10 September 2012

Symmetry in Swirls

See his swirl? High center just off to the left.

One thing that Tellington-Jones doesn’t mention in her books is the importance of symmetry in a horses swirls. Not so much that the one, or two, swirls in the middle of the forehead be exactly placed, but that those on the rest of the body match from side to side. I have found mismatched markings to be a sign of imbalance.

I worked with an Arab years ago on whom the fans at his flanks were completely uneven. On his right side the marking went nearly to his spine, the other side was no taller then my hand. This otherwise beautiful chestnut, I think his name was Wing Nut, was so one sided as to be nearly unrideable.

The same goes for the swirls on the chest. They should be of the same basic height and length.

Facial swirls that are off set can be of significance also. A recently gelded Morgan came in one time with a single whorl high and to the right as you faced him. It sat clear up and above his left eye. Usually a high swirl will mean a quieter horse but this horse had been insane as a stud and still crazy as a gelding. The Parelli’s have a theory on horsenality, that horses are right or left brained, like people right or left handed. Right brained equals reactive while left brain is a thinker. I believe that the direction a swirl is off set on the fore head shows if a horse is right or left brained.

Are you with me still? Not sure I am. I believe the this poor former stud was so right brained, extrovert to be exact, shown by the mark waaay to the right as we look at him that he just couldn’t handle normal confined life, especially training. Maybe if some very knowledgeable person owned him and had years, since birth preferably, to work with him very slowly he might have made a riding horse. With thirty days to work with him there was no way he was going to be started hardly.

Now my little Nevil is the opposite. His swirl is set slightly to the left, as you face him, and slightly high just above eye level. He is definitely left brained. Left brained extrovert I would say. He thinks hard about every thing, very curios, loves to play.

7 September 2012

Still Looking at Ponies

I can’t help it I love to look for horses. I tried to help one of the nurses find a horse for her grandson. She didn’t want a horse for her grandson.I think she’s been avoiding me.

I know it’s to early to get a horse for Elly but what am I supposed to do? Not look at Craigs list?

This is Earl, a well broke quarter horse/welsh pony gelding. Neck reins, moves off leg pressure and stands quiet when having his feet trimmed. We trim his feet without even haltering him, he just stands there until done. He has 4 black feet that wear like iron, and is current on all of his shots and worming. Has been used on cattle and the kids have kind of been roping off him. I don’t think I would dally up to a steer but he will let you swing a loop off him. Doesn’t have the pony attitude like a lot of ponies, has good manners and is pleasant to be around.


Perfect! Maybe, five is awful young and thats more money then I would or have ever spent on a horse for me. But this isn’t for me. what could be more valuable then a good baby sitter horse to take care of my little girl? Maybe we could try him out first on Ava. Then I found this gem.

For sale 20 yr old grey gelding horse. has done everything from ranching to rodeo. Can do barrels, goats, head steers, pull calves to fire, and doctor cattle. Don’t have much time to ride him. Great horse.


Twenty is such a nice age for kids horses, if a little young still. He’s big enough that grown ups can ride him and fix kid caused problems. Maybe she can start with the grey and move up to a pony.

5 September 2012

Natural Babymanship?

Is it the new way of training babies? Does it replace a crude out dated method with kinder gentler means?

I don’t know. I know nothing about babies but when the nurses started talking about body language and watching for a baby to tell you what it was ready for all I could think about was horse training. I have always thought that training children must be the same as training anything else. Consistency mostly. Again from my completely ignorant point of view.  But if we are incorporating natural horsemanship how do you make the right thing easy for a baby? So if we are supposed to watch for signs of hunger and feed them before they cry is a hungry crying baby the equivalent of a colt who has been pushed to far and is bucking?

The nurses (and every one else I’m sure) probably think I crazy constantly comparing babies to bottle calves and horses. The similarities are great though and I am happy to have practiced on them before having to do the real thing.

On the bright and scary side they are saying Elly might be able to come home soon.

31 August 2012

Little Elly and More Fires

So peaceful

I got to go see Elly yesterday. She is doing great. They moved her and all her neighbors in the NICU upstairs to the intermediate NICU in pediatrics. We are getting to know the other parents, one family from Chadron and a couple from just outside Rapid. They are all very nice and we are all waiting impatiently to take our babies home.

Elly is doing good. They took the feeding tube out of her nose. It took me an embarrassingly long time to notice. I thought she looked so grown up, then realized something was missing. She is taking all her feed from a bottle now. The doctors keep saying she is so far ahead of where she is expected to be. They figure age and abilities on the proper due date not actual. The suckling instinct they keep saying shouldn’t come in until thirty four weeks. We are just waiting for it to improve, more weight gain, and maybe for her to finish the new round of shots she is getting. She wasn’t making enough new red blood cells, but they promised that it was a pretty common occurrence.

My visit was cut a little short though when my husband sent a text that a friend of mine who lives north of town was bringing her horses down, just to be safe. I decided that if it was getting that bad maybe I should go home. And of course I’m always sure that nobody can take care of my horses right but me.

The skies were blue as I drove south until I reached the state line. From there on the sky, the ground, everything was a sickly yellow brown. I’m used to the grass turning brown this time of year, as the Ian Tyson song says, “The range and the sky, buckskin and blue” but this was unnatural. In the distance plumes of smoke rose randomly from the skyline feeding the disgusting miasma that was masquerading as the sky.

The friends house and pastures are still safe and for the most part the same goes for most people we hear about. Houses at least. In the small groups of people clustered about town, in a grocery store isle or around a table at the fast food joint, stories can be heard in nearly reverential whispers as the fate of neighbors and friends are discussed.

We joined those groups on our trip to town today. One spread word of a school teacher whose house had been lost, another said “No, no they worked through the night and saved it.” A rancher was gently mocked for having bragged about the amount of rain he had received on this dry year, “Doesn’t do him much good now does it,” they shook their heads, “heard all his pasture burnt”.

We came into town from the south on the highway that had been closed the day before marveling at what had burnt. How close the fire came to those big fancy houses built in the timber. The one that had caught fire, what had been so different about that one? On one side in one small spot fresh saw marks were visible where some major tree thinning had been done. Before we left town though the radio broadcast the bad news. The highway was closed again. The fire had jumped the highway.

For once I’m glad Elly is far away in Rapid.

30 August 2012

Chadron is Burning, Again

The last two days have brought us dry lightning storms. just what we don’t need at one hundred plus degrees and bone dry.

As I drove home from town Tuesday I watched the lining striking all around me. To the south and west I could see several smoke plums already starting to rise. Two of them seemed alarmingly close so

i continued south on the highway just over the next hill so I could see where they were. I couldn’t see any thing so I kept going. Just over the next hill so I could see where they were. I couldn’t see any thing so I finally decided they were far enough away that it wasn’t an immediate concern.

Wednesday as I headed to town around noon I could see the smoke to the west, as I came home it had become  tower of smoke blotting out sun and sky. Chadron and Crawford were hit hard. By Wednesday evening we received another dry thunder storm.

Shortly after five my father-in-law was called out to a grass fire near the west place in Dawes county. When my husband got home we went to see what we could do to help. With out any way to haul water it seemed unlikely that we could be of any assistance. By then a much larger fire had blown up to the north in the timber and the fire departments were overrun. fortunately a neighbor showed up to the fire with a tractor and disc and was able to get it contained. The lack of grass is a blessing and a curse. Nothing for the cows to eat but easier to put fires out. A pick up with a water tank and pump is always a good thing to have on hand.

Once again I am very happy not to live any where near the trees.

21 August 2012

A Busy Couple of Weeks

It has been a little bit since I posted last. Let me see, I can’t think what have I been up to?

Oh yeah, I had a baby!

She was just over 31 weeks almost 9 weeks early, but she’s doing great. Far, far away from me in the neonatal intensive care unit in Rapid City. She is healthy though, that is the important thing. The poor little girl spent the first week of her life with an IV stuck in her head. After my stint in the hospital, a week of bed rest before they decided it was time for her to come out, and a couple of days recovering from a Cesarian, I developed quite a loathing of IV’s. They hurt! Of course it didn’t help that they had to stick me at least twice for every successful IV.  Three successful, so more than six long, slow, painful jabs with the needle, they kept going bad and needing redone.

But we were speaking of her. Named Ileana, Elly for short, she weighed three pounds eleven ounces and measured sixteen inches long. She is nice and chubby and likes her food. She is fed through a tube down her nose, that and the monitors are the last things stuck on or in her. They took the breathing tube off after just a day or two. She has been breathing fine on her own since then.

I am home now and should be happy about it. There was nothing I wanted more when I felt fine and was forced to stay at the hospital on bed rest. Then I had my baby who has to stay there and a c-section which hurt like heck, and they make me go home. Hospitals just don’t make any sense. Elly will get to come home soon the doctors say just a few more weeks. It seems like forever though.


31 July 2012


All that good garden produce has been making me hungry. I began to have fantasies about pizza. This weekend I decided to live out one of those fantasies.

So I decided to make pizza. I made the crust kneaded it and left it to rise as I raided the garden. I returned with Roma tomatoes, Swiss Chard, purple sweet peppers and a hot pepper. The garlic was already dug and I had onions and mushrooms in the fridge.

Ava came over and helped wash the vegetables while I chopped and spread the crust with Alfredo sauce. She had to go before we began to add  the veggies. It was as good as my fantasies.

I love cooking out of the garden and try for the highest possible percentage of food that we have raised in every meal. We have sweet corn with every thing. Zucchini used in every way possible, usually involving tomatoes garlic and cheese. The cabbage has matured so we are eating cabbage burgers, corned beef and soon hopefully cabbage rolls.