Mustangs going South

Nicky called me yesterday. She is the Mississippi State highschool girls champion roper and had space to take a mustang home. It turns out that she is doing mustang training as a Senior Project for highschool. They wanted to come out and take a look so instead of going to Gobernador and fixing some fence as I had planned, I hung around and tried to fix the welding machine.

I was deciding that my screwdriver selection was not sufficient to get the carburetor apart without stripping screws when a truck went by. Hmmm. You recognize strangers just by the way they drive. They went on across the bridge to Ice Canyon. Hmmm…. but then suddenly they were back at that gate by the barn.

A family of four Mississippians emerged from the truck. I loved their accents. I showed them the two older geldings then said, but the horse I want to sell you is over there. They followed me to where Chaco was eating. Nicky immediately fell in love. Hey, he was a wild horse once. We let him finish eating, then led him up on the porch to get saddled.

I put that nasty Wade on him. It doesn’t fit him but it looks so good. He was cranky as a result. Mistake, but it reminded me of why to not put that saddle on that horse. He acted up a little bit and I was kind of embarrassed, but he didn’t buck or run out. Poor Chaco! But that didn’t keep Nicky from wanting him.

When it came time to talk price, I wanted Chaco to go with this Rodeo Queen. I have him advertised in the paper for $1000, but I told her I wanted $750. She immediately quit petting him and I could see her wanting for him retract. I asked what she could afford. She didn’t want to say. She had come looking to get a $125 mustang.

Then we looked at all the other equines. Cisco acted like a real idiot. He made the mustangs look so tame. I never let him just run off and get away with it. I had to follow him around until he finally gave up and let us catch him. I showed them how you could create a gate for him by just laying a rope on the ground.

They started debating whether to take Ocho or Trinity. Trinity has better confirmation, Ocho has a better attitude. Mom and Dad wouldn’t make a decision for Nicky and she wasn’t happy to have to decide. Then she asked me what is the lowest I would take for Chaco.

Well, I started asking questions. Who is paying for the horse: Nicky or parents. Nicky has to pay them back with the money she gets from working. She works for a company that does landscaping. I imagined that was not a nice job in Mississippi in the summer. I asked her what she gets paid: $6.75/hour. Hmm. That would be over a hundred hours to pay my original asking price. I thought fifty hours was okay, but I wanted more than $350, so I told her $400. She jumped at it.

The next hoop was getting a Coggins test done on him in time for the trip back to Mississippi. We went in the house and started calling veterinarians. Not possible to get it done before Monday. The USFS mustangs already had Coggins. She was going to check around at the rodeo and see if anyone had an alternative possibility.

This morning she called. They are taking both Ocho and Trinity. No need to decide between them. The family went down to the Farmington holding pens where Anthony and Dan were unloading the first captured band. They filled out the paperwork back at the USFS office and Anthony called me to give me clearance to release them. Ocho and Trinity are going to be southern mustangs. Yes’um.

Waiting….. and meanwhile

Dan Elkins is out there catching some new ponies for me to have fun with. With his Magic Mustang Mix, he baits them into a pen with a remotely closing gate. The current plan is that after they are caught they will be hauled to the Browning Ranch where they will get their freeze brands and gelding. Then I can take them home to Largo. I have to get my trailer in tip top shape. Some work to do on the pens as well so I can take up to five at a time. If you think I am not excited about the project, you are soooo wrong! Having to spend my mornings being a waitress at the cafe is really hard when I would like to be out in the cool of the morning getting things ready….. it won’t be long.

Meanwhile Ocho and Trinity might get trained to drive as a team. Might as well while I am waiting for someone to adopt them. I filmed Trinity learning to use the hoof stand, but I haven’t had the time to work through it and edit it down to 10 minutes. Let’s just say he starts out fearful of the mean green hoof-eating machine, but by the end he figures he might as well just keep his foot there and eat cookies.

Waiting for Adopters

These guys are so ready to be adopted. I gave them a bath the other day. The only thing I haven’t totally done is trim their hooves with the angle grinder. So today I started out with the prerequisites: keep a leg on the hoof jack and not mind the sound of the grinder. Hoof stands are strange concepts for the boys.

I used positive reinforcement. We started rewarding for just lifting hoof and standing relaxed while I held it. Then we rewarded for touching it to the hoof stand. Then we just started building duration on the hoof stand. When I could just stand next to the mustang and bridge him every couple of minutes while he rested with his hoof on the stand I counted the session as a success.

I only had time to work Telikos and Ocho today. Telikos was hard because he was so overly enthusiastic. He wanted to paw. It took a lot of time in the hot sun to get him to calm down and relax.

Both of these horses want to get up into my lap. I don’t know why but they want to be right on top of me. If I wasn’t training something that puts me so close to them I would train them to step away from me. I think it might be because I interact with all three of them at a time and they have to compete with each other to get close to me. We interact when I feed them or when I stop by to visit them during the day. I usually ask them to back up or something so I can give them a reward. Telikos and Ocho always are pushing to the front. Trinity is much more reserved. When it comes to being his turn to learn to stay of the hoofjack, I doubt that he will be in my lap.

In the Round Pen

I don’t like round penning equines except as a punitive consequence of them being disrespectful, but I needed to working on getting Ocho and Trinity to work on the lunge line without coming in to me. I’ve spent a lot of time teaching them to come up to me, so it’s a little bit inconsistent to suddenly be sending them away. Chasing a mustang is a pretty questionable thing to do in any case.

So I got help from the trained horses. Ocho worked with Chaco, and Trinity worked with Cisco. I had the trained horses (both older mustangs) doing roundpen turnbacks and whoas at the slowest calmest pace we could get (not too slow at first) and I rewarded both team members after each whoa/stop with a horse cookie. Pretty soon the young mustang was stopping quick and staying out on the rail where he belonged. Then, both times, the trained horse decided to join up with me. I couldn’t bear the thought of chasing them back out to the rail when they were just trying to be loyal creatures. Despite my best intentions, suddenly I would have a young mustang on one side of me and an older mustang on the other. We would be walking and trotting, stopping and turning as a trio…. all a lot more fun than what we set out to do. Made me feel kind of like Lorenzo, the flying Frenchman.

ps. feeding treats and roundpenning are totally conflicting activities. A horse cookie totally negates all benefits of roundpenning as a leadership discipline practice. Not a good mix when what you want is a punitive consequence.