Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dozer the GoatPony

Dozer has spent the summer of 2012 learning about domestic life in the saddle.

He is learning from the example of our current GoatPonies: Pecos, Chopo and Doonie...

Though he has been under saddle for just over a year now he is only just settling into it comfortably. 
Here is Dozer on his first day working goats in company with another herder (minimal resposibility for Doz).

His work has been slow and steady... 

The last few months Dozer has been more seriously apprenticing as a GoatPony.
He was introduced to the concept through being ponied by Doonie, Chopo, or Pecos on many GoatWalks over the rugged Range around SunStar.
He learned that he has a job to do, and a partner to work with.

Dozer enjoys a nap after work...

The Dozer went to work in the North Valley with Doonie. 
In this pasture he proved to me that he could be in a large area and be completetly tractable in halter or not...

And also herded the goats to his first job

Dozer was a little unsure, but worked just fine with a little support and gentle guidance.

Dozer now enjoys his days on goat-duty and his days on pony-duty, and loves all his many dogs.

And especially his grey Dun bud.

The Maremmas have worked on Dozer and have shown him so much kindness and unconditional love that he now loves them back just as kindly and gently...

He has been mapping his new territory and taking notes of the water holes, in all stages of existence...
Until February of 2011 Dozer was a wild born Stallion, running free with his own band of mares and foals on the Jicarilla Wild Horse Territory in the Northern reaches of New Mexico... 
His out of the box thinking got him and his band removed and taken to town for adoption after the third time they were picked up outside of his "territory". From there he went fairly quickly to the Mustang Camp where he was readied for adoption (to say this gave me a good start is an understatement).
When I saw a photo of him with his band I was sure that he was a horse I could use. 
I liked his looks and I liked the calm quiet way he stood protectively with his family.
 When I received my wild mustang he could be haltered and led, trailered and front feet lifted (with patience). He did require lots of repetition and it was awhile before the halter and feet and leading was easy.. then again our approach was a little different from his conditioning which we employed parts of. Being food motivated makes the mustang your friend quite well. Dozer can be well fed and be offered a bit of grass and will give a shoulder, or forehead, or withers, or butt... to earn his reward. But he has also come to enjoy giving "kisses"for free. Offering my hand he reaches out to touch and I simply smooch a kiss sound. He understands language quite well, body as well as my english.
Mustang Camp is a remarkably valuable organization greatly improving the adoption success of Americas feral horses. Thanks to them I had a positive foundation on which to build a meaningful relationship. 

Dozer and Chopo are good buddies now...
When Dozer was joined as a member of the herd this spring he had only lived with Doonie, whom he loved. But Chopo all the while resented this new guy, Chopo never really gets along with dominant males as he is sure his muscles are the biggest... Dozer took many the shark attack while out riding together before they were penned together. When we did put them all together very little happened. Only when no one was looking did Dozer bite and kick Chopo leaving him subservient and more than a little banged up. I have actually witnessed very few fights between the boys, but for a few months a war went on between red horses leaving Dozer the leader but Chopo a companion boss. 
Now Dozer enjoys quiet power. And Chopo teaches Dozer where all the potential food stashes are around the yard when they have "free" time in the yard/orchards etc.

Here they watch a local impromptu-feral band of horses stampede down the valley beyond the goatherd. I was glad Dozer was not inclined to join... Some weeks later we encountered these horses out on the range with a 20 foot arroyo between us, Dozer called to them and they came to us just like out of a painting as they had been just watching stark still. It would have become interesting quick if not for the burro, Stella. She has a large dislike for dogs and tries to get the horses to as well. She started chasing the Aussies, and so the Maremmas were forced to send her away, along with the horses. The Maremmas are always working on befriending this herd, but if Stella is around she always messes things up... Until then it is a pleasant scene with horses and hounds.

Dozer ponies and palls around with everyone now..

He has been an interesting horse to work with. He is very intelligent and also a strong personality. He requires a dominant person, but one with a light and sensitive touch... he is the kindest most gentle horse... yet we are only now coming to the place where we really trust. He has bucked me off a dozen times, as well as Kino... but the last time he dumped me he returned to the horses and I (with a little coaxing) rather than heading toward the Jicarilla, and went back to work. 
He has managed to restrain himself from a full bucking episode since that day. 

That day when he returned he drank deep his water  and munched his hay and seemed happy to have a home in domesticity. 

I am very glad to have this Jicarilla pony on the goat string. 
He is becoming a fantastic horse as he embraces goatherding and all the adventures that result. 
We were following the herd toward home a few days ago just off the top of the hill east and north of the house. I rarely take that particular path anymore just because I don't need that adrenaline feeling as much as I seemed to when Doonie and I were learning... but hey, how do you know you are living if you are not on the edge? This path is completely doable. On a good horse. 
He was happy with the direction and also with the terrain which is up-and-down-up-and-down steep and rocky. He flew through there like he had wings. I always talk about Dun having the power of flight, but Dozer zooming and rappelling off of large ancient coral boulders felt like we had truly taken to the sky. Partly because we were in the air so much... he went over the ridges only touching down in the valleys between... Such a happy dragon was he! And I! Because it is those moments when we are one that are so intoxicating. To share that wild pride and strength. To feel his gentle heart. 
To have his heart! To be fair he also has mine.  


  1. Amie! Such a beautifully written story of the wonderful Dozer. He has come so far since I was there in July... and you describe his journey with such respect, integrity and wisdom. Such a wild boy and to have stepped forward and embraced his life as a goat-herder - what a star. And I love the description of the hilly terrain, I remember that countryside so well and can imagine him flying over the dips and tricky angles. congrats and I look forward to hearing more about his adventures - what a great horse, love to the fam xxxx

  2. Thanks for your kind words about Dozer, Imogen!
    It can be a wild ride around here sometimes, as you know!
    Hope all is well!

  3. Hi,
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