Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Function Over Form

Friday, April 18, 2014

CL >colo springs >all for sale / wanted >farm & garden - by owner

 stud horse - $1000 (florissant)

Have a stud horse I need to get rid of don't have a use for him and don't want to cut him because he is a good looking horse and would make good offspring he is a clidsdale Appaloosa mix 7 years old

  • do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

Wow!  Can't wait to add this baby to my breeding program! Those Clidsdales make great sporthorses!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mugs/Big K Clinic 2013

Come ride with us..Clinic 2014.

We stopped in Ft. Collins that night. Kathy coaxed me into stopping for dinner and meeting up with a friend. I was gnashing my teeth -- I wanted to make it to Sheridan that night -- but Kathy reserves the right to eat a meal once in a while.

We have logged enough miles hauling horses for her to know I'm quite capable of driving all night with a water bottle and a bag of granola. She also knows I turn into a raging psychotic bitch the next day. For some reason she objects to spending her precious vacation days with the Jekyll and Hyde version of Mugs. Whatever.

By the time dinner was over I was crashing, I was getting my first lesson in travelling with PD. Push too hard and watch my blood pressure plummet. So, we spent the night with the horses tied to the trailer and me out cold on the couch.

The next morning I was up and pacing before daylight. I had recovered my manners and gratitude and gave Kathy time for coffee before we loaded up and took off. My mind was on Montana and the pull of the road was so strong it hurt.

My breathing didn't slow until we passed Cheyenne. People complain about crossing Wyoming. The land is harsh and empty, the wind is strong and never stops. I love it. The open space soothes me, and I find endless variety in the terrain. Most of all, I love the play of light and sky on the prairie.

It soothes something wild that lives deep inside of me. When I'm alone, I cross Wyoming  with my windows down and the radio off, and lose myself in the harmonies of the wind and the tires on the pavement, backed up with the percussion of a growling diesel engine. When I have company, I crank my road music to the max. Music is totally my pick through Wyoming, no exceptions.

My music choices aren't for the faint of heart. Try The Execution of Stepen Razin Op.119 at 6:00 a.m. and see if you still call me friend. Ask the kidlette how she feels about Desi Arnez, Joni Mitchell and Edith Piaf. She'll tell you my road music is the sole reason she applied for Emancipation of a Minor when she was 11.

Be afraid, Becky Bean, be very afraid.

I watch for livestock and antelope. The babies were big enough to be up and running.There are more this year than the last few, but not by many. The drought and the market have brought breeding to a halt in ranch country. The only time I saw more than one or two foals was the herd of mini's at a K.O.A. campground. There had to be at least a dozen of the cute little things on the ground. There was a sign on the pasture fence - Herd Reduction! Champion Bloodlines! - of course there was.

The horses tend to be a better quality across the board out here. They have good bone, pretty heads and appealing color. I like to think about the why's and how's behind that one. There seems to be a direct correlation between ugly horses and 5 acre ranchettes.

Travelling through Wyoming makes the occasional oasis much sweeter, every time we pass one I think about living in a tiny cabin with big windows and a giant deck. I could watch the sky and light roll by forever if I was settled in a bit of trees.

The closer we get to the Montana border, the lighter I feel. My world has become so small. My days are spent inside, my work is repetitive, and my time with my horses is usually short and anxious. I feel my old self come flooding back, the relief to know I'm still in there, somewhere, is enormous. As we cross into Montana, Kathy leans over, yanks my "Sambo Mia"  c.d. out of the player and turns on the radio. I can see her fight the urge to chuck it out the window.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Humane Euthanasia and How We Like to Kid Ourselves

"Not to mention, there are ways to euth a horse that don't cost much. When I was a teenager my POA went blind. We didn't have facilities for a blind horse so he was hauled (in a familiar trailer) to an exotic animal facility, they shot him and fed him to the lions. For free, except for gas for the truck."

The above comes from the comment section of my last post.

We have the same type of option here- you can haul your horse to the big cat refuge, or the wolf rescue and leave your horse for somebody else to put down. Then, you can drive home, singing "The Circle of Life" at top volume and feel good about your humane and earth sustaining choice.

I had a client make the same choice. She called and asked me to come with her, she was extremely distraught over the whole thing, and couldn't afford to euth her horse through the vet. Since she owed me for two months training, I kept my doubts to myself and agreed to go.

Here's how it went down. The unwanted horse, who had a bad stifle, was taken from the paddock she had shared with two other horses for the last 5 years. She was loaded into a straightload trailer and hauled across a mountain pass. After a six-hour trip, alone, she was unloaded into a corral. Hay was thrown, hands were shook, paperwork changed hands and the horse was hugged while copious tears were shed into her mane. Then we drove home.

My client commented on how beautiful the area was, how nice the rescue folk were, what a solid stout barn her baby had to shelter her, anything and everything except the horrifying thing we had just done.

1. The treasured mare was extremely herd bound. She lived with her daughter and another mare who had shared a pen with her for several years. She began calling as we led her out of the pen and was soaked in sweat, kicking and squalling by the time we pulled out.

"Why is she so upset?" The client asked.

"Horses are herd animals," I said. "Her leg makes her vulnerable and you just took her from her friends and only sense of safety."

"She's with me, she knows I'll take care of her," Client said.

The mare whinnied off and on, with varying degrees of panic, for the entire trip.

2. Horses in straightloads tend to shift their weight over their hind legs: The horse had a bad stifle, she fell twice on the trip during the steep, winding, uphill climbs, and was walking three-legged by the time we unloaded her.

3. She was unloaded into a corral, alone, where she would wait for the required 72 hours before she was slaughtered. This was to make sure she wasn't drugged.

4. We were told she would be fed and watered until she passed quarantine, then she would be led behind the barn and shot.
5. I could smell the blood from the last horse they had butchered behind the barn. I'm guessing the mare could too.

6. The wolves were farther up the mountain side. I'm guessing one more time they could smell the mare. They sure started howling once we put her in the pen. They were really excited.

So. We yanked this mare from her friends. Took her on a long, painful trip, by herself. Left her alone, surrounded by the smell of death, listening to the wolves above her. They knew they were going to eat her. She knew they were going to eat her. For three days, she got to drag that sore leg around the corral, with no meds to ease her pain, smelling the blood of the horses who died before her and listening to the wolves put dibbs on her tenderest parts. Now that ownership of the mare changed hands, she was no longer a pet, she was meat, making sure the wolves didn't eat tainted meat became the priority.

It would be kinder to send her to a kill pen. There would be other horses to huddle with. To feel the strength of their bodies against her sides while they traveled on the truck. To have the company of her own kind in the stockyards, even as she was being run down the chute to her death, even then she could follow and be followed by another horse.

There are stories told about horses being trampled to death during transport --a graphic and chilling result from a man-made decision. As painful and frightening as a death like this would be, I can't help but think it makes a primitive sense to a horse. Herd animals understand what can happen within the herd.
I can't find a way, no matter how I think on it, for that mare to comprehend being taken, by the person she trusted, from her herd, and left alone, with all chances to escape blocked, to watch, smell and hear her approaching death. What went through her mind as the trailer disappeared around the bend?

I thought of the mare often over the next three days.

Yes. Slaughter is bad. I hate it. I am so bothered by our human habit of warehousing and processing animals, without regard to their mental and physical well being, I only eat meat that comes from farmers and ranchers I know personally, and practice animal care I am comfortable with. I also support the farming and ranching industry 100%, just to keep things confusing.

At a sale, on a truck, in the yard, in the chute, a horse is in the company of other horses. Even the coldest, most uncaring, money-grubbing, kill buyer understands a horse handles the horror about to rain down on it better in the company of its own kind. From the evil KB's point of view, he keeps the horses together because they are easier to control, or they hold their weight better with less stress, but still, his practicality becomes a kindness. He isn't lying to himself or the horses. 

My mane crying client, so sure her horse would be comforted by her presence, well, she was nothing but a lying fool.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tall Tale Tuesday

 Our story today comes from  EverStuffRanch.blogspot.com.

It's a realistic look at our relationship and responsibility when it comes to the animals we share our lives with. It's also a wake-up call for those who point their fingers and judge without knowing the entire story. 

I can afford to keep two horses.

     Having livestock means having to make hard choices. They are entrusted into our care. We keep them for food, we keep them for protection, we keep them for companions. Eventually we are going to have to make a decision about them for end of life.

     We decide when it's time to be butchered, when it's time to move on to someone else's care. We decide when it's time to put them out of their misery, or end suffering. It's up to us to know when to sell one to be able to feed the ones that are left so no one starves to death. 

     Recently I had to make a terribly hard choice. Many people would not agree with me, but I had to find somewhere else for Apache, my blind gelding. He was finally completely blind. He may have been able to see some shadows far away, but he was blind.

     He was doing fairly well out in the pasture all by himself. As long as he didn't have any contact with the other horses, he didn't lose his mind. If we tried to take Ben past him, or off the property, he paced, he whinnied, he tried to plunge around and not move at the same time. It was so very sad to watch him lunge forwards three paces then pull up short, spin around and lunge forwards again. I tried putting him out front with the cows. He paced so much he made the front pasture a bog, and bruised his coronet bands.

     I brought him in the dry lot and fed him hay, but when the winds came, and we get hellacious winds here in Idaho, he freaked out trying to find shelter from the blowing sand. He knew the fence was near but still tried to bolt that three paces, spin and try and bolt again. Trying to walk up to him and catch him to put him in the round pen was dangerous. He didn't want to listen or pay attention to where I was standing to avoid running me over.

     The round pen was the only safe fencing for him. He couldn't hear Dave's horses out back and worried himself into a frenzy trying alllll day and night long to find a way out of the pen. He was losing weight no matter how much I fed him. He banged into the water barrel, tripped over it, scabbed up his shins.

     I put Apache out on the short pasture again, and in trying to find his way to Ben, he bumped the wire fence pretty hard. It wasn't hot, but it was enough to knock some of the wire out of the insulators and bring the top of the fence down. He got tangled up in it. Apache managed to get free before I ran out there, but what if he didn't? What if I hadn't been home?

     I've been so judgmental in my head about the sad ads I see on Craigslist from awful owners who want to dump their poor old horse that's too old to be pumping out babies, or ride any more. That poor old/or crippled horse who has devoted their whole life to making babies, or giving trail rides, and now
that it's not useful anymore, you want to dump it at the sale. You know what's going to happen at the sale. The meat man is going to buy it, and ship it to the processor, and it's going to go for dog food. But hey, it didn't happen where you can see it, so it's ok, Right?

     I see ads for horses that are permanently lame, I've know a few people who sent their horse to the sale, or have an unrideable horse out on their property and they are talking about making the decision to send the horse to the sale. "I won't keep a horse I can't use. I can't afford to keep a pasture pet." I've always looked down my nose and thought, "That is so uncaring." Euthanasia costs a lot more than some people can afford. And then there's the problem of having the deceased animal hauled away. That ain't cheap either.

     Now I'm faced with a blind gelding and unsafe fencing for him. This is my heart horse. He's small, he's got steep shoulders, an ewe neck, thin chest, scrawny mane and high withers. And I love him. He walks out faster than any other horse I've ridden, he will come over and let you love on him all day, he loves to go out and see the world and ride all day, and he's got ERU, and he's totally blind. He's only 7.
     I know I can afford to feed two horses.

     I'm going to miss out on a lot of the riding plans we had for the future. I can't take him hunting up in the mountains. Sure people ride and compete on completely blind horses all the time. On The Flat. Not in the mountains. Some of the places we ride I've asked myself, are we really going to make it out of here with out some one going ass over tea kettle, and needing a trailer to come haul us out?

     I can afford to feed only two horses. 

     All of a sudden I find myself realizing where the people I've looked down my nose at are coming from, and it's not a nice place to be.

     So I called Steve. He's the horse trader I got Ben from. I didn't want to have to take him to the sale. It would have been a terrifying nightmare for him to try and run him through the sale. I didn't want to think about him in a feed lot getting ready to be on a truck bound for Canada when he can't see. I don't have the money to euth him and have him hauled off.

     Steve agreed on coming out to take a look and see what my options were. I know what Steve is. I know the horses he buys sometimes end up at the sale and on a truck with the kill buyer. He doesn't try and hide it. He's a horse trader and everyone knows it.
  Steve and his wife came out with their truck and trailer. I got Apache haltered and he got some hands on with him. He agreed with me that he wasn't dangerous. He stopped when Steve intentionally stopped in front of him and didn't say Whoa. Apache just bumped him and backed off a few steps. I said to him I was being a realist, that I knew he might end up on the kill buyer truck. He told his wife she had a new horse to ride. See what they could do. He told me he'd put Apache down if things didn't work. He wouldn't ship him. I believe him.

     I cried, I haltered him and led him to the truck. He loaded very cautiously, but jumped up without freaking. I cried some more when they pulled out of the driveway. It was terrible, but it was something that needed to be done before I came home and found him bled out from impaling himself of a tee post, his tendons sliced through to the bone from getting caught in a fence, or worse.   

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mugs/Big K Clinic 2013

Becky Bean and Caspian

Excerpt from Becky Bean's not yet posted summary of the 2013 Clinic
Read more: http://www.blogofbecky.com/2014/04/mugwumpbig-k-clinic-day-1-first-ride.html

Speaking of horse height….Caspian's tallness worked for me.  I'd parked myself at the end of the line, but I didn't have any trouble seeing down the row of participants. Even though he still felt like an overly-sensitive firecracker underneath me, he stood politely, although his head was high and his neck was stiff.  I think we both sshared  the same, tight "what's gonna happen next?"  look on our face.

Tim had an easy, personable way of speaking - friendly, calm, and just really easy going.  I knew that Mugwump had mentioned that as first-timers and newbies we wouldn't be seeing the cold silences and disapproval we'd read about in the Sonita stories... but it was still a relief to see it in person.

"So, I've never really done a clinic like this before - usually I have an idea where people are at in their riding, or what they're hoping to accomplish. Why don't we go down the line and we can talk about where you're at, and what you hope to get out of this clinic?"

... and so we did.  Flying lead changes, more efficient stops, tracking the cow better without anticipating, spinny circle thingies (do you like my technical jargon?) - everyone seemed to have a pretty good idea what it was they wanted to work on.

Except for me.

"I... uh.... I just want to ride?  I just got this gelding, so, uh... I just want to learn how to ride him better?"  I shrugged my shoulders at Tim, and threaded my fingers through the salt and pepper strands of Caspian's mane.

“Well, we can probably handle that.”

Pssst. I took down my contact email and website a while ago. Here's a new one for Mouthy Monday Stories - renamed Tall Tale Tuesday...and for questions you might want to ask me about the 2014 Clinic, or just private conversation. j.huntington@q.com --

Information for the 204 is on the right --> see? Mugs

Saturday, April 5, 2014

More Dogs - This is GREAT STUFF

WHOA - Check this out. Thanks Squirrelgurl!

Night Watch

Oh my goodness, am I in love with this blog.

Ozhorse, who occasionally is lured away from her life working on a sheep and cattle ranch with dogs  to talk with us, turned me on to the idea that Brockle is a "boundary dog."

If you are interested, she sent me a series of links describing this type of herding dog. You can find them in the comments section of the previous post.

He works a boundary around his charges, which for him,when we are outside, are me, Charlie, and whoever might be walking, hiking with me. In the house, it includes all regular residents, human, dog, tortoise, whatever, if there are outliers present, but only me when its just us.

The more I'm reading, the truer he runs to this type of dog.

I am clearly his primary focus. I am a job he takes on 24/7 and although I've felt there was a need to help him relax, only now am I becoming aware of how exhausting his self appointed task is.

It clearly explains his inconsistency during his protection training.

His defense is awesome, perfect, a little scary. His prey (where he runs after the intruder) is not. He has shown little interest in going after the bad guy once he is running away. Once he has him running, he sniffs the ground, looks around and comes back to me. Why run him down and bite him if he has left the boundary?

Can't wait to talk about this at practice.


This gives me a direction and some goals to clarify things between Brockle and I.

I need control over his perimeter. He needs to know he is allowed to guard within a perimeter I set, not him. Which means he has to ignore other dogs, people, whatever, that pass us, show interest in us, etc. as long as they are outside the perimeter I have chosen.

He has to stay within the perimeter I set.

He has to allow people, dogs etc.into the perimeter when I say so.

I have to set our new guidelines without worrying him and respect his need to watch over me.

Typical Scene: Charlie- "Man, I'm whipped, gonna nap while I can." Brockle- "So... tired...must...keep...eyes...on...Janet..."

I need to give him a place where he is off duty. This was a really good tip. At the barn, he is not allowed to run loose, my BO is terrified of him, even though he has always behaved and has no interest in harassing stock or people. He has his own space in my car. It's in the back, with a gate, so he can't jump in the seat with Charlie and eat his head.

When we're at the barn, I open the hatch, and tie him. He can jump out and in, but that's it. He has a bed and water. He loves the back of the car. When it's open and he's tied, he is calm and content. He watches the activity, but doesn't whine or try to follow. When he's nervous (he's afraid of horses-another post another day) he will retreat to his place in the car. Click! goes my brain, he needs one in the house too.

He needs to be encouraged to hold his line (my perimeter) but not necessarily disciplined for breaking it. Brockle spends his life torn between two worlds, trying to do what I want, and trying to manipulate me into giving him what he wants (his ball). This gives me an entirely different way of looking at his down/stay...I think, if I learn to use the line I'll be honoring his instincts, but gaining control at the same time, and our issues will fade. He obeys 100% when it makes sense.

He works much better with well timed praise in a low, gentle voice, and an occasional ball toss than with excitement, rapid fire commands, or a high, squeaky pitch. Anything squeaky worries and excites him. I've always thought he equates it to injured or baby animals.

How do I get these things? Hell, I just don't know. The primary decoy I work with at Schutzhund (a very wise and thoughtful man) has put a lot of thought into getting him working prey. He has made it a game, and we work in increments. Right now, all he has to do is hit the end of his leash (he refuses to hit hard enough to unbalance me, and Decoy Jim has accepted that) and bark with authority. This drives away the bad guy (decoy), he receives high praise and we end it. This new information should add a bunch to our work. Lucky for me Brockle is an interesting study for these guys. They enjoy working with a dog who thinks so far out of their Schutzhund box and acknowledge his heart and bravery, even if he doesn't have traditional reactions. They still call him "Mama's boy," but now it's making much more sense.

Where I could still use some suggestions...

How do I teach him to guard the boundary I decide on, instead of him?

Should I teach a specific command for allowing people and dogs in his boundary? If so, how? What degree of watchfulness do I accept from him? Alert without tension would be ideal.

From your suggestions and my thoughts, tell me if I'm off, I need:

A specific command to "Guard." - which would set the boundary.

A specific command (help me find one) to allow who I want to break the boundary.

A specific command to bring him back to the boundary line, (again, any suggestions for a word?).

If I start with these I think it will go a long way towards getting my boy under control--by creating a clearly understood working relationship.

He also needs to quit treating Charlie like a sheep and respect his position as an elder dog who is doing his work, hunting and flushing out vermin.

This is absolutely fascinating to me. I can feel my trainer brain revving up, which for me, has always been, unlocking and understanding the instinctive response and the thinking mind of the animal I'm working with, and shaping the behavior I need from it.

This is also why I love a healthy mixed breed dog. I love discovering who they are and how to utilize what I find. It's a matter of keeping an open mind and knowing the type of dog I'm looking for. With Brockle, I was looking for a protective, intelligent dog. I knew how to spot it and found it. The rest has been an incredible, albeit exhausting, gift.

This road to discovery will only increase my ability with all dogs, including purebreds who may cross my path. It will keep me open to the possibilities within the breed itself. Look at the GSD--protection, therapy, companion, stock dog--what I'm learning here will teach me so much about what I could find within one breed. Funny, conformation doesn't even come into this conversation, except for needing a dog sound enough to keep up with where his instinct takes him.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Dogs - Observations and Questions

At the moment I am dealing with some interesting dog situations. I currently have six of the mangy bastards most interesting mix of dogs you could hope for.

I have my four, Brockle, the big hairy beast who is 2, Charlie, the rat terrier, 11, Dinah, a corgi/JRT, 16, and Snocone, a clinically insane, puppy mill surviving, Maltese, 10.

Then, I also have the, um, joy, of fostering my daughter's 1-year-old Greater Swiss Mountain dog, Bianca and 6-year-old sociopathic Italian Grayhound/Min Pin, Dobby.


I know this because I shout it at my neighbors every morning.

In order to function, I struck a deal with the Kidlette. She deals with her dogs and I deal with mine. I don't train, walk or take on their emotional health. In return, she does the same.

This avoids battles between us about training, exercise, or manners, and stops me from trying to pet six dogs at once.

It's not ideal, but it keeps things manageable.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not mean to her dogs, I feed them, make them part of our regular treks outside to pee and have cookies and tell them they are good when they offer behaviors I'm happy to see. I don't walk them, train them or snuggle them.

I tell myself this is a great opportunity to observe pack behavior and hierarchy, and am studying and thinking instead of sitting in a corner staring off into space. Besides, that's Snocone's job.

I'll write about the pack stuff at a later date, today, I'm hoping some of the dog people out there will help me understand a few things that confuse me and hopefully give me some insight on a few training issues.

One surprising thing I've learned -- if you completely ignore a dog it will go out of it's mind trying to figure out what you want and try to do it. Well, except Dobby, he will only take so much ignoring, then he starts to shake and pee on stuff. Afterwards he sits with Jim and glares at me.

Bianca has cut back on mindless barking because she gets a rare scritch on the butt and a "Good quiet!" when she stops. She has learned to lay down quietly and quit ravaging visitors (she's torn between barking with her hackles up and insane wiggling, wagging, mauling) just to get my approval. She has stopped counter surfing --when I'm home. She no longer walks across the smaller dogs, knocks them over to beat them out the door or sits on them to get their spot. Her general anxiety has dropped. This has all come from her watching what earns approval for my dogs and then emulating them.

Dobby has learned to poop outside, unless it's cold, windy, snowing or wet. He will sometimes make an effort  if I have the good gooey treats. He has learned to stop snarling and snapping when it's suggested he move out of a chair by getting dumped on the floor. His preferred method of coping is to hang with Jim because he lets him eat off his plate.

So. On to my questions. 
First, let's tackle Brockle.
Brockle likes to line stuff up.

Weird huh?

Does anybody have a clue what this is about?

He did this quite a bit during the first few months I had him. He would take shoes, toys, sticks, towels, the TV remote, garden stuff I had left out...and line them up. As you can see, we're talking a pretty straight line, and the spaces in between are close to equal.

Then, he stopped.

Over the last month or so, things have been intense around here and my stress levels are high. He started making lines again. Except now, it's only things of mine, or things I handle and a few sticks to fill things in. So, he takes my shoes, bath towel, socks, the remote, my phone, the spatula, things like that.
Also, during periods when my illness is really beating the crap out of me, he has started making a line along the length of my bed while I sleep. Except then, it's all his toys.

It seems to be a reaction to stress.

He guards his lines ferociously from the other dogs. You can see from the photo he wasn't pleased I was looking at it. He knew I was going to take my stuff back.

He doesn't chew anything up. I never get upset with him.

The conversation usually goes like this:

"Brockle? Do you have my shoe? Whoa, dude, now that's a work of art. Sorry buddy, I need my stuff back."

Brockle, looking miserable, follows me while I get my stuff. Then he sniffs each item as I put them away or on.

The lines aren't always in the same place in the yard, but they are always very straight and even. I've never seen him build one, but I have watched him fill in gaps and move things to make them straight. He lays in the yard, head between his paws, and watches it. Then periodically gets up and moves stuff. He makes them anywhere from ten days apart to twice on a slow afternoon.

I don't know if this is connected, but the other night, Charlie was running around the house with something gray, floppy and about 3 inches square. The other dogs were really interested, he was doing a cross between making sure they all knew he had it, and trying to find a safe place to chew on it. 

I went to see what he had. It was a very old, recently dug up piece of rawhide. Since I quit giving my dogs rawhides two years ago, it was pretty gross. Unlike my other dogs, when I tell Charlie, "Drop it" he thinks it means "Clench the gross thing between my teeth and run like hell," which is what he did.

I was tired, he had disappeared out the dog door, and well, I was tired. So I went to bed. I heard some running, growling and complaining from the dogs during the night, but no actual murders. The next morning, the rawhide was laying on the floor next to my bed. 

Charlie was pacing and upset. Brockle kept staring him down to keep him off, the other dogs were staying clear.

Charlie doesn't share, so Brockle must have put it by me.

Was he taking care of me or did he give it to me to stop the arguments? Or is all of this some weird dog ritual sacrifice? Any ideas?

My next Brockle question.
He guards me. Not violently, but diligently. If someone is at the door, he runs and leans against/between me and the door. He gets between me and any person or dog who is focused on me. He blocks my access to all major appliances and the kitchen sink (but not the bathroom) when I'm too tired to be working.

He won't eat unless I'm actively engaged in an activity that tells him I'm not leaving the house.

There was some minor aggression to a friends dog, at her house, when her dog crossed his perceived line of protection. Not cool.

I need him to curtail it. But, I don't want to stop his need to care for me. He is becoming a crackerjack assistance dog, and I don't want him to question his role. He helps me up stairs, to get out of bed, leans into me to help me balance when I'm off, and some other stuff I haven't decided to write about yet.He can tell my BP is dropping before I can, and I'm just now learning to read him and listen. 

So, how do I get control of his overzealous side, ease his anxiety, but keep developing and benefiting from  the positives?

I've been debating using the "place" command. Then I could park him and he could be relieved of his job as my shadow. 
Would that help control the misplaced aggression?
Except, from  what I understand, once a dog is parked, they have to stay that way until released. I need him to make executive decisions. When I'm tired or overdo  I don't always think clearly. Brockle will nuzzle and push until I stop and either sit or lay down. 

Any thoughts?

Next question.
She is still emerging from her internal tangled ball of yarn brain, 2 1/2 years after we adopted her. She just offered her first communication cue. 
I have learned that when Snocone makes tiny little circles (like a dog about to lay down), she needs to go outside NOW.
A few months ago, she began coming within five feet or so to make her circles. She was actually coming to find me when she needed to go out.

When I take her out, I pick her up and carry her, we don't have enough time for her to robot walk out, plus, she forgets she's following and wanders, anyway, I always take the opportunity to give or get a snuggle from her on the way out the door.

Recently, like in the past two weeks or so, Snocone started to come within five feet, do her circle, then, when I picked her up, just melt in and give me the coveted Maltese hug. She started using the "I gotta pee" cue as a "I need attention" cue too. Trust me, this is huge. 

Then, just last week, she has started whining when she's hungry, or when she wants me to come find her.

We are communicating!

My question is, how do get her to expand the cues? It would be great if she could actually approach us in a straight line when she wants attention. 

We play "Find it." I'll make a trail of tiny little bites of food and let her follow it to her dinner bowl, or a treat. She doesn't respond to the command, but she love, love, loves playing it. She will follow the food trail everywhere, and it doesn't have to be food she even likes. I think she's just having a blast following her nose. That is her only game.

Can I use it to get her to come to me without the circle?
Does it matter?
I would say no, but I can't explain how excited she becomes over each breakthrough. I'd like to get more.

So, there's my questions. Please, please, give me your thoughts, training tips, anything.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tim, Horses, Dogs, Bloggers and Me Clinic 2013

Madonna and I working round at the Mugs/Big K 2013 Clinic

Pretty isn't it? This was everything I look for in a good day.

I was on Madonna, we were working cattle, K had my back and everybody I was riding with was as horsaii as they come.

Absolute heaven.

The road to this incredible, but tiny, blip in the big picture was a long one. My annual 1340 mile round trip to visit K was going to be quite a bit different this year.

We had decided to invite the readers of the Mugwump Chronicles to come ride with us.

I was finding out Parkinson's really did intend to kick my ass and was getting me this year by keeping me as achy and tired as the morning after starting 6 or 7 colts; except now all I had to do was get up in the morning to enjoy the same sensation.

I had a new-found tendency to fall asleep without warning and experienced scary drops in blood pressure that could leave me unconscious when I over extended myself. This made hauling across three states with my horses a little more of a challenge than I was used to.

It was really, seriously, pissing me off.

For whatever reason, my family was objecting even more than usual about me packing up my dogs and horses and disappearing for ten days. Crybabies.

"You shouldn't be out there aloooone."

"What if you pass ouuuttt?"

"It's toooo faaaar."

What a bunch of whiners.

They tried to make me think there was something risky about a one-armed, cranky old woman with PD, a truck and a trailer full of critters travelling alone. Whatever. I knew that secretly, they were mad because they had to cook their own dinner and wash their own socks. I was going dammit.

Before the war escalated to the point where I had to leave early, Kathy stepped up and offered to come with me. OK. Pancho and Lefty on the road again, just like the old days on the show circuit.

 I got the paperwork taken care of on the horses, and serviced the truck and trailer. It was the first time I was going on the road and putting my trust in a mechanic I didn't know, instead of my husband Jim taking care of things. Another change in the way the world is supposed to spin.

I was wound tight and nervous.

The Whatifs were getting me bad.

Whatif I was a big fat disappointment? Whatif my readers decided I rode like an idiot, was a total dweeb and knew absolutely nothing about nothing? Whatif they wrote an exposé?


We planned on leaving at 6 a.m. Life went as it usually does for me lately, and we were loaded and on the road by 6 p.m. I was shaky, off balance and probably a little flaky.

"We could wait and start in the morning," Kathy suggested.

"I'm going tonight. You can come or not," I replied.

I might have snarled just a bit. Kathy rolled her eyes and looked out the window.

We were on our way.