Desert Horses

Welcome to my horse blog, Desert Horses. We live in the desert southwest, near Palm Springs, CA, but board our horses up in our local mountains where it is cooler in the summer. I have 4 horses, all rescues. Here is the ranch up the mountains where the horses stay.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Apples at Oak Glen

We decided to visit Oak Glen on Sunday. Apple season has officially begun in our nearby mountains and we wanted to visit the orchards and buy fresh apple cider and I wanted a bushel of apples (seconds) for the horses. Our Washington horses, Beauty and Gigondas LOVE apples! Here are some pics from our visit to Oak Glen! Yes, that's Jennifer, our daughter, walking right in front of me when I shot the pic of the tractor taking people for a ride! HOW RUDE! Yup, there she is AGAIN, talking on her cell phone! I mean, REALLY! They were also selling roasted corn on the cob for $2.50 a cob! And, people were gobbling it up! Amazing! It was a fun day, even with the crowds. We brought home 2 apple pies which quickly disappeared!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gigo saddled 092609

Okay, then. So when my cousin said, "Let's saddle Gigondas. I think she's ready to be saddle broke!" I nearly fainted! No, really! But, I calmly replied, "Okay, let's do it," remembering that the last time she was saddled, she reared up and nearly flipped over! These were Friday's results. No fear. No trembling. Calm. Secure. Trusting. No problem! I'm so proud of Gigo!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The story of Gigondas

When I adopted Gigondas, she was one of many horses on a feedlot in Washington state. The bottom pic is her photo from the feedlot. I adopted her from CBER, Columbia Basin Equine Rescue, in September 2006, along with Beauty. She was Merryana on the CBER website. She and Beauty did not arrive down here until January, 2007 because Beauty was sick and then Gigondas got a cold right before we were scheduled to bring both of them down to Southern California, so we had to postphone their travel plans AGAIN. Gigo's write up said she just needed to be "messed with". Uh, she needed MORE than that. She had some serious issues. NO ONE could touch her butt. We couldn't touch her "off side". If you made a sudden movement, she freaked. And, you certainly did NOT touch her ears or head! UH-HUH. No way. She didn't trust people and would ALWAYS move away from us. She obviously was abused in her former life. Our first trainer got her saddled three times, but on the fourth time, when she was scheduled to be ridden, she reared and nearly flipped over. So, we brought our horses closer to home, gave them all a year off, and regrouped. When my cousin offered to help me train them, I took up her offer. She took Beauty to her ranch for 7 months, trained her on her gaits, and then took her to her mountain ranch this summer for her final training, out on the trails. She said yesterday that Beauty is so calm, she doesn't panic or freak out on the trails and is now a wonderful trail horse! I'll be getting Beauty back in October, when Valerie and her family move back to the desert. I hope my back is healed by then and I can ride her, but, if not, Valerie said she'll come back and give her "riding tuneups" (I have apparently injured my back in a rather ungraceful dismount in early August and now I have a pinched nerve...). Anyway, back to Gigondas! We really didn't know what to do with her. She moved away from us. She stomped her feet at us. She ran me over a couple of times. She liked my husband and he could work with her a little bit, but we are BOTH BEGINNERS and we needed a professional trainer for Gigo, ESPECIALLY for her! I asked my cousin, Valerie, to help with Gigo's training. Valerie has had her own horses since she was 13, has always trained them herself, and is a professional trainer. She has 4 horses herself and trained them all and they are ALL calm and loving animals. She came over and evaluated Gigondas. No problem. She said, "She's insecure. I will train her and she'll be fine." So, she started by doing join-up with Gigo. Actually, she had to do it several times and each time it took about an hour, but Gigo finally decided that Valerie was the herd leader. (In addition to being a thoroughbred and a BIG one, Gigo is also an alpha mare!) Then, she took her to the round pen and worked her. I noticed a transformation with Gigo. She seemed to like to be around us now. Of course, she LOVED Valerie, but she was even calm with me (a novice!). I was able to go in her pen and touch her WITHOUT her moving off! GOOD GIRL! Valerie started working on "stay", "come" and "back" commands, both verbal and with hand signals, with Gigo in the round pen. She seemed to like to come and stay with Valerie and then me, when I worked her. She was gaining confidence. She didn't move away. She let out long, happy, contented sighs! I was able to brush her all over her body, and even move my hands down her legs without her stomping her feet or moving off! WOW! What a transformation! Time and patience. Consistent training. Lots of praise! I notice that my cousin ALWAYS talks to the horse. She even told Gigondas, "This is a saddle pad. I am going to put it on you." She talks to her CONSTANTLY. Her voice is very calm and soothing. I also noticed that Valerie is very relaxed around the horses. I was always tense, my shoulders were tense. Val told me to RELAX, breathe out, and clear my mind when I am with "the herd".

So, anyway, Gigondas was introduced to the saddle and saddle pad yesterday afternoon. No problem. No fear. Just calm and quiet acceptance. "Okay. I can do this", she thought. Now that she is a confident and secure horse, she was fine. "No problem", as Valerie said. That's my cousin with Gigo and the saddle pad! She didn't run off. She didn't stomp her feet. She waited patiently while Val let her sniff the saddle pad and rubbed her with it and finally put it on her. No problem! These are some pics from yesterday. Do you notice how calm Gigo is? I do. What a transformation! I am so thankful to Valerie for her calm and consistent and patient training of this mare! I was at the point where I really didn't know what to do with Gigo, but Valerie showed me and now I have a horse that I dearly love and one that now respects me and others! :-)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gigondas~flying tail

Gigondas will have another lesson with cousin Valerie tomorrow afternoon. She is coming along so well that I am constantly amazed by her! Hubby took this photo of her running in the arena. Can you see her tail up in the air? Isn't she goofy? It is good to see her finally relax around humans. For a while she was constantly tense and her eyes were worried. She would flinch every time we touched her, especially on her back and her "off" side. Now, she is confident and relaxed and I can brush her all over. She will just stand next to me without a lead rope and let me brush her. She actually sighs! What a difference!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Scout, the escape artist!

Here she is! THE escape artist! She has dapples now....both she and Cali are starting to get their "winter woolies"!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Great Escape...Mustangs!!!

As I was working Gigondas in the round pen Sunday morning, I noticed she was having a hard time focusing. I followed her gaze and saw Scout and Cali running amok at the ranch! HUH? I had just left them in their corral. I'd set out a bucket of beet pulp to soak and had led Gigondas up to the round pen to work with her and to brush her. But, she seemed very distracted. Turns out, Scout decided she did NOT wish to WAIT for her beet pulp, so she BROKE the lock on the chain around the gate, and led Cali out to nibble on the pulp. Yup. LITTLE BUGGERS! Of course, we got them back into the corral and I ran out to the hardware store, bought a new lock, bought a new 2' chain to additionally put around the gate, and 2 MORE locks! He, hee! Let's see if they can get out now!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Blankets, baby blankets, and quilts

The mountain swap meet had a large variety of blankets and quilts this weekend, all handmade. Big quilts, lap quilts, and baby quilts and blankets. OF COURSE, I HAD to buy a baby blanket and quilt for the little one, who will be here in March! See the soft ones by the dolls? I bought a yellow one, since we don't know if it is a boy or girl yet (I'm going to be a grandma in March!). See the cute baby blankets/quilts? I bought the bear one with the books! There were lots of beautiful homemade items. I love the kitchen towels. I bought one for a friend. It was a fun day at the swap meet!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

more swap meet pictures

This weekend's swap meet brought a LOT of vendors to the area! Aren't the little shoes cute? And, see the western cutouts? Lots of books and knick-knacks! It was fun wandering around and looking at the tables of items!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Swap meet! FINALLY!

Well, I FINALLY got up to the swap meet. Every weekend is different! It is like several small yard sales. People just come and bring whatever they have to sell. Sometimes they drive their trucks in, put down the tailgates, and sell their stuff. I LOVE walking around.

Today I met the nicest family. A man and his son were there selling various things (see photos). He was very kind and let me take a photo of him and his son. GO DODGERS!!! I told him about my blog and promised that I would post his pics, so here they are! More pics tomorrow morning!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gigondas up close!

You know, I realized that I'm so busy taking photos of Gigondas, but I hadn't posted any of her close up! She really has a pretty head, so I thought I'd post these. She has relaxed so much recently. She doesn't have those "worried eyes" that she used to have.

"almost fall" afternoon with Gigondas

Well, I was able to get up to the mountains yesterday afternoon. Gigiondas had another lesson with cousin Valerie. I hadn't worked her for two weeks, but I was able to walk right up to her and halter her! She actually came to me! WOW! What a difference! She used to be a frightened, insecure horse and I was always nervous around her! Now, she is calm and confident. I no longer fear her and THAT is a big step for both of us! She's NEVER done anything agressive toward me, but she is just so big that I was a little fearful around her and I think she sensed that. Now, we have both relaxed and she trusts me. I am so thankful to Valerie for giving us BOTH the confidence that we needed to move forward with her training and her trust. Anyway, these are some training pics from a lovely "almost fall" afternoon. There were beautiful, billowing white thunderheads around the valley and the golden afternoon sunlight made Gigondas glow!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Our German Shepherd is Rommel. He's the third German Shepherd we've had during our married life and he is the most mellow. Our first was "Metternich", a 130 pound mass of muscle and attitude! NOBODY came near me when Metternich was around. NOBODY! Our second shepherd was Maverick. Maverick was MY DOG! Period. He followed me around the house, even into the bathroom! (Shepherds are real characters!) We had to put him to sleep several years ago as he had hip dysplasia and was dragging his rear legs around. It was VERY PAINFUL for the entire family! I still miss him and I swear that sometimes I see him in our house to this day! We have his ashes in a special box in our bedroom. He was my buddy.

So, Rommel came into our lives. It was so painful being without a big dog, a shepherd, that we went to a breeder in Riverside and checked out his litter of 9 puppies. How do you choose one? There was a male who was very alert and independent. We picked him. We named him Rommel.

Anyway, since I don't have any new horse pics, I thought I'd share some Rommel BABY PICS with you! He is now 5 years old, but he was the cutest pup! Sometimes when we take him up to the vet (he's had a case of mange), we take him to see the horses. He's very good around them. He's also very patient with Ripley and he plays with her, then tires, and jumps up into his favorite chair for a nap!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Not Scout. This is Ripley. Ripley is the little black lab puppy that we brought home from the mountain swap meet last fall. She and her 3 brothers and sisters were in a box and I looked into it! OOPS! BIG MISTAKE! We picked her up and she was ours! FREE! She and her sister were both black, but her two brothers looked like little German Shepherds. Isn't it interesting how puppies can be so different? Anyway, we brought her home to her two BIG "uncles", my German Sheperd, Rommel, and our son's Weimeraner, "Atticus". I worried about a small puppy among the two big dogs....NOT! She held her own from the first day! She is absolutely fearless! We named her "Ripley"...yes...from the Aliens movies! She takes life by the horns. She is a joy to have in our household! She's curious, friendly, loving (she puts her head in my lap when I type), BUT...she also eats shoes, socks, paper towels, toilet paper rolls, and goes through the trash EVERY NIGHT! I bought this rawhide bone for her recently. She didn't know what to do with it and she carried it around for two days before she finally figured out she was supposed to chew on it! And, NO...she did NOT let her uncles have it! She guarded it. She slept on top of it! She's so shiny because I give her a fish oil capsule every morning! She's just the happiest little thing!