did Bella see red?

it’s many months since the rescues left their small cramped quarters filled with twine..garden hose and who knows what..

it’s interesting to watch them expand their boundaries.. at first they went everywhere together..”a cluster of grapes” moving around..exploring..
over time they splintered off.. then back together..then dividing into pairs Bella and Sally..Sampson and Jade..
then going alone and with other herd members but always back to four at feeding..all eating off the same flake of hay.
.no matter how much food or how big an area.. lately they’ve gone alone in separate directions..
so thinking this might be a good time to pull one out without anyone getting emotional or upset or making themselves sick
Sally was gathered up and brought to a front pasture..the reasons..she remains so aloof and needs to be with people and is off by herself a lot anyway..
so Sally comes up to the pasture by the house to interact with people instead of being off in the trees in Sally land..
she does great.. people visiting and working around..Sampson could care less.. Jade also..they have each other..
Bella though ..voices her opinion..she calls to everyone in an “ok where is everyone” call and they answer back..
she’s content to just know where they are..that they are each in a different pasture..gates open if they want to re-connect..
she doesn’t go look but listens for their answers to her calls.. later in the day though Bella becomes extremely alert..extremely agitated..
but she’s looking in the opposite direction of the other horses..she runs to the fence a hundred yards away..
   
calls to whatever it is that has her attention..calls..looks ..like dog on the point.. looking in the direction of her gaze I see what it might be..
someone walking in the street half a mile away.. a person with a bright red jacket on.. all we see is the bright red jacket bobbing along..
and I wonder..they say horses don’t see color..but this jacket is the same exact color as Sallys red flymask.
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it’s a person not a horse..but Bella is insistent..calling..”hey..it’s me!..i’m here!” ..look over here!..
when the red jacket bobs out of sight she goes trotting back to the herd..did she think it was Sally in her flymask bobbing along?..only she knows..
but in seeing how much Bella missed her friend, Sally is gathered up and led back so they can all share dinner with the rest that have gathered for food..
same thing again..same flake with the other three..four heads on one flake and a friend joining in to boot.. ..
so we’ll  do it again tomorrow..Sally learning people and Bella learning it’s ok to be farther away..baby steps..end on a good note..success over speed..
studying horse behavior over instant results..like the cowboy said..”sometimes the slower ya go the faster ya get there”..
   
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a long awaited ride..

again a magical time.. between the rain .. the dust storms..comes a beautiful morning..
Bella the line back dun/paint cross mare has been ridden bareback every day..
ridden around the property..on the trail course..in the trees..arena..round pen..
getting ready for a rider ..for a Dennis ride..
after getting an idea of what she knows and teaching a little more each day..it’s time..
so Sunday Dennis is ready from riding Cheyenne ..the teacher..the lesson horse teacher..
and Bella is ready from being ridden every day ..
it’s time ..time to put the two together..
are we going slow..sure..does anyone care..no..
Bella steps up to the yellow barrel..Dennis steps up too..
standing on the overturned big yellow plastic barrel he gets ready..
taking the reins..talking to Bella ..easing a leg over her back..
sliding on..the moment we’ve been waiting for..
they step out.. re-assure each other.. enjoy each other..
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and Sampson comes up..me too..and Jade..me too..
so it’s ride Bella .. pony another..like kids..my turn..my turn..
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they’re polite..patient..asking kindly..
now Deb’s on Cheyenne and Jess gets on Jade..
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everyone’s happy..so it’s time for a pic..
“smile everyone”..and on seeing the pic
in looking close..can’t believe my eyes..
Bella..is smiling too..
  
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it’s a happy tail…

When the four rescue horses arrived so many months ago

one couldn’t help but notice

Sampson the only gelding limping and very thin

and that the two black horses Sampson and Jade.. 

the two that always stayed together even more than the four did ..had no tails..

well not no tails really

but tails cropped as far up as they could be without hitting bone..

the dock of the tail..now over time those tails are growing more and more ..

becoming thick ..beautiful..expressive..very expressive..

when the tails were short they were quiet..

hanging down close to the body..nothing to say..

now the tails are longer..fuller..shiny and the tails have a lot to say..

a little attitude in a happy way..

watching Sampson walk he flings his tail back and forth..

swishes flies..tells other horses what for..

tells them by swatting at one as he or she walks by..

he even seems to enjoy just flipping it around in a circle to feel it on his backside..

so his limp is gone ..his weight is up.. his tail is talking.. 

life is good in Sampson’s tail world..

and in watching..it’s the same with Jade’s tail world..

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just magical that’s all..

 
Sunday was magical..that’s all..just magical..with no agenda and wanting to work in the shade it was let things unfold..Jade has been ridden every day..bareback..gentle riding ..riding in the park..in the arena..in the shade..in the hills..Bella had been favoring her back right and had two weeks off from riding..in watching her move daily the improvement was obvious it was time to let her tell us for sure if she could handle a light rider or not..she said yes by standing firmly and often on the previously sore back right..Sampson as usual wants to be included in anything..included in the area but not really in the actual event..he wants to stand in the middle while the others ride around him..so he does for awhile and then is always invited to join in.. to do what he can and what he can do if usually a little more than he thinks he can..the horrible limp that he arrived with now barely there..hardly there..his weight great  and his confidence growing..becoming more the “gentle protector” than the “needing to be protected”..Sally..aloof and pretending to not know anything is now Sally that knows more than she lets on..it’s trust for her..if they can’t catch me they can’t hurt me..she’s trusting more and more..so Sunday Jess gets on Jade to share how Jade makes the most riding progress..to show Kelly for best results..she slides off and hands the black soft round roping reins to Kelly who steps up on the big overturned yellow barrel to slide on Jade’s back..and the nice observation is her “slide on” is quite different that Jess’s..faster and farther back..new for Jade.. it goes perfectly..no problem..no scoot forward..no fuss.. nice progress showing Jade different people get on differently..
then Jess gets Bella.. using split reins to have something different for the horse..Bella’s probably used to it but in learning the horses am using something different each time..split reins..round reins..mount in different area..from various places..barrel..fence..mounting block..Bella is brought to the big yellow barrel and stands with most of her weight on the back right..good sign..Jess slides on Bella walks out..it’s all good..in wanting to have a personal best for both horse and rider each time Jess and Kelly pony Sampson and Sally..Jade gladly ponies Sampson
     
but is not happy when asked to pony Sally..Jade pins her ears back speeds up and lets it be known this isn’t working..so next time that’s where we’ll work..help her get thru it ..but for today it’s keep it on a good note..so there was riding..ponying..laughing..learning..
with Sally learning that ”buddy” the riding dummy still doesn’t have great balance..
   
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a new chapter for the rescues..

a new chapter started for the rescue horses.. not knowing their history vices or fears it’s been take it slow..let them settle..let them integrate the other herd.. gain some weight.. heal..physically ..mentally.. watch them..learn to know them from watching them..study them..it’s been fun to watch..to study..do ground work ..even have a highly experienced rider come over and ride two of them so we really had a good idea of what was here..we chose Bella and Jade..since Sampson was still recovering from a hock injury and Sally the most green..we chose those two ..and to have a professional on the first time ..ready for anything just in case..but it went well..perfect rides..with all that done..both owners/ horses have been wanting to do more..Jade the jet black mare .. caretaker of the herd has been coming up when there’s a lesson here..when kids are here..she has a “can I join?”..look..”I can do that” look..so last week when Jess the barn helper was here we pulled “buddy” the riding dummy was out of storage.. 
buddy barely simulates a rider but can help determine reactions of the horse..stuffed jean legs hanging down..stuffed shirt arms flinging around..styro head bobbing..losing balance ..laying back..etc..will tell us a lot..so coming in the shade where it was relatively cool ..under the barn where it is relatively soft ground ..small piles of hay were set out..Bella, Jade, Sampson came in to eat..came in to see buddy..Sally..independent mustang Sally was off as usual by herself grazing in the new tufts of grass..so buddy was gently taken up to Jade by Jess..having worked together for years we’re a team..each knowing the other’s reactions..when to react and when not to..and Jess can read a horse..read their eyes..ears..tail..skin twitches..weight shifts..quiet energy..perfect help..Jess gets buddy..brings him to Jade..no reaction..touches a buddy leg to Jades’ shoulder..no reaction..places him gently over her back ..no reaction..buddy’s pulled off and then tossed on Jade.. no reaction..no shift..no look..no startle..no variation in her munching..with a lead line on Jade’s halter ..using the halter/lead rope combo so there’s no bit pressure and with a lead rope there’s only one direction Jess can pull if needed ..my direction..and the hay for distraction.. now the question arises..”why bareback”..a person can slide off quickly..no stirrup to get hung up in..no horn to get hung up on..and because the horse is asking..mainly because the horse is inviting us..would we get on any horse that asks..no..and could we have gotten on sooner..yes..but waiting for the horse to ask sometimes makes it go better..no hurry here..we want no worry here..Jess steps up on the overturned large yellow plastic barrel that’s been placed by Jade’s side..adjusts her helmet ..Jade looks back..”well get on”..swinging a leg over ..sitting quietly on Jade there’s no reaction
                   
we knew it could be scoot forward or leave or a rounded back.. all sorts of things but were trusting Jade’s invitation..and she had been serious..she could do this..she wanted to do this..so it was sit ..watch her eat..stroke her neck..reassure each other..and after doing this every day this week soon it’s Bella the paint mare coming over ..”I can do that”.. “I’d like to do that”..now hoping she’s honest and serious too the next day we include her..same thing lead line held very close to her but no pressure..halter lead rope.. same thing..buddy the riding dummy tests..
                  
then Jess sitting on..calm quiet eating..wandering around with a person on..copycat results..so comes Sunday.. horses ask again..come up..can we do something..stand by the lead line..asking..ok..today Jess and her Mother Lori are here..Lori and her four kids care for more animals than most people will ever meet and they read them like a book..and again having worked together in lessons for years it’s a step by step situation each of us knowing when to move and when not to..methodical..reading the horse response.then Kelly one of the rescues’ owners is here and gets on too..
    
so now two riders..in the shade.. soft ground..no pressure..horses eating hay..riders sitting..emotional moments..for where these horses have come from to where they are now..and as horses eat and riders watch Bella quietly calmly inches forward..she wants to walk in the hills with her rider..we talk it over..she’s on a lead line..rider can slide off if need be so they do..slowly meander thru the  little hills that border the pond with the turtles and ducks watching the momentous occasion..two passes thru the hills and back..Jess says..”Bella wants to go to the round pen”..Bella has been motioning with her head..leaning with her body..a polite subtle request..we talk it over..ok..so Mom leading Jess on Bella and Kelly sliding off to lead Jade and Sampson it’s off to the round pen..and single file they go in..quietly the pen is made smaller..sliding panels across to cut the large round pen in half..just in case..baby steps..so when the area is small ..the horses walking calmly  Bella’s additional leadline is removed..she’s fine..and Jade’s additional leadline is removed..
                   
now two riders riding together with Sampson the grounding rod in the pen for moral support..
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even  ponying is tried with great results by Jade and Bella but Sampson the pony horse decides he would rather stand .. be moral support than join in..so we let him..not to have him control everything but to listen to what he’s saying..he’s saying enough for one day..this is big..you have two riders on..end on a good note..end with everyone calm and happy..beyond happy..
end here for today..
on cloud 9..
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a little lesson?..

have watched various ways of introducing horses for the first time..the quick/hope no one gets killed way ..hope you don’t have vet bill bigger than the mortgage way..or a slower way..not to rush it..let them settle in over fences..my ranch friend says   says “sometimes putting horses together makes ya wish ya hadn’t..sometimes the slower ya go the faster ya get there”..and then sometimes ..the horses have an agenda all their own..like today..

the rescue horses, Jade, Bella and Sally.. the mares.. and Sampson the only gelding have been making friends with the other horses over fences for months..nice interactions.. occasionally being offered a little co-mingling here and there..letting one or two of the horses that were here first go in with the rescues ..it’s working well..everyone minding their own business..grazing quietly near each other..meandering around under the big green mesquite trees..until today..

now whether it’s the amazing full supermoon..or the time of year..or the mares have been watching the other horses..especially the paint and how he treats his barnmates or whatever else might come into play ..today Snickers apparently got on someone’s last nerve..i’ve heard they watch us way more than we watch them..that in the wild they get one chance or they’re dinner..so they must have been watching ..watching Snickers..he’s in with the rescues as he has been off and on when  Jade the quiet jet black mare decides to teach him a lesson or so it appears..she’s the super-watcher..doesn’t seem to lead but herds..always watching everything..hasn’t paid any attention to him whatsoever..Sampson’s her buddy..she‘s always within feet of Sampson..until today..today the watcher went into action..went over to Snickers and followed..dogged..bugged..nipped..herded Snickers every single minute..not letting up for a second..which is what he does to his herd-mates..

  

          

she blocked him in by a fence and held him there..

she picked on his feet..which no barn mate has done..

i’ve read in old westerns when they wanted to teach a horse manners they threw it went in with a bunch of brood mares..don’t know if she’s a brood mare but if this was her watching and finally stepping in or if this was her teaching and if this mild scenario was any indication Snickers should be more polite from now on..maybe not so much herding of his fellow barnmates ..moving them off their feed or grazing spot..doing his pecking order thing…in watching she wasn’t hurting him just annoying him.. a lot..

appears she’s teaching me how she’s teaching him..

that it’s not so much fun when the shoe’s on the on another’s foot..

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finding curiousity..

the rescue horses settle in more and more..
personalities emerging more every day..
Sampson skinny/injured now very mobile..
weight looking good.even chasing others from his food..
Bella a little too gregarious now settling down..learning manners..
Sally most aloof now wearing a flymask daily..coming up more often..
yesterday came up three different times on her own..”hello”..
a small visit but a big step..
Jade seemed most scared now has a quiet confidence..
it appears progress begins when fear is turned to curiousity..
a ranch friend puts it..”i’m not so teachable when i’m scared to death..
figure it’s kinda the same with em”
when curiousity steps up instead of flight that’s good..
it’s explore now..and explore they do..
Sally checks out the chicken coop entrance..
learns exploring is only permitted if done calmly..

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then everyone explores dried grass clippings near the trees..

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this week three tiny fluffy kittens emerge from behind nesting boxes in the chicken coop..

mama must have hidden them from prying eyes..

visiting kids like to see the kittens..yesterday Jade wanted to see what this was all about too..

curiousity..new for her..Jade comes to the fence..leans her head over..knickers..knickers again..

sure Jade..you can see the  kittens..

was wondering if she’d make any type of move toward them with her head

the other day she chased an unfamiliar cat from her area ..

she stands perfectly still ..

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after kittens are gently put back with mama waiting quietly in the cool shady chicken coop

the rescues opt to visit the little pasture by the road..

a long narrow stretch of grass with tall trees that rustle in the breeze..

heading out single file..nice.. polite..

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two donkey friends join them so closing the gate behind them i go get Snickers..

the Pinto/Arab cross rescued years ago..

at the time of his rescue he appeared to be six months old..he was two and a half..

so starved could barely stand up.. here seven months before he ever stepped faster than a walk..

slowly he came back to life.. now a great horse friend..

i bring him into the duck/chicken area..he’s wandering loose while i get scratch for the chickens..

when speaking of turning fear to curiousity Snickers is doing it..

still fearful of some things but if food is involved he’s all in..

i didn’t realize how much all in until coming around the corner from filling chicken feeders..

am greeted by this…

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awesome weekend…

 
                           listen up you silly kids…
  
                              awesome stuff!!!
more awesome stuff!!
                           kelli’s first ride on Jade!!
                                    Jade waiting for her rider…
 

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rest up bella…

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Jade…

Jade.. the jet black mare ..huge full black forelock hangs below her soft soulful appaloosa looking eyes.. the protector of the rescue horses..her little herd..her responsibilities..she’s quiet..watchful..extre-e-mely watchful.. at first Bella the paint cross seemed the protector.. more outgoing..more excitable..now we know just more of an instigator.. it was Jade with her watchful eye and quiet demeanor  that proved to be the protector.. not so much leading as herding.. i watch her as she watches them..if Sampson and Sally wander off in another direction from Bella.. Jade moves back and forth between her charges..checking..checking again..when Bella, Sampson and Sally snooze in the soft sandy area in the arena Jade stands guard like a shepherd over her flock..watching.. she rarely whinnys or fusses..rarely challenges..

appears to internalize..

worries..you can almost watch her eyes worry..

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when a horse neighbor peers over the fence she watches.. intervenes if necessary in a clearly quiet way..slowly moving between them ..to protect.. defuse.. head things off ..in  four months of watching them have only seen her offer to kick at another horse once .. more to react than attack.. when there’s  no halter in hand Jade walks up to visit..when a halter in hand she moves away . .

to do her job.. always on duty..in her world she has a lot to watch out for. .

takes it  very seriously..

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i’m locking up last night..checking  gates..checking horses..it’s dark in the country..no street lights..no cars on the road in the distance .. no moon out.. so still..no breeze..no sound..am slowly walking across the field of short scrub grass..my feet feeling their way  on the familiar route ..am thinking of what to do next ..what to do tomorrow..when i sense a horse near me.. don’t hear it..can’t see it.. sense it..then  movement..ever so slightly in the blackness something moves barely..there to my right..maybe ten feet away..my eyes squint in the darkness to try make it out..a horse with it’s head down..thinking it’s Sally as she’s often out by herself am surprised when it’s Jade..not coming up to say hi..not coming in to be stroked or petted..but standing there quietly..shifting slightly..is she nibbling little bits of new spring grasses..    is she just watching..can’t tell ..  

but find myself wondering..                  

                     is she now checking on me…

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