Friday, January 23, 2015

Trickster Dudley

Friday January 23 2015

Dudley cracks me up.

I decided a couple of months ago to teach Dudley tricks, and I joined Jain Brand's Horse Tricks Academy at

She's got step by step videos of building basics of different tricks, and points out that sometimes it's the horse that gives us clues as to what tricks he might already know. Dudley already learned from a long-ago trainer to bow - and we aren't even working on that trick yet. He already had a habit of throwing his head up in the air - as you see here from my 2008 post, America's Next Top (Equine) Model. I just turned that into a trick, by timing my training cues right.

Dudley and I don't practice every day, and when we do, it's only two carrots' worth: I cut 2 carrots into bite-sized pieces, and we practice a few tricks until the carrots run out. It's just a little fun during the day when he's hungry and wants a snack to eat!

I made this short video to show how he's progressing with minimal practice. As you can see from the video, he just cracks me up.


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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Faceless I

Saturday January 17 2015

Piggybacking on National Geographic’s current “The Faceless Portrait” assignment, I’m doing my own (there are over 5000 submissions to NG, and they take rights to your photos) - Equus style.

Good equine photos should entertain, strike a chord, tweak emotions, tell a story. Here are a series of The Equestrian Vagabond’s Faceless Portraits:

Top Photo: A local cowboy riding out on his mustang in Owyhee County, The West, to help round up cattle

This cowgirl is gently interacting with a wary gelding named Delta one evening on Meg Wade’s ranch in Australia.

Auntie Connie gives 9-year-old niece Sarah riding lessons on 21-year-old Trusty Krusty, building Sarah’s foundation of endurance riding.

An endurance rider at scenic City of Rocks National Reserve, Idaho, in the AERC National Championships, gives his horse a water break

Connie and young Firdinand take a quiet moment while training at Longacres racetrack

A young Belgium girl’s love for horses is written into this moment

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Golden Oldies

Thursday January 8 2014

They’re both at the distinguished age of 24, soon to be 25 (!!).

One is a gentle stout giant, half Orlov Trotter, half sweetheart; a retired endurance horse of Steph’s who saw the world. Tevis was his first 100. He raced in the 2001 Dubai World Cup. He finished the 1999 Pan American Championship in Canada and the 2000 World Endurance Championship in France. Now Krusty is ‘retired,’ though no good endurance horse is ever really retired in this life. That means he’s still used as a guest horse and trail marker, and he’s still doing occasional Limited Distance endurance rides, and doing them well (he got Best Condition with Steph in his last one in November).

The other is a towering handsome Thoroughbred; a retired racehorse, a former Forest Service pack string leader and dude ranch cowboy horse, who stole my heart and ended up in my modest stable of one. That he happens to be The Most Beautiful Horse On The Planet is pure coincidence.

Stormy is brought out of retirement once or twice a year, to either give Sarah a lesson, or to give a friend a first ride-of-a-lifetime, or to mark trail up the canyon and back.

Since they both deserve it, they get special treatment - Krusty gets an extra meal every night, and Stormy gets lots of extra treats. (He wanted me to make sure you all know German Horse Muffins are always at the top of his Christmas Wish List, in case you were wondering.) Sometimes he gets turned out in the yard to wander around and help with the yard mowing.

The Golden Boys are both so dignified that it’s a surprise and a treat to catch them playing together. Mostly it’s a good ol’ nip on the butt (Krusty is quite handy with his big teeth),

but now and then, I’ve caught them really going at it, baring teeth and rearing in mock battle like wild mustangs (that’s Stormy towering above Krusty up top).

They just make me smile - they’re Oldies But Goodies.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hello 2015

January 1 2015

The Owyhee view was breathtaking, the cold air breathtaking, the big handsome Dudley beast breathtaking.

Neither frost on whiskers nor frostbite on fingers, nor overnight temperature of 0* and morning temperature of 10* could keep us from a ride on New Year’s Day.