Tag Archives: GCH Land & Cattle Co

Fanny at the Vet

Shiners Fannin Peppy, Photo by B. Matthews (2009)

Sometime last Saturday night or early Sunday morning, Shiners Fannin Peppy (Fanny) severely lacerated her right leg between the fetlock and knee, a gash with minimum loss of blood.  When I cleaned the wound, I discovered that it was much more serious than at first glance and may have penetrated to the bone.  The night before, as a matter of routine, I had placed four horses in two corrals and had left open entry gates to the stalls.  Fanny is an active two-year old and may have injured herself on a gate that was open.

Within two hours of this emergency, I drove Fanny to Equine Sports Medicine & Surgery (ESMS) in Weatherford, Texas, and Dr. Skeet Gibson and his staff took x-rays, cleaned the wound, wrapped her leg and put Fanny in a comfortable stall with alfalfa and Purina Strategy (grain).  He sutured the wound on Monday after the swelling decreased.  Fanny has remained at the ESMS since Sunday and will be confined for a few more days until the laceration heals.  There was no bone impact from the laceration, although another round of x-rays will be taken in two weeks to determine bruising.

Dr. Gibson says the prognosis is very good and the chance of bone damage is minimal.

Fanny is the horse trained by Duncan Steele-Park at GCH Land & Cattle Company.

I have been visiting Fanny and she is healing nicely.

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Yucca Nuzzles

I have some photos about plants, animals, terrain and fossils I would like to show you.  There’s always a photo opportunity here on Flying Hat.  April offers some comforting snapshots about the place.  There’s a lot of communication taking place, even with horses and yucca.

Fanny and Jack at Stable Alleyway

In “Fanny and Jack in the Stable Alleyway,” I am with Fanny and she wants to show her gratitude for the grain she got this morning.  She sees the camera and wants to get her picture taken as well as give me a nuzzle in the neck.

Fanny is not an aggressive horse.  Nonetheless, around horses, a person must be cautious.  They are flight animals and when frightened, they will kick or bolt forward.  Fanny is a good mare and her trainer, Duncan Steele-Park and the crew at GCH Land & Cattle Co., have taken her good qualities and improved them.  From the day of her birth, we have been familiar with Fanny, lifting her feet and touching her.

Fanny Nuzzles Jack

A nuzzle on the neck is good sign that the horse has “joined up” with a person.  “Joining up” is a trademark term of Monty Roberts, The Man Who Listens to Horses (1996) and From My Hands to Yours (2002).

Our horses have human contact–tactile contact–every day.  The touching includes a “sacking out” with the hands.  “Sacking out” is an term describing a procedure to rub the horse with a foreign object, i.e., a sack, halter, lead rope, blanket or with the hands.  A daily touching and haltering with the horse boosts the familiarity between horse and human.

In most cases, horses anticipate the tactile contact.  Lilly, our oldest mare, will glide up alongside us and stop, allowing us to rub her under her mane on the neck.  The horse’s approach should not crowd the space of humans and it is best if they stop a few feet away and present themselves, more or less, with their flanks exposed.  Even after a person becomes acquainted with equine behavior, it is always best to position the body at the flanks or broadside to the horse.

Fanny's Head on Jack's Shoulder

The daily contact with horses is a good thing for them and us.  We rub the horses once or twice between the eyes, a place they cannot see, as a sign we are trustworthy.

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Read on, there’s more…

Pale-leaf Yucca (Y. pallida)

I have spent thirty minutes typing this yucca plant.  I may be wrong, but my factor analysis seems correct.  It is a Pale-leaf yucca (Yucca pallida).  As stated in my “Notice to Readers of Sage to Meadow,” if you discern an error in my typing this plant, please correct me.

Pale-leaf yucca is endemic (native only to a particular area) to North Central Texas and may extend into the Edwards Plateau, growing on rocky soil and outcrops of the Blackland Prairies and the Grand Prairie. It bears sage-green or bluish-green, orderly-arranged leaves having a noticeable waxy bloom, or glaucous appearance. The rosette itself is stemless and small, providing a spherical, coarse-textured look in the landscape. It may be single or have multiple offsets. Like all yuccas, Yucca pallida requires good drainage. It may be grown in the shade garden for textural interest, but may not bloom as well as those in more sun.  [Texas Plant Database, Texas A&M University.]

In my analysis, I also figured the yucca might be Yucca contricta (Buckley yucca) or Yucca necopina (Glen Rose yucca).  In the next few days, these yuccas will blossom and I will provide field photos.

*   *   *

Verbena with Poprock Hill

I write so often about Poprock Hill, I thought I would provide a photo of the hill.  This was taken earlier this April before the full eruption of grasses, but you can see the proliferation of verbena in the foreground.  Notice also the abundance of Pale-leaf yucca (Yucca pallida) on the terraces below the ranch house.  Poprock Hill is aptly named by local settlers because of the poprocks that are plentiful about the hill.  I collect them, and with each rain poprocks emerge from the soil.

Poprocks on Silver

“Poprocks on Silver” shows several poprocks, large and small, that I have collected.

These photographs I have posted illustrate that even on simple, unglamorous land, there are natural items that are noteworthy and significant for study.  The yucca plant I typed (hopefully, correct) required me to go back out to the terrace and look closer at the edges of the leaves to determine if there was a white line or if the leaves were curled, narrow or broad.  As I began to type the yucca for posting, I got interested in the yucca for its own sake: what was it?  Was it rare?  Endemic?  The Glen Rose yucca is a uncommon plant and needs some protection from extraction and destruction.  Did I have a Glen Rose or not?  I find the yucca in Texas worthy of further study.  I may start a yucca farm.

Finally, I think this post with photos shows how connections can be funny and personal between species.  Fanny and I communicated and I think both of us got pleasure and companionship out of the contact.  The yucca could not respond.   Whoa there, cowboy!  From a Native American point-of-view, the yucca and I were talking to each other, weren’t we?  It showed me its style, color and emerging blossoms.  I watched it and it “told” me what it was doing.  Yes.  Certain species of the yucca can be used for soap, shampoo.  And, when I give Lilly her supplement for her osteoarthritis, the veterinary insisted that the supplement include yucca.  This personalization of plants and animals is beneficial to us all: medicine, companionship and a unity that, however briefly, overcomes life’s estrangement.  That’s talking with the plants and animals.  Maybe they are our relatives.

I wish you a pleasant week ahead: nuzzle your yucca, but be very careful.  Like with all relatives.

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Fanny Returns

Shiners Fannin Peppy and Jack Matthews, GCH Land & Cattle Co., March 2010 (click to enlarge)

Shiners Fannin Peppy, “Fanny,” came back to Flying Hat yesterday.  At the hands of Duncan Steele-Park, her teacher, she has had three months of the best training I could afford.  Fanny will be a excellent pleasure horse, a fair cutter and all-around riding horse.  Duncan assessed Fanny:  She’s a good horse, but in this high-dollar business of cutting horses, she could not compete at the super-athlete level that is required to succeed.  I’m not a swimmer, either, he said, and I and you, Jack, have to play to her talents, to her disposition and behavior.  It’s unfair to force her into being the athlete she is not.

I could not have asked for a better teacher for my horse.  Let her be herself, play to her strengths.  Fanny came back home and was welcomed by the remuda: they kicked and ran and whinnied, communicating excitement.  I’ll have more photographs about Fanny, but for now, you’ll have to settle for the photograph above: myself, my companion.

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Fanny with Duncan Steele-Park

Shiners Fannin Peppy with Duncan Steele-Park

I went to see Fanny Wednesday morning after classes.  Duncan Steele-Park took her through her paces, circles and stops.  It was a cold morning and Fanny and Duncan followed one calf in the large indoor arena to accustom her to cattle.  At times, I saw her breath as a small cloud, rise softly, then evaporate.  Fanny has been around cattle all her short life, but having a rider to give her commands was different.  Duncan gave me a critique of her behavior in the workout and she stops really well.  Her work on right-hand circles is testing her, although her left-hand circles are good.  Fanny has about two more weeks with Duncan before we make a decision on her future.  She is out of kindergarten, Duncan says, and in elementary school.

On the one hand, with progressive improvement, Fanny can stay in school and in another year become a futurity prospect in a crop of 750 cutting horses.  Then, on the other hand, Fanny can have a good education at the hands of Duncan for a few more weeks and come back home to our place to be a good companion and safe horse for human beings.  Duncan has stated that there could be reasons to bring her out of his training and put her on a decent, average road for horses that will not be a prospect for the Fort Worth futurity, but will give her experience for a comfortable, safe life with human beings.  And, they with Fanny.

I do wish all of you could see Duncan and Fanny working together.  He lets her be free in learning.  By that I mean, he lets her be a force for herself, not him, not Duncan.  He will start every session with turning her head with the rein and hackamore (no snaffle, no bit) to the left, then to the right.  When he changes the gait in her circles, there is no overt spurring or talk, just a few clucks or pressure with his legs, and she adjusts.  I could not see the cue Duncan was applying to get her to stop.  Maybe there was a slight pressure from the hackamore for Fanny to whoa, but I could not see his cue for her to halt.  And, she stops quickly.

So, I asked Duncan, What is the cue you give Fanny to whoa?  As he was riding by on Fanny, Duncan said, Look at my leg and boot.  I looked and when Duncan takes his boot and leg away from her flank, just slightly, she stops.  All he does is take off leg and boot pressure about her flanks and she halts.  Dead so, doesn’t move.  Stays immobile, stopped.  I thought: That’s why I pay tuition.

Fanny is fortunate.  Fanny is under a stoa, a porch, of ancient pedagogy, a place with a teacher that doesn’t use a cudgel to beat the cursive into the student, but a stoa-arena that allows her to draw out of herself a strength and performance that instills confidence that she will possess, whether she is futurity bound or is ridden by a young, blondhaired lass in the greenest of nature’s pastures, enjoying the wind on her face and the gentle pressure of rider around her soft, sorrel flanks.  Go, my darling, Fanny, go.  I have given you the best I could.

Fanny and Duncan Under the Stoa (Click image for enlargement.)

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