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Rancher’s Diary: Calves are coming, and horses need more training


Last Friday Andrea drove to Pocatello to take Sam to the regional dance competition. Their group won first place and will go to the national competition in Utah in May.

On Saturday Andrea and I finally had a chance to lead the two fillies again, and took them about a mile on the jeep road over the low range. I also trimmed Sprout’s feet; they had grown too long over winter.

We had snow and windy, cold weather that lasted several days. We sorted out the cows that looked closest to calving and put them in the horse pasture and maternity pen near the house where we can watch them. Dani helped make our calving calendar (for April) with dates when each cow might calve. We have due dates on some from their breeding dates, and estimates on the others from the veterinarian’s preg-checking.

April 2

We started working with the fillies again, leading them up and down the road, teaching them to be responsive to voice commands (walk, trot, whoa), and started saddling Spotty Dottie. She was scared and jumpy at first, so we’re getting her used to having the saddle put on and off, the stirrups moving, and leading her with the saddle on.

We’re putting Sprout back to work and hopefully into a better attitude. Andrea led her about a mile down the road and back, with me riding alongside on Ed. The next day I put hind shoes on Ed and we made a short ride. Andrea has been riding Sprout every day now, taking longer rides, hoping that eventually Sprout will quit trying to buck. She’s a totally different horse this spring than when we bought her a year ago as an underweight, lazy, mellow six-year-old that we thought might make a kids’ horse. She’s gained about 300 pounds, another inch or more in height, and has an aggressive, selfish attitude after her nine months off work.

Friday young Heather rode with Andrea and me. She rode Breezy. We went several miles across the old McCormick Ranch and up through our low range. We’d only gone a mile when Sprout started bucking, but Andrea was able to control her. Sprout jumped around a few more times along the way, but Andrea kept her from bucking hard.

As we started up the jeep road into our low range pasture Sprout started bucking again when she went up out of a gully. Then she got mad because Andrea wouldn’t let her buck, and started hopping backward down the hill. I was following on Ed, and just started down into the gully as Sprout began jumping around and hopping backward toward us. I swung Ed out of the way just as Sprout kicked out with her hind feet, but her legs are so long that she hit my leg, on the shinbone just below the knee. Thank goodness she doesn’t have shoes on yet!

My leg started to swell, but didn’t seem broken. We continued our ride home, another two miles (during which Sprout tried a few more times to buck Andrea off). As we put our horses away, I knew I should elevate the leg and put ice on it, but we had unexpected company arrive. So I simply applied DMSO liberally over my lower leg, which by then was twice the size it should be, and turning purple. The DMSO helped reduce the swelling and ease the pain.

After our company left, I put ice on the leg and elevated it, which helped. After ice packs all night the pain was bearable, and I managed to do chores, and we rode again to put more miles on Sprout. Young Heather rode Breezy again and we rode four hours. When we got home we worked briefly with the fillies again. Then Freddy started calving. By the time she started serious labour at 9 p.m., a cold wind was blowing, so we put her in the barn to calve. She had a nice black bull.


Andrea and I rode daily, trying to get Sprout past her attempts at bucking. I rode Ed most days, but also rode Breezy to help her get back in shape, too.


We had another nasty blizzard last night, but there are only three more cows left to calve. We’re hoping they get it over with soon, or the weather gets nicer so we don’t have to put them in the barn! †

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