Saturday, March 22, 2014

Picacho Peak

Our lonely mess tent in the desert.  
Last weekend B Troop returned to Picacho Peak State Park for the annual Civil War in the Southwest re-enactment.  We had missed it last year due to the sequester business.  We weren't permitted to participate in an off-post events for a period of time.  

This year we returned in force.  We were able to field ten riders and two cannon crews.  It has been a long time since we had that many people on the field.  We invited our riding students to participate on the cannon crew as they hadn't been trained yet to ride in full campaign gear.  

We set up our camp in the traditional spot which was just as dusty as it always is.  Maybe more so this year because of the winds.  Pretty much everything we took out there came back a dusty brown color.  We set up a corral for the horses, pitched our mess tent, dug a fire pit, and settled down for a big pot of chili.  It was wonderful.  
Are fielding of ten riders at Picacho. 
The next day we went up to the battlefield for the three re-enactments of the day.  First was the battle of Valverde, then the battle of Glorietta Pass, and final the battle of Picacho Peak.  These battles are probably only known to the most ardent Civil War buffs.  They were fought in 1861 to determine who would have control of the New Mexico Territory, which at the time included present day Arizona.  The Union eventually won as they managed to destroy the Confederate supply train at Glorietta Pass.  
Blade and I riding into battle.

We introduced three new horses to the battlefield with predictable results.  Bob, who is an experienced Cowboy Mounted Shooting horse, did the best, although he had trouble with some of the cannon fire.  Blade did the job, but spent most of his time spinning in a circle as each musket and cannon went off.  Ruger, just about came unglued in the first battle, but settled down enough to finish the next two battles.  His rider, however, decided he had enough of a work out and declined to ride the next day.  I took the same precaution with Blade as he was struggling with the whole thing.  One day was enough for these newbies. Bob finished both days.

As always, it was a good time with the usual (or unusual) campfire antics in the evening.  The new students treated us to an interpretive dance of my riding school instruction which had everyone in tears.  There was much toasting to the cavalry and other things and at some point a bag piper from another camp showed up and serenaded us.  The stars and moon were bright, the fire warm, and the conversation ridiculous.  A good weekend all around.   
The cannon crew in action.  

All photos by Dawn Hill

Friday, March 21, 2014

Boone's Bronc Ride

Boone, when he isn't a bouncing cat.
I haven't been able to do anything with Boone for a long time due to a series of injuries that he has had. Amazingly, he managed to get through an entire weekend without injuring himself, so yesterday I pushed the paperwork aside and went outside and saddled up Boone.  

He stood nice and quiet as I groomed him and put his tack on.  He gave no indications that there would be any problems.  However, once I got him into the round pen and stuck my foot in the stirrup, he bounded away from me and commenced to crow hop around the pen for several minutes.  He roached his back and was bouncing off all four feet like a giant, pissed off cat.  His reins had slipped off his neck and were dangling dangerously in front of his front feet.  I thought for sure he'd step through them and lame himself, but miraculously, he did not.

I watched this behavior silently (struck dumb, I guess) until he stopped bouncing around and decided to stand and snort for a while.  I inched close enough to him to snag his reins and speak softly to him until he calmed down.  I had no intention of getting on him at this point.  Instead, I secured his reins to the saddle and left him to go find the whip.  Returning to the round pen, I drove him around for a about ten minutes, changing his direction several times. 

Once I felt I had regained a little respect from him, I stopped him, let him join with me and, after making peace with the Lord, stuck my boot back in the stirrup.  He stood stock still as I mounted and he stepped forward with little leg pressure. Then, however, he stopped, refused to move forward, and began to walk backwards.  The more leg I gave, the quicker he backed up.  Not wanting to stick my heels in him for fear that he'd turn into a bouncing cat again, I dismounted and drove him around the pen with the whip some more.

After another ten minutes of this, I again mounted.  Same thing.  He would only walk backwards.  Dismounted and chased him with the whip for another five minutes.  Remounted--again he walked backwards.  This time I just let him walk backwards--even gave him the backup cue.  We walked half way around the pen until he suddenly stopped. I gave him some leg and finally he walked forward--with energy, no less.  I walked him to the gate and dismounted.  Better to end on a good note.  

Can't wait until our next session.  Horses.  Geez.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Journey Update

Journey's hock injury after the old bandage was removed.
Journey injured his hock about three weeks ago and it has been a painful healing process for him.  The skin on the inside of his hock had been scraped off when he got his leg tangled in the fence, so the vet sutured it back in place. Unfortunately, the flap fell down inside the wound and wouldn't heal.  We thought we would have to splint his leg, but the vet found a way to suture it so the flap wouldn't fall back down again. Still, we had to change the bandage every two days and the vet had to scrape away a lot of proud flesh that had built up on the wound.  Last weekend, it had rained very hard one Saturday which caused Journey's leg to get wet and the bandage to fall down.  He also developed a bad shoe-boil abscess in his front, right leg.  This required more surgery and a series of penicillin shots.  
The alternative to sedation.  

Since we couldn't keep Journey out of the rain and weather, we decided to bring him home where he could stay in an enclosed stall.  The hock wound has improved enough now that we can change his bandage without sedation--or at least Debbie can.  I'm not sure Journey would let anyone else do it.  The wound is looking good.  He took his penicillin shots pretty well, also.  Debbie just sticks his nose in a bucket of grain and carrots, and Journey then doesn't mind the other stuff so much.  

Journey has know us for over ten years now, so he has developed a good bond with us.  The wounds are very sensitive and painful and it is amazing that he trusts us enough to treat him without sedation. We expect him to make a full recovery, but it will take a while longer and then we will have to recondition him for Army work again.  

Journey's leg with a new bandage.