The Mountain Mouth

TerrierTown Dog Rescue, Free Cheese and more Priceless Advice

Riding Captain Call May 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — themountainmouth @ 5:13 am
I thought I’d share a column from 2008,
in which I am saddle-starting a  big, 3-year-old mustang named Captain Call.

Dear Neighbors,

Today was just about a perfect day. I love, love, love, spring. Today was warm and you could hear the grass growing. Up here the wildflowers have not yet started but you can feel – almost smell – them coming. The garden has volunteered lettuce, dill, onions, garlic and cilantro; I’ve planted peas, turnips, beets, more lettuce – about eight varieties – radishes, chives, and germinated the tomatoes in windowsill starts. The exciting thing is that the seeds I gathered last year are alive. THEY’RE ALIVE!!

We used to spend good money on a seed order every year. Hmm. Will the seeds I gathered be acclimated to our micro-environment at 5000 forest-and-mountain protected feet? I am excited to taste some second generation Red Lodge lettuce and herbs.

Did I mention, I love spring? I feel energized.

Springing forward on the clock is one thing. I like to use the energy of the fabulously fecund and sprouting earth to spring forward to my own goals.

I confess over this past winter I indulged a passion for carbohydrates. Bagels, with extra cream cheese. Bread, preferably home-baked whole wheat, made perfection with an ounce (or more) of butter. Homemade chocolate cupcakes with cocoa-mocha frosting… With the warming weather I am more attracted to fruit juice and salad. Thank God. That carbo-trend was not in my best interest.

What is in our best interest, anyway? I try to stay tuned in to where I want to be, and where am I going. Much of my energy up here is focused on my rescued animals. The dogs and cats are just family members; obnoxious, obstreperous, complaining, peeing-in-the-house, spoiled family members. But the equines have become my thing.

Why? Because they need us so much. The unwanted horse crisis is real. Dire predictions of economic woes, real and forecast, have Americans in a tizzy.

The American mustang is losing its ranges due to pressures from ranchers, hunters and the federal budget allocations which apparently care not for the will of the American people. Too many more mustangs are being planned for gather this year. I fervently hope that qualified adopters will step up. But adopting a wild mustang ain’t for everybody.

That being said, my adopted mustangs are my biggest joy around here, along with Millie, the abused mule. Government BLM mustangs, Gus and Captain Call, were adopted February ’06. They arrived fuzzy, scared, and full of worms. This spring, they are gorgeous. Just gorgeous.

Today was a perfect day. Not only did I get to share a beverage with Gus, I had people around so that I could ride Call. We don’t have land line or cell phone service; we do have a neighborhood radio for emergencies. But when you are just starting a mustang colt, riding him for the tenth time, you want somebody there… just in case. I do a lot with theses boys when I am up here all alone, but at my venerated age I must be cognizant of the line between foolhardy and overly cautious.

Captain Call came here a 2-year-old stallion from the Salt Wells HMA in Wyoming. He was captured at 6 months, and sent to Colorado. Then, he was trucked all the way to Ridgecrest, California, where a volunteer named Marsha made friends with him, worked with him, and even saddled him. Captain Call has been a joy to work with. Mellow, happy, interested, my huge baby.

So today, the afternoon was sunny, balmy, intoxicating. I headed to the round pen. To get a horse’s focus, you can “send” them around a round pen and ask for changes in direction and speed. So this I did, and when I was sure Call’s attention was on me, I geared him up. I try to slow my suddenly galloping heart. Am I scared? Hell, yes I am scared. This horse is huge – 16 1/2 hands, big for a mustang, or any damn horse (I am 5′ 3″ on a good day). This is a wild mustang, recently a stallion. In my day I was a decent rider. But that day is now about 35 years ago. Riding a horse is just like a bicycle: once you know, you never forget – but I am no longer a strong or fearless rider. But what the hell. I have been on this horse a few times and he didn’t buck or scrape me against the rail or freak out in any way. Of course this time could be different…

When he settled right where I needed him to, next to my mounting stump, I felt that I was just lifted – I flew – up into the saddle. Call was solid and calm, good baby; Calm Call. I nudged his nose, gently, with the rein at the same time a cue with my outside leg. He moved off, easy, nice. We rode around and around for about half an hour. If he got stuck, I’d slap my offside leg. In no time he was turning, stopping, backing up. I finally felt myself relax; my back became independent from my behind; I moved with that big, sweet colt. He could tell I was encouraging him.

I had a moment of transcendence. I saw us going beyond the round pen, up, into the forest, and galloping down in the basin. I relaxed, I enjoyed.

It is a good view from up way there, on that big chestnut mustang colt.

Call and I are off to a great start.

Spring. A time to start; a time to move forward. Press out from the dark earth. Let your shoots shoot. Let’s Grow!

The Mountain Mouth


3 Responses to “Riding Captain Call”

  1. -D Says:

    I am here on your blog! I was going ti whine about manually opening my garage this morning when the power went out, but it may fall on deaf ears -like wearing earplugs ears! I know you have to walk around in the early a.m. with a lantern, and go out to the out-house, etc., so no whining for me!
    I did get my garden going though, but not this big this year. AND I am using every scrap of my drip line as well, no water will go unused. I wish I could get my dishwasher & washmachine water to go out there, they’d love all that soap!
    Well, see ya later!

  2. Julie Says:

    Well, Kate, I guess you’re STILL my hero! I have only fantasized about living off the grid…and while I have a rescued dog and 2 rescued cats, no horse here in Chicago! It sounds like you live in paradise. Very inspiring!

  3. Mary Says:

    Riding was one of my best memories of time spent with you. Damn we were not afraid of anything… vivid memories. Bareback most of the time if I remember correctly… in fields and woods on farms and such… for hours. Wonder if anyone was worried about us??? 🙂 How did we jump up on those horses …. bareback without any help? We were so little… how in the hell did we do that?

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