She was born on December 1st to Polka Dot and her name is December. We think she could be the last foal born, see the post below about birth control for the mares.
She is a real sweetheart but shy with humans. I have noticed over the years that the new colts are very curious and the new fillies are shy and cling to their mothers.
Here she is the day she was born - as you can see she is very alert, especially for a horse a few hours old.
These photos were taken yesterday, she is thirteen days old and this is her first time eating the feed.
The babies always put their feet in the trough! She is eating with her mom.
Our two older mares that live with Thunder have been producing foals once a year and they are both presently pregnant .Thunder cannot be gelded as he is too old and would bleed out. We can't separate the mares from him because he would break the fence down to get to them. So we have been looking for a solution to this dilemma for sometime.
We learned about a birth control vaccine called PZP, porcine zona pellucid, that can be darted into the mares. Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick and his team at The Science and Conservation Center in Billings Montana have been instrumental in helping us. You must be licensed and trained to use the dart gun and vaccine at the center. So they referred us to a lovely lady Deniz Bolbol from the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. She lives south of San Francisco, and generously drove all the way up here to dart our two mares on October 11th. Here she is preparing to dart one of the mares.
It all went very smoothly. We fed the small herd and the girls were darted while they were eating and there was no big fuss on their part! They will get 2 more booster darts in the spring and next summer. After that they will be darted with the vaccine once a year for 5 years. At which point they should be able to produce their own birth control. The success rate is 90% and since these ladies are over 20 I expect that there will no more babies after these two foals are born. They can be darted any time during their cycle.
Mike Dinning, our good friend and pinto assistant, went to Montana for a week to participate in the training. He is now licensed and will be darting the mares in the future. We also plan to dart the mares on this property just as a precaution. These mares live with geldings but if Thunder should by accident get over here, we would be increasing this herd!
Here is a list of the wild horses that PZP is helping:
The vaccine has been used successfully to manage the wild horse population of Assateague Island National Seashore under the authority of the National Park Service (NPS). being treated on Cape Lookout National Seashore for the NPS, on Carrot Island, for the Rachel Carson National Estuarine Reserve, and on Corolla Island, both
in NC, the Pryor Mountain and Little Book Cliff National Wild Horse Ranges, MT and CO, respectively, the McCullough Peaks wild horse range in WY, on many areas of Nevada, Utah, Oregon for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), on the Carson National Forest, for the National Forest Service, on several wild horse sanctuaries, and on the Navaho and Pima/Maricopa Indian Reservations in NM and AZ. I
For more information including the science of the vaccine please check out THE SCIENCE AND CONSERVATION CENTER website AT http://www.sccpzp.org/
I am so grateful to Deniz and Dr. Kirkpatrick for all their help!! It is such a relief for the mares not to have future babies so they can quietly live out the rest of their lives without any responsibility. Plus I am delighted not to have more horses coming as we have plenty!
In the past month we have brought over two colts from next door. Mystery came first when he was 10 months old so that he could be gelded. Then we brought over Saunder even though he is younger because his mother, Mama was looking very thin and she needs to be able to rest and gain weight without having a colt to nurse. She makes beautiful babies but she teaches them bad habits, such as being pushy. We felt Saunder would be better off learning better manners at a young age. It is a delight to have these two colts here and they have joined the herd fairly easily.
We have a wonderful and awesome new trainer, Karyn Shirly, of Purple Sage Equine in Nevada. She is devoted to the methods of Tom and Bill Dorrance, Ray Hunt and Buck Brannamn. Our horses feel very comfortable with her and she accomplished a lot in four days. She worked with Kendra and Lil' (Little) One who really appreciated her gentle manner. She halter trained Mystery and assisted during his gelding. She helped Majestic and me improve our ground work skills and she also did body work on Suki to help him get out of pain.
Karyn is really adept at reading the body language of the horse and this came in very handy when bringing Saunder over, even though Thunder was standing right next to him! She timed it just right so Thunder would not come through the gate as well. She does a lot of research on horses and their health and gave us some very helpful suggestions. We all had a very rewarding time, plus lots of laughter!
Our vet Dr.John Fling has retired and so we found another very qualified vet, Dr. Rich Brazil who comes from Ukiah. We really appreciate his willingness to drive so far to help out the pintos. He had seen the herd in the past when they lived next door with a previous owner. I think he was pleased to see how happy and healthy they are now.
We are very excited that the pintos have such a great new team!!!
Kendra took this photo of Karyn and Lil' One. He looks very calm and attentive!
Kendra's photo of Mystery and Karyn during the halter gentling.
Karyn working with Mystery the day after he was gelded.
Saunder the morning we brought him over - he is running up the hill
to find his new herd.
I took this photo of Mama yesterday. She was running very free - I
It has always been a dream of mine to be with the horses without ropes and halters. So I was/am delighted to have discovered Liberty Foundations online. Ruella Yates teaches the foundations in Oklahoma and also in an online course. This method enhances the love and respect between horse and human and it doesn't matter which previous training method that you have used with your horse.
In the first class you learn six foundations - sitting and walking meditation;greeting; walking a horse down; look at me;staking a claim and go and come to me.
The first foundation is meditating with your horse ( you can draw or read instead) in an area where you leave him a small amount of food and water. The point is to let the horse come to you on his own time, respect your space and you show him that you respect his.
The first time I did meditation with Sweetie, at the end I looked out at the herd, and they were all meditating with us...they were all standing and facing in the same direction - looking at the ocean.
Resting, yes, but I have never seen them all standing and facing the same way. Usually some are grazing or laying down.
It took Sweetie awhile to catch on that I wanted to him come up to me and face me. He thought it would be more fun to show me his butt. The last session he was my star! Came over and stood beside me the whole time, either facing me or side ways. I am so proud of him and he stayed for a long time.
Below are some earlier photos:
After mediation - an improvement here as he is close to me...
He gets it - is near me and facing me.
I have "meditated" individually with Majestic, Moonbeam, Suki, Chie and Mystery. They are a lot calmer afterwards and often don't want to leave me and go back out to the pasture and herd. Since there are so many horses I have decided to work with I have not finished all the foundations yet. Sweetie is my main horse for the class, I have done more of the foundations with him. I find the mediation with each of them so powerful that I want to do that with every horse.
The third foundation walking down was a lot of fun. I first started doing it with Sweetie in the holding pen. One day I had haltered him to take him down to check on Mystery who we had brought over from Thunder's herd that morning. Mystery was fine and after walking Sweetie up the hill, I decided to take his halter off so he could run and keep up with the rest of the herd eating hay.
Instead he stayed with me walked, stopped and backed up when I did; all without a halter. I was so delighted and he did this until we got to the hay which was quite a distance.
The horses and I are enjoying a different way to be together, which I find fun and at times quite profound.
Here is a quote from Ruella's webiste :
"Inspired by Native American and Old West traditions of her home on the Great Plains, Ruella works to establish loving communication and respect with horses, using their own language to create deep connection between horses and the people who love them, increasing the well-being of both."
You can check out more about Liberty Foundations Training at http://www.libertyfoundations.com/
We have had such a busy time since the last post that I am behind writing this blog.
1)Mama gave birth to a new colt on May 18th and these photos were taken when he was a few hours old.
His first human contact a few days later
Before he was born he was named Saunder after Saunder's Reef by our dear friend Eve Larson, who passed away June 16th. When she saw his newborn photos, she referred to him as her baby. Since that day he has been her horse and I promised her that he will stay on the ranch with the herd and will be given much love. His wonderful spirit reminds us of Eve and he definitely holds a very special place in our hearts.
One side of his face is black and white
and the other side is all white except for his cute black spot on his forehead - I love his white eyelashes!
2)We were about to bring yearling Majestic over to our property and 2 weeks before the date planned, he was kicked out of the herd. He finally went to the back end of his property where there is an old corral.
While he was in exile for about 2 weeks (till he could be trailer-ed over to his new- our home) I went over to feed and check on him 2-3 times a day. We had a great time bonding and I fell madly in love with him. He can be arrogant and also very sweet. He is a really beautiful horse.
When I would call him, he would appear silently to get some food.
The corral was fixed up and after some ground work, Kathe Smothers, Molly S, Kendra B, and Barbara F brought him over to the herd here safe and sound. Many thanks to these lovely ladies for their help with him!!
Below Majestic and Sweetie running in our round pen.
3) Kathe is our wonderful horse gentler and teacher. She was here a few weeks ago teaching Kendra B (my horse assistant and dear friend), my grandson, and me more ground work. We tried to absorb all the information we learned as much as possible. Always new tools needed to work these horses!
My grandson working his horse Luna:
Kathe teaching Little One how to get use to someone sitting in a chair:
Majestic will be a year old in May. He is an amazing runner and he is already very tall.
Thunder and Mystery have a delightful relationship. Thunder is very patient with our new colt. My nick name for Mystery is "Carrot top" because of the hair between his ears. He is very sweet and his coloring is lighter, at least for now.
I love the photos of these two.
My favorite photo of the year!
Thunder has changed a lot over the years. He is a lot calmer and always very happy to see us. He is no longer afraid of humans. We still can't touch him and I respect his boundaries but he comes right up to us with love in his eyes.
As you have heard, California has been suffering from a bad drought this year. The above photo was taken in January, unbelievable as the rainy season usually starts around November. Fortunately we had water saved for the herd who lives with us (below) and Thunder's herd (above) was still able to find water on their property.
Finally green grass for all the horses as of February!!! Very happy guys!