'Cool Running Creek'

'Cool Running Creek'

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The "Grand Finale"

The Herald Sun/photo by Bernard Thomas

'Folks, Ya'll have been so patient for the final unfolding of the saga of Medicine Man and his future. I do want to thank all for your interest in this project and the mustang.
Saturday afternoon following the riding portion all the trainers were called together for the announcement of the finalists. At that time no one knew who had been disqualified in the 2nd portion of the competition. All were on pins and needles for the results. Well, as previously told, we didn't make it nor did several others that we were sure were a shoe in. Those selected were without question deserving by the performance earlier in the day. We were dismissed and asked to be back by 7 pm. With seating at a premium we sent out for supper and commandeered our seats for the evening.
The 13 finalist were very impressive to say the least. From roping cows, herding cows, shooting from horseback, jumping barrels, whip popping, standing in saddle, chain saws, laying down their horse, sliding stops, rollbacks, spins, side passes, flying lead changes, dancing, and just plan old good horsemanship for both rider and horse. This had to be most extraordinary display of training I've seen in quite some time. (You can view several shots of the night and a list of the trainers and more results on the Mustang Heritage Foundation website listed at the bottom of the page) After the dust had settled I think all in attendance were pleased with the outcome. A young trainer, Guy Woods from Australia, by way of Texas was the winner. Second place was Kiitty Lauman from Oregon. WOW, is all I can say. Did I have a top ten horse? No, did I have a wonderful, disciplined, pleasing horse? Yes, and then some.
Now, the auction. We had to be back for the adoption at 9 the following morning. All were drained because of the hectic weekend. I had to take Kathy, my wife, to the airport at 5 am for her fast trip back home opposed to the drive we were looking at later in the day. As mentioned earlier in the blog, we had no option but to offer Medicine Man up for adoption. I never thought that it would be an issue for me as I looked at the training as a challenge with no lasting effect. Well, was I wrong. I'd really made a friend in this little horse and we just seemed as one when we rode. I can't say I've ever spent this much time with a horse in such a short while in my adult life. Throughout the entire weekend I would find myself empty inside knowing that Sunday it could be all over for Medicine Man and me. I'd been given a reserve amount for Medicine Man but figured it would never fly. Well, as things progressed throughout the day I was then sure of it. The first horse of the day sold for $2000.00 and didn't seem to shift for any horse that was ridden in the arena. As each trainer brought their horse in for adoption we were given 2 minutes to talk about their horse. Then we were to show the horse off during the bidding. We were number 87 in line so we got to see all horses go through the process. This is one time I was glad we were towards the end. I had learned 2 things. 1, the big $ had bought their horses early, and 2, I learned how to work the crowd. I heard from, "I'm not riding my horse today because of a sore back," to "my horse has arthritis." As you could see by the $ results on the Mustang Heritage site, the prices really never shifted for any horse that had it together as well as Doc. So, I was at a dilemma, spend money I didn't have to keep him or devise a plan. Well, the money part was out so a plan was in. When we moved into the arena Doc was dead calm. Not good for me so here I go. "Folks, let me tell you about a special mustang. This horse was stricken with toxic poisoning on 31 August by eating cucklebur's. His fever was 105, heart rate was 80 and totally lethargic within 30 minutes of finding him lying down. The vet treated for such and his recovery was diagnosed as bleak. Call off the competition, move him into a stall and expect complications for up to six months. Both the vet and farrier gave dim expectations. With such a high fever comes laminitis. Well, let me tell you about the healing power of the mustang. Within 2 days his fever was normal and he was showing much tenderness in his feet. In 2 weeks he was out and working in the round pen. So, what do you think?" And then off we went. Walk, trot, lope around the arena and the bids start. $500 and we stop and back up, $750 and we side pass. $1000 and we lope in a 25 ft circle. We went thru $1100.00 like it was chicken feed and then it stopped. The word laminates was affecting the crowd. My plan worked. Did I tell a story, NO, Did I mislead the crowd, NO. Did I tell them the vet had just completed an x-ray of all 4 feet showing no rotation? Well, no. Did the auctioneer help me out, well, not really but he did tell the crowd that this trainer is bidding so he must know something. Yes he did but the thought was planted and me and Doc were the winners. I'd been able to buy back my horse for $1100.00. Most horses with Medicine Man's abilities sold for 3500-4000 dollars. Was I one happy guy. I almost forgot this part. Emily my daughter, 21 going on 6 was a basket case. From Saturday night on she had been one big tear with the thoughts of loosing Medicine Man. Even strangers were trying to console her through this. She even made matters worse for me as if I wasn't having a bad enough time.
Well, out of the arena, make a couple of calls and hit the road. Emily was just beside herself. She rode Medicine Man for the first time that weekend out of the building, across the parking lot and throughout the entire complex. I think she was happier the me. I now know where this horse is going. I'd had a couple of people interested in Medicine Man prior to leaving but one had left a reserve. This horse is going to a little girl, 8 years old I spoke of several times in the blog but she was not to know until she'd earned the money.
For the next 2 weeks Cassidy was a wreck. I'd shared with her that there was another person really interested and I needed my money back to pay bills. Was she ever so nervous. Does she get the money in time? Every time I would see her she would say, "Jim Thomas, I have $241.00 now. Is that enough?" Then next time, "I now have $255.00 is that enough?" We just played along until a move with another horse made it possible. I had just been contacted on September 28 by Kim Gernardo with NBC 17 for the results of Ft Worth when I told her the rest of the story. Well, not to pass up a good story for TV, she jumped at the opportunity to put this on the air. So plans were made for the following Friday when Cassady gets off the school bus.
I'd also been contacted by Beth Velliquette with the Chapel Hill Herald to also get the results of Ft. Worth. I shared with her the plans and she was also wanting to capture the story.
Friday, the 5th arrives and Medicine Man and I take our last bath. Knowing where he was going made it a bit easier, but still we had memories. A tough time but no time for emotions. Load up and off to Dean and Helena's for the big show. Our original plans were to meet Cassidy at the bus stop but a cloud was threatening and the camera man was a bit leery so the barn would have to do. I'd hid in the back of the barn and when Cassidy rides up her mom calls here over for a short and out we walk. I knelt down, and passed the reins over. She was happy to see I brought him over for a visit and was beside herself when she discovered that he would not be going back to the Bar T. "He is here to stay, and yours to keep. Take care of him, give him lots of love, many baths and never hit him." That was all I could say for emotions ran wild for me and her alike. In the roundpen for her first lesson and the start of a beautiful relationship for a girl and her horse.
The news story posted on the front page of the Sunday edition, 7 Oct. A wonderful story from a gifted reporter. I thank Beth so much for helping make this event special for a young lady.
NBC 17 has plans to run the story on the 19th if all goes well. Kim again put together a wonderful story.
I'm going over this weekend for another lesson and will finish off with those results on Sunday. I promise several pictures at that time. Thanks again for following along and I should close out next week. Please give me your thoughts of the blog as we plan to enter the competition next year. This time 2 horses, a father and son.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Rest of the Story

I'm sorry for leaving you hanging out there but the REST OF THE STORY will unfold on Friday, the 5th. I promise to update at that time. And what a story..........

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ft Worth = WOW

WOW, was that a trip or what? We left out last Tuesday afternoon Texas bound. Our plan was to drive right thru with 2 rest stops for Doc to offload, eat, drink and walk around. Estimated trip time 24 hrs. Well, things went well the entire trip and we rested 3 times and made Dallas-Fort Worth airport in 22 hours to pick up Emily. We then headed for the Stockyards area for some vacation time and boarded Doc at the livery inside the Stockyards District. This was really cool as he stalled beside the longhorns used for the daily cattle drive down Exchange St. He traveled well but did show dehydration from the trip. I picked up 2 tubes of electrolytes to mainline his system and this did pick things up quickly. On Thursday morning, after a good nights rest we had the opportunity to work in the arena located beside the livery for an hour for some relaxed exercise. Afterwards, and this was really cool,Medicine Man and I rode the entire length of Exchange St. For those not familiar with the area this is where for over 100 years cattle were brought in and either slaughtered or shipped out from all points south and west of Ft. Worth. A lot of history lies here.
This is one place where a horse really doesn't look out of place. I highly recommend this stop for anyone traveling with or without a horse. The afternoon was spent shopping and sightseeing and we moved Doc to the Will Rogers Complex later that evening. Folks, this is some complex. We were in the Moncrief Building. It contained 2 arenas, 1 for practice out by the stalls and the other a very large air conditioned arena with seating for 6000. The stall area would hold over 200 horses, each with a 10x10 stall. What a nice place.
After we settled Doc and I had scheduled a practice session for 6pm so off we went. He was very relaxed in the large arena and negotiated all the obstacles set up with no problem. He never got out of hand, (lots did) and moved as requested. I was very impressed with his manners and discipline during this new adventure. Practice sessions lasted only 20 minutes so back to the stall, feed, hay and a good night rest was in order. Friday would consist of 2 scheduled practices,
a conditioning evaluation by the Vets and a trainer meeting at noon. The first practice was a blur as Doc decided he didn't want pay attention. Not unruly just very energetic. I guess the 2 tubes of electrolytes did the trick. I knew his conditioning score was going to suffer due to his illness so we had really been giving him the chow. We took him before the Vets just before lunch for his condition score and made out a little better than expected. With a range of 1-40 with 20 being optimum he scored 16. The top score was 19.5. His only down fall was his weight. Feet and hair coat were great! From looking at the other scores he was in the middle. Just think had he not gotten sick. He was perfect for what they were looking for.
The Trainer's meeting was very informative with a couple guest speakers, first was Cody Christian, a motivational speaker suffering from cancer. His word really gave a lift to the crowd. The second speaker was none other than the 2007 Road to the Horse winner, yes, Chris Cox. This was another great surprise. The meeting finished up with a brief description of the 2 courses laying ahead by the judges . Their emphasis to us at the time was they understood what we were dealing with and for us not to get to caught up in the small stuff. (Boy, was that an overstatement). Back for 1 last practice that evening and then Saturday...
The in hand portion began at 8:00AM on Saturday with me drawing 33rd. I watched several trainers and horses go through and was impressed with the control shown. This really gave me the jitters so I dismissed myself back to Doc's stall. Our time came around about 9:30 and I'm sure he felt my trembles in his lead.
The course led off crossing 6 poles, forward thought an L formation stopping at the end and backing back through the L not touching any pole. A right 270 degree turn, stop, and lead off at a trot for 30 feet, sudden stop at the cone. Drop the lead, pick up all 4 feet. Next a left turn and around and across 2 poles in a right angle from far to near going around a plant sitting in the apex. Then a white stock trailer, in, around, and out finishing with an in-hand trot around 5 cones starting from right to left in a W formation and out the gate. Folks, I had never been so proud of 1 horse as I was of Medicine Man. No hesitation at no time, a perfect back through the L. Yielded all 4 feet without moving and picked up the trot every time I asked. The only fault I knew of was he ticked the first pole starting off. Not enough to move it but I did hear it. Scores were posted at lunch with Doc finishing 15 of 91. A great showing for Doc. (The video should be posted this evening)
Next came under saddle. A bit more complex course so I tried to watch as others took on the task. This confused me some so back to the stall and wait until my turn. My draw was 39th. I hadn't paid much attention to the other scores but I should had. This was going to be my Waterloo. The course started out leading Doc in, then with a left lead lope around the right side of the arena, along the judges setting in chairs inside the arena and stopping at a cone on at the end. Left in place turn, lope off on right lead back by the judges, around the end, back up the other side, figure eight with a lead change and ending up at the far end from the start. Stop at the cone, or so I thought, turn left, trot into an 8x8 box for 2 right in place turns, 2 in place left turns, trot out, turn right through 3 panels set in a W formation and continue to a platform. Walk across and trot through 4 poles with the last making another L formation. Back back through the L without touching, roll right and exit the arena. Well, I again was quite proud of the little man. He did break stride when we passed the judges but picked back up immediately and had a little rough stop at the cone passing it slightly. My fault, not his, I wasn't ready for the cone. His turn was good and he loped off and completed the figure 8 with a lead change. I over reined him in the box causing him to back out of the box slightly half way through, again my fault. After that we had 0 errors completing the course not touching any pole. A good trot through the W Panels, No hesitation on the platform, perfect back thru the L and off we went. My score? A big fat 0. Don't know why I was disqualified but am in search of the answer. When they posted the judges scores the crowd was such as I was going back an look into it. Later they had already taken down the scores. I hope to get the answer after the staff gets back in the office later this week.
All in all the course was good but over 50% of the trainers were disqualified from each event. In conversation with the staff I feel this will be rectified for next year with a better understanding of course requirements. More to come of the Finals and Auction!

Is Ft. Worth Ready for Medicine Man?

Trotting through the cones

Backing through the "L"

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Are we ready yet?

As we work daily to prepare for Ft Worth we're having those last days jitters. Medicine Man has been a champ as each morning and evening are filled with the same old practice, practice, practice. His strength has returned from the sickness but his energy level is somewhat down. I've switched to XTN by Nutrena to bring his weight back up and also have him on an iron supplement daily. This has made a noticeable difference in his weight just in 10 days. Monday I started adding electrolytes to his feed and water to insure hydration for the upcoming trip and new environment. His feet are doing well with just a slight tenderness on driveway rocks but on smooth ground, grass or the arena there's no problem. Roll-backs and spins were going to be the hole card for event but his energy just won't make it happen. His stops are great, turns and backups are perfect for the trail. I guess we'll have to see what awaits us at Ft Worth. Our plans are to leave out on Tuesday, arrive Wednesday and practice Thursday and Friday. The show begins promptly at 8 on Saturday Morning. Will Keep you updated as the week progresses.
I did want to make mention also that several friends, driven by Helena had a send off last Saturday for Medicine Man and myself. This was a real hoe-down with over four hundred dollars raised to assist us in the trip. Thanks Helena and Dean, Vickie, George, Shorty, Diane and all my current and new friends.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Great News!

Got some spectacular news from the vet this morning. There is little, if any, rotation of the coffin bone in Medicine Man's feet. Vet prognosis- Get ready for Texas! That's right folks...Doc is headin' to Texas! He is, however, slightly anemic due to his bout last week. The vet said this should be temporary and the iron level will pick right back up again with simple mineral supplements. Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers!

Friday, September 7, 2007

The strength of the Mustang

The visit from Dr. Kirkman went well this morning. Doc's improvements are just phenomenal for this type of injury. His exam showed no issues or concerns. We did take radiographs of all four feet to 1, show any P3 movement, and 2, to give us a point of reference in the event of later problems. The results should be back by Saturday morning. His gate showed little tenderness unless we walked on the gravel. On request he trotted around the pasture by lead with no lameness. Vet recommendation...Resume training!
George dropped by this evening and placed pads on both front feet and filled the voids with a epoxy jell to help on the tenderness as he mends. This resulted in a noticeable difference as soon as he completed the job! Thanks George for you concern and help in bringing Doc back to 100%.
Again, I can't thank my friends and readers for their support and prayers enough as we "come out of the woods" with this illness.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The power of natural healing

Just a quick update from last weeks bout with cucklebur's in Medicine Man's feed. After the close attention from the Vet, myself, and many friends Medicine Man started showing improvement on Saturday. Helena's constant concern for Doc is really showing her true feeling about this young horse. His feet were still really sore but he moved around the pasture at will to eat and would follow the feed scoop for a meal. Sunday I moved him into a stall with 6" of sawdust that proved to be welcomed by Doc. George Terrell, a wonderful farrier in the area that works extensively with problem horses came by and put foam pads on his front feet. Another welcomed move. With these 2 steps Doc was showing improvement daily. His system seems to have purged all the toxins from the feed and now the feet are on the mend. I haven't made the call regarding Ft Worth. The vet is coming out Friday Morning for radiographs. This should give us an indication as to his recovery period. Today he is without pads and walked throughout the paddock with no noticeable pain and movement left, right, fwd and backward was on demand with no hesitation. What can we say but he's a MUSTANG. A born survivor!
I'll update the results after lunch on Friday.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The ""Medicine Man" seeking outside help?

There has been a lot of excitement in the past day but you'll have to wait as I bring us up to date.
The past week has been nothing but work for Doc and me as we worked morning and evening most days getting ready for the show. I know I said from the start that I had no intentions in buying back Doc but this is really going to be hard. I've never grown attached to a horse in such a short amount of time but this is really working on me. Though he hates to see me coming with a bridle in hand he now looks for the rub or a few soft words. Our entire this past week has been in the pasture or round pen working on those finer skills. He gives a new meaning to the word softness on the left and improving daily on the right. When I say soft I mean little finger wiggles for direction and very light lift for collection. His backing is a squeeze and small heel bumps for more speed. His gate changes from standing to trot is by shifting in the saddle and either a kiss or squeeze and you got it, Want more, another squeeze and you get that slow lope that almost backs up. Ok, maybe in someone Else's eyes they do't see it that way but from nothing to this with my limited skills, I'm tickled to death. As far as I can tell we've worked on everything they're expecting at Ft Worth plus a few. Doc is having a little trouble with straight backing, he wants to drift to the left after the 4th or 5th step. Anyone have any ideas? Most times a bit of barrel pressure on the left will fix it, maybe just time is the answer. I have noted some stiffness on the right, maybe me or his drive shaft is a little out of line. I don't know, maybe I need a chiropractor! Otherwise I'm, as well as others tickled to death. On Tuesday Helena's daughter, Casady rode Doc out the drive and around the farm bareback and only a halter, Folks this is a 10 year old cowgirl. Go girl! Ropin pen on Wednesday for more cows. Not roping off him but he is pulling logs, fwds and backwards with no problem. OK, now for the scare.
On Thursday afternoon I went out and found Doc lying down and somewhat kinda out of it. I've never been able to just walk up a rub on him with him down without a little coxing but this time was different. I got him up and he was just not himself. I was doing a little housekeeping around the barn so I'd just keep an eye on him. Well, within 30 min's his fever shot thru the roof, 105, respiratory system was just way out of wack and heart rate over 80 BPM, and legs locked up. Whats going on is by me so its time for Dr. Kirkman, a local large animal vet. I also called Helena as she works with lots of sick/rehab horses through recovery. Helena arrives first, muscle relaxer to help him and no change. He's got gastric noises so I'm kinda ruling out the C word. After an exam from the vet the thoughts turned towards toxic poising. But what can it be. He's been in a dry lot the past few days due the the drought and no grass, only feed and hay. We did change feed brands on Tuesday . Chapin did find a few Cockleburs in the feed but I didn't make the connection until later with a conversation from the vet. He spoke of 8 cows dying last week after eating hay with cockleburs in it. Well, on to the computer and what did I find but they are very toxic to horses, cows, and pigs. This feed was really loaded with 'em. In one scoop I found over 15 pods. This was shared with the vet this morning so a toxic search is underway. His improvement this morning was a noticeable change but still very tender on his feet. His appetite was back but that high temp really is giving him founder signs. This afternoon his fever had dropped to 101 and heart rate just above normal. Appetite good and a little better on his feet. He did follow the feed scoop to his stall but with instability in his feet. I will give a report through the weekend to keep those interested posted. If you might have any information that might be beneficial please email.

Monday, August 20, 2007

On The Road Again

Its better than a week since the last update so lets give it a loop! The weather here has been super hot...More days over 100 than under with nighttime only dippin' down to the middle 70's. That has really put a damper on ridin' horses.
Last Saturday we got in another mustang yearling to work with for my niece so that did occupy a couple of days in gentlin' down so we could get our hands on him. This took the most part of Sunday to halter him without a lot of stress on me and him considering the heat. By Wednesday we had made great strides and sent him back home for her to continue to the project. When he left you could walk up and halter with little effort, lead from both sides off the shoulder, pick up his feet, and brush him down. He really was shy with new folks but that will change with time.
Medicine Man had a few days off during this but we did get in a couple of late night(after dark) rides in before the big trip to Mt Rogers, VA. We left out on Friday morning, Chapin and Emily both on their QTR horses, Jeff M. on his mule, Cody on a App/Draft cross and me on the Mustang. A lot of talk going up on who had the mountain horse but time was sure to tell. All traveled well (3 hrs) and we took the first ride early afternoon. We arrived at Rocky Hollow Horse Camp in Troutdale, VA after lunch. The weather was low 80's, starting elevation was 3500 ft. We started out on our first ride around 2 with a goal of a 4-5 hr ride. Medicine Man wasn't really interested in setting the pace up the mountain but held his on in the steep climb up to 4500 ft. We've got to remember all horses on this trip were without shoes and boy, was it rocky. I will say he and the molly were the only 2 that really didn't sweat much in the climb. Our only excitement was a golf cart the camp owner, Wade used to get around in. It had the wind/rain covers on and they really drew Doc's attention. After a couple of minutes of investigation this was old hat. The ride was uneventful other than Cody loosing his GPS and the group having to split up to find it. (They did find it). This trip up and back, 7.5 miles. We high lined the horses that night after a good feeding and made plans for day 2.
Day 2 started for Emily and I around 11:30. (Emily had obligations at school, Her college is only 40 minutess away). The others left out about 10:00 with plans to meet at 2 at the top by the scales. Both quarter horses had on Easy boots for this trip. Emily and I made it on time and met a lot of good folks. One group of 5 was up from the Piedmont Saddle Club out of Greensboro, NC. Nice people with lots of trail ridin' experience. This is kinda a meeting place as its a large grass area of several hundred acres on top of the mountain where in the old days farmers would drive there cattle up in the spring for the good grass. Scales were brought up and the buyers would purchase the cattle right off the mountain. There are also a band of wild ponies here and we did get a chance to see a mare/foal before we left out. This was a short trip up in distance, 3 miles but took 2 hours because of the terrain and hard climb. Medicine Man was showing some tenderness by now so we just relaxed and enjoyed the view. 2 hours later the others arrived with plans to ride on to Grayson Highlands, another 2 hrs and we passed and started back down around 5. Another different route down and this brought us through a large area of Blue Berries. Time to stock up for dressing on our morning pancakes. Pick for an hour and on we went arriving back to camp around 8 with some really tired horses and sore feet on 1 mustang. His feet showed very little wear, no chips just tenderness on the small rocks. I guess the time in captivity gave his feet time to soften up. Our riding here in central NC is mostly grass/dirt with little rocks except for creeks and washouts. The boots on Emily's horse really made the difference. I do have a pair for my Reba but forgot to bring them. Good feed, hay and rest til morning. The others didn't get in until after 10 and road down the entire mountain in the dark. Boy, I'm glad we made the decision to start back early. The stories they told of the trip down in the dark just makes your skin tingle. The only horse in good repair was Chapin's Scooter. (He had on boots).
After checking out the horses on Sunday morning we decided to pass on riding due to sore feet.
Load up, back down the mountain and home by 5:00.
This will most likely be Doc's last long ride til Ft Worth. Now, on to phase 3 of training. Refine those ques in early morning training before work. I'm really getting concerned after reading some of the blogs from other professional trainers. They've even requested cattle for part of their demo's. Well, if nothing else we will have the most trail savvy horse there anyway. Keep your fingers crossed in this last 30 days of training to round out this fine horse to become a strong competitor!
Headin' up the mountain

Chapin, Emily and I on top of the mountain

What a view!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Have you seen my horse?

The week after the Mustang Adoption has been a rest period for Medicine Man. When everyone else is kicking up another gear in their training we've kinda taken the week off. We worked on lots of lessons learned but all in short durations. We've practiced the lead without the lead alot as we move around the pasture, pen and yard. Doc's even adapting to others in the hook up and is really impressing alot of folks. We had our feet worked again and other than those hoofs being so #&$$#(*) tough every thing was a breeze. Doc uses this as an opportunity to be near us. Any time we're around he wants to have close contact always searching for a scratch or rub. With it being so hot he stands for a hose no matter what noise it makes. Before when the air rushed out or the water spattered he would jump around, now, no problem. We worked under saddle 3 days this past week with gait transition, flexing (both lateral and at the pole), and backing.
I always want a good pole flex before working on backing and I think we have it. His lightness in the bit requires only a lift of the reins with little bit pressure for a bend, let up and repeat and you'll get more bend, slight steady pressure and leg squeeze and we're backing up. Man, what a pleasure to train. We also are working on fore end cross over with toe pressure on the shoulder. Doc picked this up so fast he made me feel I was a good trainer. That's a hoot of a thought. It's just his quick learning ability. I guess to be a "Medicine Man" you have to have a good head on your shoulders......
We did have a bit of excitement on Thursday evening. Chapin and I set out on a longer trail ride with a few planned obstacles to accomplish. Both Doc and a nice gelding named Wizz belonging to Vickie G. needed some different terrain. Things went well along the first half with steep hills, gulley's, and water. I don't know how but we did find some water 3+ feet deep to work in and boy, did they enjoy that part. Later riding along the highway Doc and I heard a truck approach, his ears tracked it and just as it was abreast to us a trailer he was pulling hit a pothole and a new sound erupted. I always collect the outside rein on passing vehicles in case and this was a good case. His reaction was a little hop, I pulled up the right rein, one circle and we're back on track. Thought he startled, he regained his composure quickly and another lesson learned. Later on a bicycle approached and got a lot of attention but no reaction. (We work with bikes in the pastures).
A large portion of the ride was in close order woods with no trails. This really is no fun to ride in but does require a lot a left/right/forward/backup to get through some spots. Lots of vines, limbs, downed trees to walk over. Doc was a dream for this getting tangled up in vines a couple of times and patiently waiting while I worked us out of the fix. This can really create softness if the rider will remain calm and give slight leg and rein cues.
After 3 hrs of riding we stopped off at my dad's house and let the horses graze in the front yard as we sat on the porch and socialized. Doc was content with staying in the front but Wizz was determined to seek out the better grass in the back. On the second trip back Chapin went back to get him and no Wizz. There's a 10 acre hay field just behind the house with Johnson grass over 5' tall. We searched for Wizz til after 1:00AM with no luck. Chapin came back home and picked up a young filly Wizz has been staying with during his time here in hopes of her bringing him back or at least sounding off. My only thought was he had gotten tangled in the woods since he still had a saddle on. We stayed until all lights ran out and returned the following morning at daylight. No Wizz. Ok, now I'm worried. A few calls were made to include the owner and plans were being made for a mass search. He was somewhat limited to how far he could travel due to all the fences in the area. Doc and I had searched all nearby fields the night before with no results but a second look couldn't hurt. After checking out all known fields I started paying attention to Doc and his ears. He just wouldn't take his attention away from a certain area I thought was just woods. We moved along a field road and he brought me into a small hay field, 2-3 acres I never knew existed. I looked around the field and saw nothing and attempted to leave but his attention was still focused on the field. OK, off we went across and low and behold upon reaching the crown we looked down and there stands Wizz. Just eating, not a worry in the world. We were no more than 500 yards from my dads. What a joyous time. I only had a piece of hay string I carry balled up on my saddle to lead with so thought we'd give it a try. Doc had never led another so I was reluctant to give it a try but my cell phone wouldn't work and I was determined not to leave Wizz alone. (Chapin had removed his reins during grazing). So, attach the hay twine, give all the slack I could, (every bit of 5 ft) and off we went. Doc was bothered at first with the closeness of his travel mate but eventually moved right off like he'd been doing it for years. Back on high ground, and time to make phone calls to abort the search before it got under way. I can attest Chapin was one happy young man as he saw us ridding up. Vickie was on the way with Wizz's pasture mate so she came on and she and Chapin trail rode back home. A good training lesson for all, including me! I forgot to mention the night search aboard Doc, I have a light mounted on a hat used for night hunting and every time I turned it on it would cast a beam over his head to the ground. As I moved my head around the moving light really kept him on his toes. He never did adjust totally to the light. Back to the house and a big rest for us both.
Saturday and Sunday was extremely hot so training was limited to close order drill in short periods. A short ride today, more flexing and backing with direction change. I do need to work on direct and straight travel. We kinda roamed across the fields unless I really kept giving direction. Something to work on in the cool....

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Our training with Doc is still progressing with his last adventure being attendance at the Mustang Adoption in Archdale Friday and Saturday. Though he had already been exposed to the commotion of a ropin pen the crowd and attention he received this weekend was incredible.
On Friday morning we loaded up Reba, Medicine Man, and 4 panels in the trailer and off we went. With the help of a wonderful crew from BLM we had a front row display inside the arena for show and tell. Doc was a total dream through Friday with his patience exceptional as one after another came by to see and rub him. All in all, I bet 300+ folks exchanged touches with Doc. With his vast media coverage many people had already read of him and were excited to finally meet the "Medicine Man". This was another incredible training event for him to continue in our "quest for the gold" in Ft Worth. We left both horses overnight, (his first sleep over since coming to The Bar T) with no issues.
Saturday was again more of the same with news coverage from Fox News 14 doing a small part on him. The adoption went well with 72 of the 73 horses and donkeys finding homes when we left at 3:00. I do want to say, Paige, my niece that I've written about adopted 2 horses during this event and want to wish her the best with this new endeavor for her and her family.
We did uncover one small issue with Doc-after his tolerance level falls, he wants to pen those ears back and nip at people. Not a hard problem to fix, but none the less an issue. I guess after so many rubs on the nose I would also. He did adapt a new taste for carrots from a couple of young girls with little encouragement.
After loading up and returning, Doc was glad to be back and rested well the remainder of the evening. I still continue to be impressed with his attitude in stressful situations and hope this continues.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Friendly Reminder

Just wanted to leave a friendly reminder of the upcoming Wild Horse and Burro Adoption here in NC at the Triad Livestock Arena, 6296 Cedar Square Rd, Archdale, NC. Archdale is located just south of High Point. Preview is Friday, 1 to 5, Adoption Saturday 8-5. Live biding begins at 10:00 on Saturday. Medicine Man and I hope to see you there. For more information the BLM website is www.wildhorseandburro.blm.gov.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lets Go Ropin'

As promised last Tuesday we loaded up Doc and off to the roping pen we went. This was his first time tied in a trailer with another horse, Scooter, his sparring partner and Dolly, a 3 year old mule belonging to a good friend Jeff M. (We've worked together for the past few years training mules the horse way and it works). There were no travel issues and upon arrival at the pen Doc was the only horse ore mule that would back completely off a 22' stock trailer. All others had to turn around inside to offload. This in itself impressed a lot of folks. His interest really peaked as we moved around, several other horses, cows, people and excitement. We traveled with all animals saddled so as soon as we unloaded I decided to mount and control his excitement from above. To my expectations (his good behavior doesn't surprise anymore) he was a total pleasure in the crowd. We moved into the arena, loped around a few laps and parked just along the header side of the chute to help direct the steers as they were released. The first couple of turn-outs did gain Doc's attention but soon became old hat as we just sat and talked with other ropers. After 30 mins and a couple of different riders, Helena's (a friend I've spoken of earlier) older daughter Cody took this opportunity to ride him around and was really impressed by his softness. Cody spends her time in the summer giving riding lessons to young children. Helena decided she would put him in the box and score a few steers to check his reaction. Well, again he acted as if he'd done this before so off she goes running a couple down the pen. Doc handled this with a lot of interest, head down, ears back and tracked with little direction after the first couple of steers. I always thought his build and agility would make a ropin' horse, now we've discovered his mind also fits the mold! Our time was cut short due to a thunder storm but the mission was accomplished! Another successful adventure.....

Monday, July 16, 2007

New Riders?

I got back home Thursday evening after giving Medicine Man four days of R&R. I’d moved him in with a couple of other horses on Sunday and had hoped they would eventually set the pecking order. At first Doc wanted to be the boss and acted quite aggressive towards Scooter, a 13 yo horse Chapin uses for roping. Well, seems as if Doc just wouldn’t learn; he acquired a couple of battle bites during my absence. Seemed he’d get new ones each day so I just had to make the move. During the day he’s on pasture and night he’s up. Eventually he’d learn, but I don’t need the marks right now.

Emily and I took a trail ride on Friday evening and Chapin and I on Saturday morning. Doc is really adjusting well to the outside world having little or no issue with any obstacles found. Emily did ride him on Friday and was just thrilled with the comfort of his gates. Seems she’s been riding QH’s to long.

We had planned to take Doc to the roping pen on Saturday evening but time just ran away with us so we only took Scooter. I really missed an opportunity; there were only 6-7 other horses there and the commotion was at a minimum. (I will take him on Wednesday)

Sunday gave him another opportunity to expand his horizons; we visited another mustang owner at her place. Dean and Helena have a very nice horse complex with 7 or 8 horses. We trailered over; this was his first tied experience in a moving trailer and he was the perfect gentleman. Doc was very interested in his new surrounding with the noises, horses etc but remained calm. We each took turns riding him in the ring through his gates with no issues. His response to new riders, first Cody and then Helena, was very impressive. There were no issues except when Helena could not reach the stirrups and used her feet to hold on with by his flank. Not a drastic reaction but he did do a little crow hop with the new feel. This prompted a different saddle, one with a flank and breast strap and saddle bags. All new things. Not knowing what to expect, we lunged him a couple of laps with no reaction so back on with Helena and she carried him through his paces, walk, trot, and lope. His direction change and stops are very impressive with little bit pressure. His on board backing was worked on for the first time with good results. I think everyone was impressed with him and his ability to adjust to the new surroundings. With things going so well, along came Eileen, Helena’s sister-in-law visiting from Ireland. Not being the horse person Doc has been accustomed to, I was a bit concerned but he was quite the trainer as he carried her around the pen several times with no issues. His last rider for the day was Cassie, Helena’s 8 year old daughter, who is really a good rider. No stirrups, just a good leg grip and off she went from walk to trot. With her leg squeeze not being that of an adult, she had to result to a little rein tap to get movement with Doc just moving right along. I think Doc has a new found friend with Cassie. (Pictures on the way) That finished up the evening for him so back home for feed and rest.

Another reminder for “Meet Medicine Man” . The event will be this Sunday, the 22nd from 2-6 at our place. The address is 730 Pete Thomas Rd, Pittsboro, NC 27312. Phone # is 919-542-4613. Were located 10 miles north of Pittsboro off hwy 87. Email for directions!

Monday, July 9, 2007

We're Mobile Now

Sunday afternoon here in NC was verrrrrry HOT! Late that evening Medicine Man and I had planned on another trail ride, but the weather was just not in support of the idea. We instead just saddled up ( for some reason he was a little shy today with the saddle so we spent some time working that out on both sides) and practiced a lot of lateral bending around trees, stumps, rocks or anything that could create a tight turn in improve his bending. This is not to say he's not being the perfect companion, but instead his turns, bends and flexing are coming with just the slightest bit of bit pressure and leg squeeze. Vertical flexing at the pole is slow but coming along. Seems he's gotten so responsive he just wants to back up. That surely isn't something to complain about now is it? After about 20 minutes of this, I’ve wanted to work on trailer loading, so we moved on to new challenges. Our practice trailer is a 14' stock tag along with about a 14" step-up. This is the same trailer we hauled him back from SC on day 1, so he has some familiarization with it. Well, you wouldn't think that when he saw it. A new beast, again! I wonder how there mama explains all the things they need to be afraid of because he has no short list. It took 5 minutes of walking around, left and right, back and forth for him to stop and relax within 1-2 feet of the back door. This time it was all under saddle with rider, so at least I didn't have to move as much. As we stood by the door, a storm came up. I took the opportunity to step inside to stay dry and lo' and behold, who in pops his head?! No encouragement just surprise! After a quick shower I backed him away and walked back up, back and forth to just when I thought he might lock down and repeat the step. On the third attempt to step up, he made the effort, not in but at least bumped his leg on the step-up. This didn't startle him but instead he tested the step-up for the height. One leg up and I backed him back up. Return, 2 up and rest. Back up and move forward and 1-2-3-4 feet all in the trailer. He made no attempt to back out on his own, ( I would have let him if he tried) so we just rested inside for a while before repeating the process 5-6 more times. I do want to say the first couple of attempts I used a long dead stick to tap him on the hip for forward movement, but was able to drop it after the 2nd trip in. Again guys! What a HORSE!
I'll be out of town until the weekend, so Chapin and Emily will continue to work on lessons learned and give "Doc" a little more time with other folks. This weekend, we plan to take him to a roping pen (not to rope) to expose him to more folks, horses, cows, noise and the like. We'll see how that goes!

"Let me see what this trailer is all about..."

"I don't see any Mountain Lions..."

"Hellllooooooooooo out there!"

Friday, July 6, 2007


Many inquiries have come our way with folks wanting to meet "Medicine Man" so we have finally set the date. We would like to invite any and all horse enthusiasts to our 'Meet "Medicine Man" day' on the 22nd of July here at the BarT. Time is from 2:00 to 6:00. We set this date 1 week prior to the BLM Mustang Adoption in Archdale in hopes of creating more interest in the Adoption. So, if you'd like to meet the horse that is quite the celebrity or "Reba" my 4 yo last year adoption come on out! Email us for directions @ TheBarTranch@gmail.com

Ridin', Rollin', 'n' Swimmin'

As we finished up week 4, many things have happened. After the day of bonding last Sunday it seems as if Doc and I have become a team. Late Sunday evening my 15 year old niece, Paige, was down from VA for a little horse time. She actually climbed on Doc bareback (Her first time ever on a horse bareback). This went well resulting in another Doc admirer.

In the pasture, lot, or stall he’ll attach himself to me as I approach him. He gives me a welcome as I come around each morning or evening. He’s still sharing a lot with Misty, a 2yo here for training. Monday we had our feet cleaned and rasped, both front and back, not that they were in bad shape, but he needed it for training. This was also his first tying experience. It went well; itgave him no choice as I moved from left to right and around his hind quarters. We only had a couple of pull-backs that resolved themselves in a matter of minutes. Lunging is still progressing with his circles being constrained from an 8’ circle to the entire round pen. His turns are getting some fire in ‘em with a few actual roll-backs thrown in He still gets confused sometimes on the turn verses stops but he’s picking it up.

Tuesday was light with a ride around the pasture, then I walked him up to the highway for a little car reaction. I guess the 1700 miles along the interstate mellowed him to traffic. His first truck resulted in raising his head up, ears forward, ½ circle, but that was it. He gave #2 only slight attention, #3 he never lifted his head up from eating grass. (We were within 20’ of the highway itself) Then it was time to go back down for a bath and feed.

Wednesday, the 4th, gave Doc a day of rest. His only excitement was the fireworks and motorcycles that afternoon and evening. His lot is right beside one of the trails we ride dirt bikes on, so he really became accustomed to the noise, dust and activity. The bottle rockets that night really had his attention up; I think he would had rather missed that part.

Friday morning came with a breeze and cooler temperatures. A day for new adventures! Yes, Doc and I couldn’t wait for the weekend for the trail ride, so our plans moved up. We started with a little ground work with the bridle in the pen. Flexing, lunging, patience, and respect. I tried a new bit today, a full cheek snaffle for a little better response with less strength. This worked well during flexing so I think this is what I’ll stay with from now on. I hope to never move to a shanked bit, curb or snaffle. I like the soft touch with easy responses up front. We moved out into the back pasture with a few obstacles, dirt jumps for the motorcycles, creek banks, and real open areas. He was wonderful, lots of interest in the new territory. I had asked Emily to come along for moral support, both for me and Doc. She finally arrived around 9 so off we went. Through the woods, under the hanging tree, and up on the dog highway. Every new sight resulted in a 10-20 second pause for him to check things out. Even with Scarlett, Emily’s Quarter Horse mare, leading he wanted to assure himself nothing bites! On several occasions, Doc would take the lead for his own support. A blue tarp over a car (a blue horse eater) was his strongest hurdle. A few circles around it, advance, retreat, stop and smell and we’re through it. Next, let’s walk along the highway. The lines on the highway were the same as cracks on concrete to kids (Step on a crack, break your mama’s back). He surely didn’t want to step on any of the painted lines. Our next obstacle was a small water hazard, mud and a little water but still a hole to China to him. After 45 seconds and we were through that. A dry creek bed crossing with lots of rocks resulted with no stopping, just a sniff as he worked his way through it without jumping. On through the trails and into an open field. This was the humor of the day. I had held up for Emily to move to the far edge of the field so we could get a couple of pictures with him loping. Well, what do ya know. This freshly plowed field was too tempting for him. Sniff the ground, down on his knees and for a good roll with me on him…The picture below shows the second time). This young man went down with both my feet flat on the ground before I knew what had happened. The only thing that kept him from going over were my legs stopping him! What a hoot! We let himdo it again for the camera and sure enough, he obliged…What a clown! He easily stood back up with a slight up on the reins. No fuss. On to more adventures. A couple of hills, another highway, up and down banks and thru a corn field. Our next obstacle was a camo elephant, a deer stand mounted on a trailer, was a frightful sight. Within a few minutes, we had decided it did not eat flesh. Next, a creek and cool water. Another opportunity to lie down, this time I was prepared but the camera was not. (Batteries gone) Of course he gave me all the signs before but I wanted to go the distance. Down we went, again my legs held us upright and I brought him right back up. It’s really neat today but that’s something we must work out. No laying down with riders…Back around the field, and a long straight stretch for a run. We went from squeeze, cluck and then a trot, squeeze again and a lope. Every thing was going well until he heard Emily coming up on Scarlett and the male ego kicked in and he was determined not to be passed. We kept things in control for the next 300 yards, and by using the one rein we came back down to a walk. Back to the highway, and we trotted along the remainder of the time to home. Total ride: 1 ½ hours. Experience for him: immeasurable. Enjoyment for me? The same!
Folks, what a pleasure of a horse.

Reminder: NBC 17, The TV station that came out last Thursday, will air their segment on “Medicine Man” tonight at 7:00 PM. It will be available on the website, NCB17.com afterward under ‘Your Pet’ section. Also, don’t forget the BLM Adoption in Archdale, (by High Point) on 27-29 July. Preview on the 27th, Adoption on the 28th and late adoptions on the 29th. We still plan to attend pending approval of BLM.

Also, Meet Medicine Man Day is planned for July 22 from 2 until 6. If you’d like to attend (and we encourage you to!) please email us for directions at thebartranch@gmail.com. Come out to meet such a great animal!
The "Hanging Tree"
"Please don't eat me, please don't eat me..."
"Oh, if I could just roll around for a bit
in this newly-plowed dirt..."

Medicine Man pawing pre-roll attempt...

This big scary "elephant" isn't so scary...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Mellow Man

I just had to get on today and share this mornings experience. I went into Medicine Man's stall and wanted to bring him out and about without the lead. I gave him a couple of minutes to hook on and lo' and behold out we went, no contact, no lead. Around the round pen and into the pasture with just his desire to stay by me. Man, was I proud. When I would stand around a few minutes he might eat grass or loose attention but all I had to do to regain the attachment was move back along his side, step to his rear and again we were 1. Chapin came over with a hand full of cherries so we offered him one. No way, nothing he'd ever tasted or wanted. I actually put one in his mouth and he chewed and spit it out. Not a taste for today. I also wanted to try out bridling. We went back to the on again, off again with the halter 10-15 times along the way really giving his face a rub each time. Then the bridle, right arm through the ears lifting as I offered the bit. He never bolted but he just didn't want anything in his mouth. So, lets slow down, put things in smaller steps. First, the bridle up across the ears with the bit below his chin. No problem, next a finger in the side of his mouth, He really had a tight lip for this but did give in with a little coxing. After maybe 5 minutes of this he finally did open up and accept the bit. I use a copper snaffle for the saliva effect.. I think it causes them to relax a bit. I repeated this several times and just let him stand by me as he adjusted to the new dental fixtures. I pulled up a chair and sat in front of him to build on our connection. Below, the pictures should tell the story of our results. (Disreguard my inapproiate dress; it's kinda hot here) Right now, I'm on the Internet looking for some growing pills for horses. If this young man was 16 hands I can assure you he would not leave the Bar T. I do have 1 question to ask the readers. I've had my view point on aging via teeth. His 7 year tooth is about 3/8 on an inch long. The BLM had him aged at 4. Please respond if you have any input on this. I'm kinda thinking he's 6 or 7.

Medicine Man following me around...

Medicine Man donning a bridle for the first time

He's starting to take to me...

Saturday, June 30, 2007

3 Weeks Down

Well guys, the excitement just keeps coming with the interest in Medicine Man. On Wednesday afternoon we recaped on all lessons learned. I took the opportunity to work on his feet a little, more to clean out and clean up than anything else. If I molded the perfect foot, it would look like "Doc's." Strong outer wall, healthy frog, no soft spots, odors, or shallow heal. I plan to continue to operate "Doc" as the Shoeless Joe Jackson." This little man has it together. Being of sound mind and weak pockets, I do all my own hoof care unless I get into something I just don't understand. I have a super farrier friend, George, who has always provided me with great advice and suggestions when needed.
Thursday morning we were scheduled for a visit from Kim G. from NBC 17. Earlier, I took "Doc" for the first time out of the pasture and away from the barn. The pass from the pasture gate to the outside world again was a challenge for his comfort zone. To pass through the 4' gate into the drive took 5 minutes of forward and backward movement, smelling, looking and listening. We made it and the trip and I took him around the motorcycle trail for an adventure. From vehicles, trailers, 2 creeks, a pond, a pond dam, a sawmill, the house, the shop, plastic barrels, and other noises beyond his sight made "Doc" a nervous wreck. This trip took about an hour- total distance traveled, 4/10 mile. Then I took him back into the pasture for aquick spray off, some bug spray and then we waited. The TV crew arrived at 10:00 AM and "Doc" had regained his bravery. We ran him through his paces and wanted to share a new experience for the media. How about a blue tarp...I had planned on this taking 5-10 minutess but "Doc" had a different idea. His first step onto it caused him to walk on air! So, we advanced and retreated with a little help from the lunge whip (only very light taps behind the back to encourage forward movement). At one time he was challenged with the option of running over me or step on the mat, well this young man made himself thin as a rope and missed us both. I think the NBC news crew had a yee-haw at that . 1 foot on, then 2, then 3 and 4. Now let's rest. Back off, on, off, on and now no problem. We'll do this several more times over the next couple of days to assure him that tarps don't bite! We finished up under saddle, walking, trotting and loping in both directions. He's beginning to understand the left and right squeeze for direction, he continues to improve in lateral flexion, bending at the pole, with all this is still in a rope halter and lead rope. W'ell save the surprise for the telecast to be aired next Friday, July 6 on NBC 17 at 7 p.m. in their "Your Pet" segment. The video will also be available on their website. We completed the day with another bath and fly spray and turned the old man out to pasture.
Friday was met with another visitor, Helena M., another mustang enthusiast here in Chatham County. She was here for "Doc's" first day and wanted to check on his progress. Our training for the day was again just a recap on lessons learned finishing with a ride by Helena. I think she was impressed with his progress. As with all other days, he had another bath and then I turned him out to pasture.
Saturday, out of the pasture for a Medicine Man pictures, a visit from Carolina, the reporter from the N&O and her mom and rest. Not a bad 3rd week! Remember, week 4...A trail ride.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Amazing 3rd Week

Let’s try to catch up from last Friday. On Saturday, day 14, Medicine Man continued to amaze the masses. After his performance for the reporter, quite impressive I might say, we wanted to improve on his leading off the shoulder. I like for my horses to stay parallel on my left or right shoulder, about 1-2 feet away during movement. On start, stop, left and right turn, and backing, I want him to stay glued there. Starting with me on his left side and a little help from a lunge whip and the fence, “Doc” picked up the idea within 5 minutes. I only had to lay the tip of the lunge whip on his hip to get forward movement with a little clucking and a slight tug. He only showed slight concern of the lung whip moving around behind my back but it was enough to encourage forward movement. I wanted to accomplish good lead control before he was introduced to the “world beyond." After 15 minutes on each side, it was time. So, I opened the gate and “ let him go." Well, ok, a bit more controlled; it did take a few minutes of coaxing for him to realize there were no beasts beyond the confines of the ring, but the sight of green grass was too much! Five steps out and hmmmmmm, what a taste! I figured he has not tasted anything green since his capture, almost a year ago, and boy was this paradise! A walk around the fence line (I have all high tensile electric) so he saw his boundaries, and then turn him loose. I promise, if he moved out of a 50’ square box the entire afternoon I never saw it. No attention to his newly aquainted friends other than just the occasional glance, his mind was all GREEN. Throughout the remainder of the day, we would on occasionally just walk up to him, pick up his lead, move him a few steps and release him. The goal is to assure him that anyone can walk up to him without fear. Later that evening I returned him to his pen, a little sweet feed and good night. I did forget to mention he was given a friend to share his pen with, a 2 yo QH mare named Misty that Chapin is training. It took them a while to set the pecking order but “Doc” maintained his position and they continue to get along well.
Sunday was met with blazing temperatures, 95 and humid. Early morning we continued to work on leading and back out to the pasture. I did saddle him and did some work on turns and forward movement. I need to continue to focus on him giving to pressure along his sides to get a more responsive movement with signals from a rider, but I’m very satisfied with his efforts. Later in the evening, with the weather so hot, we figured a bath was in store. I brought him up to the barn and started with the water running on the ground from the hose. He was very weary of the sound more than the water, but did eventually investigate and drink from the water as it ran on the ground. With that I picked up the hose and created a spray with just my thumb and just sprayed all in front and sides being careful not to let the water hit “Doc”. After a few circles, me advancing and retreating he let me move the spray to his front feet. Still being somewhat thirsty from no water all afternoon, I decided to offer the water, still at a light spray about 2 feet in front of his face. Again, I’m very careful not to hit him with the water. Slowly, he advanced to the spray and begin to drink, when this started I knew this task was going to turn into a bath party. Within 5 minutes, he had the hose in his mouth, water spraying everywhere, including all over me, but was he ever enjoying this adventure! Over the next 15-20 minutes, we had washed his entire body, head to tail, under and over with “Doc” just wanting to play with the stream...Well, before the creek ran dry, we called it a day returned him to his pen with Misty. Another successful day!

Monday brought another blistering day and a reporter from the News and Observer, a popular paper from the Raleigh area. During the interview Medicine Man stood by Carolina, the reporter, with no lead and a most satisfied expression on his face. I think he is beginning to understand that all this attention is directed towards him. As Harry, the photographer, moved around inside the pen we lunged, led, backed, mounted bareback, and then with saddle...all the while “Doc” was a complete gentleman. We finished up the session with a “Doc” working on his balance with me on his back during movement. Seems he’s not quite use to the additional 185 lbs, but he’s making great strides daily. Today, Tuesday the 26th, he has a break due to a busy week. Wednesday the 27th we'll go to the shoe store for a trim. Stay tuned!
My plans for the remainder of the week are more introductions to the outside world for the first trail ride planned for week 4.

This water business might be pretty cool...

Mmmm, tasty!

Wilber, So how about a drink!

Friday, June 22, 2007

As week 2 comes to an end

It's been 5 days since the last update so bear with me as I bring you up to speed. After Father's Day, the weather here has been very hot and humid. Our best training time has been late evening prior to dark. Each evening this week we recapped an all lessons learned- 2 eyes, easy catch, leading, more desensitizing and giving to pressure along his shoulder, barrel and hip on both sides. I'm looking for yielding with just the slightest bit of touch. He now stands for several items including ropes, blankets, fishing poles, etc. with just the slightest bit of interest. Left and right yielding have also been a focus to soften that huge neck. Backing has become natural as well, with the slightest bit of pressure on the lead or hand signal. He very seldom freezes during leading and if so just a bit of direction change gets him moving again. Emily spent some time one evening on his face and this has really made a difference with haltering and brushing. Lunging is improving; he gives to the side pressure of the line and he's really keeping his head set toward the inside for direction. His left side is still better than the right on turns, but progress is being made each day.
Today, Friday, 22 Jun, we had a visit from the local newspaper, The Chatham News, for a possible story; the opportunity for something special moved itself up 1 day. Saddle time. I started with the blanket, (old hat) then moved to the surcingle (sorry 'bout the spelling) . Man, what a waste of time. He gave it no more attention than the falling sky. Next, the saddle. I started with a light child's saddle just putting on a removing it from both sides. I did it maybe 10 times without a cinch, just lots of flopping straps, sturrps, and latigos. Next came the real McCoy! He gave it little attention, even during the cinching up "til...I asked for him to lunge. I expected a bit of action so I kept a good hand on the rope and gave him his room. "My response was to try and jump right out from under this saddle; that didn't work so I'll try to out run those flapping sturrps, and they just moved as fast as me...hmmmm, what next? This binding thing around my waist, it just wouldn't loosen up...What do I do? I'll just try to stand still. Well what do 'ya know, it all went away." After 3-4 trips around the ring with a little pressure on the lunge line, Doc settled down and never gave it another thought...We changed direction with no problem. I guess all this prep work really pays off. I wanted to finish with a little weight in the saddle so I stepped up and down several times, both sides then mounted Medicine Man. Folks, this is the HORSE. No problem, I made sure he saw me from both eyes by flexing and he just stood as if he'd been doing if all his life. Guys, I just wish he was a bigger horse. I think he's going to be "train track proof." Tomorrow and Sunday I plan on ridding around the ring and then out into one of the smaller pastures. It's time he saw some more of Chatham County.

Medicine Man donning the surcingle

Cinching up for the first time...with little response...

Finally, a reaction! Even if short-lived...

Prepping for boarding...

Thatta Boy!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

And the fun just keeps on coming!

Day 8

With Father's Day on the horizion, and not knowing that the "Medicine Man" was a father or not, I kinda gave him the benefit of the doubt and decided for a light day. We just spent some relaxed time this evening just chilling. I did hang up some objects around his stall and placed a few play toys in the pen for him. Seems as if nothing scares him on his terms. He's pulled every rag, lunge line, lunge whip, rope and anything else he can get his mouth on. I did witness where all his water has been going. Seems he likes to play with and then pick up his water container and slosh it around 'til its empty. Maybe he just don't like the dogs drinking with him. I guess that's about it for now. Tomorrow? Lets just wait and see!

Day 7

Saturday was filled with a lot of opportunities to spend 5-10 minutes at a time with "Doc". I started off early morning 'r0und 7 working on the face. I found his sweet spot! Inside each ear, that's right, inside the edge and along the flap on each ear. He'll 'bout push you over bringing his head into you so you'll rub harder. Next session, around 10, I worked his right side and both feet. I was on and off his back laying, lunging, and leading him. I began another session at 1 with a fellow horse person, Molly B. She came by to see "Doc;" I had made the promise that Saturday would be the day to ride. With the horse flies in good full combat gear, we needed to give "Doc" a little relief. I first started with the spray bottle full of water and begain to mist the air. He really was into the mist and made several attemps to move just beyond the coverage. Within 5 minutes, I had covered both sided to include his rump and back legs. The next 5 minutes were with the real thing and, poof! no flies. I gave him a few minutes to dry off and on to our next adventure. Well, I had to make good on my word so "Doc's" first ride happened about 1:15 on day 7. You would have thought someone had drugged him; his response was so indiffrent I had to continually look at the brand to be sure I was on the same horse! Man, did we get lucky with this Mustang. Last session for the day was around 7 pm with more recap, flexing on both sides, and leading.

And he looks so relaxed!

5,000 miles and still treading...

Friday, June 15, 2007

More success/less time

Day 6
Wow, today was really great here in NC. This morning it was 65 and cloudy. A perfect day for horse training. I had just planned on recapping all lessons learned prior, but "Medicine Man" was really into the learning phase....I started with more focus on his right side and was able to advance and retreat across the pen with little and then no resistance. Things were going so well I just felt like a challenge. Within 5 minutes I had my entire weight on his back, neck, and hips. Off and on 15 times each side as long as I wished...No flies to bother him really makes the difference. My next goal was to complete the leading process so I passed this on to my son who really wants to have a hand in this project. By starting in small circles, getting both front and rear crossovers, really good training for future moves. Within 15-20 minutes, Chapin had him moving 7 or 8 steps forward, 30 minutes completely across a 55' round pen. We finished up with 5 minutes of lunge line work, walk, trot, and canter both directions. This has really come natural to Doc. Great success leads to an early rest for Doc, so halter off, early feed and hay and we let him relax for the remainder of the day. As we moved around his pen the rest of the day he became quite interested in wanting some contact...always looking at us. That's my reason for keeping him away from other horses. His only live contacts are humans and 3 dogs. (Sarge, my German Shepard has really taken a shine to Doc and always wants to share in his feedtime, he also likes sweet feed).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rainy Day Progress...

Day 5
This evening was blessed with a 45 min downpour that really made my training pen damp. Kinda limited me to much lunging...The first approach to "Doc" was met with a bit of rejection. After a couple of min's he let me touch his left side. I put his halter back on and moved directly to the right side for more desensitizing. We worked with his front feet more and could control the time we held them with little resistance. More constant rubbing has really brought him around. I began to lay across his back with 10-20 lbs of my body weight with no problems. As things moved along I worked with a white cloth on a stick with little problems so the 'ole Walmart plastic bag was next! New story...Boy, was he shy of the noise (it really sounds like a rattlesnake when shaken quickly). This took the remainder of the time for the day so we called it a day afterwards. Total time, 2 hours. ( A local newspaper was here today for a story on Medicine Man).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Meet "Medicine Man"

OK guys, the time has come. I'm going to try to update you on the status of "Medicine Man," our Mustang Makeover project.

"Medicine Man"is named after his capture area in Maverick-Medicine, NV in July, 2006. Upon capture he was held in a containment area (large holding pens with little people contact) except for his trip to the Doctor for shots, guilding and a Coggins test. His feet were trimmed one time about 4 months ago in a squeeze chute. He was selected along with 99 other mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management National Wild Horse Burro Center at Palomino Valley, NV for the 'Extreme Mustang Makeover'. The EMM is a competition created by the Mustang Heritage Foundation and supported by the Bureau of Land Management to increase the interest in the wild mustang and its many uses.

Around the first of June he was shipped to Oklahoma City, OK where he was held for pick-up by a fellow trainer and transported to SC. We picked him up on Saturday after a 5 hr trip to Moncks Corner, SC. "Doc" as we'll call him for short, is a dark Bay with a star and snip on his face, two white spots on each rear hock wonderful black feet, huge hips and a working horse neck. He has good withers, a wide face and a small mustache just above his lip...The loading went well with him already separated from the other two mustangs earlier that day. Once being offered the open trailer he only challenged the entrance a couple of times before entering. (I hauled him in a 14' stock trailer back to Pittsboro.) During the trip back we stopped a couple of times to check on his status, finding him a bit on edge from the commotion along I-95. We arrived back home around 5:00 pm.

I was faced with a bit of a challenge after we got home because I wanted to remove his halter and lead rope. It is a requirement at any BLM agency to place a halter on all horses before being released to the new owner. (This is done in a confined chute where the horse has no moving room). After all the horror stories I've read, I just hate to leave a halter on a horse overnight. Deciding to take on this task while he was still in the trailer, I used a long wire to hook the lead rope, coax him towards the side and with little resistance from him I was able to settle him down and within a few minutes remove the halter. Was I surprised! This horse really has a mild disposition. We then released him in the training pen with an attached alley-way to a 12x24 covered shelter. Was he ever glad to get off the trailer. Head held high, stepping out with an attitude to take on the world! Seems as if water was his first priority with a roll in the arena afterwards. To me this is really a sign of a relaxed horse. With 6 people standing around the outside of the pen he still rolled...This was definitely a sign that he wasn't completely freaked out by our presence. We fed him some hay laced with sweet feed ( doesn't know that it is food...they don't have that in wild!) and left him alone for the remainder of the evening.

This trailer stuff is really getting old!

Day 2

The second day came with mostly just watching him adjust to his surroundings with the other horses within earshot. I know some folks like to give a new horse a buddy, but I kinda like to keep all his attention on humans for a time. He had a great deal of curiosity about my 3 dogs; they would share water without bother from either. After seeing how well he had adjusted, I decided to work with him later in the day. It was really hot during the day (92) so I waited until late evening. The first thing we did was round pen for approx 5-8 minutes. He has a wonderful gait, and gave me immediate attention in the middle. He showed his 2 sidedness quickly by only offering me his left side on turn arounds. Any turns to the left resulted in a quick outside turn. His attention to this lesson was wonderful. I was able to advance towards him during each rest period and able to close the distance to about 10 feet. As the evening approached I wanted to get my hands on him, so a lariat was the next step for a little control. His lack of shock when the rope went around his neck was a welcomed response. He responded with very little tension to square up to me as we progressed. In most cases, the rope was used to despook him by flipping it on his back, front and rear legs, hips etc to calm him down. All was going well and we were well on our way to voluntary contact and then it happened...It got dark! A lesson I learned with my first mustang is that they are a diffrent animal after the sun goes down. The predator vrs prey instinct comes out and everything is going to "eat them up." I really had to back down and give him his space. By 9:30 we have touched him several times by advancing and retreating with him standing unrestrained. I want to point at no time was he ever restrained. I only used the rope to keep him facing me. By 10:00 we had removed the numbered tag that identified him through BLM, removed the rope, and put on and off a halter several times, then put him to bed...I continued to notice that he was very one sided; he really protectes his right side. Probably came from the very limited human contact that was always on the left side. (Horses are really 2 sided, they have to be trained on each side to accept things) At no time would he offer his right side up to me. A challenge for another day.

Medicine Man taking it in on Day 2

Day 3
My son, Chapin, a 17 year old horse enthusiastic and part time trainer was going to catch "Medicine Man" with no aids. A halter and lead rope were his only tools. Repetition is the best training method I've found and after 10:00 pm on the night before we did not quite get all the bugs worked out. Chapin was able to put on the halter within 1 1/2 hours. That is surely a patient young man...We repeated this step 10-15 times to calm the storm and things went well. A thunder storm saved "Doc" from any further training for the day.

Day 4
My goal for today was to really work the right side equal to the left. This took quite a bit of advancing/retreating, rubbing, touching, and a lot of him backing. Emily, my 21 yo daughter, helped out quite a bit in this; we almost rubbed blisters on his right side with our hands, but in the end his right was just as soft as the left. Also, we have picked up both front feet on demand with little resistance from him. He will now stand as you approach, face you and only quivers when you first touch him after being left alone for a while. May not seem like much to us but to be four years old and have all this happen in the past week is really a cultural shock...Tomorrow: pick up his back feet, a full body massage, and leading!

5000 Miles and still tread!