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Finding the Soul of a Horse

See Me Scribble

Our new natural pasture was ready. Not a pasture in the green grass sense of the word. This one was dirt and rocks and virtually straight up and down. Very steep. But in those ways it actually matched our research on the wild horse model, which, in essence, is an attempt to imitate the way horses live in the wild . And it was the best we could do with the virtually unusable acre and a half behind our house. It was surrounded by an inexpensive electric fence inside a perimeter fence of chain link that was already in place.

And now it was time to try it.

We were worried.

Was it too steep? Would the horses like it? Were there too many rocks and boulders? Would they hurt themselves? Would they all get along in the same pasture?

Scribbles was first.

He's the quiet one. A gorgeous paint, but charisma is not his long suit. He's the one most likely to be found standing in a corner, motionless, seemingly, for hours. Lazy would be a merciful understatement. He has the best whoa of any of our six, because it's his favorite speed. No reins needed. Just sit back a little, then hold on for the screech of tires. Can we stop now? is his favorite question. He leads like it's an imposition to ask him to move. Oh all right, if you insist, but you have no idea how much effort this is.

Which is why his first venture into the natural pasture left me with my mouth hanging open in astonishment. As the halter fell away, he spun and was gone like a bullet. Racing, kicking the air, tossing his head, having the best time I'd ever seen him have. This was not a horse I had met before. He went on for a good ten minutes, with me just standing there, grinning like an idiot.

I could imagine that somewhere inside those two brains he was screeching Whoopee! I'm free! I'm free! Finally, he trotted back over and in his own begrudging little way said thank-you. That was the beginning of a new way of life for Scribbles and his five herd mates.

The above narrative opens Chapter 8 of The Soul of a Horse.

So... Scribbles is clearly one good boy. Why in the world would we consider selling him?

It first came up in mid-2007. It might be the right thing to do. For him, and for us. If we could find the right home. Scribbles was our herd leader and not a particularly benevolent one. He could stir up adrenalin with the least of reasons. Kathleen and I got along with him terrifically. Our relationship had begun by giving him the choice as to whether or not to be with us, using Join Up. Extensive ground exercises, moving this part and that part of his body, confirmed our leadership, and vanquished his desire to press in close and push. From the saddle, he came along very nicely, holding gait, side-passing, two-tracking, backing up, etc.

He was an all-around good boy.

But still, Cash was my horse, Skeeter was Kathleen's. If we weren't spending time with one of these two, then it would be Mariah, or the new baby, Mouse. Being so good in all areas worked against Scribbles in the "quality time" department. So we finallty decided to let the word seep out that we might be willing to let him go to a better home. The price was set high in hopes that no one would bite.

Very soon, here came Laurra and Kent. They fell in love with Scribbles. And I started getting cold feet. They talked about how much


they shared our philosophy. They owned a boarding ranch not far away. All their horses were barefoot with the wild horse trim. They ran in open pastures as a herd

and were fed using the wild horse model.


Still I dragged my feet. Why not wait a bit, I said, come back and see him again. See if the feeling sticks. Laurra and Kent sensed that I really didn't want to sell him, and they respected that. But we stayed in touch. And they hinted. Then a few weeks before Christmas Kent called. "Laurra was just chucked off our paint pony and broke a couple of ribs. He's not ready to ride, but

Left front

Scribbles is barefoot with the wild horse trim. Two white feet and two dark that climb the rocks of our natural pasture like a mountain goat's. When his shoes were pulled his hooves were unhealthy from lack of circulation and bad development of the internal structures and it took him seven months to re-grow healthy, strong hooves, which are now like rocks.

we won't ride Sophie until she's at least four and her growth plates are all finished, so Laurra doesn't have a rideable horse. If you'd consider it, I would really love to make Scribbles a surprise Christmas gift for her."

I was hooked. That was so sweet. But I couldn't help but wonder about pulling family apart. Pocket,
his pasture buddy, would surely miss him. And he would miss her,

Scribbles and his new herd at
Ortega Mountain Ranch
and Mouse. At least Mouse. Would Cash care? We had no way of knowing. Kathleen and I hashed it over and over, but in the end, the sweetness of Kent's wish won us over. And knowing Scribbles would get more attention, stay barefoot, have a herd, and be out 24/7. But still I worried. On Christmas eve, when Kent came to pick him up, we brough Cash and Pocket over to the loading area and let them watch it

Scribbles, Silent, and Sophie
in his new natural pasture at
Ortega Mountain Ranch.
And it is
his natural pasture. Hopefully Ivy will be allowed back in the group soon. Makes me smile.

all, and sniff through the trailer bars, and see Scibbles drive off. I was crying. They weren't. Neither was Kathleen, who had been afraid sometimes to go into the pasture to feed because Scribbles had things so stirred up. But all I could remember is that he would always meet me at the gate and lower his head for a "hello-scratch", and then walk very nicely along side to his bowl, always respecting my space. I worried about him liking his new place. Would he be accepted? Would he be happy? The photos Laurra sent yesterday (herein) pretty much answer those questions. Too well for me actually. He could at least look a little sad, just for a while. As I write this, we're making plans to go see him in his new digs. I think we'll both like that.

Oh, and I seriously doubt that we'll have any more horses for sale.

Scribbles, Silent, and Sophie
in his new natural pasture at
Ortega Mountain Ranch.
And it is
his natural pasture. Hopefully Ivy will be allowed back in the group soon. Makes me smile.

Runing with his new herd

Scribbles and new friend Silent. The boys have become fast friends.

Scribbles and Sophie


See more photos and follow Scribbles at


Scribbles is an APHA registered sorrel overo Paint with an excellent foundation.
Eight years old. Gelding. Now lives just east of San Juan Capistrtano, CA

Grandfather: Scribbles - 213 Lifetime APHA points; 25 times Grand Champion; 14 times Reserve Grand Champion

Grandmother: CB - 52 Lifetime points; 8 times Grand Champion; 6 times Reserve Grand Champion;
APHA Champion 2/12/78

Sire: Scribbles Foreman - 203 Lifetime points; 5 times Grand Champion; 7 times Reserve Grand Champion;
APHA Champion 4/16/89

We miss him, but we know he's having the time of his life.

Camp Horse Camp, LLC -

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First Romp in the Pasture for Saffron
& Stormy

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Our Rescue Miss Mouse Two Years Later

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Why Our Horses Are Barefoot

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