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!

Mar 312015

by Doranna

grrr!  grrr!

grrr! grrr!

I’m no stranger to dog fights.

I started my first pack while living remotely in the mountains—extraordinary, experienced varmint hunters who didn’t just squabble when the time came for the changing of the guard.  No, they inflicted significant damage.  As we were three hours from the vet we couldn’t afford, it behooved me not only to know how to break these fights up, but how to prevent them.

With a former feral dog as the pack’s foundation, I’d always managed them on a fairly primal level—as part of the pack, on their terms.  Boss bitch.  But while this allowed me to break the fights up without taking damage, it didn’t prevent them.  And as they escalated, I decided that they needed more than policing—that in fact, the policing sometimes made things worse.  They needed, individually, to know they were secure and loved. Continue reading »

Mar 272015

By Patty Wilber

I really like colt starting and right now have a three year old that has three “saddles”.  Wait! Make that four saddles because I saddled him twice on Wednesday since he got a little tense on the first go. Oh, and there was the day I put a bareback pad on him and the day I saddled him but I didn’t get on.  Do those count? That would be six?

Brownies first day wearing a saddle

Brownies first day wearing a saddle (and some ropes).

When people say “he has ten saddles”, I have always assumed they mean rides.  So, then I’d have to down grade to two.  The first day I actually got on him, I just sat there. No real riding.

Continue reading »

Mar 252015

Tristan Beagle continues to grow up faster than I can even type about him.

tb.teeth.469See? Teething!  And between the day I took this pic and am writing this blog, those missing front teeth have largely grown in!

He has a lot of fun stuff in his life, along with the ongoing ball of activity we dryly call the PuppyCat Unit.  He visits my dad at the hospice residence, goes to Connery and Dart’s obedience drill for a few moments of play and socialization, heads to our version of a National Forest to play with scent on our tracking practice grounds, and loves the daily games also known as training.

(Many of those games are simply building body awareness, but he also has an early understanding of sit, down, stay, heel, show stacking, bringing me an object, taking an object from hand, come, go to kennel, stay in kennel until released, wait at door to come in, leave it alone, let it go, and I’m probably forgetting something because these are all just things we DO.)

Most recently, he attended a puppy party. Continue reading »

Mar 232015

mk.0917As soon as I saw Mr. McKittypants, I knew he would break my heart.

(No.  Not quite yet.  But he’s working on it.)

He came to us young–a born feral, behavior modification flunk-out—an unadoptable cat.  We needed a barn hunter and we’d already lost one feral who couldn’t adjust to her new location, so we had no intention of considering this one to be family.

HA HA HA. Continue reading »

Mar 202015

By Patty Wilber

Went to Lubbock last weekend for the Pan Handle Reined Cow Horse Show.  Google map estimated the trip should take about 4 h 47 min (306.0 mi) via I-40 E and US-84 E  by motor vehicle. It took a little longer because we were driving a truck with a camper in the bed and dragging a horse trailer while fighting a strong cross wind.  Ten miles to the gallon. Ugh.

Apparently, if we’d walked it would have taken 99 h.

Continue reading »

Mar 142015

0711.connery.teeter.LJIt can be hard to work with genius.

Take Connery Beagle.  He’s honest and hardworking and loves to sing his song of self, and did I mention honest?  By which I mean internally as well as externally.  He’s not so tangled in his inner thoughts that he gets in his own way.

But Dart’s an unusual boy.  He vibrates with atomic intensity, he’s brilliant, and he desperately wants to be good and right.  But he’s so emotional—and so completely devoid of impulse control—that he constantly gets in his own way. Continue reading »

Mar 132015

By Patty Wilber

Me, Mary and Donna

Me, Mary and Donna (and Lani the dog)

Last weekend we were lucky to have the chance to be a Way Station for Mary Everhart and Donna Hurst as they were heading  home to Delaware from this leg of Mary’s Epic Adventure.  Her goal is to ride her own horse in every one of the  lower 48 states (the 48 contiguous states), and Donna is helping her get there! They have hit eleven states on this trip to give Mary a total of 28 so far! Continue reading »

Mar 062015

By Patty Wilber

Trailer training is an interesting topic.  There are multiple websites and instructions and clinicians and whisperers that can aid one with getting a horse in a trailer. But if you have a “naive” subject (ok, I just had to throw some random science-speak in there) that is used to humans and access to a  stock trailer, it usually turns out to be pretty easy to get a horse to load.

(Training them to go in every time might be a little trickier.) Continue reading »

Mar 042015

durgin.dart.dsc1120.400Once you embark on the Way of Dog Performance Sports (obedience, rally, tracking, agility), certain things change.  Every cares about the health and well-being of their dogs—but when you’re asking for more from them—and when you’re planning your training around what you hope to accomplish—then not only do the obligations increase, but the whole matter is never far from your radar.

It would be easy to get bogged down on the details.  Continue reading »