Sunday, April 12, 2009

Setting up wild horse pens

Well, I keep saving this post for when I feel like I have more time to devote to it, but that's just not happening. So, during the internet adoption last month, my dad and I adopted 2 mustangs from the Sulphur HMA in Utah. They are being delivered to Marshfield, WI on May 22nd at an in person adoption that is being held there. There is a possibility that we might only be bringing 1 of the 2 home after we go pick them up (if they aren't what we expected, although I will feel awful if we don't bring both of them home together). If we don't take one of them, then that horse will be offered up at the adoption the next day. But, we adopted both and we are planning to take both, so I'll not discuss that anymore. Here are a few pictures of the 2 that we adopted. One is a 2 year old dun stud (soon to be gelding) that is 14hh tall.

The other is a 3 year old 14hh red dun mare who looks a lot like Andrea's Tonka...she has the sweetest face and I was so drawn to her.

Most likely, the 2 year old dun will become my dad's riding horse, but we'll see. I also have a friend (my friend who owns the buckskin quarter horse mare), who would like to get a mustang (I sold her on the mustangs for trail riding when I had her ride Catlow once :) We've talked about how this might work out for her because she doesn't have anyplace to set up a pen for a wild one. And in a year, her and her husband should be settled in their new place (they just moved to WY) and she'll be ready to add a third horse (she had 2 right now, but her half draft gelding cannot be ridden off her place because he is very fearful and super strong...he's hurt her pretty seriously before, and her new buckskin mare is doing well, but she has "mare-days". She'd really like to have a second trail horse that she can have friends ride along with her, and she also likes the way that I train this might be a good thing for all of us...I get to work with 2 new horses and gain some experience, but I don't have to commit to keeping them forever, and the horse would go to a friend...the only way I could imagine "getting rid of" a horse I've trained...I think I'd get so attached that I'd want to know all about where they went. So if they went to a friend, it's like not really letting go of them! I do think that our herd would be perfect with 4 horses...poor Catlow needs a horse to bond with. Cody and Chico have a super strong pair bond and they exclude Catlow all the time. I'm sure part of it is Catlow's personality (she's a outsider...a watch mare), but it'd be nice to give her the opportunity to be able to bond with another horse.

Our plan for these 2 this summer is to gentle them, then turn them out with the herd for the winter. If possible, I might get to saddling the mare, but I doubt I'll be riding her this year. We'll wait on doing saddle work with the gelding (since he's only 2 right now) until next summer. By then, my dad's shoulder will be healed up from the surgery he's having in 2 days, and then he can do work with he gelding.

So, in preparation for the arrival of the mustangs, we are getting 2 pens set up around our old tin barn. My mom and I started by removing tin from the backside of the shed to create a second opening. Cody is always looking for an escape route.

This is the sort of "before" picture although I didn't think to take this picture until after we'd removed the tin. This is "before" my dad leveled out the ground with the tractor.

After the base was leveled out more (but banked so that water will drain), we dug holes for the wooden posts. Our panels are only 5 ft high, so we had to do a little modification. We set in posts and bolted the panels to the posts a foot higher than they'd normally sit.

We used an auger to set the holes. It was really interesting watching the soil layers come up with the auger blades. Two of the corners had yellow sand underneath the black topsoil layer, another 3 holes were clay, and the last 2 holes were actually frozen ground yet.

This is the sort of finished product on the back side of the barn. We still have to install gates at the barn door, inside the barn (to separate the 2 horses), put 4ft of plywood along the botton of the barn so they can't get cut on it, and also put a wooden plank along the bottom edge of the panels (they now sit 2 ft off the ground and we worry they might try to go under). Then this pen will be finished. It might look a little cobbled, but it is pretty sturdy. Our panels are not the super heavy duty kind, so they will bend if a horse run's into them, but they won't break.

I really like having the backside of the barn open because it lets in so much more light. I think we may eventually put a door on it so that it can be closed up against the bitter winter winds.

And we still need to set the pen in front, but the ground is still frozen because it was insulated by so much hay and manure. In a few weeks, my dad will be recovered from surgery enough to drive his tractor, and I can do all the rest (setting posts, attaching panels...maybe I'll get my sister over to help or something).

And yes, this means that my horses won't have access to the barn while the new mustangs are here, but they weren't using it anyway. My dad said that this winter, they stood out in the driving snow and never once came to the barn to get out of it. In reality, they've never really had access to a barn before. In ID, their "shelter" was the side of a large pole barn that did a pretty good job of blocking the wind and providing shade in the late afternoon. Here, they have several hills and lots of trees for shelter. There are plenty of places to get out of the weather. And by the end of summer, they will all have access to the barn, so all is well.


Jessie said...

Hi Kara,

How exciting for you to get 2 more mustangs!! You should really look into the TIP program that the Mustang Heritage Foundation has. You could make a little extra money if you find adopters for the mustangs you've gentled.

We will have to get together when the weather warms up and ride! Have you ever been to Governor Dodge State Park? That is one of my favorite places to ride in the summer. The trails are great! You can ride all day long on the big loop.

I will have to start getting my horses in shape for trail riding again.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope we can meet up at the Horse Fair!

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post. I'm just really excited to see where the horses went from that month's adoption. Well two of them at least. I seen their pics and about fell out of my seat. That really was the prettiest set of horses in a group I seen for a long time from the BLM Internet Adoption. There are always those that stand out, but that month, there was just so much color. Congratulations. I saved a picture of one mare I really liked. I named her Miss Legs and it looked like she had gotten bid on too! There was a strawberry one, that I named Miss Lucille Ball, because of her really neat reddish tint. And then there was that super musculur gelding, that looked like, the Super Man of Geldings. (talk about brawny muscle) He was from Sheepshead, Oregon. I kept his pic too lol. LOL now I'm rambling. Anyways, I'm definitely going to keep reading your blog now, just to see how the new babies do. I can see so far they are doing great! They look so nice and clean and happy now. =^_^= I love it!

Kara said...

LadyKalista - I wouldn't have seent his comment, except that I was inspired by your comment on a more recent post to go back and look at the pictures of the mustangs on the internet adoption site. Yep, they sure have changed!