Category Archives: Sweet Hija

Shadows and Eric of 203

I suppose we all have nested away some items, some event or photograph we cherish.  I published a photograph several weeks ago on the feed bin in the far field with clouds that I had set aside in the files, but every time I came across the feed bin and clouds photograph I wanted to post it and share it with readers in the blogosphere.  I present two things here with a short story line, one is the long shadows in Stall 1 of the stables, the other is an artwork of Eric Andrews of Taos, New Mexico.

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A January 28, 2011, photograph of Stall 1 in the stables

When this photograph was taken on January 28, 2011, the late afternoon shadows of the stall panels were surrounded by cold mist of a winter’s day. I was terribly sad because I had recently sold three of my prize horses at an auction in Oklahoma City, and the absence of Hija, Fanny and the foal-to-be was anguishing. The economy had gone sour and I had — through my own ineptitude — lost money on the stock market. So had other people lost money, but they had not be forced to sell their companions. I sold the horses — no small relief, to be sure — to fine people in Canada and Missouri and I was comforted in the transfer. The photograph illustrated to me the emptiness in my life at the time.

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Walking the Acequia 2, Eric Andrews, 203 Fine Art Gallery, Taos

Eric Andrews’ painting, Walking the Acequia 2, is one of his current paintings for sale and is a good example of his art.  I possess one Eric Andrews painting.  He and his wife own the 203 Fine Art Gallery in Taos, New Mexico. After the death of my mother in 2003, I wanted to invest my inheritance in either fine art or land.  I eventually settled on buying the Flying Hat Ranchito. Before I bought the Flying Hat, however, I traveled to Taos and Santa Fe to put together an ensemble of southwestern paintings of the Taos Society of Artists — Bert Geer Phillips, Ernest L. Blumenschein, Joseph Henry Sharp, Oscar E. Berninghaus, E. Irving Couse and W. Herbert Dunton.

As I made a laundry list of the paintings I might purchase, going from art gallery to art gallery, I met Eric Andrews at the Parsons Gallery in Taos. It was an immediate friendship. I traveled to his studio out on the High Road to Taos from Santa Fe to visit with him and his wife and see their work. Although I made the decision to buy my ranchito, I bought Eric’s Vadito II that hangs over my fireplace (you can see it on the “About” page of Sage to Meadow). The painting above, Walking the Acequia 2, illustrates my acquaintance with Eric and my deep interest in all things acequia.

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Founders of the Taos Society of Artists at the...

The Taos Society of Artists -- image via Wikipedia

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If she isn’t the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, I’ll give her to you!

Wild Flower Gal with verbena (north Erath County, Texas, late winter, 2007).

Four winters ago, my neighbor, Jerry Wood who lives two miles south of me on County Road 114 stopped at my mailbox as I retrieved letters one morning.  We chatted for a few minutes as he kept his diesel truck running and as we closed our conversation he said, “I have a horse, Jack, [words unintelligible over the engine noise] I’ll give her to you!”

“I’ll give her to you?”  I had three horses at this time, two tobiano black paints and one quarter horse, Sweet Hija, and another horse added to the remuda would not be a problem to train and feed.  But, a gift horse?  I thought as Jerry drove off that he must be terminally ill or something drastic was going on like divorce or bankruptcy.  I immediately decided that if the horse was sound, I would take her off Jerry’s hands and ease his problem — whatever it was.

Within the week, I drove down to Jerry’s with my trailer hitched up, pulled into his corrals and saw Wild Flower Gal, a sorrel tobiano paint that was drop-dead gorgeous.  “Why would he even want to get rid of this beautiful creature?” I quietly thought.  In any case, he took her through her paces, showed that she was healthy and halter-trained and I liked her behavior so she would fit in after getting to know my other three horses.

After seeing her training, paces and overall friendliness, I asked Jerry, “Are you sure you want to give this beautiful horse to me, Jerry?”  I thought he was making a big mistake to give Wild Flower Away and I did not want to exploit Jerry’s problem — whatever the heck it was — in his hour of crisis.

“What?” he said.

“You did say, didn’t you, Jerry, that you were giving this horse to me?”  This was quickly going in a perplexing direction I did not like.

“Oh, no!” he quickly replied.  “I said, ‘If she isn’t the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, I’ll give her to you.'”

“Oh, you did?”  This was definitely in embarrassing territory.  “How much do you want for her?”

“One-thousand dollars,” he replied.

I became a tad dizzy in my thinking at that point, but my mind quickly cleared the confusion:  Jerry’s diesel engine had blocked out his words, “If she isn’t the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen…”  And I had slammed his statement into, “I have a horse to give you, Jack.”

What to do?  Buy the horse and lighten my bank account?  Probably the best exit strategy.  If I did not buy Wild Flower Gal, I would probably be the center of an oft-told tale at the Hannibal Country Store concerning my over-eagerness to gainsay another yegua for free.  I did not want that circulating around the cracker barrel.

So, I bought Wild Flower Gal, loaded her up and brought her to my stables.  Jerry signed over the pedigree, pocketing a thousand.

Wild Flower Gal was pretty, but not the prettiest gal I had ever seen.  But, pretty enough to buy and train and sever any anecdote about my confusion.  Several months later I snapped the photograph of her in late winter browsing through the wild verbena.  It was fitting, this photograph, because she was in a pasture of wild flowers that reflected her namesake.  I sold her a year later for a thousand dollars to a family near Abilene, Texas, that showed her at halter and loved her well.

A lot of lessons emerge from this story.  Verify and clarify conversations of commercial intercourse.  Cut your engines when conversing.  Above all, there’s no such thing as a free horse.

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Canada! Watch out for Lonespurs Shining Badger!

 

Lonespurs Shining Badger born April 11, 2011, Calgary, Alberta.

Sweet Hija foaled a colt, Lonespurs Shining Badger, on April 11, 2011.  Kim Elliott, the owner of Sweet Hija, has selected the paper name for the colt:  Lonespurs, the name of their ranch near Calgary where Legends of the Fall and Open Range were filmed; Shining, after the sire Shiners Lena Doc; and Badger, after the King Ranch bloodline of Sweet Hija.

Kim said that Sweet Hija was as big as Mac Truck before she foaled and that she had the foal all by herself, no problem.  That’s one of the reasons we bought Sweet Hija in 2003.  She was strong and bred for ranch work and could take care of things quickly.

I thought that all my tears had been shed about Sweet Hija, but Brenda and I gave a few more tears to the good earth when we learned of Hija and Highway 101, the barn name for the little colt named, Lonespurs Shining Badger.

Kim Elliott and her family — I talked to them on the phone — are so very proud of Hija and Highway 101 that I think (don’t know for sure) they will keep Highway 101 intact and have him sire a whole new bloodline in Canada.  We’ll see if my hunch is correct.

In any case, watch out, Canada, for this little man!

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Notes:

Kim Elliott and her family operate and own Elliott Equine Transport, the premier horse transport for North America.  Highway 101, Kim told me, is the coastal highway they travel between Canada and Mexico and the place in between and a fitting name for the little colt.

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To the land of open range

We carried Fanny and Hija and her unborn foal to sale in our two-horse trailer named Equi Spirit.

Fanny or Shiners Fannin Peppy sold at the Heritage Place Mixed Winter Sale on Thursday in Oklahoma City.  Courtney Hampton of Summersville, Missouri, purchased Fanny.  Courtney’s work and pleasure with Fanny will center about Barrel Racing competition and Fanny will do Courtney well.  For Courtney and Fanny, it seemed love at first sight.  The hind socks on Fanny are white and shaped like wings and I trust Fanny will fly like the wind with Courtney.

In the listing of horses to be sold at Heritage Place, our second and third horse, Sweet Hija and the unborn foal, came up for bid at 8:00 p.m. Friday night.  All day long I prepped Sweet Hija and her unborn foal for the big event, going into the make-up ring — a place where you walk your horse in an open area — and then up the walk to the auction arena where a professional handler takes control.  When the presentation began, I walked with Hija and she showed her King Ranch style:  energetic, fully alert, stepping high, ears forward.  Yet she stayed close by me as I walked her from her left side.  For five minutes she presented her Running W, the brand of King Ranch, to the crowd before I handed her off to the handler that took her into the the bidding arena.

When she came back to me she was no longer mine.  Sweet Hija and her unborn foal passed into the kind and humane possession of Kim Elliott of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Sweet Hija and her foal will reside near Calgary, on land and terrain that gave Bierstadt panorama to the films, Open Range and Legends of the Fall. Kim Elliott acted and her horses performed in both movies.  Ms. Elliott told me and Brenda that When horses come to our ranch, they are there for good and they have the terrain of Open Range to look at day after day.  How can Brenda and I be so happy and mournful at the same time for the unexpected fortunes of our three horses?  We are and we will be.

 

Sweet Hija and foal's new home with Kim Elliott on the open range near Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

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The eve of a new year on the ranch

Pigeons flying towards a new year above the Santa Fe plaza.

We make resolutions and there’s nothing wrong in doing so.  We plan to do better, give more and finish the big chores we have had on our list for months, maybe even curtail or give up our vices.  Well, maybe not completely give them up, but back off bad habits.

I work with students, horses and the land.  I work in order to live, not live in order to work.  That’s a big, big difference.  Working with students this last year has been more rewarding than ever before in my professional career.  I attribute that to my nearing retirement and wanting to give what I think is of value to the student before I put the chalk in the tray and walk away.  Time is fleeting and I don’t have time to cover all the points, just the most significant.  So, for this next year, I resolve to cut the excess from the lectures and discussions and get right to the core: finding your voice, writing down your voice and tending to your own garden (Voltaire, Gilgamesh, Trilling).

For my life with horses, it’s a sadder year coming.  We are selling Sweet Hija who is pregnant with a female and Shiners Fannin Peppy, the first foal out of Sweet Hija.  Brenda and I will be left with our two paints, Star and Lilly, both having their share of health problems these days.  In January, we are going to Oklahoma City for the Mixed Winter Sale at Heritage Place.  Market forces beyond my control have cut through our ranch operations with a vengeance and the cost of horse breeding and market conditions force my hand.  What Brenda and I are trying to do, in taking Hija and Fanny to the sale in Oklahoma, is to put these fine horses in the best sale around so that they will have good homes or ranches to live out their days.  So, for this next year, I resolve to focus on Star and Lilly, build some good, strong pens in the Pecan Tree Pasture for their safety.  I resolve not to think too much about our loss of Hija and Fanny and the little one — difficult to push that resolution through next year, I guarantee.

And, finally with the land, I resolve to set up brush piles for the little critters, deer and birds about the place, not shredding every single bush like some of my neighbors.  Further, I want to learn the name of every tree species on Flying Hat Ranch, or at least make a major dent in nomenclature.  I will also continue to plant native grasses about the pastures.

The eve of 2011 is here.  I toast to love, health and fortune to be found among horses and land, family and students — yours as well as mine.

Sweet Hija at full gallop in winter snow (2010).

Fanny strutting in the grove with Shiney (summer 2009).

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Field Log 7/11/2010 (Use of Twine for Safety)

North Erath County, Texas, Lat 32.43 N, Long -98.36 W, elev. 1,086 ft. Turkey Creek Quad.

The Use of Twine for Safety in Horse Trailers

Rained off and on most of the day.

Took Sweet Hija to Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery (ESM&S) on the Brazos for a pregnancy check.  Loaded Hija into the two-horse, side-by-side trailer.  Some balking at loading.

C & C Stock Trailer at Flying Hat Ranch

On our place, the horses are accustomed to a C & C stock trailer that is twenty-six feet long, not the two-horse, side-by-side.  The C & C stock trailer, for both horses and cattle, allows a larger space, plenty of views between the side rails, a good comfort zone.  I don’t tie them up during the trip, only during the loading and unloading process.  In the stock trailer, I put up baling twine to tie the lead rope, in case there is an accident or a panic incident, they can snap the twine much easier.

I used the two-horse, side-by-side trailer today rather than the C & C.

Bailing Twine Attached to Lead Rope for Safety

In the two-horse, I had failed to use the baling twine to tie the lead rope, but instead put the lead rope through the conventional steel rung.  It did not register on me that I was side-stepping safety behavior for the horse and me.  I failed to perform a checklist because I was in a hurry.

Equine Spirit Two-Horse Trailer, Side-by-Side, Flying Hat Ranch

Trip to Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery on the Brazos was slowed by several hundred bicyclists on a race via the Brock Road.  Had to drive slowly and be careful passing.  Rain tapered off at Brock.

Sweet Hija Will Birth a Filly in May 2011

Dr. Semira S. Mancill gave Hija her sixty-day physical and also sexed the newly-developing foal.  Two weeks ago, the sonogram signaled a colt, but the definitive conclusion with ultra-sound yesterday was that the foal was a filly.  The sire is Shiners Lena Doc out of Carol Rose’s stables north of Denton, Texas.  Dr. Mancill said that the ultra-sound indicated a healthy filly will be developing for birthing next April 15, 2011.

Bad sign in trying to reload Sweet Hija in the trailer.  She balked and it took us ten minutes to convince her to join-up with the two-horse trailer.  Dr. Mancill, Zack (our helper at ESM&S) and I completed the task.  I was embarrassed.

Load completed, I drove to Stephenville to pick up supplies and hay.  Twelve bales of coastal and alfalfa, three Strategies, one Horseman’s Edge.  Rain eased up so I transported the hay in the bed of the pickup, the grain in the horse trailer.

Accident Due to Several Factors

Back at the ranch, I proceeded to unload Hija.  Instead of being fully safety-conscious, I proceeded to undo the butt bar on Hija, intending to walk around to side door, climb in the trailer and back her up.  Hija panicked and pulled back on the lead rope, breaking the snap on the rope that was under her chin.  In rearing backwards, she got a laceration above her left eye from the brass on the halter.  I had seen her start to back up and thought she would stop once she got to the end of the lead rope, but she did not.  I grabbed her halter without a lead rope and she quickly calmed down, but the laceration was three-inches long and deep, bleeding, though not to the bone.

Entangled Lead Rope on D-ring As Result of Aggressive Pullback of Horse (No Baling Twine)

I asked Brenda to come down to the stables and help me assess what to do.  Brenda says it’s bad enough to go to the vet.  She calls ESM&S in Weatherford, Texas (not the reproduction center on the Brazos) to tell the emergency staff we are coming with Hija.  It was a Saturday afternoon, about 1:30 p.m.

ESM&S Staff Stitches Hija

I hitch up the C & C stock trailer to the white F-250 we have.  I’m not going to use the two-horse again today — bad medicine.  I proceed to tie Hija to the twine loop, then unfasten her for the trip to ESM&S once she is loaded in.  We speed to Weatherford, unload Hija.  She is bleeding a bit more, but not effusively.  The staff stitches the laceration and we return home by 5:00 p.m.  We must take her back in two weeks to get the stitches out.

Sweet Hija With Stitches, Flying Hat Ranch

In the response to Hija’s accident, we were negligent in applying known safety standards. Fortunately, the snap broke before further injury occurred.

Open stock trailers like the C & C trailer have their drawbacks.  Probably the most serious is that the separation of horses must be well-planned because there are no panels as in the side-by-side or slant transport.  In most situations, however, the trailer has two compartments, large stall areas, and that seems adequate for separation.

C & C Stock Trailer Interior, Flying Hat Ranch

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Sweet Hija to the Brazos

North Erath County, Texas, 32.43 lat., -98.36 long. Elev. 1,086 ft.  Turkey Creek Quad.

Two days ago, we took Sweet Hija to Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery on the Brazos (ESMS on Brazos) for artificial insemination to Shiners Lena Doc out of Carol Rose’s stables.

As an added feature to taking Hija to ESMS, I saw Peptoboonsmal, one of the leading quarter horses of recent years.  He is standing (residing for breeding purposes) at ESMS on Brazos.

Peptoboonsmal by Cutting Horse Chatter, April 2010, Jackson Land & Cattle Co.

I knew that Peptoboonsmal was at ESMS and when I met the reproduction manager, Kellee Clarke, I said that I remembered a red roan up at Carol Rose’s several years ago.  Did she have him?  I did not even call his name, it was just the pink guy.  Yes, Kellee said, Would you like to see him?  Of course.  This guy is becoming one of the famous sires of quarter horses of all time, coming up on Peppy San Badger, Hija’s grandsire at King Ranch.

So, Kellee, Brenda and I went back into the stallion barn to see the old boy (born 1992).  I missed him at first as we walked by and had to turn around.  Kellee opened the door to this fabulous stallion and said, He likes this.  She entered ‘Boonsmal’s stall and he stuck out his tongue to have it scratched and massaged!  Kellee said, he is a really sweet old boy.  I can see that, I replied.

I stood and watched.  Large old guy, but gentle and handsome.  All matings with Peptoboonsmal are on site.  There’s no artificial insemination from him.  He’s a valuable sire and his owner, Jackson Land & Cattle Company, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is going to limit his exposure.  They have quite a horse.

Left off Sweet Hija.  Dr. Semira Mancill called later in the day, stating that Hija had recently come out of ovulation cycle, so they would keep her for a few days, give her an injection to start her ovulation again and then breed her.  She will be bred to Shiners Lena Doc from Carol Rose’s stables.  My other two offspring from Hija are also from Shiners Lena Doc:  Fanny and Shiney, aka Shiners Fannin Peppy and Shiners Fannin Pepto.

We should be able to pick up Sweet Hija from the Brazos ESMS by the end of the week.

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The Horses of Flying Hat

I thought I would put in one post a photograph of each of the horses I work with on a daily basis here at our place, Flying Hat.  All of these photographs can be enlarged by clicking on the photograph. By enlarging the photograph, if you have a moment, will reveal a lot of detail, as these photographs are usually 2.0 plus in megabytes.  I like to take photographs using the most detailed mode (within reason, of course) I can.  You can always lessen the detail in a photograph, but never add detail to it.

Shiners Fannin Peppy

This is Shiners Fannin Peppy or “Fanny.”  Fanny has been in training — elementary school — for a hundred days with Duncan Steele-Park at the GCH Land & Cattle Company of Weatherford, Texas.  Fanny is a daughter of Sweet Hija below.  Fanny is quite vocal.  She will begin to nicker once she knows that I am going to feed.  It is a vocalization that is more of a chortle, kind of a gargle, deep-down in her throat.  Fanny will continue to nicker-chortle every fifteen seconds or so until I put feed in her bin.  Translation to English:  “Oh, boy, I can’t wait, can’t wait for my grain.  Oh, boy, oh boy.”

Sweet Hija

This is Sweet Hija or “Hija,” as we like to call her.  I purchased her in 2003, from King Ranch.  She starred in a King Ranch video for marketing before the auction at Kingsville.  She cut cattle with J. R. Ramirez, her trainer, in front of two-hundred prospective buyers.  I bought her at the King Ranch Legacy Auction in 2003, in front of  2,000 spectators — really stressful, but fun.  When I walked to the stables to view Hija after purchase, two stalls down from her was her grandfather, Peppy San Badger.  He was looking over the crowd and his granddaughter.  Peppy San Badger was nearing the end of his days, but he was still eager to see people and his progeny — be around the excitement.  I am sorry to say that I did not appreciate his background and heritage that day as I was just beginning to understand the quarter horse culture.  Peppy San Badger, Hija’s grandsire, was one of the greatest quarter horses ever to have lived: he rewrote performance records and records in the show pen.  He died in 2005, less than two years after he saw Hija load up into our horse trailer and come to Hannibal.  I have a photograph that shows Peppy in the background, Hija in the fore.  I’ll try and retrieve it for you some day.

When I saddle and ride Hija, I have to give her a run around the round pen before I mount (it’s been a while, however, since I’ve ridden) because she has that spirit of Peppy San Badger.  He would give a little buck when you first mounted him, but not a mean buck, just an energetic buck that he was happy to be alive — so also, his granddaughter.

Ima Lil Moore

This is Lilly, the oldest mare in the remuda.  I inherited Lilly and her son, Star, upon the settlement of my parents’ estate in 2003.  Lilly is the alpha mare of the remuda.  She is challenged by Fanny for placement at the food trough.  Lilly likes to take her good time these days to come to the stall.  I favor her and let her use the alleyway to get into her stall (see the alleyway above) rather than have her walk a longer distance.  You can also see in the photograph above, the barn cat, Paint or Little Paint.  Odd, but he has the same markings of Lilly.

Shiners Fannin Pepto

Here is “Shiney.”  He is all-boy, a colt and a peppy one at that.  He is the son of Sweet Hija.  This is the guy I am having so much fun with these days.  He is an intact male and I have him for sale, but Brenda and I have talked about keeping him — me more than her — but it would require the construction of a stallion run.  Shiney is such a fine boy.  I really like working with him.

Stars Bars Moore

Star is a gelding and the baby-sitter for Shiney.  Star and Shiney inhabit the large outdoor arena and are given to playing many games of “Gotcha,” a variation of tag.  Star is a large horse.  I often refer to him with affection: The Beer Wagon Horse.  Star is the son of Lilly.  Star is known far and wide as the levitating horse of Flying Hat — check a previous post this winter on the blog.

A friend of mine at the college, Roland Stroebel, says to me almost daily, “I’m homesick, Jack.”  By that he means that he wants to go back to his farm south of Cisco, Texas, and work with the land and his cattle.  He misses his farm — homesick.  When Roland’s work is done at the college, he leaves and I can see him working with his fine Angus cattle into the evening darkness.

When I am away from all of the horses and land upon which they trod, I am homesick for their companionship, their warm breath and smell.  It is said:  “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a person.”  I believe that with all my heart.

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Winter Photographs at Flying Hat

Winter 2.11.2010, Poprock Pasture

Poprock Pasture and Arena In Winter

Yucca and Fence

Shiney and Star Playing Gotcha

Shiney Galloping to Corral

Remuda at Well House Corral

Mountain White-crown Sparrows Above Stables (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha)

Stable Alleyway with Panels

55 Horses by Case Farmall

Flying Hat Ranch House

Schools in Abilene and Fort Worth, Texas, were canceled this morning.  I went out to take some photographs of Flying Hat.  If you click the photographs, you get a full-size picture with detail.

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