May 182014

Doranna & DuncanThis is Doranna Durgin’s WordPlay Blog. I’m glad you’re here–whether it’s to learn more about my books, or chat about dogs, horses, and reading.

On Fridays, The Write Horse usually stops by for life with horse training, written by Patty Wilber.

If you’d like to reach my Webstead, you can clicky on that link you just passed. Right there. Behind you! The one that said Webstead.

PS although I use a plug-in that allows commenters to sign in, it’s easy to post as a guest and guest commenters are welcome!

Dec 022016

By Patty Wilber

Thanksgiving is my Dad’s favorite holiday and it is one of mine as well.


Dad and Mom, Thanksgiving weekend, 2016

It is not bogged down by gifts!  It is bogged down by food!  The beginning of the holiday poundage gain.

One nice thing about our Thanksgiving is that most of my family gets together at my folk’s house in California.  We hang out for a couple of days, play games, hike, visit, and well, yes, we do eat.

We have Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday with friends and family.




Apparently, the conversation was appalling! (Amy, Mark (son) and Erika (goes with son))


There was general goofiness combined with eating (background). (Kathy (sister), Mom and me)


Dessert. This pie almost wasn’t made, but then, there was a collaboration between my sister and brother! I gave tips on how much liqueur to add.

We usually hike on Friday to work off Thursday’s food so that on Saturday, we can go for Dim Sum where we order everything and act like a bunch of vultures.  I will spare you vulturine pictures.  Here’s the hike instead.


The attendees: Front row: spouse Jim, brother Mike, me, niece 1 Laurel, niece 2 Maryann, Dad. Back row: son Mark, significant other of son Erika, wife of brother Tina, husband of sister Chris, sister Kathy, Mom. We missed daughter Maegan and husband Rick this year!


And I can always find something odd…A sprouting cow pie!


Very nice view in Sunol Regional Park, where we hiked.


A very big dead eucalyptus tree! It seemed even bigger in person.

We left the balmy climes of the Golden State on Sunday to fly home to a less than enchanting cold front in the Land of Enchantment.

But, it is still good to be home!


Dancer contemplates our ride in the snow on Tuesday. She finished up her Introduction to Riding lessons here and headed home on Thursday!



Nov 252016

By Patty Wilber

We flew out to Missouri to hunt white tail deer last weekend.

Truthfully, we went to visit Jackie and Craig and we got to hunt on their farm as a huge added benefit.  What a fine time we had!

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They have a really nice lodge, designed by our nephew!

In my copious (uh two times with my own elk permit; two times as a elk spotter for Jim) experience hunting elk and javelina (never even saw a live one), we walked or rode, and I have  really enjoyed the looking. Good thing, because my harvest percentage is a big fat zero and I have only taken one shot, which, obviously, missed.

Deer hunting was from a blind and I wasn’t sure I’d a) be warm enough and b) be able to sit still that long.  I really don’t sit still very much.

Well, the blind had a little  propane heater, which we only used once, and it turns out I CAN be still (if I am not freezing) because it also turns out that when you are still, you see stuff.

Like squirrels.


See the red bushy tail? When I was a little kid, we lived in Missouri and my parents and grandfather used to squirrel hunt. (We ate them, in case you were wondering.) I had a collection of squirrel tails and the red ones were my favorite.

And turkeys.


I clearly needed something better than a camera phone that would only zoom 4x! The turkeys came in various groups, but this one and it’s buddy, came within 40 yards of the blind. One flock of 25 came boiling out their roosts in the trees sounding like a jet bursting out of the forest!

And we saw quite a few smaller birds: eastern blue birds, cardinals, bluejays, tufted titmouses (titmice?), nuthatches, red bellied woodpeckers and downy wood peckers.  Most were very close (but not close enough for my phone camera!!)

There were no deer Friday morning.

Mid-day, we toured the 400+ acres in blaze orange. We carried a gun just in case, but the three does we saw only showed us their long white tails.


Craig and Jim.


Me, Craig and Jackie

 We went to a small cave.  Jim went in and found the bats!

Friday evening, from the blind, we saw deer.  I had an any-sex  permit, so we passed up our first group of does to see if we could get a buck.  No luck on bucks.

No deer on Saturday morning, but Saturday night, I had a shot at about 175 yards.  That is pretty far for me, and I got nervous.  I lined up pretty well according to the cross hairs in the scope, but not well enough, and I missed. Craig was watching from his blind and thought he saw a stumble, so we looked for sign in the evening and again Sunday morning.

Nada, but we did see frost flowers.

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Frost flowers only occur when there is a hard freeze when the ground had not yet frozen.  The cold causes plant stems to split.  Water oozes out and freezes. Capillary action brings up water from the ground which tries to ooze out, but it freezes.  The result is ribbons of ice that curl around the plant stems!

There was still time to hit the blind, and a small deer came out.   I had it  at about 80 yards.  Apparently, the gun and I were in disagreement about where it was to shoot.  It was Jackie’s gun and she had sighted it in, but clearly, I needed to target shoot myself.  I missed so badly (or the deer was deaf with an overall sensory deficit) that the intended freezer-filler barely even flinched.

At that point I was a bit paranoid about another bad shot and besides the deer was so little and cute.  It may well have been a button buck since  it was all alone and the does tend to travel in herds.

So, we named it Lucky, and I took a picture instead!


Happy Day after Thanksgiving, everyone!

Nov 182016

By Patty Wilber

When Dancer, a Paso Fino cross, arrived last month, she jumped out of the trailer, flattened her long, black-tipped ears at life in general and tried to double barrel a dog to drive home the point.

“Oh dear” or maybe more accurately, “Holy sh**”, I thought.

Six weeks later, I am nearly ready to send her home because she has done SO well!

She is an unusual horse in that she really does seem to hate a lot of stuff.  At first she wouldn’t even talk to me! I could barely halter her because she would not let me touch her ears or poll.  Try slipping a bridle on. Ha! She still tries to kick her neighbors about 10 times a day. And she really doesn’t like being petted.  Cuddling?  Forget about it!

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Nov 112016

By Patty Wilber

I typically do a lot (a lot for a trainer that takes only one or two outside horses at a time) of colt starts.  Over the last 12 months, I have done six, along with a couple tune-ups, some evaluations, and a mustang (Slim) halter break.  I don’t retrain buckers.  I turned down one of those recently. The owner, who was 45, said he was getting too old for that.  Yeah,  me too.  I am 10 years past 45.

So, when Dexter’s owner said she wanted me to take Dexter’s mom, a mustang that had just dumped a kid, and had put a trainer in the dirt earlier, I said, “Send her!”


Well…. Mama Mia was born in 2008.  She  came off the range at four-ish, was adopted, starved nearly to death and then rescued and re-adopted.  That is a compelling story, and for whatever reason, I had a feeling that Mama wasn’t really an inveterate bucker.   I also just kind of wanted to see what was going on. In  addition, I knew she had been ridden successfully between her bucking episodes.

The first few days she was here we did Get-to-Know-You ground work and… Yikes!   When I touched her butt, she bucked. When I reached over her top line, she bucked (and landed on my foot!).  When I touched her flank, she bucked.  When I showed her a tarp, she bucked.


Also, she didn’t know how to tie.

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Nov 042016

By Patty Wilber

I just bought two new saddle pads.  One for Penny to help with saddle fit (or not, as it turns out) and one for LT (and maybe Indy) for show (or maybe not, as it turns out.)


For Penny. Pretty! Contoured!  It is a Weaver with an EVA Sport Foam core and wool lining. Saddle still bridging…Sigh. Has worked with some other horses and saddles though!


For LT. This is a Hillason woven saddle blanket.  It is a a pretty color but the texture is a little stiff. And Crap.  The green does NOT match that shirt.


Or that shirt.


How about THAT one? But the chinks have green fringe. A different green. sigh.

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Oct 212016

By Patty Wilber

September 30th, 2016, Mary Ann, Linda and I rode about 20 miles round trip from Jack’s Creek to Trail Rider’s Wall and back.  The day was spectacular.


It was a little cold at 11,800 ft!



Mary Ann with Shorty in tow. We were supposed to pick up some trash at Baldy Lake (or is it Lake Baldy?) but we could not find it (The trash, that is.  We did find the lake!). You can see the wall and Truchas Peak in the back ground! Spectacular!



The trail goes through part of the 2013 Jaroso fire burn scar. The fire crowned through here and you can see how the crisped bark is peeling from the trunks of the dead trees. Other trees were charcoaled. They were shiny black and oddly beautiful

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Oct 142016

By Patty Wilber

Jim drew an elk tag this year, so we joined Camp Kingsbury in the Cruces Basin. There were four hunters with elk tags and three others in the riding-out hunting entourage, plus Amber and Abby who did a lot of the work at the camp area.


Derek (aka Sugar) and Mike heading out of camp for a quick ride Friday evening.


Jim and Mike riding back into camp Sunday afternoon.

Before we went, LT called up Auntie Shelley (without my permission) and said, “this time last year I was vying for a world title in jr. working cow horse!  now she is making me go on this hunting trip.  I need camo!”

Shelley got her a a camo pommel pack and a hay bag!  Thank-you Auntie Shelley!


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Oct 072016

By Patty Wilber

If you put a horse in a padded room, it could still find a way to get injured.

On Saturday evening, I was throwing out hay when it became clear that Cometa was lame.  He was sort of dragging his left front foot.

His lower leg did not look swollen, so I figured he might have a hoof abscess.  Abscesses usually produce a lameness that looks more like a foot coming off a hot coal, not a pronounced lack of flexion in the limb, but abscess was my first thought.

As I bent to lift that foot to pick out the hoof, the real injury revealed itself.  A small cut (which was really a deep puncture wound) and a huge swelling where his leg joins his body.  It was hard and hot and painful when touched.


Ay–that is swollen.


That is the way his other leg looked–normal.

Using no real critical thinking skills because I decided to go into full-blown worry mode first (hands steady, brain ping-ponging–I look calm but have lost cognitive ability), I decided he’d broken or separated or dislocated something. No matter that he was standing on all four legs about equally, which would seem unlikely if something was wrong with his skeletal structure.

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Sep 302016

By Patty Wilber

On June 6, 2016, my well worn trusty WW three horse steel trailer got rear-ended.  I had horses aboard.

Miraculously, no one in the vehicles (me, LT or Mitch) was injured.

Also miraculously, my truck was unscathed and the trailer suffered only cosmetic damage.

The other vehicle was totalled, but there were no major injuries there either (possibly because the police would not let me go over there and strangle them).

Here is what happened.

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