Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bred for the Job

My first cowhorse was ranch bred Sonita.

She was big, red, freckled, had lots of chrome and attitude.

Those who know me, know her.

She was a life lesson and then some.

My second cowhorse, Loki, was a Foundation bred mare from a Buckskin breeding program. I had bought her as a project for my daughter and I, with no thought of cowhorse in my head.

 I had some success with her and my daughter did too. She was fast, anxious, sweet, and could slide thirty feet on a good day, 20 to 25 without a thought. She couldn't spin worth a damn. She wasn't very bendy. Riding her was kind of like riding a Grayhound bus in a 7/11, but she dug deep again and again.

 I bought Madonna as a long yearling. She was bred to rein and work cattle. She was and is amazing. I have said more than once, and will probably say again, until I trained Madonna, I had no idea I'd been trying to turn chihuahua's into huskies. She was my first sled dog.

Buying a horse bred to do the sport I was obsessed with was a real eye opener. The hours, months and years I spent riding and training horses the better trainers passed on had opened my mind to the potential in horses, no matter what they were bred for. I developed an interest in unlocking a horse's mind so it wanted to work for me, was willing to try, even if the bones were too heavy, the back was too long or the brains too scrambled. It also had me convinced horse training was hard, hard, hard and so was reined cow horse.

Then, I bought Madonna. She slid, spun and was naturally leaded. I'm not kidding, if I set her up right she just did it. The rest was refinement. The first time she tracked a cow she was so happy she started to buck.

"Don't you touch her!" K warned before I could get all clutchy. She smoothed out the second she saw the cow escaping because of her nonsense and she stopped. That was it. Madonna has been all about the cow ever since.

She wasn't particularly fast, she was quick and agile. I realized when you're on a horse that's on her cow, then you don't need a fast one, because you're never playing catchup.

We went to work with a cutting trainer while K was out of town (oops, busted!). I was worried because she carried her head so high while she worked. The trainer watched for a while and said, "She's naturally so underneath herself she's balancing herself with her head. Stay out of her way, off her mouth and wait, she'll sort it out."

He was right. I worked hard on staying out of her way and she sorted herself out. Breeding makes a difference.

In an interesting twist of fate, I have shown Madonna the least of any of my horses. Economics and illness sidelined me. Except for one miserable failing in Nebraska, she has been in the money just about every time we've walked in the pen. She's lovely.

She's also spooky and bitchy. Dead solid on cattle, in the pen or on a gather, she's so focused you'd think she was a rock.

Take her on the trail, or around the yard at the barn and she's a bug-eyed freak. She's bred to physically respond to movement and boy howdy, does she ever.

During the peak of my years hauling to shows, I was mounted on $900 dollar horses. Once I finally got my sled dog, life bit me in the butt. Madonna hasn't been wasted, not as far as I'm concerned. I was able to study the art of building a bridle horse and given the luxury of taking as long as it took. She's sound, sane (ish) and ready to go if the road to showing opens up again.

I guess, what it comes down to is, as far as life and learning goes, I have always ended up with the horses I needed, at the time I needed them, whether I agreed or not.


  1. I'm gonna tie this in to your Mad Maxine post with an incredibly unpopular opinion, but here I go nonetheless:

    This is how I am starting to feel about dogs.

    Up until Artemis, I always had rescue dogs. They were wonderful, and sweet, and fit my life perfectly. The two purebreds I had during my life were both so full of neurosis and quirks that I quickly became very anti-purebred. Mutts were the way to go - healthy, intelligent... why bother paying for breeding when the dog at the pound was being put to sleep and would be just as awesome?

    Please understand that I am not advocating only purebred dogs - I still fully support rescuing. I just... I'm not sure I think rescuing is the best idea when you have a specific purpose for your dog.

    After I rehomed my neurotic cocker spaniel to a retired couple (he never growled or bit but he made it obvious he genuinely did not like young children, so I found him a quiet home without children), I began to feel a little bit lost. Maybe young kids and dogs shouldn't be mixed. But then I began to research. And then I researched some more. And finally, my husband said something that just stuck with me. "We're going to have this dog until we're in our 40s... why not get the dog we really want?"

    So... we looked at breeders, and we were super picky, and eventually we found what we wanted: A long-legged field bred lab (for health) with just enough show bred lab in her to make her calm. She came with genetic testing out the wazoo, a complete health guarantee from her breeder, and I paid more for her than I ever expected to pay for a dog, EVER.

    And I've never spent better money.

    I'm not knocking rescuing... it's just... I didn't realize how much I was overcoming in terms of breeding and weird parentage until it wasn't there. I paid what felt like stupid money at the time for a dog that would be healthy, and calm in the house compared to spastic labs I'd known in the past, and safe with my kids....

    And it felt almost like she came pre-trained. It was crazy. I showed her something once, and she would just "get it", immediately. Ignore the chickens? Okay. Don't chase cats? Okay. Run like crazy in a field but only relax while inside? Okay. No matter how hyper, never touch a child when running around? Okay.

    In fact, I'm so sold on the idea of buying a dog for a purpose that I've even considered saving up to one day buy a Black Magic shepherd - German Shepherds bred for a straight back, great hips, low drive, and being safe around little kids.

    Anyways, I've rambled too long. Just... I dunno. People seem so down on the idea of buying a purebred dog nowadays, like you're "wasting your money". I know I felt like that for years - like people who wasted their money on a purebred dog were only doing it because it was some kind of status symbol.... and what can I say? I was wrong. Sure, you can slowly sand the edges of a square peg to fit in a round hole.... but why not just start with a round peg, you know?

  2. Loved this one. I really liked seeing the pictures of you and your horses working. I love your descriptions of them and how they react.

    The second horse I bought I spent some serious $ on. I had a well paying job happening at the time and I was leasing him soooo..... (I'm not allowed to lease any horses anymore)

    He has Doc Bar & Colonel Freckles breeding. Incredible athlete. When I first got him I figured I would probably end up selling him (for a profit) to somebody who actually competed because I have no interest whatsoever. I put him in training and he was a natural.

    He shattered his P2 (small pastern bone) the year after I bought him. End of training but I knew he was mine for life.

    So much has happened in my life since then. I had to move him about an hour away from me for 3 1/2 yrs because I could no longer afford board where I live. I didn't see him very much at all.

    During the time he was gone I lost my son at the age of 22. I really could've used my horse right then.

    I brought him back to my area 4 months ago and wow. We are where we should be right now. He is my one and only therapist at the moment and he blows me away daily. He wiser now. He still is a huge goof (spooks at stuff like your Madonna) and I love everything about him. I think he has the best attitude (always has). He's a happy fella. And game. I think that comes from his breeding.

    I certainly have the horse I am supposed to have. Don't know what I'd do without him.

  3. "I have always ended up with the horses I needed, at the time I needed them"

    This has always been the way with us too. Our horses have landed in our laps in almost fate-like ways and it's hard to maintain a disbelief in divine intervention when I think of how perfect they were for us when they arrived at the time. I always dreamed of having an Arabian, but the truth of the matter is that we ended up with a bunch of elderlies - an ex fox hunter, a haflinger broodmare and a quirky unschooled clydesdale cross - before I got to the stage where I was ready for something hotter. And then I got... an Appaloosa x. All those dreams of a fine desert horse and destiny has other plans. But y'know, they fit the bill, as and when we needed them. We always say that we didn't find them, they found us. My youngster is so curiously perfect for me, it's very hard to maintain an atheist stance and not just claim someone had me in mind when he was born.

    Also, wonderful to hear from you again. I love your stories.

  4. @Becky, I wouldn't call it unpopular opinion at all. Just another side of the coin and down to what each individual wants in a dog.

    We've got one of both. We have the one we chose especially as a pup for what we wanted in a dog and then we got the rehomed terrier.

    They're both awesome in their own way but damn, is the terrier very set in her ways. I dogsit as well, and I can honestly say that none of my clients would suit me more than the spaniel we bought as a pup. All nice enough dogs for different reasons - and I'm yet to find my perfect match really - but they all have one thing or another that just doesn't make them suitable if they were, say, dogs I'd taken as rescues for myself instead of just as clients.
    I think it boils down to personal preference and what you can live with as opposed to live without.
    I like being able to see an adult dog with it's personality already there and as said, genetics don't always breed true. On the other hand nurture is a key component in my ability to get along with a dog too. It's hard to retrain older dogs with issues or neuroses.
    You also mentioned the pre-trained thing... I often feel that our spaniel is hyper smart without all that much effort. She reads us very well and we talk to her as one would a small child; she understands it all. Others just seem to constantly need reinforcement and reinforcement and reinforcement... no matter how much you try to drum it in, they never seem to get it.

  5. A little over 2 months ago I lost my Aussie. I had wanted an Aussie for a long time, but hadn't really looked for one. I was at the feed store on a Saturday in March when a tiny older lady came in frantically asking for someone to help her take her dog and puppies to the vet. She had put them in the back of her Explorer and the bitch kept trying to bring the puppies up to the front seat. The puppies had just been born, and she was worried that another puppy, or a placenta hadn't come out yet. I don't know what made me ask what kind of dogs she had, but I did, and then I told her I would help her as soon as I got my feed loaded.

    I drove to the vet's office 8-10 miles away while she sat in the back with the dogs. She had the puppies in a box and when we got to the vet's office she started to carry them in and I noticed that the mother didn't have a leash on, I asked her about it and the bitch (dog)looked at me, tilted her head, and the look in her eyes made me realize what a stupid question that was, she would never leave her puppies, and that she was used to being a lot smarter than her owner. I wanted a puppy. I got one that had her face, her intelligence, but he was a male. I knew right away that the "breeder" was a fruitcake, but I found out that she had a mentor who bred some very nice Aussies that were shown in conformation, obedience and herding. They had all the testing, health guarantees, the sire had an excellent temperament, so I decided the puppies were well-bred, even if the owner of the bitch was quirky. Becky's right, I had never tried to do formal training with a dog before, and he made me look good. Sometimes when I was doing offleash work with him I would hear people do a quick intake of breath, or an "ah." One night when we traded dogs and a young man was working my dog I did it myself. He was beautiful, he had a beautiful trot, he hugged your leg and bent his head so far back he was looking straight up. I was standing near the instructor and said, "he works really well for that guy, he's beautiful." She looked at me and said "he does for you too, didn't you know that?" I didn't know. He was so easy to get along with. I never had a bad day with him.

    I've trained with two other dogs since I got him, and neither did nearly as well. My dog now is an excellent dog in everything that matters, but I could never get him to do a good stay. He didn't want to, he wasn't going to. I love him just as much, but I really miss my Aussie.

  6. Becky - I know exactly what you mean. But, just like horses, there are purebreds, and there are well-bred purebreds. The right dog for you can come from anywhere, but there's no shame in improving the odds by doing your researched and locating a responsible breeder who breeds for the sort of dog you want.

    Plus, the breeder who produced your dog almost certainly has a "take back" on every puppy they produce rather than see them end up in rescue if unwanted.

  7. You can get well-bred adult dogs from most good breeders. The really good breeders take back dogs that don't work out in their first home, for any reason, at any time. Those dogs are usually just fine, and have the benefits of coming from a responsible breeder combined with the advantage of being able to see the dog as an adult.

    When I was 36, I got my first ever carefully chosen purebred, and he was awesome. Breeders told me he was everything a breeder would want to see come out of their program. My second was a rescue (same breed) who came to me when he was eight months old. A conformation train-wreck, didn't have the brain the breed should, and never did get the hang of really connecting with me to the same level as my other dog did. I loved him anyway.

    Both are gone now, and I'm looking forward to a pup next spring.

  8. All that said - sometimes the right dog is a rescue.

  9. Yeah, I have pretty much ended up with the horse I needed at the time, whether I knew it or not. Both of mine have issues and I don't think I've gotten the full potential out of either one of them, but they're good at their jobs and I love them.

    Bred for the job???? NO clue. Supposedly my gelding is an Appaloosa but… I have doubts about who his daddy was. He's way too thick and chunky but then again, what really is a purebred Appy going to look like??? All I know is, he's a genius at figuring out WHO is on his back and adjusting himself to his rider. Can that be bred into a horse? Can it be trained? I don't know but he came into my life at the right time. He's an excellent teacher and I don't mean with just my students.

    Having said that, I've never bought a well trained horse. I've had to do all the work. And I've never bought a horse that was bred for a specific job. I wonder if my life will ever get to the point when I need that.

    And also, Becky -- totally know where you're coming from. That's the story of our Pug, right there. We figured out what kind of dog was right for our family and took the plunge and bought a good well bred healthy one. He's been awesome. Whatever we spent to buy him, we saved on vet bills, from what I hear. First house dog, first non-accidental dog, first paid for dog. I still love a good mutt but I stand by our decision!

  10. And geez, Mugwump, good to read your words again! You know the deal: you write it, I'll read it!

  11. I probably come from the opposite side of the fence: for the last fifteen years my large family of dog-loving people have been dog "buyers" not "adopters."

    Could they have been more educated, selective buyers? Yes, yes, and well, yes. . . But mostly, they got what they paid for, and we were pretty satisfied.

    I considered myself a pretty knowledgeable dog person with experience with many different types and personalities of dogs.

    And I wanted to do some good with it - I wanted to RESCUE! So I did.

    My rescue dog still makes me want to sob with frustration sometimes, a whole year later.

    He was only a year old when I acquired him, but not house-broken and severely under-socialized.

    House-training only took a week, but we still struggle with behavioral issues and fear aggression. He has excellent obedience skills on a leash, but as one trainer told me, obedience classes teach dogs how to sit, stay and heel, not how or what to think. They can teach a dog to listen to you, but not what to do if you aren't around.

    He has improved two hundred percent, and keeps improving, but I know I'll never trust him with strangers or even familiar children, take him to the dog park, or the vet without his muzzle.

    The sad thing is that I think he could have been a normal dog if only his upbringing had been somewhat normal.

    I'm starting to think that maybe early socialization is so much more important than people give it credit for.

    I don't think people fully understand how much easier it is to mold a puppy to your family, than an adopted dog.

    Puppies are a lot of work, but they are so much more moldable.

    Will I rescue again?

    I want to, but I don't know if my household will put up with it again.

    So here's my question, for those people who have been seduced by the responsible breeder, was this your first puppy? Did you have "rescue" or "mutt" puppies previously?

  12. Great to see you writing again Mugs. I like how the last two posts tie in together.

    Becky I'm with you - and PonyFan I'll answer your question too.
    A year ago I put down a stunning looking 14 month old (estimated) dog. I got him from a rescuse where he'd been since 4 weeks old (supposedly) I found out more about his past ownership when I registered him with our local council than I did from the council. He was good looking, did pretty well at obedience (so long as we didn't have to go too close to the men in the class, was fearful, neurotic, large (38kg/approx 90lb I think) and then his hips started to go. A few months later I was doing my research on my favourite dog breed (which also ticked all the boxes for us) and met a breeder that had one male pup unspoken for in her latest litter. He's awesome. He's not a show quality rhodesian ridgeback due to a small tail kink (and he's now very, very tall so that would mark him down too) but he has the brilliant mind, relaxed attitude and temperament that we wanted, as well as being stunning looking.
    After the heartbreak and cost of the rescue (spent as much trying to fix him/find out what was the problem as we did on buying a good pup) I would go through a breeder to rehome the right dog, but I would be very, very unlikely to touch a rescue again.

    Horses - I rode pretty much anything I could get my hands on as a kid, including a great wee QHx that did ok as a pony clubber but excelled when I sold him to a kid on a farm and he became an awesome sheep/cattle horse and did a fair bit of trekking/trail riding. I had a few of the slow NZ TB's, and they do make great eventers, of course some lines have better heads for it than others.

  13. My 14 year old dog is a mixture of working breeds and was a 1 y.o. rescue. She was a mess. Fearful, nervous, excessively submissive (with submissive urination, which was really annoying as we have indoor dogs.)
    A couple of years of obedience training and she is the dog of a lifetime. She is my One Dog.Full of personality and scary smart. She hasn't very long to go as her hind end is getting very weak and the front end isn't so good either, but I am treating every month with her as a gift.
    The pugalier 3 yo rescue has taken much longer to civilise, but I would expect that with a lapdog breed - fewer brains and less working instinct.

  14. I think I am dealing with this same thing. Right now I am in the process of selling the first horse I have ever owned, trained, and competed on(barrel racing). This horse is running very good times, which is a testament to her truly wonderful personality, and the amount of GOOD help I got while training her. She will sell for enough money to buy a step up horse for me. She is cow-bred, Doc O Lena, and while she is athletic and can turn really well, she just does not have the speed I am now ready for. It's not her fault, she is running 100% each run, and it's not my fault, because I have worked at my horsemanship harder than I have worked at anything in my life and can honestly say I am riding her to the best of my ability. It's just her- she tends to want to get down and use her front end, which is what she was bred for, but is not what is needed in barrel racing, and is costing us time. We've worked on it, and she is better than she was, but she just is not built to really excel to level I want to go in barrel racing. My next horse will be built differently, may have some "barrel racing names" on it's papers, and hopefully will have that thing, that innate understanding of what is needed without having to teach every little step.

  15. Did you feel like Sonita was not a husky? Or were her levels of issues just so way out of the park that she was a mentally CRAAAAAAZY husky?

    PS- I hate the stupid sign in, mostly cause I CAN"T REMEMBER MY DADGUM PASSWORD!!!!! So I just sign in as anon and then sign my name. Uhh, if you were wondering?

  16. Don't laugh too hard at me.... But I have a performance-bred donkey. Yes, the do make them. And I never realized how much difference breeding makes until this spring. I participated in an "Extreme Donkey Makeover" type contest with a wild BLM donkey.

    My assigned donkey was BEAUTIFUL - she totally outclassed all the other wild burros in the class. And she was about as forward as a rock. :-(

    I spent my alloted 100 days teaching her everything I could, but I realized about 30 days in that she was really destined to be a beautiful pet - working just wasn't on the table to her.

    Fast forward to after the competition. My challenge donkey found a great home and I went back to working with my performance-bred donk. WHAT A JOY! I'd forgotten how much fun it is to work with a donkey that WANTS to go, WANTS to learn, and WANTS to work.

    I went through the same thing with my new horse. I cruised the rescues looking for something that would work - and found nothing. Too old, too young, bad legs, too short... :-( I ended up paying the money for a really nice and clever Azteca mare - worth every penny. She's been a joy to ride and she's restored my confidence in my abilities.

    Bottom line for me - I rescue when I can, but sometimes, when I have a very specific need, the only way to go is a purpose bred animal.

  17. Heather, I want to know more about performance donkeys!

  18. this post really hits home with me. i've got an off track TB and a grade QH. they are both great horses, and their physical & mental shortcomings have taught me a lot and made me a better horsewoman. however, the QH is 24 and i am already on a quest for the dressage bred horse that will find it easy to do what i need it to do to compete successfully. my TB is a trooper and works really hard to perform the movements correctly, but these warmbloods do it from birth with no effort.

  19. Hi Anonymous,

    Performance bred donkeys are just what the name implies - donks that are bred to be "forward" - to move out. My particular donks are of the Miniature Mediterranean flavor, but they make performance donks in all sizes.

    Performance donkeys are bred for 'tude and for build. We like the larger (34-35.5) inch jobs with a big booty and a nice wide chest - a Quarter Horse style donk if you will.

    They tend to be opinionated, usually in a good way, and love to work. My Bailey donk would stand at the rail and watch me work my challenge donkey and just get ANGRY that it wasn't her getting used.

    The first day I got her out after the challenge was over, Bailey totally showed off and reminded me why I love her so much.

    She's an example of how breeding two superlative animals doesn't always work out - she's a tad on the scrawny side and has rafter hips, but what she lacks in body, she makes up in 'tude. She rocks the trail classes because she's never met a scary obstacle.

    She's also a natural driver with a lot of forward movement.

    So, although she'll never win a halter class, she'll beat the halter donks all day long in the performance classes.

    Yeah, I may be a little biased - I love a nice little Ass. :-)

  20. PonyFan - my carefully chosen from a breeder purebred was far from my first dog. Starting with my very first dog I had a hand-me-down collie (two years old when I got her), a mixed-breed pup from a neighbor's litter, a sheltie from a backyard breeder, a husky/wolf mix from the shelter, a second hand-me-down collie, a grocery store pup golden retriever, my good purebred weim, a shelter retriever mix, and a rescued purebred weim.

    All of them were 'good dogs' in some fashion. I think the only one that was clearly a dog that a breeder would be proud of was the first Weim - the one from a responsible breeder, who did the tests, followed up, etc...

    Puppies are more moldable, but also more work. If that work is worth the work depends on what you want the dog to do.

    Some people believe, earnestly, truly, and completely, that a rescued dog will automatically be grateful and will love you forever and do anything to please you. Anyone who's dealt with a problem rescue/shelter dog knows that's a load of hoohaw. Doesn't mean a rescue isn't the right dog for some folks.

    My next dog will come from a top-notch breeder. The dog after that may be a rescue, or a rehomed adult from a similar breeder.

  21. This topic seems to have perfect timing for me right now, as we are starting to look for a purebred Lab for hunting work. All of my dogs so far have been rescues (one from a BYB, so technically bought), but we feel that buying the dog bred for a purpose will get us farther.

    My first dog (as a child) was a Golden/Lab mix, and she was perfect for my family. I was 8/9 when I trained her as a puppy and she'd do anything. Somehow, she's still going strong at 13 now, though she now lives with an elderly family friend who loves her to death. (I will take her back in a second though).

    My second dog was a GSD mix from a shelter. We adopted him when he was said to be two (though I seriously don't believe them). He suffered from severe separation anxiety, and then turned aggressive. Less than a year later(in May), we put him to rest. I can't say that I fully regret adopting him, but I also can't say if given the choice that I would willingly take on a dog with separation anxiety. It was heartbreaking, but I do take comfort in knowing he had a better time with us than living at the shelter. I still don't tell most people why he was put down because people are so judgmental at times.

    My current dog is a Boxer we rescued from a BYB. She's not the brightest, but she behaves well and is still young and learning (10 months). Raising her as a puppy was less work than trying to rehab the Shepherd because of his issues, but puppies come with their own issues.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't have any problem with buying for a purpose from responsible breeders, keyword being responsible (Although I'll admit it will be hard for me to pony up that money to buy the dog). For dogs like my Boxer, who are just companion dogs, I don't have a problem with rescuing them. However, in the future I will be much more selective when adopting/rescuing adult dogs because of the Shepherd's issues.

    For horses, I also think I've gotten the horse I needed when I needed it. My first horse I owned was an old-old TWH, who taught me some serious patience and how to properly care for aging/sore horses (knowledge which too many people seem to lack).

    My second, and current horse, is a Paso cross that I never should have been allowed to have at 17. He was a rearing, bolting, misbehaving mess when I got him. Now, he's that horse that I can give pony rides on and let 7-year-olds play on and he's an angel for them. Definitely learned some great lessons from him. He's also now the horse that I can go to at any time to restore my confidence in riding because I can trust him(I had several bad falls/injuries over the past two years that has ruined my riding experiences).

    There were other horses alongside the ones I owned that I cared for or rode, and each one had things to teach me that I needed at the time. A QH taught me how to be comfortable with speed, a green Mustang taught me how to handle spookiness, among others.

    My Paso X is currently about 20/21, and he doesn't really fit what I want to do riding-wise, but I feel that the right horse will come when it's supposed to. When he's eventually retired, I'm not even going to know where to start to look for another horse, because I never have had to search.

  22. On the other hand, one of my brothers is a natural leader with dogs. He's had many rescues who become instantly bonded. Right now he has a German German Shepherd who was bred for police work. He had been imported by some crazy person who kept him in a small cage for 3 months and he completely lost his mind. Somehow, my brother brought him back. That dog would follow him into a fire. He also nearly stole my dog a couple times when he came for a visit. My dog wanted to sleep in his room, sit next to him all the time and follow him everywhere. I don't know how he does it. But, Cesar Millan has a whole pack of dogs who used to be basket cases, and now they seem very stable and in love with him.

    It sounds like Snocone and Mugs husband have something like that going. Sometimes it works.

  23. Alyssa: regarding hunting labs, I can't say enough wonderful things about Merganser Labradors ( They have a litter due in about a week or two, and if I had any money or time for a puppy, I'd be all over it like a bad rash... and I'm not really all that into yellows. I met the bitch, Opal, when I picked up Artemis, and I fell in love. In fact, I was so impressed with her I jokingly asked the breeder if she'd be interested in keeping the puppy and giving me Opal. She's kinda fat in the photos, since she's pregnant in them - she's amazing in person, with a personality to die for, and obviously the credentials and ribbons to boot.

    And in case you can't tell, I reaaaaaally want you to get a puppy from the litter so you can send me photo updates and i can live vicariously through you :P

  24. PS: Redhorse, one of these days you're going to have to give me your email. I was fretting yesterday, worrying about you and that fire that almost got big down in your area, but didn't have any way to check up on you.

  25. I posted awhile ago about the wolf x, and the fun that went with ownership. I've had the opportunity to work with some Canadian Horses recently--the owners drive literally every hitch out there, and am incredibly impressed with what stout, sane horses they are. My Trak mare is bred to event and her gallop/nerve to take any barrier is something else, but she's definitely not qualified to be part of a four in hand.

    I had a Jagdterrier about five years ago. I finally found a breeder that I really like and got into a long conversation about what I was looking for (blood trailing, small game, maybe some earthdog stuff but there simply aren't wild pigs where I live, so I don't want something that is constantly dreaming of boar). And he had a match for me, down to the age parameters, conformation, temperament, and hyperdrive. I'm still pinching myself a bit.

    Having done a lot of animal rescues, there is something very satisfying about bringing a creature back. However, I am coming to realize that I want very specific things out of my creature companion, and that going outside of those expectations/parameters is rather sad for both of us.

  26. Muppet, I'm so jealous. From everything I've read, Canadians are exactly what I would like in a horse, except they may be breeding them a little bit larger than what I want. It's also almost impossible to find them in the US.

    I have sadly come to realize that my gelding is probably bred for what I need right now. I used to have a horse that was more suitable for eventing, when I went on trail rides he attacked the trails, wanting to gallop up all the hills and jump the logs and streams. My current gelding has the attitude "who's idea was it to put a hill here anyway? I'd rather trot slowly in circles and look pretty."

  27. I've been thinking about the differences breeding makes the last few days myself, after watching the different ways my horses were playing in the rain the other night. TB mare was running circles, rearing and trotting on the spot, and my QH and QH X SB were working invisible cattle, short sharp dashes and sudden turns and stops. The western pleasure bred QH was smoother than the QH X SB, like watching a family station wagon and a dirt bike go round the same course. I can see why those differences would be important for people who are competing. For me, any horse is wonderful as long as they are gentle and safe to be around, and I have a motley collection (4 minis, the three described above and a SB) and love all of them to bits. Similarly with my dogs - a kelpie, a german coolie X spaniel and a mini poodle - the poodle has by far the highest hunting drive and was hardest to teach to leave the cats and chickens alone, but we managed. :) I bought the QH to be company for the QH X SB; he was sired by Pawsitively Blazing who I gather was kind of western pleasure royalty in Australia and would normally be waaay out of my price range, but he had a slipped hip so I could afford him. He is the sweetest horse I've ever met, so if that breeding gets you that temperament I can absolutely understand why people would pay high prices for that.

  28. Hey redhorse, the farm I am referring to is in the US (WV to be exact). Having seen a lot of warmbloods, I am impressed with their bone, overall structure, and temperament. I got to help harness their 4 in hand yesterday and ride along....SO COOL.

    I am not sure how they are priced, but they have a gorgeous filly this year.... ;)

    I'm still riding a bit despite being pregnant, as my bike armor still fits, and am having a wonderful time with their fabulous young mare (who also is the left wheeler in the 4!). I feel extremely lucky to have met them as they are great people and I am able to learn about an aspect of horses I always wanted to know more about.

    Interesting though, about how the teacher you need comes along at the right time?!? You are so very right about how the horse you have can be the horse you need...

  29. WyoFaith Sonita was close. Crazy didn't help. If I had been a better trainer I would have had an easier time with her and would have known to make her a cutter.
    But, she still would have been a middle of the road cutter because of her bulk.
    Also, she made me a trainer. Hands down. Many layers to that onion.

  30. Redhorse: Canadians and foundation-bred Morgans seem to be almost the same horse.

    Okay, no, NOT REALLY.... but similar enough to the average person that you can still get the same thing done.

    I, too, want a Canadian, but I swear you can't find a weanling for under $3,000, and the price only climbs from there. Foundation-bred Morgans, however....

    (PS: Foundation-bred arabs have that same look as Canadians and Lippitt/foundation Morgans - check out the Van Gilder arabs on Facebook! Probably too much get-up-and-go for just toodling about, but it's a great page to just enjoy the pictures.)

  31. PS: Muppet? I, too, am extremely jealous!

  32. Becky, I think Canadians (the people) claim that Justin Morgan (the horse) was at least part Canadian. He certainly had all the traits of a good Canadian. It's hard to find a good foundation Morgan around here too. And I really like them too. I also liked a Morgan/Percheron mare I met on a trail ride. What a neck!

  33. Hey Becky I know a green-broke 6-yr old Canadian gelding available for under $3500, if you really really want one! I can only just afford board for my squirrelly project mare, or I'd be tempted. He's really pretty.

    ALso I'm super obsessed with Morgans and I really want one. Perfect world I'd like one that was started nicely, and bred for a job, even if the job is just "all-around solid citizen family horse." My darling Paso mare was bred to look pretty and gait nicely. Both of which she does. The rest is a bit of a mess. On the other hand she's teaching me a lot, and seeing her progress is amazing.

    I have rescue dogs too, and I love watching them come out of their shell and turn into real dogs. They've adapted pretty well to farm life since we've moved here, and I trust my (also-squirrelly) collie-mix around horses completely. I think I'll always have rescue dogs and project horses just because they tend to fall in my lap, like my current horse. I still dream about my future purpose-bred puppy (or colt).

  34. This post hits home for me Mugs as I now have a very challenging cow bred mare that I am seasoning in the show pen.. My previous mount was a lovely broke to death WP mare that I converted into a ranch horse type, honest as the day is long she sure tried the cattle events but never flourished like my doc bar/freckles playboy mare is now.. yet she is sure turning me into a rider vs a passenger.. I hope to be able to do her justice in the show pen.

  35. After years of truculent or troubled horses- pretty much all I've owned since I have had my own equines - a little over a year ago I bought myself a new horse who is well bred ( lusitano/warmblood cross ), solid on her feet, smart and good natured.

    The experience that was quite new to me is that there simply aren't the same bumps in the road- as soon as I figure out how to ask for something, we can do it. She is so full of try that she really wants to help me to figure out how to ask too, although we do occasionally both try too hard for each other and just end up getting flustered but it makes everything so much easier. I even got the chance to work cows with her ( not a common thing here in the UK ) earlier in the year and as soon as she worked out the job, she was brilliant at it.

    All of this means that I get to make progress too- my basics are reasonably sound because that is what I have had to work on, but now I have more chance to work on the advanced stuff consistently, getting good lateral movements, having her staying soft in my hand through the gaits, good quality turnarounds - and because I'm not having to constantly fight for it, everything is so much easier and we are far more able to adapt. We still run into the odd challenge - often about overcoming one of our physical limitations - but it is a different journey.

    It reminds me of the old story about the Irish gentleman asked for directions, "well, I wouldn't start from here." Having the right starting point makes such a big difference.

    Apparently I learned nothing from this, however, as the most recent addition to the herd was an unhandled mule...