Jasper looks pretty relaxed and happy with his trainer and new location

Jasper looking pretty relaxed and happy with his trainer and new location

Week 2 and here is Jasper being ridden by his trainer at the walk in the small indoor arena. This arena is great because it keeps Jasper focused. He looks a little stiff, but that’s to be expected. Things are progressing nicely!


Jasper greeting me at the gate

Jasper is settling in. And after barely sleeping and stressing and one trip to the chiro for a pinched nerve in my back, I’m ok now too!

When we went out to visit him, he was still pretty nervous. He was very glad to see me, though. I was planning to take him for a walk but I thought he was a little to spooky for me to handle so I kept him around his stall. There are already people feeding him cookies!!
At that point I thought it was going to take awhile for him to get comfortable. But the trainer worked with him all last week and by the time I went there on Friday to watch her work with him he had settled down considerably, I was amazed. She’s been turning him out every day and she told me that he tries to get any horse turned out in the paddock beside him to play with him. He was turned out when I arrived and sure enough, a horse was just being turned out beside him and he popped his head over to say hello to him. He’s made a friend with the trainers horse, she says they play all morning so she tries to turn them out beside each other.

Looking for a friend

He was pretty relaxed when I was grooming him and MUCH calmer than earlier in the week, thank goodness.The trainer had walked him around the facility quite a bit getting him used to everything and besides shying at some things he’s been pretty good. She’s been working with him in the round pen, then the small indoor arena, then moving up to the large circular outdoor arena, I had told her he gets difficult in a larger space. She said he was doing fine, I’ve done great groundwork with him, he definitely knows whoa, she was bridling him no problem.In the round pen

Well, on Friday he decided to be a bit of a pisser, of course when I was watching! It was good to see how the trainer handled it, though. He was doing great in the round pen and she moved him to the circular outdoor arena. He was doing fine up until someone decided to work a horse right beside the arena and I think it scared him or he just decided to take off, but he revved up his engines and I swear he did about 5 loops galloping around the arena, calling out to every horse in the

In the round pen

In the round pen

facility! Well, we knew he would run out of gas eventually, and he did, he stopped and faced the trainer and snorted as if to say, I am DONE now. And then, being Jasper, he was all kind of sorry looking about the whole incident. This was the first time he had taken off like this, the trainer says ‘wow, he seems kind of lazy at times when I work him, but he really goes when he wants to’ Yep, and THAT is why you’re riding him before me – lol. She worked him a little longer just to let him know if he does that, he still has to work, and he was fine even in the area that he spooked so it ended on a good note. But was he tired! I just kind of chuckled and said to him ‘bud, you’re in boot camp now!’

So he has already reached the point of testing the trainer – she knows it isn’t going to be a total cake walk. But I think she’ll do fine with him. She said when we were putting him away ‘you know, he’s very smart…almost TOO smart’. WOW, only said that a MILLION TIMES!

Right by the front so he will see everyone walking by…

I have been behind with Jasper news and it’s time for an update. And it’s a big one.

What a journey this has been so far! From not being able to get near Jasper to getting him to trust me to ground training him and actually finally getting on him! But the last while I had come to the conclusion that it was time for Jasper to go into full training. He’s finished preschool in a sense and it’s time to go to college. I wanted to leave the starting under saddle part to a professional.

So I went looking around for a trainer that would start my big guy. I had several issues to face. In the first place, not many trainers start horses – at least in my area. There are a lot of western trainers but I wanted to start Jasper english, which lead to my next problem. Not many english trainers start horses. The third problem is that most english trainers are not that into natural horsemanship. I finally found an english trainer who used nh techniques. And was closer to me! I was all set to move there, but changed my mind. This raises another issue. Trainers who compete a lot and/or don’t return your phone calls promptly! I’m busy just like everyone else but not getting back to someone for a week at a time raises a big flag. After this happened several times I decided not to go through with it.  How often is this person going to be working with my horse if they are away at clinics and shows and can’t even return a phone call?

I decided to go to another trainer, who is a little farther, but closer than where Jasper has been living for 2 years. The facility is huge and has about 70 horses, but this trainer currently has a fairly small clientele and I felt would give me a more personal approach to Jasper’s training. This is a critical point in Jasper’s training and I want to ensure it is done with care and with his well being in mind.

So it was with great sadness about leaving the ranch and also excitement/trepidation for the future that we made the big move.  Jasper was very sensible about the whole thing, I was so proud of him! In fact, I think I was more of a basket case than him. Even though he had not been in a trailer in 2 years he stepped right on in. It was about a half hour drive to the facility but it seemed to take forever as we followed the trailer. Every once in a while I could see Jasper’s head reflected in the windows and my stomach would kind of lurch. Is he freaking out? Is he going to burst through the back door? Well no, he was fine, but me, well, I thought I was going to puke!!

We finally arrived and he made it off the trailer fine, although he had sweated quite a bit. As soon as he stepped off he stood up in his giraffe stance and had a good look around. As I lead him to his new stall and paddock, he stayed close beside me but again, was perfectly fine. This place has a lot of quarter horses so I think people were naturally intrigued, ‘who is this big fella?’ (one in a million) ‘is he a friesian?’ (my cheapie friesian!) ‘what’s his breeding?’ (Heinz 57). He seemed to settle in pretty quick, went out to his paddock and immediately popped his head over the fence and watched all the goings ons. This is a pretty busy place so he will definitely get to see a lot of action. He had a good roll and looked pretty relaxed when we left him. He was bugging me for cookies so I felt that was good sign!

Moving is hard! Especially to another boarding facility – with new people and maybe a different way of running things than your previous place. You want to fit in but you also would like certain things for your horse. But if you ask for too much, you’re afraid of looking like the ‘problem boarder’. It’s still keeping me up at night.  Hoping I have made the right choice, wondering if he is ok, wondering if I’m going to be ok with this. I had to weigh the positives and the negatives in choosing to move – to this trainer, this facility – and remember that my goal is to get Jasper trained under saddle, and trained well.

I’ve just placed one toe into the pool. Baby steps.

The buckskins are soon to be set free., originally uploaded by cdnmich.

I met some interesting characters on my trip to New Mexico. One of these was Dan the Mountain Man. He is contracted by the Forest Service to round up the mustangs. I know – roundups – bleck. This is one of the few mustangs ranges managed by the Forest Service and not the BLM. Hard to believe on this vast range that 100 mustangs have to be rounded up this year. Unfortunately these roundups are not going to end anytime soon. The GOOD NEWS is, the Jicarillla mustangs are captured without helicopters. The technique is called ‘bait removal’. For more information about this technique,  this was news footage shot that was actually shot one week before I was. I wish it was still available because the way he does it is pretty darn incredible, and puts barely any stress on the horses. ( however the news article is.) These 3 buckskin mustangs had been caught using this technique but were being re-released because of their gorgeous coloring and conformation.
What a treat to get to witness mustangs being set free!
Dan the mountain man invited Lynne and myself along for the ride. We drove and drove…and drove along a winding dirt road, almost to the Colorado border. The only civilization we saw were the natural gas wells with assorted equipment and empty trucks. The workers had long since left for the weekend.
There were 2 stallions and a mare in the trailer. Dan wanted to release them separately so that the stallions would not fight over the mare.
The first one to go free was Lowball. (If you go to my Flickr page you will find out the reason why he was named that!
Dan fiddled with the trailer door, opened it up and out came this absolutely stunning horse. Off he went down the road, tail flying in the air. It was a sight to see.

Isn’t he a HUNK?!?

He trotted down the road for quite a bit and I snapped pictures. Then he stopped and turned around to look at us. Was he confused?

Or was he just saying goodbye?

Wow, what a fun trip! I learned so much, and the wild mustangs and scenery were spectacular! Lynne Pomeranz was a terrific host and went out of her way to make sure I had a great experience! I recommend it to any horse lovers or photographers out there! Stay tuned for Lynne posting her 2009 schedule!

Friday – The Placitas Mustangs
(You can see all of my photos from that morning here)

Our first morning, we visited the Placitas mustangs, near Corrales, New Mexico. This band is very close to homes and volunteers leave hay for them twice a day. They are still pretty wild, but more used to humans than ones I saw on the range.



This Thursday I will be going to New Mexico for 4 days to observe and photograph wild mustangs. It’s a workshop set up by a photographer based in New Mexico named Lynne Pomeranz, who has recently published a book of her beautiful photographs of the Pryor Mountain horses (Cloud’s herd) in Wyoming. The purpose of the workshop is twofold: the opportunity to take photographs, but also to provide an educational opportunity to learn about the behavior and social dynamics of wild horses.

The herd we will be observing is called the Jicarilla. There are approximately 300 horses that roam on the 76,000 acres of the Jicarilla Wild Horse Territory which is part of the Carson National Forest. The location is in the north west corner of New Mexico right on the Colorado border.

Mustangs have interested me for quite some time. With the recent announcements from the BLM about the overpopulation of them in holding facilities and possibly euthanizing them, I’m striving to learn more by seeing these horses out in the wild on their own turf.

No matter what your feelings are, I think the best method to become involved is to learn as much as one can about all sides of an issue and that is what I am hoping to achieve. I have never seen actual wild horses and I am looking forward to a rewarding experience!