Rojo. My first day of training. I’m calling it THE RED HORSE DIARIES. Entry #1.

I have decided to keep a log of my training with both Rojo and Wrigley.

Rojo’s will be THE RED HORSE DIARIES and Wrigley’s is already the WRIGLEY CHRONICLES.

Today, I am going to give you an excerpt from my day with Rojo.  Sadly, it is really difficult to take photos when you are struggling with a Mustang who is outsmarting you.  I should have asked HIM to take the photos…

Anyway, here we go!


Yuup, today was the day that the Mustang thumbed his hoof at me and gave me the ‘stang attitude.

I was told it would happen…

All the wranglers and even the wise old cowboy administrator at the Prison told me to keep up the training and to not let it slide or the Mustang will challenge me.  And when the Mustang does challenge me, make sure to kindly not let him get away with it.


Is Mustang attitude different than any other horse?  I mean, ALL of my young horses will challenge me at some point in the training.  Some more than others… but they all are obsessed with rank and foot movement.

I hear, “I am the boss of you”  and “You can’t move my feet but I can move yours…”, all the time when I’m training teenage horses.

Anyway, today, LOUD AND CLEAR, I got my first dose of Mustang Attitude…

Rojo tied to the trailer. "Talk to the hoof..."


I’d been gone for a week and before that, I had two days to make a lasting impression on Rojo.

Mainly, I’d been loving on him.

I guess it was good for him to feel welcomed and safe… and he did work really well on the day that second day before I left.

But, upon my return, Red had a different demeanor.  He turned his head away from me and acted as if he barely remembered me.

Silly horse.

So, I went through my routine to reacquaint myself.

Me:  Hey Rojo, I’m baaaack!

R:  And, you are…?

Me:  Me!  I adopted you and saved you from a life of drudgery somewhere!

R:  What life of drudgery?  I was a show horse in the prison system.  I was SOMEBODY.

Me:  Uhhh.  OK…  Let’s WORK!

R:  Let’s not.

Me (getting all lovey):  oohhhh booboogoogedybah mustangy handsomy booooy!

R:  What is WRONG with you?!  I can’t hear you.  (putting hooves in ears) LA LA LA LA LALA.

Me (wimpering):  You are hurting my feelings.

R:  Fine.  As long as it makes you go away.

Needless to say, it wasn’t going well.  He didn’t want to be caught and he didn’t want to work.

Finally, I put my hands on my hips and told him how ridiculous this was and he was a foolish horse who didn’t know what was good for him.

That, somehow, got his attention.  He let me halter him.


Yes, he was haltered.  But, that was about it.

He kept pulling back on the lead when he was tied to the trailer.  He wouldn’t look at me when I was looking at him.  He wouldn’t pick up his back feet.  He kept trying to snatch grass.  He would not follow any rope or lounge command correctly (don’t you hate it when you are giving them the ‘circle me’ cue and they back up and face you instead – on purpose.  Arrrgh.).

Rojo was being a pill.


I was pissed.

However, I know ‘pissed’ gets me nowhere.  So, I dragged my new Mustang up to the arena and became the leader.

Back, walk, sidepass, walk-up, back, halt, one step, back one, two forward, sidepass…  And I gave him no breathing room.  Do not pass GO.  Do not collect $200.  I was all business.

I knew he knew this stuff… and he knew that I knew he knew.

We circled, we longed – correctly this time – and jumped little fence posts.

Rojo:  Wait!   I want the Human Pansy Girl back!

Me:  She’s left the building.


At the very end, I asked him to drop his head.

Uh uh.  Nope.  Never.

I kept asking in a nice way.  I put my head down there.  I showed him what I wanted.  I visualized it.  I sent pictures.  I did it all.


Finally, I put hands on hips and said… “Y’know, I got all day….  I know you know this.  Let’s just be friends and be done for the day.”

And, with a huge sigh, he put his nose in the dirt.

I knew it!

I praised him like the Human Pansy Girl that I am and put him away.

And you know, I swear he watched me walk back to the house with a glint in his eye…

I wonder what tomorrow will bring…  ;)

I swear he was grinning at me as I left him... That was FUN!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

If anyone needs to purchase EQUINE CHIA, please use this link as it helps the Bucket Fund.

(Equine Chia has created wonderful coats on my horses, filled in the toplines of my older horses and is said to help collect sand/dirt in the gut – to reduce colic.  I am using it every day.  They do have a 24 Day Challenge size which is a good deal!)

Click to purchase Equine Chia that helps the Bucket Fund. Thank you!



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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

8 comments have been posted...

  1. Jody Brittain

    Sorry but I had to giggle through your frustrations. ONLY Because I have been there! So I know how you felt. Sissy would do what Rojo did. Yeppers! I look forward to more of the Red Horse Diary’s and the Wrigley Chronicles! Keep up the good work!

  2. Linda Horn

    “I knew he knew this stuff… and he knew that I knew he knew.” Ain’t that the way with the “testers”?

    I worked with an abused QH PMU mare who chose not to “remember” anything from one day to the next. Part of the problem was that others would baby her. They never haltered or led her (and no groundwork!). Plus they just let her walk way when she decided it was time to leave. One day it took me three hours to catch her in a huge pen. I was dog tired, but came out the winner and left on my terms.

    I finally had to ask the rescue’s owner to ban the babysitters from her paddock. From then on it was a halter and lead rope, with respect required. Unfortunately, her “friends” were still loving on her when I wasn’t there, which made things tough on both of us.

    I don’t volunteer there anymore, but hope someone is continuing her training. She’s a big, headstrong girl who would happily run over people if allowed to revert to “forgetfulness”.

  3. sue tyrkus

    Great Dawn, from reading your previous blogposts, it’s obvious you have the tools and knowledge to establish a wonderful relationship with Rojo. I always fall back on Mark Rashid and Parelli principles if I’m struggling at all with a horse.
    Re Equine Chia: I emailed the company over a month ago to see if they ship to Canada, and have not heard back from anyone. I would like to try it on our OTTB, who has trouble keeping weight on. Any ideas, short of me driving to the US?!

  4. stephanie

    I am working with donkeys, a mammoth, a large standard and a mini jack. They are not stubborn but tend to think on stuff a long long long time! but once they get or understand what you want or are asking for then it is all good. But waiting for them to think about doing it and if it is a good idea for them to do it could take hours or days. pushing them like you would a horse just means you wait longer. So I show them and walk away for a bit then show again and usually that works but being bossy doesn’t with a donkey. They require friendship first and as long as you are their best-est buddy they will listen and probably go along with what you decide to do. I use clicker training with them to start and follow them around at a walk stopping when they stop moving when they move. Slowly getting closer and finally they decide I am some one they want as a friend. then I can’t get rid of them and they pester me to touch them.

  5. Abigail

    I always look forward to your training posts because I’m working with a gaited horse with a stubborn streak a mile wide! Been praying for your husband, too. Hope all goes well!

  6. Kitty Bo

    Do you ever watch Clinton Anderson? I’ve been watching him on RFD tv rehab an OTTB. Very good work. You’ve seen Buck the movie haven’t you? Remember, you’re like a parent here, not out to be your horse’s friend. Being “nice” all the time doesn’t bring you respect. What you want is a partnership. I’m glad you put your horse trainer pants on because that’s what he needs. If you don’t lead, he will. It’s a matter of survival. Keep up the good work! We’re proud of you and pulling for you!

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