Saturday, November 8, 2014


SEPTEMBER 15 – We did Yoder’s chores for a week (feeding their horses) while they were gone to Montana, where Rosina had her baby—a little girl they named Shana Fern.  Yoders are our neighbors (a young Amish family) in the little house a mile down the creek from us.  They moved here from Indiana last winter.

We had several nights of cold weather, well below freezing, so we covered the garden, and then picked all the green tomatoes.  Michael hauled 5 dump truck loads of gravel for Andrea’s driveway to cover up the bigger rocks, and smoothed it out with our backhoe, to make a better all-weather surface.
Andrea drove to Idaho Falls Friday to her appointment with the pain specialist and the doctor put 6 cortisone shots along her back—to try to relieve the neck pain and migraine headaches caused by her graft contractures pulling her spine out of line.
The next day we made a fairly long ride—her 29th ride on Rishiam—up a steep ridge in the middle range and into the high range. 

We made another ride the next morning on the high range, and rode through some cattle.  He’s starting to be at ease with more things, making good progress.

He still has a serious phobia about his feet, however.  Andrea has been handling them every day, using a hoof pick to clean out mud and rocks, and he’s more at ease with that than when she first got him, but he must have had a really bad experience at some point in his life with hoof trimming.  Michael was able to put shoes on him the first time (after young Heather started his training, ponying, and first rides) because his feet didn’t need any trimming.  When he and the black mare arrived to be trained by Heather, their feet were very long and breaking; the hoof walls broke away and wore down during all the early groundwork and ponying out through the hills, and there was barely enough hoof left to put shoes on.  All Michael had to do was take a couple swipes with the rasp to try to level the feet, and nail the shoes on.  Rishiam was very nervous, but Michael is patient with inexperienced horses, and got them on.  That was 8 weeks ago, and his feet were getting long, and the shoes were wearing out after all the riding Andrea has done.  It was time for a new set of shoes.
When Michael came here last Monday morning to reshoe him, Rishiam was not at all cooperative about having the shoes pulled off and his feet trimmed.  We discovered he has a serious phobia about hoof nippers, and realized that someone in his past must have tried to trim his feet, had problems, and beat on him.  It took awhile to get his front shoes off (the horse was terrified and wouldn’t stand still), and even longer to trim them.  Nailing the shoes on was the easy part.  But after that ordeal we opted to wait and do the hind feet another day. 

Andrea and I rode that afternoon--a fairly long ride, over the top of the mountain at the head of Baker Creek.

We then rode down Withington Creek, where he had to follow Dottie across 2 creek crossings and down a long stretch of wet, muddy road that part of the creek runs over. This was a good start at getting him over his phobia about walking through water. He did really great at that new thing, then got scared when we had to meet a bunch of traffic (hunters) going up and down the jeep road, and some of them going too fast and not wanting to slow down when they went by our horses. I finally had to use Dottie as a roadblock to make some of them slow down. One pickup slowed down nicely, but there were 2 small children in the back, and as they went by us they started hollering, and their unexpected shrill voices scared him badly.

Andrea is diligently handling his feet more each day, trying to get him more at ease with this aspect of training. On Thursday, after a long ride through the middle range, she picked up his hind feet multiple times rather than just cleaning them and tapping on them with the hoof pick, and hopes to extend his tolerance level. We also worked with Willow (the 2-year-old Morgan filly) briefly, and I trimmed her feet.

The backhoe had a flat rear tire, so Lynn and Michael took it to town to get it fixed. We have a lot more dirt work to do this fall.

The publisher who is doing my next book “Horse Tales – True Stories from an Idaho Ranch” sent me the proofs to check over. It’s looking good –and as of this blog posting it is now available for purchase.

Saturday we made a long ride in the high range for several hours.

After we got home, Andrea worked with Rishiam’s hind feet and rasped off some of the clinched nails to make it easier for Michael to take the shoes off. The horse is starting to trust her more. Michael came down to reshoe him that afternoon, and the shoes were fairly easy to take off, but Rishiam then panicked when Michael started trimming the feet with hoof nippers. Michael finally got the left one trimmed and the shoe put on, and then the gelding was even worse about trimming the right one. 

Michael thought that another ride might help settle him down so Andrea saddled Rishiam and took him on a very fast loop over the low range, trotting and galloping up some steep hills and around and back down the road, but this horse has too much endurance to ever wear him out. He was still nervous and objected vigorously about the trimming. We tried putting a Stableizer on him (a restraint tool that utilizes pressure points behind the ears and under the top lip to release endorphins, which tends to relax and sedate a horse, similar to a lip chain) and even though it relaxed him a little, he still wouldn’t stand still for the shoeing.

Michael just had to doggedly work at it little by little, in spite of being jerked around when Rishiam would struggle to take his foot away. In his panic he’d nearly run over us. This poor horse has been seriously traumatized at some point in his past history.

Eventually Michael got both hind shoes on, and Andrea has resolved to work more with his feet and try to get him used to what’s involved with trimming and shoeing so he’ll realize that nobody is going to hurt him. He trusts her more than anyone else, so she wants to learn how to do more of the shoeing. She’s trimmed feet, but has never done any shoeing, so maybe this will be a good time to learn. She hopes to have Rishiam trusting enough (by the time these shoes have to come off for winter) to let her take them off and trim his feet. Then she plans to keep working with his feet through winter so he’ll be easier to shoe next spring.

Yesterday we made a short ride, not wanting to bruise his newly trimmed/shod feet in the rocks, because he was a little tender after the fast ride she made the day we were trying to shoe him (with one bare foot). She put iodine on the soles of his feet before and after our ride yesterday and today, to help toughen them up.

Yesterday after our short ride, Andrea changed horses and rode Sprout, and we met up with Carolyn on the upper place. She and Michael had just finished rebuilding part of the fence where the neighbors spooked some cows through it last year, and she rode with us through the 320 to the high range. We found the long piece of wire that Dottie got tangled in a few days ago. The cows had dragged it another 100 feet down the hill and into the timber. Andrea rolled it up and put the roll under a nearby water trough where no critters will get into it. Then we rode over the top and down Withington Creek.

Today Sam and Charlie went back to school. They are in the same math class; Sam was one of two 6th graders who got to skip 6th grade math and take the 7th grade math course. Dani’s school doesn’t start till tomorrow so she rode with Andrea and me on a long ride—Andrea’s 38th ride on Rishiam.

We rode through the high range and stopped to let the horses drink at Lower Cat trough.

When we got home and put the horses away, Dani climbed up on a big tire to get on Ed bareback to ride her around the barnyard before taking her back to her pen. She loves riding that mare bareback.

Our range neighbors on the east side of the ranch started gathering their cattle today, and Carolyn rode Captain to help them. The cows were hard to gather; after the rain we had last month the grass is green and the cows didn’t want to come down out of the mountains. They only got part of the cattle, and will have to ride again tomorrow.

SEPTEMBER 29 – Last week Michael and Allan Probst made a road and dug the foundation for my brother Rocky’s new house (on his 13 acres at the upper end of the ranch). 

Rocky has planned for several years to build a house there, and had hoped to start it this spring, but had several setbacks. The worst problem was a local bank that does construction loans (temporary loans until the house is built and then they pass the loan to another bank). The financing was in place with another bank for the long-term loan, and the local Summit Bank assured Rocky that everything was in order, then kept coming up with more questions. They stalled on the construction loan for several months. He couldn’t start the dirt work until the construction loan was in place. This local bank is new in town, but already has a bad reputation for stalling on loans, too eager to foreclose on customers, etc. (and has foreclosed on several ranchers and local businesses).

Finally Rocky realized that the bank officers had been lying to him, and were not going to make the loan--after costing him several thousand dollars and several months delay on starting his house. So he “fired” that bank and found another lender who could make construction loans here. Now the preliminary excavation and road work is accomplished, but it will be a race against the weather to get the foundation poured before winter; the contractor might not be able to start the building before next spring.

Carolyn rode daily for a week to help our range neighbors round up their cattle, and Michael rode with her a couple of days when he wasn’t working for Allan Probst. It was a tough roundup this year and they wore out their horses.

Last Wednesday Andrea and I rode—Rishiam’s longest ride so far—through the middle range and into the neighboring range on the other side. Andrea wanted to scout out more country to see where the elk have been going back and forth, since she and Emily both drew cow permits for later this fall.

We rode into Mulkey creek, down the steep draw from our side of the mountain, and headed up the main trail in the creek bottom, planning to travel up Mulkey creek and back onto our high range at the head of it. But before we got very far we discovered some huge trees blown down, completely blocking the canyon and obliterating the trail. We had to get our horses turned around on that nasty steep hillside and scramble back up the way we came down. Both horses did well, considering the terrible terrain.

Emily flew out of Running Creek with 2 hound dogs and a cat, done with that job for this year. She enjoyed the summer there, but is glad to be home.

Friday, Sam and Dani rode with us through middle range and high range.


We found 3 pairs of Alfonzo’s that got missed the day before in their big roundup. Coming down through 320 Sam found a nice deer antler and I carried it home for her on Dottie. She rode Dottie again briefly after we got home—her second ride on that mare.

Young Heather spent 3 weeks visiting a new friend in Canada, who has a grain farm in. She learned how to run a combine and enjoyed helping with the harvest, and also enjoyed meeting his family.

Last Saturday Emily rode Sprout and went with Andrea and me on a 5 hour ride. Lynn took photos of us as we headed out the driveway. Even through Sprout hadn’t been ridden for quite awhile, she behaved nicely for Emily on that long ride.

The next day Andrea’s friend Robbie rode Sprout and went with us on another long ride. He’d never seen our range so Andrea wanted to show him the high country.

We took a lunch and ate it by the Basco trough. Sprout grazed while we ate, and we held onto Dottie and Rishiam and they just stood patiently and relaxed. This is good for both of them, coming along in their training.

It rained a little that night, and early Monday morning two range bulls were hanging on the fence behind Andrea’s house. They got missed when Carolyn and crew were rounding up cattle off the neighboring range. Carolyn was helping those neighbors again that day; they trailered their horses higher up in the mountains to try to find more cows and wouldn’t be able to come over this way to get the two bulls. So Andrea and I offered to round up the bulls and take them home to Jack Jakovac’s sorting pasture.

By the time Andrea took the kids to the bus and we got our horses (Ed and Sprout, since Dottie and Rishiam are too inexperienced to chase bulls) the bulls had disappeared. We tracked them up the big draw about a mile, to a water trough. We took them a couple more miles around and down toward the bottom end of that range pasture and saw fresh boot tracks along one of the trails. Probably a hunter, since archery season is still open.

We took the bulls a little farther and Andrea saw a large elk horn sticking up above the sagebrush. She trotted closer—and found a freshly killed bull elk. I held her horse while she got off and examined it closer. There was a bullet hole through the ribcage right behind the shoulder, and he hadn’t been dead very long; the inside of his mouth was still warm and his eyes hadn’t turned dark yet.

She had cell service in that location, so while we followed the bulls on down toward the ranch they needed to go to, she called a friend (retired Fish and Game officer) to ask if there were any rifle seasons open for bulls and he said no, and gave us the number of the local Fish and Game office so we could call and report this poaching.

  They wanted to investigate, so Andrea offered to show the conservation officer where the dead elk was located. We took the bulls on around to the hill pasture where they were supposed to go, put them through the gate, and then hurried down to the back road, and trotted home 6 miles. Two F&G officers drove up to the ranch just as we were getting home, so Andrea went with them to take them to the dead elk and I led Sprout home and put both horses away. The F&G officers were able to salvage the elk, thanks to the timely report, took photos of the boot prints, questioned the nearby neighbors, and were able to figure out which person illegally shot the elk and left it lying there. We don’t know if that person was going to come back for it later or not (there was a lot of activity in that area not long after he shot it—with us bringing the bulls, and an hour later Carolyn and the other ranchers bringing a herd of cattle right past the carcass), or if he planned to come back for the trophy-size antlers. The F&G officers brought Andrea home after they field dressed the elk. It looked even bigger, in their pickup.

It was a very busy day, and we almost didn’t have time to ride our green horses. Not wanting to skip a day, however (since we are running out of nice weather this fall for training horses), we made a short 1 ½ hour ride on Dottie and Rishiam that evening just before chores—Andrea’s 43rd ride on the gelding.

We had a hard rain that night but the weather cleared by morning. We moved our cows from the field below the lane and put them in the big field on the backside of the creek next to the neighboring range. It was an easy move. I simply opened the gate and called them and they all came running. We moved them through the pens by the barn and Andrea led them down across the bridge and to the lower field and they followed her, while Lynn and I brought up the rear. Our cows are very well trained! Then Andrea and I rode for 3 hours (Rishiam’s 45th ride), up into the high range above our 320.

We got back just in time to get the kids from the bus.

The next day Michael put new shoes on Dottie for me. Hers were nearly worn out, and her feet were getting long. Then he helped Lynn make repairs on our old dump truck, and Andrea and I made another ride through the neighbors’ range, taking Rishiam and Dottie this time, into some areas they’ve never been.

This was Rishiam’s 46th ride and he’s come a LONG ways in his training, these past 2 months. He trusts Andrea a lot now, and they are becoming a good team.

She no longer has to take the bridle apart to put it on because he is no longer headshy, and he is comfortable with having it taken off. He walks through water and bogs with less reluctance, and keeps his wits about him in spooky situations. He doesn’t hesitate very much now, to cross the boggy crossing in Baker Creek as we ride through the 320-acre mountain pasture.

Now we’ll just keep working on making more progress with the foot phobia….

Sam and Dani spent two evenings after school helping Rosina (the neighbor with the new baby) and enjoyed folding clothes and entertaining the two little boys. Then on Friday they rode with us (Andrea’s 48th ride on Rishiam) for 3 hours. We had to stop partway up the ridge from the house, however, and have Andrea change the length of Sam’s stirrups.

When we changed them after Robbie used her saddle, we didn’t get them quite right, and we had to adjust them. We took a lunch and had a little picnic up Baker Creek on the 320—and saw several elk, then headed home.

When we got home, Sam rode Dottie again. This was her 3rd short ride on Dottie around the barnyard. She and that little mare will eventually be a good pair.

My new book, Horse Tales: True Stories from an Idaho Ranch, is now available.  If anyone would like to read about some of the special horses in our lives, starting with my first horse—old Possum—that my parents got for me when I was 9 years old, or purchase books as Christmas gifts, ordering information can be found in my August diary.