks and tight figure eights with a perfect headset. I didn't even know it was physically possible for a horse to scream and call with a lowered, collected headset.

    I even broke down and tried giving her a good smack with the ends of the reins when she would scream (we're talking SCREAM, not just a polite whinny), but she just ignored it like she didn't even feel it. (For such a sensitive horse she can be an insensitive turd when she wants to be.)

    Any ideas on what I could have done differently to make her quit focusing elsehwere? In the past I've always had decent luck with the whole "if you're making them work they can't focus on others", but it was pretty eerie how well this mare could "mind" me even while she was obviously mentally not even in the arena with me.

    If it helps with suggestions, this is the kind of mare that you need to be VERY firm with in order to get through--- raised voices or gentle reminders just make her think you're not really worth listening to.

  31. New Blog! I took in a "problem" horse...any suggestions welcome! And this will stay horse-related!

    Also, Mugs...this one is so smart, I am using your "let them figure it out" suggestion! Worked with Starlette, and I see it already working with Daisy!