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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Newest Drawing, "Tessa" Progression from pencil to color...

Newest drawing, "Tessa"....
Completed December 9, 2009

Here you can see a progress comparison, from pencil to pastel...

Simple things.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "Beautiful sunny day, some frost is now only in the shadows. Cute to see a momma cow still maintaining her duties, licking her full grown sleeping calf; and my horses laying flat out on their sides soaking in the warming sun. Surprised to see some of the yellow roses still in bloom in the flowerbeds. Now, time for a pan...cake brunch, and then back to coloring with my crayons. LOLL"

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "Beautiful sunny day, some frost is now only in the shadows. Cute to see a momma cow still maintaining her duties, licking her full grown sleeping calf; and my horses laying flat out on their sides soaking in the warming sun. Surprised to see some of the yellow roses still in bloom in the flowerbeds. Now, time for a pan...cake brunch, and then back to coloring 'with my crayons'."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wild Horses of the Playa~ SE Oregon Journal, Part II

Here is the second entry in my wild horse journal. I watch the various herds in south east Oregon, this herd lives on the east side of bare white playa flats in the rain shadow of the Steens Mountain range.

Zones of Tolerance: Wild Horses of the Playa

Besides searching for and observing the wild horses on Steens, another pleasure of ours when in the area is playing on the 10 mile long playa flat on the east side of the mountain, also known as the Alvord Desert. However, on this day, we didn't know the dried lakebed would lead us to a different herd of mustangs, a herd we'd never seen before. The playa flat is a stark white, parched and powdery alkali area- the remaining sign of what once was a shallow lake. It is roughly 10 miles north and south running parallel near the flank of the mountain, and runs about 5 miles east and west. It's spectacular sitting up on top of the mile high mountain from the desert floor, witnessing the full moon rise over Sheephead mountains to the east and then shining on the white of the Alvord Desert below. Mere words cannot accurately describe the incredible and stunning sight. The high desert of SE Oregon is one of the last frontiers in Oregon, with the lowest amount of human population, and little if any regulations. You won't see signs prohibiting your sense of adventure; it's a wonderful place for the wild little renegade in your playful Soul.

Rick and I enjoy taking a dip in the hot springs that well up from Steens. Steens Mountain is a 30 mile long fault block caused by volcanic uplift. From melting ice fields up high and volcanic thermal activities below, a beautiful hot spring is a result. The hot spring then spills its fiery liquid over the surface and becomes a stream of sulfur smelling water, meandering its way to the dried-up lakebed to a flood plane and then dissipating into the parched land. The spring water is too hot to touch, but interestingly some very long hair-like algae of different colors flourishes within it. Far enough away from the spring, a hot bath area was constructed. A little concrete outdoor pool, large enough for two people comfortably, up to 4 for close quarters, exists with vast views of the wide-open desert on one side and the enormous mountain on the other. There is also a sheltered sitting pool, the size of a hot tub (for those of us who exercise modesty for the most part) and is constructed with aluminum flashing ~ not without the artistry of bullet holes… convenient to use as lookout peepholes to scan the area for intruders. To sit in the hot water, naturally emitted from this large mountain, overlooking the vast Alvord Desert while drinking in the wildness and the pungent smells of the desert, is food for the Soul. There you feel part of the mountain. When you get out of the hot mineral water, you feel refreshed and relaxed all at the same time, not to mention as red as a blushing lobster. This tub is also known as the local wranglers' bathhouse.

After our bath and knocking off some dust-poundage, we drove our pickup across the alkali desert powder. A surreal experience it is, to be in the middle of the 10 mile long stretch of white powdery ground. The ground gets so parched it has cracks all over of about an inch wide and from all different angles. One solid section, on the average is about 6-8 inches in diameter. With no one around and nothing to crash into for miles, we've had tons of fun driving with our eyes closed or setting the truck in gear and letting it drive itself as we ran after it, and jumped on top of it as it was slowly rolling along. Of course, never try this at home, or near anything you can mow over! This place offers another incredible perspective, and that's to be out in the middle of this lakebed at night during a full moon-in the flats with nothing around you for miles, wearing what you choose! With the white playa surface and the light of the moon, it almost looks like day with a night sky!

We continued our trek and headed east to where there seemingly is not much but the dusty playa's edge, which has only little islands of bunchgrasses, until you travel out further where it turns into the well-known sea of sage and yellow Rabbit brush. On the surface we found some curious small pebbles (some a half inch in diameter), which were hollow and float in water. We came across a set of hoof prints… no sign of horseshoes anywhere. Initially, I didn't think much of it, other than free-ranging ranch horses, or someone had ridden out there. But why there, out literally in "no man's land"? So while my husband scanned the ground for mineral and other rock treasures, I followed these horse tracks up toward the sagebrush. The higher up I went the more pronounced the trail, with many more horse tracks and horse apples, and soon stallion piles. By this time, the "little horse trail", was obviously a major horse-highway! Apparently they traveled a regular well-used path, at it largest was approximately 8' across. Coming down over the sage lands, when they got to the playa flats, they apparently fanned out. But why? Why would wild horses- or any living creature come out here, this no man's land, with no shade, or shelter, or water? I still don't know for certain, but believe most likely, for the salt and mineral composition of the playa bed.

Farther up as we drove out of the playa and onto a single lane gravel rutted road, we came across a small band of wild horses. It appeared there were six mares of various ages and one stallion. I wasn't sure, considering the topography of the area, if this was one small band of a larger herd that split off temporarily for foraging purposes, or if this were a successful bachelor stallion that has been quite good at stealing mares. This is where my hunch chose to take residence. It most likely was a relatively newly established band within the year, as there were no foals with these mares…. yet. In my years of observing wild horses, I'm still fascinated today with herd dynamics and social structures that dispell the myth and folklore about "a wild stallion leading his band of mares to safety". I have found that it is usually the matriarch, the lead mare, who chooses when to go to the local drinking hole; move to other grazing grounds; or where to run when there is real or perceived danger. The stallion often runs the flank or rear of the herd, usually placing himself between his herd and the intruder, whether it be another stallion, human, or other predatory animal.

Within this band on the east side of the Alvord desert, there was one rather stocky stallion, a stout mahogany bay, all neck and long dark and knotted mane. We got out of our truck and eased our way towards the band with cameras in hand, daring to see how close we could get to these magnificent horses. The stallion whipped around with tangled mane flying with the motion of his head, as he turned to face us, snorting loudly 3 times, so loudly and suddenly it startled us. The mares quickly lifted their heads and shifted their positions nervously without taking an eye off of us. One big chestnut mare with much authority and equal grace and power, wielded around and galloped to a safer distance with others following suite, and again faced us trying to detect what we were by trying to catch our scent. This whole time, the stout young stallion stood his ground and stayed between his herd and us, but trotted side to side with both his head and tail elevated. He too was trying to catch our scent, however, the breeze was in our favor. His high tail carriage was a sign to his mares of the potential danger, and his arched neck and elevated head turning at different angles was to get a better view of us, as well as an attempt to detect our scent. He snorted several more times, and at one point with determined demeanor and arched neck, trotted a few steps towards us. My husband and I looked at each other and I'm sure I heard myself gulp, as we were a ways from our vehicle, as where there was no trees or boulders to jump onto to get out of his way. But the better of me "slapped myself silly" and back to what I know about horse behavior, and reminded myself that they on occasion, will posture to test intruders. But they will always preserve themselves first and usually flee, before taking a chance that they lose (flight usually wins over fight, unless it's another stallion interested in his mares or they're backed into a corner and scared for their life). Had he flattened his ears and charged at us, I'm sure I would have probably scrambled onto my husband's shoulders! We stood our ground, and I raised my arms in the air to make myself look bigger, and the stud decided my 5'2" stature plus waving arms was too much and wheeled around and followed his mares and stayed at their back, stopping every once in a while to re-assess us and the situation. Afterwards, I was in awe to see that he was trying to get us to 'show our cards'. Soon after, all we saw was a dust trail where the horses were.

Besides deep and complicated social structures, horse herds have very effective safety measures. Safety measures such as warning behaviors of each horse for the herd to recognize and respond to, as well as for the intruder to be aware of. They also have built-in zones of tolerance for safety, in terms of proximity to the herd…. all in the name of herd preservation. I observed a "zone of tolerance" with my own "band" of four at home. I have my rope horse gelding "Gus" who has labeled himself as "herd stallion". I have a mare who foaled "Storm", and a newly broke big bruiser of a gelding named "Henry" aka Hudini. I watch in amazement as the mare kept both geldings at a safe distance from Storm...... gracefully whirling around that fragile new colt, teeth bared, charging the geldings, never bumping into her newborn. That was the inner circle. From there, Gus, "the wanna-be stallion" didn't allow my other gelding within his "safety zone" of the mare and colt, or the outer circle. If Henry got too close to "his mare and colt", Gus would charge him and move him to a preferable distance. And then of course Henry kept the dogs and cats at bay, outside his own circle of tolerance outside of the lead gelding's, and so on in. When long-horns moved near the area (across a fence though about ¼ mile away, both geldings joined forces, and spent much time between the cattle and the mare and foal, and always facing the long-horns, until they got bored and used to their distant presence. Though not as structured within the wild herd itself, but there is a obvious boundary, or circle the stallion will allow between he and the 'intruder', before the inner circle of his mares and foals.

There are miles of fenceless deserts and no telephone poles…. nothing but natural ecosystems and room to breath. And still people ask, "You're going to the desert for your vacation… why?" If they only knew….

For the plight of the mustang: The longer I view and witness the deep tight-knit social structures of both wild and domestic horses, the more I am aware of how important it is to preserve them as "families" as much as possible. With domestic horses, there is a financial precedence that intercepts that concept, unfortunately. However, there is an opportunity to play a part in preserving the wild horse herds and their intense social structures, through in-the-wild management which, besides keeping thousands of horses from being frightened, removed from their families, and trucked thousands of miles, would also save millions of tax-dollars. For more information about the plight of the wild horses, and re-establishing the protection of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act, please go to

Thursday, November 19, 2009

If It Were Your Last Day....

Someone on my facebook page asked the question "What would you do if it were your last day?", I mulled it around, and here's what I came up with. One day, I will have to draw the image of the steel grey mustang....

"... so last days, like Paul asked....
As I already mentioned but it got buried in the bantering :).... I would ride off on my favorite horse and old '76 Circle Y. Paul, I think roping and beer are really good choices. So had to rethink my choice and combine the two... roping some and riding the rest of the day...
... I would rope like my 30' RH 3... Read More/8" true's on fire, roping the fastest steer on the fastest headin horse I could sink my spurs into, breaking some records and getting a story in newspapers and magazines, with local... heck national news coverage. Then, riding fast with my duster flying behind me, I'd ride off to the big open country on my favorite horse~ where there are no fences (but I bring my Leatherman's just in case... ). I would then look for and locate my steel gray mustang with the windknots tunneling through her insanely long mane.... and grab handfuls and ride the badlands. At the close of the day, I would then blog and status about it (LM@O) as I'm sitting by the fire drinking a Snakebite and eating the best ribeye! Yup, sounds like a good last day to me...
What would others do?"

Simple things.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "I was surprised earlier today when headed to the barn, to hear a local starling mimick a MEADOW LARK. Starlings make all kinds of sounds, but in Oregon, Meadow Larks are NOW only found in the high desert of EASTERN Oregon (they used to be plentiful in the Willamette Valley more than 50 years ago). That's over the mountain chain and hundreds of miles away. How in the world did he hear this unmistakeable song to replay it for the barn critters?
Starlings have developed... for whatever odd fetish, the ability to mimick the sounds around them... such as crickets, even cats... but I was surprised to hear the beauty & clarity of one of the most beautiful bird songs, from this common and 'not-so-pretty' bird. This made me think of a story I wrote in July about this creative crooner ..."

Simple things.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Newest Art: BARBARO

I finally completed my latest drawing of the late-great racehorse, Barbaro...

Graphite & Pastel

"In riding horses, you breathe in the very breath they take away..." ~Sonya Spaziani

Simple things.

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "I must have a reputation with the blue heron by our pond like the 'poporoci'. He's gone in a flash as soon as he sees me with camera in hand at the top of the pasture, yet he's calmly perched on one leg with 3,300 lbs of horses around him."

Simple things.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani Today... I am THANKFUL for all animals big and small, and the richness they bring into our lives~ making us better people.

"Perfect Circle"
Goldie and Storm
My ferocious over-protective mare and her new foal

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani The Fury and Grace of a Mother : "you know, I've heard this time and time again about horses being so gentle around small children. I've also seen it with the tiniest and most fragile of foals as well.

I had my pregnant mare on close watch seperated from the other horses in a round corral. Then one early morning, I walked out to check on Goldie, and she had somehow gotten out and foaled in the pasture around the others. I felt like I was rooted to the ground watching this mare in action. I watched Goldie behave in such a protectively, vicous manner, equipped with such an instinct so strong to protect her offspring. She was so terrorizing to the nearing and curious geldings (including Gus... sheesh.. the 'herd stallion'). So manacing was she, that they respectively kept a safe radius from the pair, until their curiousity took over and took some steps closer, and her maternal fury kicked in..... and yet amazingly careful around her new foal.

I winced with a fearful and aching heart as I watched her "ferociousness" keep the curious boys at bay- running at them with thundering hooves, kicking, and striking towards them, with bared teeth! With the fast and flying commotion, I feared for the delicate and fragile little foal's safety. However, the longer I watched, the greater my confidence grew in Goldie's ability to care of her little man. I can recall as if in slow motion, those menacing moves, yet somehow at the same time, so graceful and agile was she when near the foal, keeping him in a 'protective bubble'. She'd run the geldings off with bared teeth, shaking her head at them, but each time return calmly to lovingly tend to her baby, looking him over, and licking him clean. Always aware of where her big body and strong legs were when near him when she wealed and turned on her haunches for another go at the pesky gelding.... so much protection, with such strength and grace.....

So much unyeilding determination to protect offspring.... the bare and basic instincts kick in, when a mother gives birth. The familial bonds and 'spirit' of horses are powerful, amazing, and inspiring.... something which cannot be taught and something which cannot be broken."

Simple things.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "jetting it through the countryside, a favorite observation is watching a little lone heifer mingle, trying to fit in with a large herd of sheep. Today, the wooly herd was making it's way south with the little cow right in the middle, walking along like she was 'part of the flock', none of which looked very confused."

Simple things.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cash... You Never Count the Cost

Last winter, during a heavy wind storm, I found Cash stumbling in the wind and rain outside when I went to feed. I didn't know what happened, as it was dark, could barely see by the ambiant, residual light. He nearly toppled over me as I was putting on his blanket. I walked him two steps at a time back to the barn, and closed him into a smaller stall with a door to be seperated from the other horses. Being late at night, with only a small flashlight, I assumed perhaps a stroke/seisure. He stood with frightened eyes, and stood with his legs splayed out for additional balance. It was a long night.

The following day, I found 2x4 boards in one of the stalls bent and broken, and the vet also concluded head trauma by viewing his eyes and witnessing the structural damage to the barn. Not sure how it occured, but mostly likely the fierce wind had something to do with it. The horses have free access into the barn at will from the pasture.

Nearly a year later, he's still recovering, with still a slight tilt of the head, but even that is nearly gone. He's doing well, even kicks up his heels when called up for dinner, though his gait is a tad unsteady. He has a harder time keeping his weight up, probably bc he eats slower. It was touch and go last year, as he got so thin and sick that we nearly lost him. It was daily intensive care, as well as the meaningful times sitting in his stall, talking to him. He needed to be stalled for long periods of time away from the other horses, as well as for the harsh Oregon winter weather.

Prior to his head trauma, he was top of the rung in the equine social pecking order here, but sadly dropped below the young filly, who too also attempted to pick on him, and behaved like a cutting horse in attempt to dominate him. He had to be kept away from the other horses, for his safety, as well as being able to eat enough without the other running him off.

Now, he waivers between being back at the top, down to second with the mane mare, Blaze.... but he continues to assert himself and continues slow but steady improvement.

It was a long road, but Cash is one of those horses with those big gentle eyes, that no matter how bleak the situation, and how I was urged to put him down by others... I couldn't let go, and wouldn't give up, no matter the cost.

Simple things.

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "Funny how conversations with others can get your mind working. In a discussion about how horses make you feel, here is my own summation:

In riding horses, you breathe in the very breath they take away ~"

Simple things.

Friday, November 6, 2009

"Sparring Stallions" Taken from my Journal page

America's wild mustangs are our symbol of FREEDOM, SPIRIT, STRENGTH, and INDIVIDUALITY, as well as our historical heritage
Sparring Stallions

Steens, 2005

This was a much cooler trip than we usually experience out in eastern Oregon. In fact on some occasions, it was misting in our high desert, but it was a nice change and we were glad for it. We dug for sunstones the first day, and had a grand time sharing gut-busting stories with the miners, and were fed rather well, best of all we got to play in the dirt and rocks.

After our late dinner cookout, we settled into our camping chairs and stared up into the clear desert sky. There was a crescent moon that set an hour of so after sunset with planet Jupiter in tow. My toddler could tell you which of the objects in the sky were stars and which were planets. The starry sky was remarkable, the kind of sky that you can't keep from staring at in awe and wonder. This was the first time in my life that I sat looking up at the night sky and actually felt like I was sitting on a ball of dirt out in space. The stars were so bright and numerous. Some were brighter then others, and some were bigger or smaller than others. It truly felt as though I was looking at the sky multi-dimensionally, instead of a single dimension like a picture, for instance. There was no "peyote", or any other spirits of influence. I've gazed at many incredible night skies in the past, but perhaps because the thought of infinite space is so hard to comprehend, it is too easy to view it as flat "picture". But this night, there was no mistaking that we were riding atop a big ball of dirt and hurling through infinite space and time.

The Milky Way was so bright; it shined on the sage and lit up the vast desert. The only thing missing that night, were the evening songbirds who typically sing all night after a very hot day. We were out there later in the year, and missed hearing their beautiful songs as they sit atop the sagebrush, distinguishing their territory from other "gentleman" birds, while diligently trying to lure the ladies with their haunting melodies. This night, the silence was deafening, but we still did hear coyotes in the far reaches of the desert plane. They were so far away, however, that we could only hear them if we quit breathing for a moment and turned our heads just so.

The next morning after a hearty breakfast of "everything-I-could-find-in-the-kitchen", cooked over the open fire, we headed to Steens Mountain and camped near the top at Fish Lake. With much detail aside, we drove toward the summit beyond Fish Lake and stood overlooking Kiger Gorge, the giant U-shaped glacial carved valley on the 30 mile long mountain, that is home of the geologically isolated mustangs known as the Kigers. After overlooking the valley some 3,000 feet below, and brazing a cold hard wind, we headed higher, where clouds happened to be skimming the summit. Our son was thrilled when he was able to literally touch the clouds, which moving over our heads very quickly. He still tells people about it to this day, and those he tells it to, look entertained and confused at the same time. I just laugh and then feel compelled to explain.

Fish Lake was teaming with small rainbow trout. At dusk, there were many of these small fish jumping out of water catching low-flying damsels and mosquitoes for their late evening supper, the various tones of the 'kerplunks' sounded musical and soothing and this occurred the whole area of the lake - near and far. We listened to their interesting music while we prepared our dinner. As we sat by the fire, a lone mule deer came to investigate behind us of about 7 feet, a rather large and healthy doe. What a thrill for our little boy! We enjoyed our supper of steak, wild rice and sautéed mushrooms, and dutch-oven cornbread with pre-cooked bacon pieces and cheddar. Our dessert? Drinking in the pungent smells of the sage, hearing the splashes on the lake's surface, and the mild wind rustling the Quaking Aspen leaves, and watching the dusk fade to a partly starry night.

The next day was overcast and somewhat cool, a nice break from the usual searing heat. As we drove, I was immersed in conversation; so much so that my husband had to remind me we were approaching the vicinity of our beloved mustangs. It caught my attention, but thought… "Oh, but how likely to see them this easy and quickly off the road!". Not a minute passed when I saw three, and exclaimed my excitement, jutting my arm across his chest as I pointed them out. I exclaimed without holding anything back, so much so that Rick almost drove off the road! We stopped our vehicle and watched in amazement 3 young bachelor stallions playing, chasing, and sparring. One palomino, one medium bay, and a dark chestnut played in the cool of the mist. The palomino was larger, and appeared somewhat older than the other two by body maturity and steady demeanor. He was a bit weary of us and watchful, while the two younger stallions, though stopping momentarily to assess us, went right back to having a vivacious ball.

They took turns chasing one another, but always returned to where the palomino was "stationed". They reared at each other, threw front legs over the back of the other, and then had a fabulous game of biting at eachother's legs, bringing the other to the ground (both front and back ends to protect their own appendages). These were young bachelor stallions, run out of the herd by the main stallion, so they were older than two year olds. Their soon-to-be missions in life, will be to steal mares and begin bands of their own. But for now, they had a magnificent and innocent time sparring~ clearly playing, but more importantly, testing their own strength, should some day the need arise. Once the handsome palomino became accustomed to our vehicle's presence, he once in a while joined the others running around, but still watchful. We chose not to get out of the vehicle as they were less concerned about the big "metal box", then had we gotten out. Their behaviors would have changed, if not disappeared in the vast hills of sage. We got them on videotape, and some far away stills.

Their mock battles and play took them farther and farther up the flank of the mountain, so we continued our own journey to scout for the larger herd which should be nearby, based on these three youngsters. We turned off on the Steens loop road just a mile or two further. We drove a couple miles when the mustang radar of my peripheral vision, picked up a band of about twenty to our north. These horses were on a farther hill, but we got out and walked to the edge of the closest hill to see if we can see another part of the herd in the small valley below, where they tend to rest. We walked between the wet sagebrush where our shoes, socks, and pants were all saturated- but that was the last thing on my mind. I kept my eye open for mustang mane-hairs to use in drawings of wild horses. We got to the edge, but there were no horses below as we had hoped, just across on the other hill, too far to recognize distinguishable markings. But even as far as they were, it was so quiet, and along with the nearby hills (which created something similar to an amphitheater) we could still hear a couple mares squealing, either establishing or re-establishing their placement in the herd with another ("the pecking order"). That, or putting an interested stallion in his place.

When mares are near, but not in estrus, and are approached by the stallion recognizing the olfactory signals, the mares will typically squeal and strike the front legs towards him indicating they are not ready for his offer. A few days to a week later, the mare will then usually accept the stallion's advances. Even as far as they were, I was thrilled to see the herd again. They were about a hill away from the three bachelors, or roughly ¾ of a mile away, for those of us accustomed to judging distance in miles. After I was satisfied filling my sight of these horses, and breathing their same air, we continued our way to their local watering hole where I searched for more horsehair.This week-long trip was much too quick, but we were able to experience so many wonders of nature. Besides the horses, we were fortunate to see two different herds of antelope, one of which had young; a great horned owl sitting on a window sill of an old weathered and sagging barn from days-gone-by; coyotes, red-tail hawks, golden eagles, and a two barred owls who circled over our heads a couple times to get a closer look at us, before we headed for home. But it's the horses, their social dynamics, and their wild flying manes that are forever burned in my memory.

Simple things.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "Fed Clovis, then I punched down, kneaded, formed, and threw part of him in the oven. Looking forward to the sourdough/french bread. Didn't touch the mountain of laundry threatening an avalanche as intended, instead headed out to the barn. Then it's on to my new piece of art... Barbaro!! Coffee? Lost count."

Simple things.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "Got home from Halloween fun after dark... fed the horses late in the pasture by brail and filtered moonlight. Must say it was a bit of an odd sensation feeding them in a hooded cloak in the pale moonlight. Caught a glimpse of my shadow from the moon....LOLLL! Ended up getting the bottom hem stepped on by curious horses, and I'm still picking hay out of it. :)"

Simple things.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani "COWGIRL COMPOSURE": "When I was in college, hanging out with my buddies and showing off my athlete of a thoroughbred newly off the track, I took her out to burn pent-up energy from being in a stall for a day or two... She was fresh, but oh so pretty, arching her neck, snorting, and prancing like a dressage horse next to me as I walked her.

I looked at her amazing arched neck with rippling muscles beneath, aching to be set free. I smiled to myself. Once in a while she'd let out a kick bc she felt so good and was excited to 'go run'. My friends stood atop the hill watching me walk her to the pasture below, and I'm certain 'in awe' too as they watched my gorgeous bay and shiny specimin of horseflesh next to me. Well on one of her happy 'kick outs', she happened to turn sideways and nailed my thigh with a back hoof. Being farther away, my friends exclaimed asking if she'd kicked me and if I was ok. 'Nope! Didn't kick me... just looked like it' I said, mustering a normal voice and smile through gritted teeth. Later that night, my thigh was a giant bruise with my thigh muscles in knots. I could barely walk, but I had to drive them all home, using that leg on the clutch of my rig, which was about all I to could stand, yet still maintain 'cowgirl composure'. No one knew any better... ever.

I still walk or ride fresh horses, wear flipflops, and am accused of showing off on occasion... I never did say I was smart. ;)"

Simple things.

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani "Popsicles": "just came in from feeding 3 horses, 3 cats, and a 3-legged dog (and one raccoon who eats like 3) on this very cold, blustery, and rainy day. My fingers feel like, and work this keyboard, like a set of popsicles."

Simple things.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Cowgirl Commodity

"Hair is an essential cowgirl commodity, and it's great featured many ways, whether it's short & sassy, long~wild & free, or in a ballcap or pulled back in a ponytail when she means business and can't let it get caught in a dally!" ~Sonya

Simple things.

Monday, October 26, 2009


"The Unbroken" Redone, with additional color

"The Unbroken" Initial with minimal color

Newly released October 2009
Pencil, Pastel, acrylic via wild horse hair
L/E 250 signed & numbered giclee prints

I had this "itch" to add more color to what I thought was a completed piece. I posted them together for a comparison. Those who know me and my art know that I tend to "overdo" things and not know when to quit. Many were threatening an intervention. ;)

The story about these horses:
A friend, who is also a stock contractor and a wonderful photographer, Robin Corey, allowed me to draw one of her beautiful photos. I loved the photograph and immediately came up with a name when she told me the story of these horses. These are horses that have an amazing 'unbroken' spirit, who refuse to "buckout" and so are unrideable. I VERY much admire that strength and tenacity as it depicts our wild west.

I was drawn to the striking contrasting details, the mane textures and wind knots. Your eye is drawn into the quietness as they are at rest, and while you feel you are among them, one clearly keeps his eye on you with her indeterminant spirit and fight to stay wild. As you move deeper within the herd, you are attuned to their levels of awareness.

Some light and dark contrasting hair details such as the whisps are via acrylic paint, using wild horse mane strands for the paintbrush.

Simple things.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "The American mustang: Well done in-a-nutshell video. Be informed about what's happening to our wild horses. And from the bottom of my GALLOPING HEART, please REPOST & SHARE so this country can be educated and perhaps take ACTION to save our ...wild horses before it's too late, and we have to visit them in our local zoos. Please share, as "Together, THEY stand. Divided, THEY fall" ~ VIDEO: THE PLIGHT OF OUR AMERICAN MUSTANGS

If you would like to join my cause, please do at

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sad day for the West. 1/4 of WY Wild Horses Rounded Up this Month

I write this with a heavy heart as while I sit here, there is a mustang roundup CURRENTLY underway in Cody, WY ~ the McCullough Peaks wild herd. BLM is removing 122 out of 220 horses. Carol Walker who is at the round up is reporting on this in ‘real time’ via her blackberry. Horses are all healthy and on sustainable. They’re currently bringing in a colorful herd with pintos, palominos, cremellos, buckins, greys, bays, chestnuts, blacks. 220 horses taken from Wyoming's range of 177,000 acres.

BLM is removing 1000 this month about 1/4 of the horses currently in the state of Wyoming. Sad day for our west. One black & white band stallion, Washakie and his herd of 17, have been giving the helicopter a run for his money, double backing several times in order to avoid the trap. Photograph of him below, taken by Deb Little, fellow wild horse advocate who's photographed the McCullough Peaks herds many times before. Even with public outcry and rage, the government continues the roundups adding to the 33,000 already in captivity on taxpayers money, facing an uncertain future. Feeling helpless, all I can do is shake my head and put the information out there, in hopes more people know what's happening to our declining wild horse herds... OUR horses, on OUR public lands.

Washakie, band stallion
by Deb Little

Please share and spread the word about the continued and unnecessary roundups all over our west. Our west sadly feels... less wild.

Where the wild wind blows,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "Yesterday spent the late afternoon in a battle against wills with blackberry vines & other heavy undergrowth. Scratched up but unbroken, succeeded in making a trail over the creek that opens up to a back pasture for the horses before having to feed hay. One blackberry vine thought it got the better of me by wrapping itself around my leg, causing me to fall w/a thud. That was it's last mistake."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Art of Riding

"Riding teaches sensitivity, body awareness, and reading your horse. Just the motion of turning your head, shifts balance and can change a manuever."

Simple things.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "Please ban together to keep our mustangs wild in our west to always roam free for future generations, because 'TOGETHER they stand, DIVIDED they fall'. Join~ Save America's LIVING LEGENDS~ Or contact Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar 202-208-7351 or President Obama 202-456-1111"

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Cause: "Save America's LIVING LEGENDS"

Facebook | Return to Freedom: "HEY THERE! I just started a Cause with Return to Freedom as the beneficiary. I invite any and all to join the cause (just a few days old) Save America's LIVING LEGENDS !!"

I created this Cause, "Save our LIVING LEGENDS”, which also supports the wild horse organization Return to Freedom. It is also my hope that this cause will assist in preserving and supporting our American wild horse herds on our public lands for now and future generations. I hope you will join me in this Cause and show your support for our LIVING LEGENDS.

Simple things.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "This drawing matters a great deal to me. The original photograph for this art was taken 40 years ago and the mustang had ropes all over him as an attempt to subdue it. He fought and fought hard, as the mustang spirit does. I've redrawn this amazing wild horse...... but WITHOUT the ropes~ my way of 'freeing him forever'."

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Art "Travis"

Just finished this one, called "Travis". The medium I used was graphite, pastels, and acrylic via wild horse mane strands. You see, the "wild hairs, or stray hairs on this handsome hound are painted in with authentic American mustang mane.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani: "A black cat ran across the road when I was jettin' it to town. Phew... was I glad to see it had two white socks! :) Liking the 'Halloween feel' in the air."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wild Horses INDIGENOUS to North America

In the plight to save America's mustangs, the fact that wild horses are native/indigenous to North America IS EXTREMELY important AND essential... and actually will be KEY in permanent protection for them by our government. Wild and domestic horses by DNA links, are indigenous to North America... and THIS is the angle we all need to PUSH (to stop the out-of-control bureaucratic locomotive from exterminating them) to get OUR American mustangs and the land they roam, PROTECTED.

For more information and understanding, please read:

Where the wild wind blows,

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I was recently asked about both sides of our mustang issue, with the loaded question, Why?

The answer, point blank "Money". And as we all know, money talks LOUD and can carry a lethal stick! It is not my assumption, but for years have learned this simple notion by gathering facts.

OUR public lands allotted and PROMISED to US and our wild horses (through the ROAM act of 1971, but then surreptitiously amended in 2004, which is where the struggle was resurrected), has gotten smaller, and continues to do so. Why? Because individuals pay to LEASE public (meaning "our") lands from the government for grazing rights. But it doesn't stop there.. there's also big game hunting (money for tags), urban sprawl (money for land), oil, and recently ~ wind turbines, and the latest eye-opener... URANIUM mines (in a very interesting Arab-US deal~ Thank you TrueCowboyMagazine for the enlightenment), see Mustang for Uranium~ . Absolutely no joke. It's crystal clear why money is the main thread and source behind the removal of more and more mustangs... Mustangs which are our western and National heritage.... and our National treasure!

North America used to have 2 million of our LIVING LEGENDS roaming free, now the numbers are down to only 27,000 and declining. It's disheartening to know that another 33,000 are in government holding facilities around the US (here's one such article of many ) . The government doesn't know what to do with these horses,so they're seriously considering EUTHANIZING them (a covert document was uncovered, and within it was even the plan to incorporate counselors to deal with the workers who had the job of killing healthy horses), and for those who relate best in "money terms".. paid by us tax payers (feeding/holding .... and the euthanizing). All of these facts are backed up with more infomation, article links and news reports by even unbiased third parties. Questions? Go Google for it, it's all there. Isn't it alarming that there are only a handful of states that have wild horses... Why is that?

There is a claim that horses are non-native and therefore there's a need to eliminate them. As you may know, and as it's thought, horses came to North America with the Spaniards, and so it is assumed that they are non-native. However, there is evidence that they were here long before the ice-age and died out from natural catastrophic events (or quite possibly, man). Wild ancestors (Equus ferus ferus) of the Mustang roamed the plains of North America till about 10,000 years ago before going extinct and ancient DNA studies clearly shows that the Wild Horse originated from the Americas. . Horses were THEN RE-introduced by the Conquistadors.

The BEST "GO-TO" source for accurate information, along with a great Q&A and stats is to go to You'll feel very enlightened with the information.

It is indeed important to know both sides of the story. The government officials who's plight to reduce free-ranging mustangs, claiming that it's due to their concern and welfare for the animals to protect them from famine by keeping mustang numbers down... are the SAME government officials who want to kill these amazing animals, who they've mismanaged and put into government holding facilities (33,000 mustangs, yet they continue roundups!) because they don't know what else to do with them, and that they're costing tax-payers millions. Is this making any sense to anyone?? Why round up more to add to the problem on our dime, just to destroy them... again, on our dime?

For the average person, who is not up to speed with this issue... it may be soothing and nice to hear them say "it's for the welfare of these horses". Wild horses like ALL wild animals can do just fine without human intervention. True, the only predators wild horses have (beside the obvious~ man) are cougars (Thanks again to "intervention" nearly eliminating wolves). BUT EVEN SO, lack of forage for whatever the reason, IS also a process of nature, and keeps herds in check. Why must we attempt to control everything, including the effective functioning of an ecosystem? Insufficient forage means less birth rates, and of course, during times of drought or famine there would fully functioning natural selection. (Side note, a large cause for forage depletion? Cattle outnumber wild horses 200 to 1 on PUBLIC lands.) Our natural laws of the ecosystem are fully functional and self-adjusting. If a horse is lost to famine, nature also has a way to give back and recycles it to benefit other animals or organisms.

ALSO in human intervention, we assume a roll of a higher power, by chosing future generations of horses based on what "we" want, and with reduced herd numbers, we effect the genetic viability of these horses, including increase in inbreeding, which further effects herd health. I can go on and on with other examples, including on emotional levels in regards to family ties and bonds among the individual bands. I've witnessed it myself first hand (my Journal ~ website ).

North America in early 1900's had 2 million mustangs... my heart sinks when I think there's now a mere 27,000 (w/more in captivity than roaming free), and only a few states have them. It would be a very sad day, if we had to go to the zoo to view America's mustangs. The west without mustangs? Empty and in my opinion, no longer considered wild or the "last frontier'... as we've conquered/controlled IT down to the last wild animal.

Please take action, here's what YOU can do: to make your voice heard and counted. You may think it's just a simple "grain in the bucket" but eventually the grain bucket does get filled! Tell them, NO MORE MUSTANGS for MONEY!!



Between horses, a husband, two energetic young boys, a household and two businesses... I DO take out time on occasion to play with some art work. It does become a feat, and when I do complete one, it's quite the big deal and I'm tempted to turn it into a ceremony... but who has the time?

L/E 250
Graphite & Acylic

This is my newest, called "Sage". The original photograph used for this drawing is by an amazing western photographer, Robin Corey The beautiful horse "silver" Sage is a long-time equine love of the photographer, and so it was my pleasure to draw this beautiful horse for her. Primarily, it's done with graphite, but there is also some light pastel, and for the whisps of mane blowing in the wind, I used a few strands of hair collected in the high desert of an American mustang and with dark acrylic paint, painted in the details. So essentially, this image was "touched by wild horse". A portion also gets donated to a wild horse preservation group.

Simple things.

WildWind Art

Monday, September 21, 2009


All pets and critters have their own remarkable stories. I often pet my mutt-girl River, and I think out loud for her tipping ears to hear, that there’s a story in my head about her that needs to be told. So unfortunate there are many "throw away" pets out there, and living out in the country, we’ve met quite a few sad and confused animals that were no longer wanted and dropped off at a lonely crossroad near our home. River was one of those "throw away" dogs.

Yelling and shouting caught my attention while out in the yard. Down the road lives a nice, but pet-less couple in a quaint little farmhouse about a 1/3 of a mile away. When I looked up to see what the commotion was about I saw a little black dot streaking across their manicured front lawn like a bolt of lightning toward the road with the farmer chasing behind throwing rocks it’s direction. Sad, I thought, wondering about the little black critter. I went back to my tasks.

The following day while out at the barn, I noticed a little black speck down in our pasture past the pond, along the riverbank. “Oh…just great” I thought. Now, I’m not one against helping critters if they need it, but I was sure hoping this one was just one of those dogs that left for the day, taking itself for a walk, but was making it’s way back home. We’re already inundated with kids and critters, and I maintained my hopefulness with that thought, and went about currying the horses. I watched the black speck for 3 days looking for food like blackberries and moles, along the river’s bank.

On the fourth day, I spotted the black speck trotting up the road along our pasture fence heading this direction. “Shoot!” my head exclaimed! And I knew, once passed our driveway is a series of sharp and windy corners as you head up the hills back toward town, some of which are dangerous blind curves… I knew an intervention was inevitable. A little black critter would be impossible to see once sundown fell upon the dark road and it would certainly become a road stat. I had had enough, and no longer wanted my conscience to be nagging and tugging at me. This little black speck turned into a skinny little half-breed dog as it neared the driveway. My heart hurt as I worried for its safety as I could hear a truck of some sort make it’s way down the windy road.

From my long driveway I called to the aimless and confused little dog in a playfully high-pitched voice, getting down low and gently patting the ground. I was concerned that I may make it bolt and cross to the other side with oncoming vehicles. To my relief, the little black dog dropped her head and ears as she turned into the driveway acknowledging my offer. Extremely uncertain and fearful, she wagged her tail and down onto her belly she went, doing a belly-crawl the whole length of the long driveway to me. My heart sank for her. So skinny and frightened was she. Fearful and timid, she stopped short on her belly and lay on her side in submission smacking her tail on the ground and licking the air. She showed her submissive posture, but on edge and was ready to bolt if she thought necessary. I was able to slowly make my way to her and touch her, easing her anxiety by a thread.

We fed her and made her a comfortable bed in the doghouse with clean straw next to our German Shepherd, Ace and she became quite comfortable and befriended my very loyal and protective canine. Ace guarded the property and would never consider leaving the boundaries without my husband or I. That is, until the lure of a female… and one in heat, nonetheless! Gone for a day, but they both returned, exhausted with burs, berry vines, grass, and stickers covering their coats, in their ears, and between their toes. Ace had been gone nearly 12 hours and that was enough for me. I contacted the dog control and tied her to the front deck with my lungeline, awaiting for the county to take her away.

So away she went in the truck and they said they would do all they can to find her a good home… for 72 hours. I watched as the truck drove down the driveway with her, and I went back to what I had been working on. The county worker had mentioned that they post the photos of the new dogs on their website. The following day, I was curious, and I looked up the website, hitting the link to new dogs. There I saw a picture of this little black dog on a leash through the front glass doors of the pound… on her belly, like the belly-crawl she did up my driveway. My heart couldn’t take it, and the next day I made a phone call and drove to pick her up. I had to pay $40 dollars and get her in the books with the county to reclaim this abandoned dog. Needless to say after she was ‘bought and paid for’, she was then promptly taken to the vet fixed, to assure there would be no more ‘lure adventures’. Though abandoned, she certainly didn’t come free, because besides those expenses, she’s also endured 5 surgeries in an attempt save her back leg from a truck-riding accident. I say that with a smile on my face because of the irony in acquiring a “free” abandoned pet, that has cost us more then some of my horses. But, like family you don’t count the cost.

So, her name is River, and since that one day when she was taken to the pound, she hasn’t left since. We named River for a couple reasons, as that’s when she became ours, those days she spent trying to take care of herself along the water’s edge, alone, hungry and cold. Sometimes people are sent ‘gifts’, and don’t realize it or don’t know why unless they open themselves to the possibilities. During the days when she was down along the riverbank, we also had an old advanced-aged malamute-wolf hybrid named Kobuck (also an abandoned pet, and named after a river in Alaska) who would never leave the yard unless we took him with us…. That is until the last few days before he passed on. Like his wild ancestors, daily, Kobuck walked himself down to the river, crossed it and laid there waiting for his time to come, away from the ‘family den’. Each day he slowly walked himself down, (very unusual for him to leave the yard/deck), and each evening my husband and I went down with a small trailer and carried him back to the house. When Kobuck passed away, River came to our lives. Coincidence? Maybe.

Today, River is a fat and sassy girl with adoration for the whole family in her sweet eyes. Because of her unfortunate experiences, she seems that much more grateful. When tossed a treat, she never fails to stop to give a second look as if to say “thank you” and wags her tail. She’s so attuned to us that she pays attention to where your eyes are. She’ll sit, quietly attentive, watching. You don’t even have to turn your head, but if you just turn your eyes to look at her, her ears drop with adoration, her tail thuds on the ground, and licks the air. On occasion, we can even get her to howl with the whole family when we are out by the firepit. River… aka Cajun Sausage is fat, black, shiny, and happy and no longer a ‘throw away’ pet, but a fixed member of this family.

Simple things.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Art at the HEART OF THE WEST Show & Sale

These are the two of my originals headed this October to the very prestigious HEART of the WEST Show and Sale in Wyoming. Only 40 artists are selected for this event each year. I am deeply honored to have been one of the selected western artists.

I'm primarily a pencil & pastel artist, but I also paint in the detailed hair structures using dark acrylic paint and strands of authentic wild horse mane hairs found in the high desert. So essentially each drawing is touched by an American mustang... our western heritage, living legends that are our National treasure!! I also donate to wild horse organizations to protect them and keep them roaming free.

To see my art work on Heart of the West's website, click this link and look on the bottom right and you'll see these two there! Thanks for all your well wishes! The original photograph I used for "The One for the Job" is by wonderful equine photographer, Pam Nickoles of .

Headed out on Friday to mat & frame with name plates:

"The One for the Job"
L/E 250 signed and numbered

"Water Paints"
L/E 250 signed and numbered

Where the wild wind blows,

Friday, September 4, 2009

Boots Can Tell on You

I have a pair of boots that have cleaned stalls, walked undaunted through soupy mud and cowpies, ridden over miles of amazing trails and prairies, ridden many a horse, and clung on to wanna-be broncs, chased down steers, licked by dogs, ran from rattlers, and snuck up on mustangs. They've seen their share of drought, ice, snow, puddles or driving rain. They've kicked some booty, stomped to get their way, & hustled pool or target shooting. They've walked many miles whether concrete, packed dirt, marsh, through sagebrush, grass, dust, or rock.

They are half my age and took a long time to mold to just how I want them, and now are more comfortable than slippers. When I go out on the town to blow some steam and play pool at a tavern, I kick some dirt off & proudly wear them with grit, scuff marks, and their share of scars. One thing they refuse to do, however, is dance... not because they can't.

It's an easy habit to notice others' boots, which tell their own stories by the shape they're in, whether they're hard working & real riding or buckaroo boots, or just clean & shiny wanna-be weekend or fair-weather show-off boots to give an impression. Boots tell a lot about a person and the kind of person they are, but mostly if they ride and how well they sit a saddle.

My boots' stories about me?... They've been sworn to silence!

Simple things.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Garden Sun~Roasted Garlic

It's garlic, shallot, and onion season and my husband dutifully had been picking the garlic and shallots. He began picking them last week prior to the nearly week-long stretch of searing, record breaking heatwave in the triple digits, which is not all that common for these parts of Oregon. He last spring he painstakingly rototilled, mulched and created rows for this "pet" garlic and planted each one (of about 100 cloves), just as specified by "Gardeners Annonymous" LOLL. There were so many garlic plants, that I offered to help if needed, which he graciously declined. He wanted to see this whole process through from beginning to end, and I had no problem with that. Because there were so many, as he dug each garlic head out, he put them in a pile to process later, and he figured they could nicely "cure" there in the sun.

Well as the story goes, my husband got sidetracked with other of his many projects and the pile of garlic had been forgotten...and left in the sun. I just came across them just yesterday, and with a laugh and taunt on my part, we decided to finish processing and storing them. In the kitchen he and I worked, destemming them, peeling off the outter layer of garlic skins that were in contact with the soil, and neatly trimming the root ends. When he began doing so, he discovered the cloves of each head to be somewhat soft to the touch, and yellowed.. instead of the firm white cloves we all know. Upset and beside himself, the whole bushel of garlic nearly made it into the compost pile. However, upon further inspection and not without my additional laughter, we realized they had been quite literally cooked in the sun.

We investigated further, smelling and tasting... and we were very pleasantly surprised to find that the cloves were very similar to traditional oven-roasted garlic! Pleasant, mild, roasted garlic with tons of fresh flavor! The pile of garlic heads spent about 4-5 days of 100+ degree heat but are very edible and tasty SUN-ROASTED garlic!

For dinner, we decided to sample this gift from the sun. We finely minced the sun-roasted garlic and creamed it with butter, then spreading it on sourdough bread. That along with garden cucumbers & tomato salad was our simple, healthy and deliciously light dinner. Because the shelf life is not long once the garlic is roasted, we decided the put them in jars with white distilled vinegar and dill and processed them in a hotwater bath to seal them. A little bit of sunshine to enjoy in the dark days of winter.

Sometimes it's a good thing to make the best of an unexpected situation!

Simple things.


Bathing Beauties

Walking by the backdoor this morning with coffee cup in hand, I took a double-take out at the backyard. In our dog's paddock adjacent to the yard, were three hawks perched up on the rim of River's water trough, sipping the water. Even more entertaining was then watching them take turns jumping in, flapping their big striped wings.... they were BATHING! They seemed giddy, playing as they did so, hopping from side to side on the rim. Mother kept a watchful eye on us during this morning bathing, as she could see my whole family peering through the window at her's, and their antics.

We've identified them as Cooper's Hawks. It's a family that's had a nest in the margin of our forest overlooking the side yard ... basically their pantry. It's a mother and her two fledglings. Besides the barn owls shacked up in the "dog house" (an oversized nesting box my husband built, hoisted, and attached 50 feet up in a large douglas fir), we are also very humbled and honored to have a very private and shy occupant. She's an amazing raptor who's chosen to raise her youngsters in our forest every year. For years we've watched the courtships, the new hatchlings, and like watching one's own children grow and change, watching the hawk's growth and behaviors change, but on an accelerated level. It's exhilerating when anticipating the hatchlings, to look up the tree where sunshine streams through the branches near the tree tops illuminating the nest, and finally seeing little round tufts of fuzz glowing golden in the forest sunlight.

Equally amazing has been watching the mother dismantle the nest stick by stick, to encourage her fledglings to fly and take care of themselves, once they've grown their flight feathers. They flapped and exercised their wings jumping from branch to branch, and now they do so by jumping from tree to tree. They're almost as big as she is, yet daily we still hear them making their demanding "key! key! key! calls for her to bring them their meals... throughout most of the day, every day! She's an excellent mother who takes her job seriously and gives great care to her vivacious brood. Regularly we watch her bring meals back to the exciteable youngsters, she's a perpetual and efficient hunter. However, I suspect she's also anxious for them to become self-sufficient and I'm quite confident that she is one mother who will not experience "empty nest syndrome". Like any good mother, her job is to make them healthy, strong, and independent.

Simple things.

Where the wild winds blow,

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sweet As Molasses

... waited 'til well past sundown, and under the light of the full moon, slipped a rope around the old resting paint's neck. Once he discovered there was no escape, I braced for a fight. But the old man began licking the palms of my hand like an over-grown puppy....

I was given the advice by a couple knowledgeble cowboys to use molasses with worming paste to get a horse to take his medicine... a method passed down from early cowboyin' days they said. It worked very well, better than expected.. simple yet ingenious! I had made a comment yesterday about the fact that I had missed putting the worming tube in the corner of my wise old paint's mouth (and...yeah without a halter)... and with Cash, you ONLY have one chance. Once he knows what you're up to, you only see dust in the wind... afterwhich he won't let anyone about three horse-strides near him! He's a wise horse full of experience, and once he sees the halter in your hand figuring what you're up to, he's gone.

So taking their advice, I dipped part of the worming tube in molasses (happened to have some left over from my husband's barbeque recipe). Of course, some had gotten on my hands.. and while I was gently interacting with the horses, they investigated and tasted the sticky molasses. Like a big puppy Cash lapped up the molasses with his big soft tongue, and I slowly put the tube in the corner and in went the medicine! No drama or dust to settle. He looked mildly surprised but continued his full enjoyment of licking the sweet molasses off his lips and my fingertips... He looked like a teenager who's found new love, even "starry-eyed". Reminded me of myself when I'm eating chocolate!

I shared the sticky stuff with the others as well and had horses all around me, smelling it, tasting it. They were all very enamored with this as well... there was no pecking order, no one horse bit or flattened their ears at another, all were "starry-eyed" and seemingly entranced .. almost a little eery. Blaze couldn't get enough of the aroma of the molasses, more so then eating it in this go-round. Reno, the same, only she touched some with her lip, and then curled her upper lip toward her nose to concentrate the heavenly smell.

I had the whole herd fighting for my "worming" attention!

Then like over-energetic children feeling a candy-sugar rush, they all bucked and played in the pasture for quite some time after. I must admit sampling it myself and attest it to be very tasty. I wonder if there's a candy made of only molasses.

Simple things.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009


This is an amazing and breathtaking video with the song "All the Pretty Little Ponies" about wild horses. The herd is specifically the famous "Cloud's" band. If you have children, sit them on your lap and teach them about the beauty of wild horses and their own family ties. This herd is threatened and half may be removed, with possibly Cloud himself along with thousands of other wild horses. 30,000 wild horses are in captivity, that's more than the numbers of horses we have running free. Those horses in captivity are held by the government, and face being euthanized. What went wrong? Can you imagine this great big land without free running wild horses? They are our Nation's Heritage and they are our symbol of freedom, strength, and independence!

We all have a voice.

Where the wild winds blow,

For more information...

WHAT CAN YOU DO? In your advocacy work, we suggest using these Talking Points:
Contact Your Legislators in D.C.

Please call and write your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators to protest the mismanagement of our wild horse herds on public lands, and to request a Congressional inquiry into Bureau of Land Management practices. Specifically:

Denounce the aggressive wild horse removal campaign currently under way at the behest of special interest groups and at the cost of millions of our tax-dollars.

Tell them that your tax-dollars would be better spent on an in-the-wild management program not based on removal.

Call for a moratorium on round-ups until actual numbers of wild horses on public lands have been independently assessed.
House Members should be urged to sponsor H.R. 1018 (the ROAM Act).

Make sure to include your full name and address and to ask for a response on how your representative intends to address your concerns. Be firm but courteous. Click here for examples of eloquent support letters.

Letters to Representatives should be addressed to: The Honorable [Name Here], U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515. Letters to Senators should be addressed to: The Honorable [Name Here], U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510. Letters sent via U.S. mail make a stronger statement than emails but are subject to significant delays due to concerns over anthrax. Therefore, we suggest sending your letters in both formats (faxes are also a good alternative). To find your members of Congress, call the Congressional Switchboard at 202.224.3121, or visit and enter your zip code.

Please send copies of your letters to AWHPC, P.O. Box 926, Lompoc, CA 93438. Email copies are also acceptable and should be sent to They will be collected and forwarded in bulk to relevant government officials.

Other Campaign Targets

Please contact President Barack Obama to let him know that you are hoping for change in the way America treats its wild horses: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 – fax: 202-456-2461

Do not hesitate to let Bureau of Land Management officials know how you feel about their removal policy. Call 202.208.7351 or use this web form to denounce the continued mismanagement of our wild horses and request an in-the-wild management program.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Facebook | Sonya Malecky Spaziani

An amazing photo documentation of the tenderness of a wild mustang stallion with a tiny helpless little foal... and protecting it from another stallion in an amazing battle. Wild stallions are known to kill unattended foals, especially if they are not theirs. This amazing footage carried me through many emotions, from awe, to uncertainty, fears, anxiety, and happiness....and of course some eye moisture accompanied the ride. Wild horses are amazing!

My good friend, Pam Nickoles did the photography and put this together. She works tirelessly to help save our Nation's Heritage and to keep them as they are, wild and free.

See you where the wild wind blows,

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Riding & Dirt Clods~ at a GOLF COURSE

So, okay... so I did my own thing as a kid. Never ran with the herd, but blazed my own trails. Authority? I bucked it. But I wasn't a bad kid, just quietly rebellious.

I was about ten when I worked at a stable in California. I didn't get paid, I got one better... in exchange for grooming a string of class horses, I got to ride! But I missed the part about rules, arena only, supervision, and something about a controlled environment. A few weeks there, I blended into the goings on and was part of that ecosystem. And lucky for me at the time, those that ran the place never took notice and did their own thing or were gone at horse shows most of the time. Life was good.

One hot day, after knocking the dust off of a horse, I went to the coin-operated pop dispensers in an aisle way, and got myself an Orange Crush. That sugary-caffeine-infused-orange-stuff sure quenched my parched thirst. Holding that icy cold pop bottle wet from the condensation was great too, I rubbed it all over my forehead. My parents never had pop in the fridge, so this was a big deal to me. Surprised when I felt some change in my pocket, I had to get me some ... I remember feeling so grown up putting that change into the dispenser and drinking a pop of my choice ...I was on my own and loving it! Why am I spending so much time on this tangent, because it's better to shift the blame onto anything other than me! Yeah, it was the caffeine. Really.

It just was too hot... Hot air in a cloths-drier hot. The air was stifling and work just didn't sound appealing. Wiping the dirty sweat off my face, and chewing dusty grit and horsehair was the buzzer on my time clock. I had a good friend of mine who stabled there, Katherine, who had a gorgeous black morgan gelding named Tonka. Katherine and I spent a lot of time hanging out together and riding, growing all kinds of riding adventures. So after some caffeine and brainstorming, my 'time-clock' buzzed, and we 'checked out'.

It was eerily quite around there. What's a couple kids to do on caffeine and high fructose corn syrup and no supervision! GO RIDING! That day was a horseshow at the local fairgrounds, and the stable looked more like a ghost town. With a little caffeine rush and a few wild oats, Katherine and I saddled our horses and rode off... off the stable grounds. Have either of these horses ever been ridden off the property or trail experienced? The thought never occurred to us. I remember the exuberant feeling of riding on the dusty path that took us out of the gates.... free of confines.... the kind of free called - kid free.....

We rode up to the top of a nearby 'Californian river' (a concrete riverbed... or aquifer). With it so hot, the faster you rode the cooler you felt, most of the time we had our pedal to the metal. We rode atop this dried up aquifer, not sure where it would take us, just rode... talking and laughing most of the way. Our horses pranced and jogged, side-passing much of the way when we weren't loping, and the boys were blowing and snorting hard. Their ears twisting nervously, necks arched and glossy from sweat. We were kids, we didn't worry about their apparent emotions... heck no, they looked so pretty like that!

We rode for what seemed like hours. I was riding a beautiful bay saddlebred gelding, I didn't even know how well broke he was, or if he'd been out of the stable at all. Katherine, well she had her big black glossy morgan who was a bit head strong and a lot of horse. While prancing and side passing, he always had the look like he wanted to perform a fancy spin and run back. Like a big pigeon, he had a major homing instinct.

Well looking ahead, this big empty aquifer just kept going and going, but to our right a ways down, we spotted some lush green grass on the other side of some wild prickly desert shrubs, but to get there we needed to ride under a highway overpass. Katherine and I looked at each other questioningly, but neither of us led on that our better judgment screamed, "turn back!" So our uncertain legs urged the green horses toward the underpass of the busy - noisy highway above. I gulped (but hoping she didn't notice), and she probably said a silent prayer... but we were cowgirl tough and no way no how was the other going to know about the other's quaking knees.... Our knees shook harder as we got nearer, especially when each horse would take turns stopping, and at times refusing to move forward. It took some constant convincing with our heels and clucks, but with bits and curb chains jingling from chomping their bits and veins pronounced on their slick necks, they moved on.

So what's the big whoop? You ask. Well, to ride under this overpass was a little human footpath, not wider than a coyote trail and with a hundred foot drop to the empty concrete riverbed to our left with no guard rail. We continued squeezing our horses until they'd give... my bay gelding went on up ahead, apparently tired or my clucking and loud kissy noises, and nervous Tonka followed close behind, like a fly on flypaper. The noise of the traffic overhead was loud... cars and trucks whizzed by. It was louder once under there than I anticipated. The noise echoed between the concrete highway above and the riverbed below.

By this time the horses ears were anxiously flicking back and forth full of uncertainty ... we couldn't turn back, Katherine tried backing Tonka out, but that didn't fly... we had no choice but to carefully trudge ahead. My horse began prancing in place and when I urged him forward he began prancing a sidepass... a gorgeous dressage move! But I wasn't thinking dressage at that moment, especially when I felt a stumble. But that stumble was this bay trying to regain his footing after his left hind hoof slipped down the steep angled concrete side of this hundred-foot death drop. By instinct I remember shoving my heels in his sides and he lunged forward. The rest was a blur.

Katherine and I once safely on firm footing, looked at each other briefly and rode on in silence. Of course, both horses' knees were also shaking. But even though my own legs felt jello-fied, I didn't say a word and we cowgirl'd on.

To our dismay, that cool large and lush grassy oasis beckoning us on the other side.... was not a little garden of Eden... nope, it was a golf course! So we weighed our odds. We were certainly not going to tempt fate a second time, so the next reasonable thing was to ride through the golf course! What's the harm in that anyway? So happy with our justifications we rode our sweaty horses to the golf course. Luckily there were no fences to cut through on this ride. It was too easy to get in. Gentleman's club.... paahhhh!

Okay, so the men in their clean and pressed white shirts and beanie hats didn't look so happy we were there. Thinking they were waving and enjoying the eye candy of our gorgeous sweaty prancing horses, I realized to my dismay that they were waving their fists, and at us! So Katherine and I looked at each other stunned, but with a cowgirl smirk spurred our horses into a full heart-throbbing gallop. Looking back over my shoulder through watering eyes from the shear speed of our race horses, I could see the men getting smaller fast, but still shaking fists. Geez, but why did they look so angry and shouting? We galloped on at mock speed, with dirt clods flying....

But alright, so we were in this middle of this lush green golf course galloping faster than I've ever ridden in my life, actually watching each horse move themselves into faster and faster gears. Tonka was blowing like a warrior horse, or locomotive full steam ahead... the big black pigeon was headed home! I could see him next to my horse and they each tried to out-pace each other… each wanted to be the one ahead as they knew they were headed back to their barn! This was a rad ride, that I'd forgotten about the little bald men, and the one with the beanie cap with the shaking fist, I was feeling too exhilarated to have them a second thought! What a rush to be galloping in this great green expanse with all kinds of topography.... hills, sand, little valleys and knolls, back up steeper hills, and water! We galloped so fast that other golf parties ahead of us didn't see or notice us until we were upon them, and then galloped like the wind past them! I think it happened so fast they didn't have time to throw up any hand signals. The horses' manes, tails, and everything not sewn down was all flying. This was the most fun I'd had as a jubilant free-spirited kid. That is until I heard Katherine yelling something about not being able to stop Tonka... he grabbed his bit and was on a dead-headed run!

So yeah, I had visions of galloping my horse next to hers and jumping on and reining ol' Tonka in. T'ya, right.... the thought quickly dissipated. What seemed like a time-warp, and Katherine pulling hard and constant on the reins, Tonka like a freight train finally showed some give... with mouth open and shaking his head, she finally got him to a working hard trot. Both horses were lathered and blowing hard.

Okay, so our adventure was nearly over, and we were all in one piece. Sitting atop our still worked up horses, we were all beginning to relax, except for Tonka who with his arched neck was chomping his bit. I still hear the bit chains jingling. Settling deeper and more relaxed in our seats, but with parched throats we spotted a water fountain. We picked up the reins, and trotted on over to it, and decided to get us and the horses a drink. We hopped off and drank some water... the horses each looked sideways at this contraption with the moving parts. Somehow, still don't know how, Tonka got away from Katherine and galloped himself back to the stable. Before I could finish my question, "Katherine! How did that ha....?" MY horse got his reins out of my hands too, and together he and Tonka busted out, and ran back towards home.

They sure looked pretty galloping together. So with our cowgirl prides, we walked our little selves on back to the stable. Did we do it again? Yup, but through a game of friendly football.

Time and caffeine when mixed well together can create some good hair-raising tales, so drink responsibly!

It was good being a kid.

Your local cowgirl bandit
aka: Cowgirl On Coffee

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Horse Spit

Ah, the lazy days of summer. What a beautiful day, 81 degrees and a gentle summer breeze. Life as a ranch kid has it's perks.

The boys somehow found themselves in the newly scrubbed water trough... Of course seeing me approach, they attempted to scamper out, that is until they heard me laughing with camera in hand. Of course, having not lead our horses to water, while I was there all three horses took turns to slirp the water the boys were playing in. Reno, the playful, still baby of the herd, spent much time there wiggling her lips in the water, even after she had her fill.

The boys, being boys, marvelled at how the horses suck up the water through their lips, and of course with that there was plenty of "horse spit" involved. "Cool" was a favorite term at that moment. Of course, Reno would play in the water, drink some up, lift her head near one of the boys with water still pouring from her lips and onto one of the boys. Shreaks resounded through our little valley. I'm certain her well placed wet lips were fully premeditated!

Simple things.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Starlings and Cherries

I've written a blog about a starling male that throws in various farm animal sounds when he's singing. He and his mate have a nest in the wall of my barn and they raise two broods each season, and they've done this for years. It amazes me when the male starling throws in the sounds of sheep, rooster, crickets, and even the meow of a cat to his melodic sounds for his admiring mate!

He and his mate have their second brood just about ready to "fly the coop". It's been a delight to hear their tiny nearly inaudible peeps after newly hatching, and hearing the peeps grow stonger everyday to where they become loud chirps. When my feet it the floorboards of the old barn, they hear it and chirp loudly thinking hungrily that a parent has landed with a morsel. Ever hungry and ever demanding, their parents tirelessly and with an amazing drive, bring their babies a variety of food. I can sit in the shade of a nearby oak and watch them fly in with a meal sometimes every few minutes.

They're well fed youngsters, and so quickly they grow. The parents catch all kinds of insects, and bring in a variety of seasonal fruit as well, a very well balanced meal. One day, while we were haying the pasture and moving in the bales into the barn, I watched the parents find and bring in cherry after cherry for their youngsters. I was even more amazed that the parents had partially mashed them prior to feeding, for easy eating and digestion, and I don't know for certain but I also think each one is "seeded".

The youngsters are nearly fledglings, thanks to their parents constant feeding and good care. Even with the truck backed up to the barn and me standing up on the top of the bales, they were steadfast and undaunted by me. Their babies need to be fed, and they were going to feed them regardless. They chirped loudly at us, with the intended meal in their beaks and sat on the eve watching, somewhat agitated... but after a while, continued their mission to feed the youngsters. It was certainly a sight, these pretty irridescent black little birds, carrying bright red cherries glowing in the afternoon sunlight. The marvels of nature...

Simple things.