Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Only 2 days 'til we head out to Albany. Got some things I'm very pleased with, and things I'd hoped would be better.

Hannah travels outside great, she will go anywhere you point her! She'll cover any kind of terrain... up, down, ditches, water, bridges, tarps, you name it. Different objects don't seem to bother this girl, where another horse might cock it's head, balk or move sideways, Hannah's not too concerned with what's in her path. She is like an old Willy Army Jeep... would climb a tree if she could. She might get a little pushy and she works the bit at times, especially if she gets worked up or I ask a lot out of her. The good thing is that she does "come down" nicely.

When working various maneuvers, Hannah's neck comes up higher than I'd like at times. She does move her feet nicely, however I'd like to be able to smooth and control her steps a little more when I'm asking for different speeds.

Our initial contact each day is much better, but still needs improvement. When I consider how worried she was of being touched in the beginning, Hooper Hannah has actually come a very long way in a very short period of time. She will make someone a nice horse, they will just have to be patient with this aspect.

Hannah is great when it comes to me swinging a rope and touching her with it all over her body and legs. She picks up her leads consistently, and I have worked on flying lead changes, which she hits the majority of the time, but it's a little fast. I'm thinking I should just do simple changes at the competition. I'm sure hoping she can handle all the people and commotion during the Albany Challenge.

The weather has not warmed up enough to work on spraying her down with water to bathe her, so I will give her a rag and sponge bath. We did clip her muzzle, jaw and jowls a couple weeks ago, and she was plumb good with the clippers. I trimmed her feet up a few days ago and as much as I have picked her feet up, she has no trouble with that.

See you in Albany, and we pray for every one's safety.

The schedule for Albany is below

Thurs. Mar. 19 .............. 6:00 PM Mustang Body Conditioning and In Hand Course
Friday Mar. 20 ............... 7:00 PM Mustang Riding Competition
Sat. Mar. 21 ..............10:00 AM Mustang Challenge Finals followed by adoption

Thurs. Mar. 19 ............... 4:00 PM 1st round Craig Cameron Extreme Cowboy Race
Friday Mar. 20 .............. 12:00 PM 2nd round Extreme Cowboy Race ( Keith is # 7 of this rnd )
Sat. Mar. 21 .............. 6:30 PM 3rd round Extreme Cowboy Race
Sun. Mar.22 ............... 9:30 AM Extreme Cowboy Race Finals, winners announced 3:00PM

Friday, March 6, 2009


Friday 6th of Mar... just under 2 weeks 'til we head to Albany. Everyday is an improvement, although the initial contact is still a little worrisome. Hooper Hannah is not tightening up so much when touched on the hind quarters and along her back. I usually tie her up in a saddling stall for about 1/2 the day, and most every colt I ride gets worked up along side her on either side and she gets pet all over. She is very good about all her feet now. I pick them up 2, 3, 4 times a day. Brushing or currying the inside of her hind legs above the hocks is still a little touchy. The girl is good and relaxed with her tail. Having different people walking behind her has vastly improved and she doesn't mind the dogs and cats doing what dogs and cats do. Being touched or petted by someone else, whether I'm in the saddle or not is much easier. The first time I had someone else pet her when I was in the saddle, she spun around and went to bucking away. We've done lots and lots of work with getting her to accept the feel of different pressure on her hind end when I'm in the saddle so she doesn't tense up and grab herself. The first time I drug a tire around the arena was perty good 'til I let the rope hit her butt.... she thought she was got again and scooted out at a fast buck! The weight of the tire made the rope a little heavier with more pressure.

Like I've said, everything has been very gradual. Hannah has never just "let down". Still, from the first week to now is 1000% improvement.

We are jumping in the trailer perty good, and I've hauled her here and there. Hannah and I have gone to a clients place about 20 miles away with other horses to give some lessons and we also helped moves some cows a few miles. She'll go about anywhere, and I feel she's getting a perty nice handle on her.

We are backing straight, in circles and laterally. I want to get her backing where she is bent to the inside and I can have her reach with the inside front and put it behind the outside front leg. Hannah is turning around like a champ! She picks up her leads consistently, although rolling back and picking leads up immediately needs some work.

I need to spend a couple sessions on just "in hand" maneuvers. I'm not sure how we'll do with her body conditioning.... her hair coat looks fairly good, and her manners and handleability are getting better every day. Hannah is a little light weight-wise, but she is narrow in the front end. I finally got her to eat grain and pellets a few weeks ago so I could get some supplements in her. The first time I gave her some pellets from my hand, she bit down and the hard pellets made a big crunching noise. She scared herself to death! Now she is looking for the grain/pellet mix. Guess she decided that crunch is perty good.

That's kinda what we got going on.... we'll see what this next week brings.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Yes..... we are here. I know many have been checking on us. We had kind of a rough start with this little mare we named Hooper Hannah. She had an injury when we got her, but seems to be on the mend.

If I remember correctly the first day I worked with my new little Mustang filly was the 8th or 9th of Dec. A neighbor friend of ours drove us down to Burns Or. where we picked up our new wild four legged project. Fortunately the roads were good with no story line adventures.

I had them put one of my rope halters with about a 15 ft. lead rope on my new draw to make things a little quicker to get her halter broke. I used a saddle horse and within a half hour she gave me her face, but she was very leery of anything behind her eyes. After two days of her dragging the lead rope through the corral and creating a muddy, heavy cable , twice as big around as what we started with, I took the halter off and just roped her each day 'til I could halter her without roping her. Hannah learned to face up to me real quick, but she was extremely mistrusting as far as anything else and very protective, and she fired out with those hind feet quite often! As fearful as she was of me touching her anywhere on her body, a flag waving around on both sides of her wasn't concerning. It took me a month of fairly steady work with a lass rope and the lead rope and also stick, string, as well as flag to get to where I could pick up Hanna's hind feet without her trying to nail me.

When I first got her home and began working with Hooper Hannah, I kept hearing a squishing sorta sound almost every step. It took me about a week and a half to figure out just where and what it was. I started noticing an abscess smell and couldn't tell where it was coming from. Then one day I saw where it was draining high on the inside right leg. I decided I better teach her to lay down so I could get a look at what was going on. When I did lay her down I could see up under the pit area there was an open wound 3"-4" long. GREAT!!! I drew a Mustang with an injury of some sort! I didn't know how much or if I should work with her on the ground or if I was gonna be able to ride her, but I figured, well, she hasn't been lame one step, so I just as well keep doing what I'm doing 'til I get her loading in a horse trailer good, with me being safe in the trailer with her so the Vet can check her out.

About 4 weeks have gone by since I first got Hannah to where I could haul her to our Vets about 35 mi. distance. We had some nasty weather for awhile, so hauling a horse trailer on icy roads was not on the top of my list. When we finally got her up there, we decided that Hannah had run a stick or something up the inside of her leg and it had broken off in there. What we were hoping was that whatever it was that was in there came out when the wound drained. If not, it would not heal and would have to be surgically probed and removed. Tim, our Vet, advised me to just work with her normally, so that was good news. At this point the wound is almost closed and we have 4 weeks 'til Albany, so thankfully it looks like there is nothing else up inside .

Hannah has slowly gained trust in me. She does have a little temper. The initial contact everyday is concerning for her. When touched on her back, neck and hindquarters she still bows up and gets very hard periodically. She ain't a people horse yet..... but someday!

In comparison, I was able to get on Tina Turner, my Sacramento Mustang by the 10th or 12th day. I think I did not get on Hannah 'til probably the 5th week. I'm not going to get on a scared horse and something that's still very kicky. Just not a thrill seeker anymore! I want my first ride to be very uneventful and boring..... to just walk out, bend and flex both directions and build on that each day.

The majority of the first 2 weeks of riding are at a walk and gaining a nice soft bend to head and neck, moving hind end away, and stepping front end across. Then get the horse to start bending around my leg. After this is accomplished, probably after 3 or 4 days, I start getting some lateral movement.

My new stang and I spent a few weeks in my 40'x40' riding area inside my barn. Our first ride outside was when I went to help the neighbor ride through his feedlot, pulling a few foot rots and doctoring. I used another colt first, then I got on Hannah in a small pen and she felt real good. She wasn't worried at all about the calves on the other side of the fence that were coming over to check us out, so I decided to ride Hannah on the back side of the feed lot and along the river. Things were going real good, so I helped put some cattle that had been sorted in sick pens . I'm thinking that she's doing so good, I just as well help ride a couple pens. Hooper Hannah did surprisingly well with the cattle, even those running by us, walking up behind us, snorting and running off. We have helped three more times in the feedlot and Hannah is progressing each time Her main concern is other people.

I need to get her around people a foot and horseback as much as possible. Anyone coming up to her still needs to work at touching her face and petting her...... 4 more weeks!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


The trip down to Sacramento would be too much to make in one day hauling a horse. Also, we were to pick up Shelley Simmons mustang in Redmond OR. Carla and I left Tuesday the 3rd, mid morning. We met Tim, Carla's son and Ali, granddaughter in Biggs, Or. Ali had her first ice cream cone.... she's a natural! When the ice cream would start dripping, she'd say "My better lick!" I told her she needed to do more licking and less yacking, gift of gab you know! When she wanted to eat some of the cone she'd flip it upside down and work on the bottom. She made it through a good portion of it. Then is was hit the road again.
I think we pulled into the training/boarding stables in Redmond around 6:30 that evening. The next morning I rode Tina Turner around the facilities to see new things and ride in a different arena. Shelley also rode before we loaded them up and headed South again. We made it to the Expo Wednesday evening after getting detoured around a wreck.
After a long trailer ride, I let Tina get settled in her stall, not doing anything else with her that evening. Thursday morning I just lead her around a foot, seeing the sights and working on in hand maneuvers, then later in the evening I put a ride on her. Didn't want her getting tired and not being able to perform.
12 Noon that day we had a trainers meeting with those heading up the event from the Mustang Makeover giving us the low down on what to expect. They fed us pizza.
In the afternoon Thurs. they put the hip # brands on the horses. Everyone had their mustangs looking very good and did a great job of getting their horses gentle, good ground manners, and respectful. All the mustangs were lined up in a strange place, all kinds of commotion and they all acted like old broke ponies.
Friday June 6, 8:00 am we had a walk through for the in hand course. The Judges for the competition were Al Dunning and Guy Woods. The Condition Judge explained what he was looking for... overall physical conditioning, hair, muscling, manners and handle ability. The condition and in hand challenge started at 9:00 am. I think I was the 23rd to go. In condition I scored highest. I gave Tina " Dynamite" supplements, which we sell here at Hooper Crossing, and give all our own horses.
The in hand course consisted of stepping across 4 poles, backing straight between the poles and making a turn to right and left, then trotting out of the poles to a horse trailer, loading and unloading. An extended trot in both directions over the corner of some poles that were set in a square was next, and then stopping and standing, picking up all 4 feet and turn around the the right pivoting on the haunches. They posted the scores and I was tied for 2nd with Joe Misner, Jamie Thomas in the lead, then they must have re figured, cuz they put up a new score sheet and I was #1! So the first day was a good one for Tina and I.
Saturday 8:00 am we had a walk through of the riding course. I'm thinking I had the 25th run that day. The first to go was Matt Eric Zimerman from Adrian Or. he was our stall neighbor. Matt, his wife Kelsey and young kids were a pleasure to get to know. He had his mustang very broke and desensitized to lass rope, stock whip, flag, standing on him and changing leads nicely. Matt made it to finals and ended up placing 5th. He also won the favorite professional trainer which was voted on by all us Mustang Challenge trainers.
Jenna Nelson won the favorite amateur trainer and finished 9th in the finals. They both have a humble, fun and competitive attitude.
In the riding course, we each had 90 seconds to show off the handle we put on our ponies. Then we had to dismount and mount again, walk across poles, trot around 3 barrels and walk across a so called plywood bridge. We then stepped across poles and through them, then back through an L of poles, walk out, then pick up left lead, lope in circle, change leads ( simple or flying ) lope circle to the right, walk into a square made up of poles and do 2 turns around to the right. After the dust settled, I was tied with Mr. consistent, Joe Misner for 2nd. Joe was also 2nd in Condition, and at the end of the day Joe was Reserve Champion..... nice job! He is also going to the Extreme Challenge held in Texas with the big $50,000 purse. Corrine Elser placed 1st in the riding course. Tina decided to be a little concerned with walking across the plywood bridge, other than that, we had a good run. So the stage was set and Tina and Keith were leading going into the finals to be held at 7:00 that evening.
I must say.... Jamie Thomas, another WA State Challenger , had a really nice run going, but her stang felt he needed to head back to the entry gate as she was loping her circles. Other than that, she definitely was going to be in the finals.
Before the finals, which were the top ten, we had about 15 minutes to warm up in the arena with the crowd filing in, which filled the grand stands all around the sunken arena. That's when, as our friend Gay Coates would say, "Things came from together!" As I was walking Tina near the rail, it was like she all of a sudden noticed the huge crowd and noises and she was instantly frightened. It was to such an extreme that I couldn't not calm her and when we went back out of the the arena to start the show, she was getting herself all worked up, nervous, could not stand still and she was beginning to get mad because she couldn't get out of the situation I knew there was no way I was gonna be able to have any type of control to perform my finals routine ( 4 minutes to music.... Tina Turners "Simply the Best" ) I was 2nd to go after Corrine and she did a great job and deservedly won the Challenge.
I just couldn't believe this was happening, but I had to give it a try. I did a lot of praying, but it wasn't what He wanted for me.
I started out by pulling a pole.... was gonna circle both directions with it, but didn't have any dandle. We kinda, sorta did what I had in mind. Tried to lope an easy circle... NOPE!
Tina's brain was too worried. I was frustrated, mad, embarrassed, all I could do was just walk her, try to ease her mind and half heartily tip my hat to the crowd and walk out.
Chris Cox was M.C. for the event a horseback and was asking each finalist how they thought they did. Obviously, I couldn't do a thing and I told him I was sorry I couldn't demonstrate what Tina and I were able to do.
All the mustangs sold right there in the arena immediately following the finals. Tina went to a gal down there in California who was very excited to have her, and will give her a great home.
All in all, I enjoyed very much working with my Mustang. We got a lot of good things happening, and a nice handle started. Carla and I had a great time down in Sacramento, met some good people/trainers, and got to listen to John Lyons talk Sunday morning and meet him. He also was one of the judges of the finals.
Matt Sheridon ended up third, great job, good to get to know ya.
Congratulations to each finalist and all you Mustang Challenge trainers. Everyone did a fine job. Will I do another Challenge? I ain't saying NO.
A big thank you to those who sponsored me on this adventure.
Alex McGregor
Columbia Knot Company
Greater South Ralston Devon
Wysup Motors
and of course my wife, Carla for her help, encouragement, and prodding.
Thanks also to you gaggle of gals who flew down to Sacramento to cheer me on!
Also a thank you to Shelley and Dan Simmons for bringing my mustang to Dorris CA and the extended visit. You did a nice job with your mustang "Samson" Shelley.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

May 22- June 2 Leaving for Sacramento!!

I've been loading Tina in the trailer most every day these last couple weeks. She is getting to where she doesn't hesitate the first approach. I've hauled her a couple different times..... did help a neighbor gathering a pasture with Tina. That was the 2nd time I had her around cattle. The more I can get her out in different situations, the more it'll make her an all 'round better horse.
Been blanketing her lately, she's a looking perty good.... slicking off nice. She does have some hair on her flanks she hasn't slipped.
Tomorrow, June 3rd, Carla, Tina Turner and I are starting our trip South. We will spend the night in Redmond OR . and pick up Shelley Simmons bronc and will follow Shelley into Sacramento ( hope she knows where she's going, cuz we don't!! ) We plan to be in Sacramento Wed. evening.
I'm happy with how Tina is progressing. I just have to remember she is basically a 60-65 day colt. I haven't counted up my days, but I'm guessing I don't have any more time than that with her. Because it's a competition, you want to cover as many different things as possible without pushing them unnecessarily. You do what you can in the time allowed and let the chips fall where they may.
I guess one of the enjoyments of starting colts, whether they've never been handled and are fearful and leery of man, or have been raised with lots of human contact, is taking them from where they are, gaining trust and learning to respond with their body parts. Where once they knew nothing of our rules and expectations, we are able through feel and intentions to put them where we want, on the ground or in the saddle, and be able to perform different tasks, and even be a pal.
The Lord has given me a good life!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

April 13th-May 21st

Haven't taken the time, or had much time to get going on my blog.
Majority of these days if I get to Tina it's late and I'm riding her 'til dark-thirty! I've still been getting to her 4, maybe 5 days a week, but these last 2 1/2 weeks I'm gonna try to get to her every day 'til the Challenge in Sacramento.
Got a pretty good handle on the girl. We are backing nice and have good lateral movement. I'm hoping to have her backing in frame and to be able to half pass. Our turn around is getting there... still needs to be smoother and consistent.
Tina has a very nice lope, she's picking her leads up. I've ridden outside a few times, but mostly in the arena and over some obstacles that I have set up. She's jumping logs, both in hand and under saddle. She is good about a little bridge and side passing astraddle logs. I haven't done any tarp work yet or been around much water. Hoping to get her around cattle if the neighbors need my help.
I used Tina in another afternoon clinic we had the first part of May.... ground work as well as in the saddle.
We were gonna take her to a local horse show a few weeks ago, so I figured I'd better get her loading in a trailer ( the night before of course! ) She jumped in the horse trailer after about 5-10 minutes, but she caught the rubber mat with her hind feet and rolled it underneath herself and that scared her perty good. Spent the next hour just getting her to stand next to the trailer comfortable. Obviously, I didn't have the time the next morning to take her with me.
Today, 21st, I worked with loading in and out of trailers. When I quit 1 1/2 hr later, I had her trotting along side of me and jumping in the trailer.
Tina is a nice little filly, and will make someone a nice mount.
We want to thank our sponsors..... Greater Ralston South Devon, McGregors, Columbia Knot Co. and Wysop Motors for their generosity!!!