Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wyoming Ranch Animals

The Wyoming horse ranch I visited last week has some very engaging animals. Naturally, I fell madly in love with them all.

This is the ranch's cat, Gregory Peck:

He's a Manx cat--a tailless breed--and looks for all the world like a little bobcat as he moseys around the ranch. He's a totally chill individual and not afraid of horses.

This is Ebbet, a Cardigan Corgi, named after the historical baseball park Ebbets Field:

His human dad is a big-time baseball fan.

A while back, Ebbet fell down a staircase and had to undergo back surgery. He's recovered now, but he lost a little bit of his mojo.

Even so, he's a fantastic, funny, friendly dog. (Get your mojo back, Ebbie! We're rootin' for ya.)

This is Ebbet's little sister, Daisy. She's also a Cardigan Corgi:

Daisy is constantly getting into trouble and dragging poor Ebbet in with her.

One recent Sunday, Daisy swiped somebody's Reuben sandwich--still in its plastic baggie--and swallowed it whole! In addition, she also ate the person's lunchtime dose of medicine. No animal-poison experts were reachable on a Sunday to tell what the lethal dose of that drug was for dogs. Since it wasn't totally clear at the time which dog was the culprit, and my friends didn't want to run the risk of a dog getting seriously sick (or worse!), both pups had to be given vomit-inducing medicine.

Poor Ebbet was violently sick, over and over, until he experienced dry heaves. Meanwhile Daisy was sittin' pretty, until in one giant Blorp!, she tossed up an almost entire Reuben sandwich--and the baggie it was still in!

They are a lot of fun and love to follow everybody around--people and horses alike.

Corgis were bred to herd livestock, so they are very comfortable around horses...sometimes a little too comfortable. Daisy's been known to take a nip out of a horse's ankle, when it was just standing around, minding its own business!

Speaking of horses, the ranch has 14 of them. This was "my" horse for the time I was there. His name is "Hoot":

Such a wonderful horse. And did you notice? He has only one eye:

He lost one to cancer. The first time I saw him, I thought he looked like a Georgia O'Keefe painting, come to life:


Hoot is a big, princely, quiet, confident horse. He also happens to be the alpha horse in the herd. His leadership isn't pushy. It's not even immediately obvious--at least to those of us fairly new to the ways of horses. But when Hoot walks up to the water trough for a drink, or to a pile of hay, everybody immediately makes way. He's The Man.

And he was pure pleasure to ride.

This is Hoot's saddle. It was a heavy sucker, because Hoot is huge! He weighs somewhere between 1,300 and 1,400 pounds, where an average horse is about 1,000 pounds. And yeah, that's the way you're supposed to put a saddle down, if you have to rest it for a moment:

There are so many flaps and buckles and straps on a saddle! I had to ask for help to remember where they all go, more than once. But eventually I kinda got it sorted out.

I couldn't stop taking pictures of Hoot's face. It was so compelling, so gorgeous, so strong.

Every once in a while, I'd back out and take a full-body shot. Here he is, patiently waiting for me to saddle him up:

Hoot's coloring is called strawberry roan. His reddish hair is the color of copper when it's very shiny--almost a pink shade (hence the "strawberry"). It's shot through with white, as if he's been heavily dusted in powdered sugar. That's what "roan" means--that dusted-white-over-color pattern.

In the sunshine, Hoot's coppery coat glows like a bright penny:

The other horse I loved taking photos of was "Hawk." Hawk is a "paint," meaning he has a coat with white and dark coat colors:

Even his mane is different colors--mostly white, but partly black:

Hawk has the most arresting light-blue eyes:

Hawk got his name from this white patch on his side, which looks a bit like a hawk in flight. Do you see it?

Okay, I kinda messed up on the tail, but here's what most folks see:

Hawk had a touch of the busybody in him. Here he is, sticking his nose in the tack room as P. is giving us a talk about bridles:

I am kind of bad remembering people's names, and not much better remembering people's names. So, I know that's Hawk in the middle, and I think that's Sedona on the right. What I love about this otherwise mediocre shot is that Sedona's ears are flat back. Is he is temporarily ticked off at somebody? That happens, in a herd.

I think this is Silver, one of my friend's favorite rides. I include this shot to show how close the pastures are to the house. You can stand on the front porch and practically hear the horses muching hay.

I don't recall the names of these two, but breakfast comes very early on a ranch. And horses get fed before people do.

This is one of the ranch's Mustangs. The brand on the neck is put there by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. It tells the reader who can interpret it when and where the BLM captured this horse. Or sold it. Or something like that:

Mustangs have a sort of Roman nose, making them look a little more like a wild horse than a Thoroughbred, for example. But they're not technically wild, they're feral, because they are descended from domesticated horses.

Anyhoo, regardless of their ancestry, horses have wonderful coats and wonderful whorls and patterns within those coats. Here's a good example of horse hair coming together in different directions:

When you brush a horse's coat, you want to brush in the direction it grows. It's more comfortable for them, that way. Although I suspect these babies wouldn't object if you brushed them the wrong way. They are beautifully trained--gentle and peaceful giants.

They made my week in Wyoming magical.

Next up, an accidental cattle drive!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wyoming, Close Up

Last week I took a glorious trip to Wyoming. There, my friend and her husband own a horse ranch in a beautiful, flat valley rimmed by low mountains. Their house is filled with lovely things that reflect their interest in Nature and the American West. Looking around, I was struck by the many different textures that add interest to their belongings. Here are some close-up glimpses taken inside their home:

Elk horn and butcher-block wood

Table runner, chair seat, and woven rug

Butcher-block table, sheepskin, and woven rug

Leather, whole-branch furniture, and woven rug

Beaten metal, brick, and heart-shaped stone

Leather and brass studs

Beaten metal, brick, and stones (background)

Some sort of totally cool, cactus-y looking plant

Woven rug, stitched leather, and worn binoculars

Verdigris metal, milk glass, and stone

Black beans, pottery, and granite

Outside, there were some wonderful textures, too. My friend has 14 horses and teaches horsemanship, which means there are barns, hay bales, tack rooms, pastures, fences, practice arenas and--of course--horses.

More textures, taken from outside:

Dried hay, painted metal

Pea gravel, stitched leather, and denim

Yellow coneflower seed head, petals, and leaves

Stacked, split wood

Grasses, pines, and sky

Rope halters, leather tips, and painted wood

Worked leather, metal fittings, braided rope

Tooled-leather, two-color Western saddle

Plastic with mylar, untreated wood, pea gravel

Extruded-foam float toys, plastic beach balls, pea gravel

Mane and neck hair on a bay horse

PVC pipe, pea gravel, fabric flowers

Worn leather, denim, simulated-wood decking

Petunias and daisies

Thistle head, leaves, pea gravel

Eyelashes, facial hair, and mane on a bay horse

Dead tree and sky

Split-open log with beetle tracks

Apple core, old log, beetle tracks

Neck hair and mane on a strawberry roan horse

Autumn leaf

Berry or seed head

Dry grass, hoof, metal nails, horse hair

Aspen leaves

Skin, yellow and white gold, strawberry, concrete pavers

Petunias and bumblebee

Tomorrow, I'll post more photos of her fabulous horses--the heartbeat of the ranch. Until then, here's a Wyoming sunset for you:


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