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!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

May 16th Ride The West

YIKES!! Carla has been after me for a mo. to get something new on the blog..... Tina is coming along nicely, and I will write in detail after this wknd.

We are heading up to Spokane where we have a booth and will compete in "Ride The West".
Come see us!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

WEEKS 4 & 5 ..... Mar. 30-Apr 12

The week of the 30th I got to Tina 5 times if I remember correct. I'd spend about half the sessions with different ground work, going over things I've asked and introduced to her in the days before, and about half my time in the saddle.

Started asking for a vertical soft feel at a stand still and the walk. I also asked Tina to start bending around my leg, and probably about the 4th ride I started working on lateral movement or a leg yield. She's gonna be soft! The 3rd or 4th ride I just ask for a vertical soft feel. When I have that consistently, I then ask for a backup.... but I have to have softness first. Then when asking for a back up, it is just one step to begin with and no more 'til that is consistent. Might take a day or two. Then 2 or 3 steps. If I ask too much too quick, she'll get hard and resistant. The hurrier you go, the slower you get there.

Thurs. the 3rd of April KXLY News of Spokane came down to film and interview me, and it aired Tues. the 8th. I didn't see it.... did any of you? At least I didn't fall off.

April 5th we had a horsemanship clinic at our place. Had 12 riders in our arena with a very brisk wind that made our sound system screech! I instructed with Tina for several hours and she was just plumb good with all the strange horses and commotion going on. Carla failed to get a picture of it!

The 5th week I rode Tina in my barn for something different. It is a good place to get her sidling up to the walls and fence so she's comfortable with the noise of scraping, slapping and me kicking whatever we're walking or standing up against. I like to do this in preparation to moving laterally next to a gate, so whenever I start opening and closing gates a horseback, we've already got a good start.

Rode Tina 3 days this week in the snaffle. She took to it perty good first day.... the normal mouthing and flipping the tongue around like a fish out of water. The 2nd day in the snaffle she acted like she'd been packing it all along. Have been working on stopping into a fence and rolling back. I think she's gonna have a good stop. Also, when backing her up, I started working on backing in circles both directions away from the bend. I don't worry about loping colts too quick in the training unless they feel like they want to, or need to. Lots of work at a walk and trot.

Friday, April 4, 2008

WEEK 3 ..... Mar. 23-29

Again, I got to Tina just 4 days during this week. The 1st day I stepped in the saddle from both sides quite a little so as not to get her too one-sided, and also to let her feel me on her back and see me with both eyes. I asked for a lot of lateral bend and moved the hind end off my leg. Every now and then, when getting in and out of saddle, I'd send her off around the corral after she felt my weight in the stirrup and on her back. Once she took a few jumps. I did ask her to move her feet in a couple small circles while I was astride her.... then called it good for that day.

The next couple of days I continued with the ground work before riding, and got her moving hind end away perty good, and stepping front end across. I asked her to walk and trot both directions.

The 4th day this week, it was getting too late for me to ride her, so I just did different ground work. I'm gaining trust a little every day. When a colt hasn't been touched or halter broke, it's important to build trust at the same time I'm working on manners, respect and control.

Monday, March 31, 2008

WEEK 2..... Mar 16-22

I was able to get to Tina 4 days this week. Saddled her the first day of the week after going over everything I'd done the previous week. I will flag her and swing ropes around and all over her to some degree almost every time I work with her throughout these 3 months.

She moved out perty good when first saddled, but very cautious. Tina kept looking back at that thing on her back, but never did blow. After figuring that thing wasn't gonna " get her", she freed up real nice.

The 2nd day with the saddle she freed up under it even sooner. I did a lot of work pushing and leading her forward as I am beside her and next to saddle both sides using the lead rope, flag, my hands, and the stirrups as well as my body. I push her hind end away, change eyes, step front end over, all the while I want her to allow me to have contact with her. On this day I used a saddle horse as well to lead her around in the round corral and arena and got her trotting beside me perty decent. I did quite a bit of leaning all over her from horseback both sides.
This week I add moving laterally using flag and the stirrups. I also want her to get some bend in her rib cage, maybe use my body and start bending her around me.

The 3rd day with saddle she crow hopped around a little. I also used my lass rope around her flank area to accept the feel and eventually lead to that pressure. I put the rope high around her hind legs and walk her around, which is a very entrapping feeling at first. In addition, I put a loop around each pastern and start working on her giving to the rope and stopping and picking up her hind feet to that feel. Tina and I took a little trip.... I ponied her outside of corrals, over different obstacles, between house and barn, and also led her thru saddling stalls with RR tie floor. I ask her to lead thru a doorway into a small riding area in my barn.... she took right to it!
When I finished working with Tina our last session this week, I led her a foot over to the barn and onto RR tie floor and unsaddled her.

The local paper, The Whitman County Gazette came down Friday and took some pictures of my bronc. They did a nice job putting together an article that landed on the front page in spite of my plea to not make a big deal of it!

Carla left for Vancouver to be with our 2 1/2 yr old grandaughter, Ali and her parents, Tim and Erin as they welcomed identical twin sisters into the family. Jillian Marie and Katherine Sue Mock were born Mar. 22. What a blessing! Ali, Jill and Kate will be over riding horses with Papa soon!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Week 1 Mar 10-15

I have 10 client horses right now, plus our Hooper Crossing horses which I try to keep up on. I am also giving a couple lessons a week. I'll do my best to get to my mustang filly every day...probably won't be able to, but hopefully I can spend enough time with her to give a good showing down in Sacramento the 1st part of June. Was able to work with her 4 days this first week. Monday I spent 2 hrs. She's not a big horse, but she's just 3, so has a few more years of growing. Tina is a nice headed 'stang, with big eyes. (The left a little bigger now, after the escapade getting up here.) There's a small cut above it and it swelled where she maybe hit the back end of the trailer (or maybe the highway) on the big escape.

Yer wondering why the name Tina Turner. Well she's a little, sexy, scary, wild bay with big hair and good legs. She's even got high heels on the 2 hinds.

Anyway, I enter my round corral a-horseback. After she kinda settles with me in there I throw a loop around her neck, no reason to jerk the slack tight. I work her around both directions with my horse, then start applying pressure, never needing to go to the horn but a few times. I ask and take whatever she gives me at first, because I just want her to learn to give to the pressure of the rope, so whether it's the hind end stepping away or the front end coming to me or just the neck, shoulder or or nose, I release if I get the slightest amount of give. It doesn't have to be but barely noticeable...just a hair of movement is enough for her to start figuring out if she gives to the pressure, I release. Now Tina really wants the easy way, got a perty good mind, gonna be a nice little filly to work with. Within a half hour I was touching her. Whatever side she first gave me, that's the side I took.

Shelley had them put a halter and lead on before they first loaded them up in Sacramento, but she did manage to lose the lead rope before they were loaded into my trailer.

It was about an hour of lass work and I had her stepping away with the hind and getting the front end to go the other direction fairly consistent on both sides and rubbing and petting both sides of Tina a little. I then snapped a long lead rope on her and was able to have my horse stand in the middle of the round corral with me still in the saddle and send Tina one way , kick her hind end away, see the opposite eye, step the front end across, then back her off the halter and lead rope. Also I could bring her up to me , move the hind end around , then change sides and push her eye and step her front end laterally away.

Flagged her all over---neck, along her back, down her hind legs, then started rubbing the girth area. Then I got off my horse and did the same things on the ground. I did not ask her to move away from my hand at her eye but a couple times and just a step or two, needed a lot more trust to ask much of that at that point.

I petted, rubbed and talked to her on both sides for a while, just before I unsnapped her halter and called it a good 1st day.

I did perty much the same thing the 2nd day. Started out in the saddle (on a quiet gelding) and finished on the ground, all the while gaining more trust. Everything took a little less time, so I spent about an hour that go around.

3rd day started out a-foot. Moved the mustang around , kinda got her stopping and looking at me. I used my rope to help her get hooked on me. I would swing it easy and every time she gave me her attention or die down, then I'd stop swinging. It helps desensitize them as well. One can rope her around the neck, on the back , around her body and every time she comes to you is rest and release. It gets them real good about the movement, noise and feel of the rope, to where it becomes no big deal. Depending how much this is worked on you can draw them to you or drive them away with the swinging of the rope. I then used a halter and lead rope to desensitize her all over her body , around and up and down all 4 legs , around her girth area and flank. Did the same thing with the cloth flag. Then I tied a cinch around her girth that I attach with a short rope, tighten it slowly, then let it loose, move it around. Do that quite a bit then move her out.

Introduced the big monster plastic flag that day. It was scary for quite a while, but in time was rubbing her all over both sides with it. It's important that whatever you desensitize with, you also have them move away from the pressure of as well. Where once they were moving away because of fear, I want to step the horse forward and by me with the flag, blanket, rope, etc. Move the hind end away, front end across with pressure at the eye, and back up.

I picked all her feet up with the halter rope, had her step forward and lead around with each front leg, extend her front leg out in front off the ground and relax. In between different areas I was working on I'd stop and work on petting her all over and always move the hind end away and front end across. Worked a rope, stick, and flag all around head, nose and neck to get her good about putting a halter on. I spent about 2 1/2 hrs that day.

The 4th day I spent about an hour going over the same things as days before, but added pushing her forward with the lead and my body language. I'm right next to her, behind the withers all the while patting and bumping her with my body on both sides of her to start simulating where I'd be in the saddle.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mustang Pickup..... the rest of the story!

Mar 9
Carla and I spent the night in Motel 6, woke up at 3:30, thinking it's 4:30 with the time change and all, wondering what happened to our wake up call. So we get a good early start to Doris 175 mi. south of Redmond.... good thing we did.
I was kinda half thinkin' the trip to Doris would be a waste, wondering just how we'd ease those stangs a foot into a panel corral and not knowing how big of a trap they were in. We get to Doris, have breakfast at "Mama's Cafe" with the Simmons, then check out our situation.
We figure out the best way to set up the panels, make a wing with a bunch of old cedar posts that we set in snow drifts, and drape a bunch of borrowed tarps over the posts extending out from the panels to the wire fence and along the fence on both sides of the hay trap. We also tied twine along each side of the fence to maybe discourage the mustangs from trying the wire or at least enable them to see it better. Together we all asked that the Lord would see this done and we'd be on the road.
We get around the horses with someone on the outside of the wire fence on one side. We just kinda slowly walk them up toward the panel end, stopping every few steps to let them think about it all. The further we ask them to move, the more worried they get. They start wanting to work from side to side and are looking out over the not so sturdy fences. At one point one of them leaned into the wire fence, thought seriously about going thru it and almost caught a leg on the bottom wire, but the hard snow kept the wire in place. We then had to ease up and let the horses run back behind us.
The mustangs were content to be on the one end of the trap, they hadn't even ventured up to the hay during the night. These two horses weren't very high headed or wild eyed. They had been in the BLM Facilities for quite awhile, so we could get fairly close to them, just couldn't ask them to do anything without them looking for a way out.
I was thinking to myself...." probably would be a lot easier if I had a saddle horse and we just let them out where there weren't any fences and just rope 'em. Could have them halter broke and in the trailer quicker." But what we did was to be smarter than the hairy hoofed creatures and not go against what they wanted. They liked the one particular end and corner, so we brought some hay and buckets of water down there, which they went right for. We packed all the panels down to where they were and tied the panels up on the fence corner and all along it, raising them up to about 7 ft. so we didin't have to worry about the horses trying them. We slowly built a pen around our broncs, then gradually made is smaller. We backed our trailer down to them ( since the Simmons trailer no longer had a door! ) and eventually made a little alleyway.
I used my wild rag as a flag, and everytime their heads were toward the trailer back off the pressure. The gelding seriously thought about stepping in a few times, but is was a perty high first step. These two needed a little more encouragement, so Shelley found a traveling blanket behind the seat of the pickup. It was a little louder, and just the ticket!
The horses jumped in the trailer, we shut the door, cleaned up our mess, stacked the panels and hit the road. We met the Simmons in Redmond, unloaded Shelley's braumby, thanked them for breakfast at "Mama's" and headed north to Hooper.
We unloaded my makeover filly.... "Tina Turner" at 11:30 PM

A special thanks goes out to Roy and Joanne Sharp for the loan of the nice trailer!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mustang Pickup

18 Mar 2008
Mustang Challenge
Mar 8, 2008
10:20 am Carla and I pulled out of our driveway heading to Redmond, Or. about 320 miles from our home near Hooper, WA. Dan and Shelley Simmons were down in Sacramento picking up both mine and Shelleys draw. We arrived in Redmond with still plenty of daylight left. Thought we’d find our way out to the training/boarding facilities, where Shelley would be keeping her "stang" and we were to pick ours up. Planned on meeting the Simmons there that evening and checking out my filly, then go back into town, spend the night and then load her in the trailer Sun. morning and head home
Piece of Cake!
Nope.... didn’t quite happen that way! As we pulled into Redmond, all proud or ourselves for making the trip without running anybody off the road, and actually on time, Shelley calls and says the worst thing that could happen just did. Seems the worst that Dan and Shelley could come up with was to be bouncing across the RR tracks, heading out of Doris, CA ( pop. 1,000 which I think they’re lying.... maybe counting dogs and cows ) and to have a train barreling down on them blow it’s whistle. They look in their mirrors and there’s a couple of broom tails kinda trotting along the highway. Looked just like the two they were hauling. So they pull over, look in their trailer..... there’s no more door!
When ole Dinah blew her horn, those 2 critters hit the back end of the trailer hard enough to bust the welds on the hinges!
Fortunately, the two mustangs followed a gravel road and someone in a rig behind the Simmons followed the two jail birds and " Praise the Lord!" they turned into an open gate of an old hay trap, maybe an acre.
Well, the Simmons found the ole boy that owns the cow outfit on the outskirts of Doris. He was kind enough to bring a bunch of panels and set them up on the gate end of the trap. Then he gets a horseback and eases in there, but looks like the mustangs are thinking of hitting the wire fence and changing our good fortune.
The new plan was to just let them be thru the night and hopefully the horses would be content with a little hay thrown out for them and cows on the other side of the fence.